Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Series 7: A Quick Look at Their Differences
We compare features and specs between last year’s Apple Watch Series 7 and the new model.
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Apple Watch Series 7
This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2023. CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.
Apple’s “Far Out” presentation on Wednesday debuted a sleek new lineup of wearables that includes the Apple Watch Series 8. Apple Watch Ultra and a new 2022 Apple Watch SE. While the Ultra is the most expensive option with a variety of bells and whistles, you may find that Series 8 is better for your needs. Now a midtier offering with the introduction of the 799 Ultra, the 399 Series 8 comes with a string of features not available on SE or the Series 7 that arrived in 2021.
All Apple Series watches are a step above the SE versions, but if you’re new to the brand’s smartwatches or are tempted to upgrade, you’re probably wondering how Series 7 and Series 8 compare. Both have health tracking functions and activity logs, but here’s how they stack up in price, features and aesthetics.
Series 8 has more health and safety options
While both models have fall detection, emergency SOS, blood oxygen sensors and gyroscope, the Series 8 offers a set of tracking upgrades that assist with wellness and safety. Apple announced two new temperature sensors available on Series 8; one is located close to the skin, and the other is within the display.
These sensors monitor body temperature throughout the day and night but can also help women track menstrual periods and ovulation cycles. A log tracks a woman’s cycle history and sends out notifications for any irregularities, which can assist with family planning or potential health concerns.
In the safety category, Apple now provides car crash detection feature on the Series 8 and all other new Apple smartwatches. This sensor alerts emergency responders and your emergency contacts if you’re unresponsive after 10 seconds.
Display is the essentially the same
If you were hoping for a larger screen on the Series 8, you’ll have to let it go. Both the Series 7 and Series 8 have an always-on retina display and either a 41mm or 45 mm face. Their similar designs use the same glass material for the screen and curved casing. Like the Series 7, the Series 8 comes with a dust and crack resistant screen.
Where they differ is in the watch faces. You get a few extra choices with the Series 8, including “Lunar,” “Astronomy,” “Modular” and “Metropolitan.”
Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 7 have the same battery power
While Apple touted its 36-hour battery life when the Series 8 is in low-power mode, the Series 7 is also capable of an extended battery when the WatchOS 9 update hits. Currently, both watches possess 18 hours of battery power. Low-power mode will preserve life by restricting certain features like the sensors, the always-on display or the heart tracking apps.
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Series 7
|Apple Watch Series 7|
|Always-on, 20% more screen area than SE (1.9 inches)|
|352×430 (41mm), 396×484 (45mm)|
|Water resistance (50m); IP6X dust resistance|
|Blood oxygen, electrical heart, optical heart, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, ambient light|
|Fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, international emergency calling|
|Apple S7 system-on-a-chip|
|Aluminum: midnight, starlight, green, blue red; stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold; titanium: natural, space black|
|Up to 18 hours (low-power mode coming in WatchOS 9)|
|Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, W3 wireless chip, U1 chip, optional LTE|
Apple Watch Series 8
New watch faces, an always-on and larger display (thanks to smaller bezels), and better durability are the highlights of the new series. There’s better menstrual cycle tracking thanks to a new suite of features, including a new temperature sensor to get ovulation estimation, among other things.
There are also new safety features, such as crash detection to provide automatic notification to emergency services and contacts. It’s made possible by updated motion sensing with a new gyroscope and accelerometer.
Low-power mode disables some of the less necessary features, like the always-on display, to extend to a projected 36 hours. International roaming will also be rolling out on all cell models running WatchOS 9. And pretty new colors and bands.
Apple Watch Series 7 vs Series 6 vs Watch SE vs Series 3: What’s the difference?
Comparison of the Apple Watch Series 7, Watch SE and Watch Series 3 showing the differences and similarities.
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Apple announced the Watch Series 8, Watch Ultra and a second generation of Watch SE in September 2022. These three models replaced the Apple Watch Series 7, first generation of Apple Watch SE and the older Apple Watch Series 3 in the company’s portfolio, though the models still exist to buy from other retailers, along with the Series 6.
We have features comparing the newer models, including how the Watch SE compares to the Series 3, but here we are looking at how the Apple Watch Series 7 stacks up against the first-generation Watch SE and Watch Series 3 so you can see what the differences and similarities are between the older models.
It’s worth noting that the Series 7 is very similar to the Series 6 with a slight redesign, so we’ve kept the Series 6 details in this feature for reference.
Apple Watch Series 7
Size of Apple Watch Ultra (49mm) vs. Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm). Does size matter?
All the Apple Watch models being compared here feature a solid rectangular body with the Digital Crown and separate button on the right, along with a speaker and microphone on the left.
They are all swim-proof up to 50-metres and they all have a heart rate monitor positioned on the underside of the watch body, along with the release buttons for switching out the straps.
There are some differences between the Series 3, SE, Series 6 and Series 7 though. Firstly, the Series 3 is slightly thicker than the Series 7, Series 6 and first gen SE model.
Secondly, in the case of the Series 7 (and Series 4, 5 and 6), the Digital Crown has an electrical heart rate sensor built into it, which is in addition to the optical heart rate sensor on the underside of the watch. The Watch Series 7 also has a blood oxygen sensor, like the Series 6, and it has reduced bezels surrounding the display, as well as an IPX6 dust resistance.
All the Apple Watch models being compared here have OLED Retina displays with Force Touch built into them, allowing for different functions depending on the force with which you press.
The Series 6 and the first gen Watch SE have a 30 per cent larger display than the Series 3 with rounded edges however, making full use of the space available and resulting in a bolder design. The Series 7 expands on this further, reducing the bezels around the display by 40 per cent, making for a 20 per cent larger display than the Series 6 and first gen Watch SE, and 50 per cent larger than the Series 3, as well as a more seamless design.
In addition to the display increase, the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 6 offer an Always-On Retina display, which the first gen Watch SE and Series 3 don’t.
The Always-On display means you don’t have to raise your wrist to wake the display up, with the screen always visible. A raise of the wrist or a tap on the display will brighten the Series 7 (and Series 5/6) display instead.
Огляд нового смарт-годинника Apple Watch Series 7
Until the launch of the latest Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 3 was available to buy with an aluminium case, either silver or space grey. It came in 38mm and 42mm size options, but it was only available in a GPS-only model, with no GPS and Cellular option available. There was also no Nike model.
The Watch SE also only came in aluminium but there were three colour options, comprised of silver, gold and space grey. Size options were 40mm and 44mm and there were GPS only and GPS and Cellular models available. The first generation Watch SE also came in Nike models, available in silver and space grey.
The Series 6 had a lot more finish options available than the Watch SE and the Series 3 but the Series 7 replaced the Series 6 options, and the Series 8 has now done the same for the Series 7. You may still find the Series 7 and 6 elsewhere though. Like the first generation Watch SE, the Series 6 had 40mm and 44mm sizes, as well as GPS only and GPS and Cellular models. There were five aluminium colours. silver, space grey, gold, blue and Product(Red). There were then three stainless steel models. silver, graphite (DLC) and gold (PVD). Lastly, there were two titanium models. natural titanium and space black.
Additionally, the Series 6 also came in Nike models. all of which were aluminium and came with Nike straps. and Hermès models. all of which were stainless steel and came with special Hermès straps. The Hermès models were all GPS and Cellular as standard.
While all the standard Series 6 models and the Nike models came in both case sizes though, some of the Hermès models only came in either 40mm or 44mm, not both.
The Series 7 meanwhile, came in five aluminium colours like the Series 6, but they were new colours. It also came in three stainless steel options, two titanium options and Nike models and Hermès models. The Series 7 case options were slightly larger than the Series 6 too, at 41mm and 45mm.
The Apple Watch Series 3 has a dual-core processor called the S3 under its hood, coupled with a wireless chip called the W2. The GPS-only model has 8GB of memory.
The Watch SE has a dual-core processor called the S5. said to be two times faster than the S3. and it is coupled with the same next-generation wireless chip as the Series 6. the W3.
The Apple Watch Series 6 has an S6 processor under its hood, claimed to be 20 per cent faster than the S5. It also has W3, as mentioned above. The Watch Series 7 has an S7 processor, also said to be 20 per cent faster than the S5, so its a redesigned S6 processor with the same power. The Series 7 charges 30 per cent faster than the Series 6 though thanks to the inclusion of a USB Type-C cable in the box.
Both the GPS only and GPS and Cellular models of both the Watch SE, Series 6 and Series 7 have 32GB of memory, though of course the GPS and Cellular model has LTE connectivity. The LTE connectivity means you can make and receive calls and text messages, as well as perform all the tasks you’d want to on your Watch without your iPhone in range. It also works for Family Setup.
All the Watch models being compared here have built-in GPS, optical heart rate sensor, speaker, microphone, water resistance up to 50 metres, emergency SOS, gyroscope and an ambient light sensor. They also all offer Apple Pay.
The Watch SE, Series 6 and Series 7 add an always-on altimeter. the Series 3 has a standard altimeter. a built in compass, second generation optical heart rate sensor, international emergency calling and fall detection thanks to the improved accelerometer that offers up to 32 g-forces instead of up to 16 g-forces as found in the Series 3. It’s worth noting that all of these features. except the always-on altimeter. can be found on the Series 4 and 5 too.
On top of those additions, the Series 6 and Series 7 also add a blood oxygen sensor and an electrical heart rate sensor for ECG. The Series 4 and 5 have the ECG feature but not the blood oxygen sensor.
Apple Watch Series 7: Features, release date, design, more
The Apple Watch Series 7 was announced during Apple’s “California Streaming” event with a larger and more durable display followed by its release in October of 2021. It was discontinued in September of 2022 after Apple Watch Series 8 was introduced.
Table of contents
- durable and larger display
- Apple Watch finishes
- watchOS 8.1 features
- watch 8.3 features
- watchOS 8.4 features
- watchOS 8.5 features
- watchOS 8.6 features
- watchOS 8.7 features
The Apple Watch was first introduced in 2015 and quickly became the best-selling wearable device of the year, reportedly selling 4.2 million units in Q2 2015. When the company introduced the Apple Watch Series 2 later in 2016, Apple labeled the original Apple Watch as “Series 0” while bringing an updated chip with “Series 1” and a brand new “Series 2” Watch.
When Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 3 in 2017 a lot of things changed. The company started seeing the Watch more like a fitness device rather than a fashion one, although it was available in aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic models. This Watch had a chip 70% faster than its predecessor, increased RAM, and introduced the LTE cellular connectivity variant with 16GB of storage.
Apple Watch Series 4, which launched a year later, featured a major redesign with a screen that was 30% bigger in both models and a 50% improvement on its processor over the Series 3 version. Speakers and microphones were rearranged so they were louder and more useful, and Series 4 introduced the fall detection feature, ECG capabilities, and the second-generation heart rate monitor.
In 2019, the Apple Watch Series 5 was a notable upgrade over the Series 4: Apple introduced an Always-On display with an energy-saving LTOP OLED screen, a built-in compass, doubled the storage to 32GB, and brought back the Edition tier with a ceramic model and a brand new titanium version.
In 2020, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 6. This Watch brought a new S6 processor, up to 20% faster than its predecessor, a brighter Always-On display, a blood oxygen app, and an always-on altimeter, alongside new health sensors.
In 2021, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 7 with a more durable and larger display, now with 41mm and 45mm options. The Watch is more crack-resistant and can charge faster than previous models. It has the same processor as the Series 6 and maintains the three finishes: aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium.
Apple Watch Series 7: Specs and features
durable and larger display
Unlike all the rumors, the new Apple Watch Series 7 doesn’t feature a new design. Instead, it does have a larger display with 20% more screen area and thinner borders at 1.7mm, 40% smaller than those on Apple Watch Series 6.
This new Apple Watch is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes. While the wrist is down, the Always-On Retina display is up to 70% brighter indoors than the previous Watch, making it easier to see the watch face without having to lift the wrist or wake the display.
Apple Watch Series 7 features a redesigned front crystal with a more robust geometry that is over 50% thicker than that of the Apple Watch Series 6, making it more crack-resistant.
The Watch has also been certified IP6X dust-resistant and has a water resistance rating of WR50, making it a good choice for swimming performances and making users stay relaxed while on the beach or the desert.
Apple Watch Series 7 has the same sensors as Apple Watch Series 6, which means it has a third-generation optical heart sensor, Digital Crown with haptic feedback, a built-in compass, an always-on altimeter, and a second-generation speaker and mic. With Emergency SOS and International emergency calling, you can quickly call for help and alert your emergency contacts.
Apple Watch Series 7 also detect if you’ve taken a hard fall, then automatically calls emergency services for you. The Noise app alerts when decibels reach levels that could damage your hearing.
Apple Watch Series 7 has the same processor as last year’s Apple Watch Series 6. Even though it has a new name, being called S7, it has the same CPU power. It’s not the first time Apple does something like that. With the Apple Watch Series 5, the S5 chip had the same performance as the S4 SoC but brought a Compass feature built-in as well.
The S7 SiP has a 64-bit dual-core processor and features 32GB of storage. As the S6 chip, it’s 20% faster than the processor found inside the Apple Watch SE.
Apple Watch finishes
With Apple Watch Series 7, Apple brought three different finishes:
Release date: When will Apple Watch Series 7 come out?
Apple Watch Series 7 is available since October 15.
Price: How much Apple Watch Series 7 cost?
Apple Watch Series 7 starts at 399. The are the same as the last year’s model, as you can see below:
- Aluminum, 40mm, GPS: 399
- Aluminum, 40mm, GPS Cellular: 499
- Aluminum, 44mm, GPS: 429
- Aluminum, 44m, GPS Cellular: 529
- Stainless steel, 40mm, GPS Cellular: 699
- Stainless steel, 44mm, GPS Cellular: 749
- Titanium, 40mm, GPS Cellular: 849
- Titanium, 44mm, GPS Cellular: 899
Lower may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.
In line with similar promotions offered for iPhone and iPad purchases, Apple says that customers can buy a GPS Cellular model of the Apple Watch Series 7 and get a 100 rebate when they activate it with T-Mobile/Sprint or Verizon. Apple says:
Customers can buy Apple Watch (GPS Cellular) directly from Apple.com/store or at an Apple Store and get 100 back when they activate it with T-Mobile/Sprint or Verizon.
You can learn more about it here.
Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the Apple Watch Series 7 and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.
The Apple Watch Series 7 features watchOS 8. It was previewed during the WWDC21 keynote and is available since September 20. Here are its key functions:
- New custom Watch Faces;
- Focus mode so you can filter out distractions;
- New Mindfulness app;
- New Pilates and Tai Chi workouts;
- Locate misplaced Apple devices with Find Devices, including Items, Devices, and People.
For the Series 7, Apple is also introducing a few tweaks thanks to its larger display. For example, it will be possible to write a message using QuickPath.
watchOS 8.1 features
A month after releasing watchOS 8, the company updated the Apple Watch with version 8.1 with some bug fixes.
watch 8.3 features
Apple skipped watchOS 8.2 and seeded after 8.1, version 8.3 with the following improvements:
- Apple Music Voice Plan gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
- Support for App Privacy Report to record data and sensor access
- Fixes an issue where notifications may interrupt Mindfulness sessions unexpectedly for some users.
watchOS 8.4 features
watchOS 8.4, which was released on January 26, fixed a bug that prevented Apple Watch from being recharged with some third-party chargers. Apart from that, there are no notable features in this operating system.
watchOS 8.5 features
After small updates, watchOS 8.5 brings a handful of new features. Here are the most important:
- New emoji;
- New non-binary, American Siri voice;
- Ability to authorize Apple TV purchases and subscriptions;
- COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format;
- Updates to irregular rhythm notifications are designed to improve atrial fibrillation identification. Available in the United States, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa, and many regions where the feature is available;
- Audio hints in Fitness provide you with audio commentary of visually demonstrated movements during workouts.
watchOS 8.6 features
watchOS 8.6 enables the ECG app and irregular rhythm notifications for Apple Watch users in Mexico. With the ECG app, users can take an electrocardiogram directly from their wrist.
According to the release notes, the update also includes “improvements and bug fixes.”
watchOS 8.7 features
According to the release notes, the update includes “improvements and bug fixes.”
Now that watchOS 9 doesn’t support Apple Watch Series 3 anymore, the operating system revamps old Watch Faces, while adding four new ones. With these new faces, Apple makes them look better on bigger displays. In addition, the company is adding QWERTY keyboard support for more languages for the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8 and new QuickType technology with watchOS 9.
watchOS 9 also brings a significant update to the Workout app with a lot of new features for people who love to exercise. For runners, there’s a new Workout Views where they just need to turn the Digital Crown in order to see lots of metrics, which are available during the run:
Apple is also improving the Sleep app with watchOS 9. It now brings more sleep data and there’s a new Medications app that helps you track all the pills and vitamins you take every day.
For Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6 owners, the Apple Watch Series 7 isn’t a necessary upgrade. For those coming from a Series 4 or older, this new Apple Watch will sure bring improvements: a faster processor, bigger and brighter screen, more sensors, and, also, a slight redesign.
Apple Watch Series 7 review: bigger screen, faster charging, still the best
The Series 7 version costs from £369 (399/A599) and, despite being £10 cheaper than last year’s Series 6, is Apple’s most expensive smartwatch, above the Watch SE costing from £249 (279/A429). It requires an iPhone 6S or newer and does not work with Android.
Every extra pixel on a device as small as a smartwatch counts. On-screen buttons are bigger and easier to tap. text fits on the display or fonts can be made larger and easier to read. New watch faces can fit two full-size information widgets at once, and there’s a new full qwerty keyboard for typing out messages that is exclusive to the Series 7.
None of these additions are revolutionary, but they are good refinements to the current Apple Watch formula.
Slick performance, 36-hour battery life
The new S7 chip matches the performance of last year’s S6, making the Series 7 the fastest, smoothest and slickest smartwatch you can buy. Battery life is the same, too, lasting about 36 hours between charges with sleep tracking overnight and the screen on all of the time during the day. Tracking a 35-minute run consumed 7% of the battery, so it should manage a marathon or two.
Apple does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery in the Series 7. Batteries in similar devices typically last at least 500 full charge cycles while maintaining at least 80% of their original capacity. The battery can be replaced for £82.44. Repairs cost between £286.44 and £462.44 depending on the model, while repair specialists iFixit awarded the Series 7 a repairability score of 6 out of 10.
The Series 7 includes 100% recycled aluminium, 99% recycled tungsten and rare earth elements, and 100% recycled tin in the solder of its main chips. Apple offers trade-in and free recycling for devices, and breaks down the watch’s environmental impact in its report.
WatchOS 8 and health tracking
The Series 7 runs the same watchOS 8 software as every Apple Watch from 2015’s Series 3. It adds a portrait photo watch face, the “FOCUS” notification handlings from iOS 15 and the ability to set more than one timer at once.
It also adds better text entry including the ability to use combinations of dictation, scribble, emojis and a full qwerty keyboard. There is also a redesigned meditation app that melds breathing coaching with mindfulness.
WatchOS 8 is the best supported and most capable smartwatch operating system available, despite recent advances by Google with WearOS. You can expect at least five years or longer of software support, including feature and security updates, which is far longer than smartwatch rivals.
The Series 7 has the same comprehensive health-tracking features as the Series 6, including the ability to take ECG for heart rhythm, blood oxygen level monitoring and fitness tracking across a large range of workout types. Only dedicated multisport watches track more metrics across running, cycling and adventure sports.
- Sleep tracking now includes respiration rate, but not sleep cycles like some competitors.
- The Apple Watch can be used to unlock an iPhone with Face ID when wearing a mask, which is extremely convenient.
- Bands made for older Apple Watch models fit the Series 7.
The Apple Watch Series 7 comes in two sizes, three different materials and models with the option of 4G that requires an eSIM and compatible phone plan add-on.
The aluminium or Nike versions in 41mm size cost £369 (399/A599) or £399 (429/A649). 4G models cost an extra £100 (100/A150). Stainless steel and titanium models cost more.
There wasn’t a lot wrong with last year’s Series 6, so a bigger, better screen and faster charging add to an already winning experience.
It is still expensive, even if it is £10 cheaper than last year, and the lack of third-party watch faces means you’re stuck using only those that are built in. Sleep tracking could be better, too, but the rest of the health features are top-class.
It is not worth upgrading from a recent Apple Watch. But for those with worn-out models or looking for their first smartwatch for the iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 7 is the best you can buy.
Pros: excellent haptic vibrations, larger and better always-on screen, ECG, top health tracking, great activity tracking, 50m water resistance, solid battery, long software support, recycled aluminium.
Cons: expensive, only works with an iPhone, sleep tracking still not great, blood oxygen data not that useful, no third-party watch faces, not a giant upgrade.