The Apple Watch is probably the most widely known smartwatch and offers almost infinite customisation. Its features can make your life easier and ensure that you’re always within reach. We put the latest generation of the popular watch to the test to see what it’s capable of.
For many, a life without the products from tech giant Apple seems almost unimaginable. After the introduction of countless computers and smartphones, the first Apple Watch was introduced to the world at the end of 2014. The 7th generation of the watch has been on the market since October 2021. Being an Apple product, its functions get controlled via an iPhone, so, as you may have guessed already, it makes little sense to purchase an Apple Watch unless you own an iPhone. However, if you do, you have a wide range of choices when buying the new Apple Watch, with prices ranging all the way from € 429 to € 829.
The new Apple Watch S7 in detail
In addition to a large colour palette, Apple also offer three different housing materials and two sizes, as well as the option of eSIM compatibility. With the latter, you can receive and send SMS messages and make calls without being connected to your iPhone. You can’t use it to connect to the internet, however, so the common messenger services won’t function. As such, the configuration you choose depends entirely on your preferences, the intended use and your budget. Besides the technical specifications, you can choose from a huge and constantly growing selection of straps. There’s leather, recycled yarn, stainless steel braiding or silicone, to name just a few of the options. The good thing about it is that the straps are quick and easy to swap out without tools, so you can adapt your watch to suit any occasion at a moment’s notice. For example, you could wear the silicone strap while jogging and pitch up at a wedding in a fancy suit and a leather strap just a few minutes later. Cool! And if you accidentally smash your watch against the wall at a wild party, the Apple Watch should come away unscathed thanks to the shatterproof glass. The large and crisp 1.9″ retina display remains easy to read even in poor light conditions and came away from all our escapades with nothing but a few small scratches.
The watch gets charged via an inductive charging station, which is included in the scope of delivery. To do so, simply place the Apple Watch on the designated charging area – you’ll receive a notification on your iPhone as soon as the watch is fully charged. When using the USB-C fast charging station, a full charge should take less than 60 minutes. Depending on your activities, you’ll have to charge the watch once a day, so you’ll want to make sure to pack the charging station when travelling. You can’t connect a cable to the Apple Watch and we couldn’t charge our watch with inductive charging stations from third parties.
Dynamite comes in small packages: the Apple Watch S7 in day to day use
Most of the Apple Watch’s customisability comes from Apple’s proven app-based OS, offering near infinite possibilities. You can customise the content and functionality by downloading the desired apps in the app store to suit your personal preferences and needs. However, since every Apple user is familiar with the endless depths of the app store (for all non-apple users: #blackhole) taking an in depth look at that would go beyond the scope of this review. Instead, we’ll focus on a handful of features and apps that made our lives easier in recent months.
For most – but not all – functions, your Apple Watch needs to be connected to your phone. However, this should rarely be a problem, since the Apple Watch can connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth, WiFi and even a mobile network (in the case of the model with an eSIM), and we rarely leave home without our phones. When you’re at home or in the office, your phone needs to be within a range of about 30 m. So you can move around freely – in most apartments 😉 – and still use all functions. If you’ve forgotten where you placed your phone, there’s a quick access function on the watch to make it ring and quickly locate it. Darkness no longer poses a problem either as the small integrated flashlight allowed us to find our way out of countless situations or find items in the dark depths of our bags. Our female readers are especially likely to love this feature 😉
Siri, who’s at your beck and call by briefly pressing and holding the right-hand dial, also did a great job of supporting us day to day, providing answers, the occasional joke and reminding us to take the pasta off the stove. However, sometimes she even chipped in without being asked, since it’s quite easy to press the dial without intending to when you bend your wrist. Also, the thought that someone is constantly eavesdropping on you, and the targeted ads that follow shortly after having a conversation with someone are a bit worrying.
Reading emails and text messages is no problem; you could even read novellas on your wrist by gently scrolling the dial. By drawing, dictating or using preconfigured answers, replying is easy, too. Alternatively, you can switch straight to a call, speaking into your wrist like James Bond. We had crystal-clear conversations both in the shower (don’t worry, the Apple Watch is waterproof) and at high speeds on the bike. In some situations, however, we would have liked to turn the volume up higher to better hear the other person at the end of the line. The Apple Watch also did a great job of replacing the hands-free system in our car, but the legal situation of doing so is yet to be clarified and we recommend that you find out about this in your respective country. The same applies when using the navigation function, which works both with and without the display on your iPhone. In other words, you can leave your phone in your pocket while walking, cycling or driving and simply follow the arrows displayed on the watch. The smartwatch vibrates shortly before a turn, prompting you to take a brief look at the display and see where to go next. Miss an offramp? Almost impossible.
Another feature of the Apple Watch is that it tracks your activities, mostly running in the background. Not only does the watch remind you to stand up and move regularly, but it also tells you your activity status several times a day. It’s divided into three categories: move, exercise and stand. In your overview, you can see how active you’ve been that day and whether you’ve achieved your goals, which you can set in the app. Although this isn’t a ground-breaking or rare function for a smartwatch, it’s still a great daily motivator. Our standing desk got used more often in recent months than ever before. With a compatible training app, you can also record your workouts. In that case, the Apple Watch isn’t just capable of recording your route via GPS, but also provides valuable fitness and training data thanks to the integrated pulse oximeter.
Is the Apple Watch S7 still a watch?
Although the name and the fact that you wear it on your wrist suggest that this is a watch, there is very little similarity to its analogue counterpart, which merely tells the time and date. So, we must either change our idea of a watch, or just keep in mind that a smartwatch has little in common with its ancestors. The Apple Watch is more like a second smartphone, just that it’s wearable and even more easily accessible. Which also means that, depending on how the watch and its apps are set up, you can be reached extremely easily and quickly. This can be an advantage, but it also led to the fact that we occasionally decided not to wear the watch in order to get some peace and quiet. On the other hand, it you’re likely to pick up your phone less often, because you can view incoming calls and messages on your wrist and dismiss whatever isn’t that important. As such, the Apple Watch is both a blessing and a curse, and it’s made us more aware of our accessibility and screen time.
Our conclusion on the Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 isn’t just the best-known, but also the most versatile smartwatch on the market. The reason for this is both the freely customisable look and the app-based OS. The smartwatch can be easily adapted to suit your needs and preferences, offering countless useful features to make your life easier. However, the constant and easy accessibility can also become a burden and we recommend adjusting the watch and its applications to your desired screen time.
- fully customisable look
- wide choice of specs to suit your needs
- countless practical functions
- short battery life
- always accessible (depending on your setting)
For more information, visit apple.com
Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker, Julian Lemme