Apple Watch Series 7 release date, features, specs, rumours

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(Pocket-lint) - Apple's next smartwatch is due to appear in a couple of months, likely alongside the iPhone 13 range, and there has been plenty of speculation as to what might appear.

Here's everything we've heard so far about the Apple Watch Series 7, mixed with our wishlist.

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What will the next Apple Watch be called?

  • Probably Apple Watch Series 7

Unlike the iPhone, Apple didn't mess around with the Watch naming structure. Since the original was followed by the Apple Watch Series 1, the company has used sequential numbers every year.

It is therefore highly likely we can expect 2021's watch to be called the Apple Watch Series 7, succeeding 2020's Apple Watch Series 6. We also saw the Watch SE launch in 2020, though it's not yet clear if that will be refreshed every year. 

The new watch, or watches, will run Apple's watchOS 8, which was previewed during Apple's developer conference at the beginning of June. You can read all about the features coming to Apple Watch in our separate watchOS 8 feature.

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Apple Watch Series 7 release date

  • September 2021
  • Likely from $399/£379

Apple typically holds its iPhone launch event in September of every year and the next iteration of the Watch is normally announced at the same time.

Of course, things didn't quite follow the 'normal' path in 2020. The Apple Watch Series 6 and Watch SE were revealed ahead of the iPhone 12 series on 15 September 2020.

At the moment, it is not yet known if Apple will return to tradition for 2021. If it does, we'd pencil in 7 September 2021, but we'd put that in very light pencil for now. We'd expect rumours to appear in the next few weeks of various leakers claiming to know, but the official information won't appear until the end of August 2021 at the earliest.

In terms of price, the Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399/£379. We'd expect the same ballpark for the Series 7.

Design

  • Squarer edges like iPhone 12?
  • Explorer Edition?

The Apple Watch Series 4 made some big design changes in terms of display and the Series 5, Series 6 and Watch SE adopt the same design. The general style and shape remain the same as the original Watch, but the newer watches offer a lot more screen in similar footprints.

It could be therefore, that the Series 7 offers some bigger design changes, given the Series 5 only added an always-on display and built-in compass, while the Series 6 added a blood oxygen sensor.

Rumour has it a round watch face and wrap-around flexible display are being researched, but there's also been talk of a squared-edge design for the Series 7, following in the same footsteps as the iPhone 12 models, iPad Air and the M1 iMac. It's also said the display will be flatter.

A more rugged, "Explorer Edition" Apple Watch has also been mentioned, which might see some design changes. Rumours suggest it could come with a rubberised case.

Features and specs

  • Focus on fitness - more advanced features
  • Better sleep tracking
  • Improved battery life
  • Smart straps

In terms of features, we expect more health and fitness features on the Series 7, perhaps taking on the likes of Garmin with a recovery feature similar to Body Battery for example. Garmin also do a great job of enabling users to share their runs or activity so we wouldn't be surprised to see Apple take a leaf out of this book.

It's claimed there will be a 'Time to Run' feature and Audio Meditations joining the 'Time to Walk' feature on Fitness+. 

We'd like to see battery improvements to match other smartwatches in the market, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and we'd also like to see more advanced sleep tracking on the Series 7, as well as roaming capabilities.

Apple revealed sleep tracking as part of watchOS 7, meaning it is available on older Apple Watches too, but it isn't as detailed as some other devices on the market. Perhaps some extra hardware on the Series 7 could put it up there with the Fitbit's and Garmin's. We know Respiratory Rate is coming with watchOS 8, but we'd like to see more than this.

With watchOS 8, the Apple Watch will be able to unlock more. Rather than just being able to unlock your Mac and iPhone when a face mask is detected, it will be able ro act as a digital key for you home for example, if you have a compatible lock.

Other possibilities for the Watch Series 7 could include things like smart straps, third party support for watch faces, a camera and Face ID or an under display fingerprint sensor, though we suspect the latter are wishful thinking rather than plausible additions, mainly due to lack of space for the sensors.

Apple Watch Series 7 rumours: What's happened so far?

Here are all the rumours and news so far, surrounding future Apple Watches.

16 August 2021: Apple Watch Series 7 to bring Time to Run feature, M1X MacBook Pro coming soon

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg published his Power On newsletter detailing some things expected for Apple's upcoming devices. The newsletter claims the Apple Watch Series 7 will offer a faster processor, slight redesign, flatter screen and Time to Walk and Audio Meditations in Fitness+.

7 June 2021: Apple previews watchOS 8

Apple previewed the features coming to watchOS 8 during Day One of its WWDC 21 conference.

19 May 2021: Apple Watch Series 7 could have squared design like iPhone 12

Leaker Jon Prosser claimed the Apple Warch Series 7 would come with a redesign and a new green colour option.

Matt Talks Tech / AppleTrack

3 May 2021: Will the next Apple Watch read blood sugar and alcohol levels? Possibly

A major feature coming to the Apple Watch could have been revealed in an SEC filing for UK-based startup Rockley Photonics.

Rockley Photonics designs sensors for monitoring a person's blood using infrared light. The sensors could be used for monitoring blood glucose and alcohol levels. 

26 March 2021: Apple considering 2021 launch for 'Explorer Edition' Watch designed for extreme conditions and athletes

A report from Bloomberg suggested Apple is considering the launch of an all-new Apple Watch model designed for athletes, hikers and those who would use the smartwatchin extreme environments. It is said to launch in 2021 or 2022 and possibly offer a rubberised case.

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23 March 2021: Patent suggests redesign of Apple Watch

MacRumours reported Apple could be looking into a potential "redesign for the Apple Watch, including a rounded watch face, wrap-around flexible display, and digitally-customizable watch bands". The report came after the discovery of a newly-granted patent filing.

15 Febraury 2021: No glucose monitoring coming to Series 7 after all

Leaker Max Weinbach dispelled rumours that the Apple Watch Series 7 would feature glucose monitoring. It was a feature previously reported, but Weinbach has claimed it isn't coming yet.

12 January 2021: Future Apple Watch could have Wrist ID, patent suggests

A patent was filed by Apple for a light sensor on the back of its Watch that would shine light onto the user's wrist and generate a field image of the area.

The image would feature veins from your arm and should be as unique as a fingerprint, allowing the Apple Watch to recognise who has put the Apple Watch on and unlocking it accordingly. 

14 November 2020: New Apple Watch design could arrive 2021

9to5 reported that analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed a new Apple Watch design would arrive in 2021 at the earliest. The report said Kuo speculates that a "significant form factor design change would come with new Apple Watch models in 2H21 at the earliest."

22 July 2020: Apple Watch With MicroLED Display Could Launch in 2020

MacRumours reported that Apple was in talks with Taiwanese display manufacturers to use microLED displays in its products in 2020. We didn't see that in the Watch Series 6, but maybe this is something we will see on the Watch Series 7.

16 April 2020: Could a future Apple watch detect if you've fallen into a river?

As we've seen from the introduction of heart monitoring features, Apple is keen to make Apple Watch into a device that promotes life. According to an Apple patent, a future device could detect the type of water its in and therefore assess if you've fallen into a river or the sea and then assess your situation. For example, if your watch's GPS assesses you're in deep water it could be set to alert authorities. 

6 February 2020: Digital Crown could get new features

One of the most distinctive things about the Apple Watch is the Digital Crown. Now it could be getting some new features to make it touch or light-sensitive. Certainly Apple would intend for the crown to become more sensitive through these methods, not less. Again, these have been spotted thanks to a patent release.

"The crown may include a light-directing feature configured to direct, onto the image-sensing element, an image of an object in contact with the imaging surface" says the filing. The crown could potentially detect the motion of your finger as you rotate or touch the crown. 

Apple Insider suggests this could mean that the Digital Crown has less physical bulk, therefore, making room within the watch for other components.

30 January 2020: Digital Crown set to be replaced with an optical reader? 

A patent spotted by Patently Apple shows the Apple Watch Digital Crown being replaced by an optical fingerprint reader instead which could then recognise gestures, such as if you were to rotate the virtual crown. 

At present we think it's unlikely that Apple would remove the Digital Crown because it's one of the most distinctive features of the timepiece. But this could happen in a future version of the Apple Watch rather than being for this year, of course. 

11 November 2019: Could Touch ID make its way to the Apple Watch?

Apple filed a patent that turns the Apple Watch screen into a Touch ID sensor. The patent notes that "the display may provide an image or video output for the watch body 100. The display may also provide an input surface for one or more input devices such as a touch sensing device, force-sensing device, temperature sensing device, and/or a fingerprint sensor."

While we're seeing a lot of phones with under-display fingerprint readers now, this move would require quite a step-up in technology because of the diminutive size of the watch.

5 August 2019: Apple Watch could use in-display fingerprint sensor

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple will introduce an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor into the 2021 iPhone, but he also said the technology could be used in a new Apple Watch too.

Currently, the Apple Watch has no biometric security but an in-display fingerprint sensor would allow it to offer some, without changing the design.

16 January 2019: Three big health features rumoured

The Fast Company reported that Apple has hired numerous clinicians and engineers to work on health features for the Apple Watch, which are said to include blood pressure, blood glucose or diabetes management and sleep tracking or science. Given these didn't appear on the Series 6, perhaps they are destined for the Series 7?

8 May 2018: Patent for round Apple Watch approved

A patent for circular screen technology was approved, after being originally filed in January 2016. The filing mentioned wrist wear, leading some to assume a circular Apple Watch was coming.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 14 December 2020.

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