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31 Dec 2021

New Apple Watch Series 7: is it worth upgrading to?

We've tested the newest addition to the Apple Watch family. Find out if you should upgrade or stick with your existing smartwatch

If you're a die-hard Apple fan, chances are you were waiting with bated breath for the new Apple Watch Series 7 to launch earlier this year. Now we've run it through our lab tests, we can report how it measures up to older models in terms of specs and features, and whether you should upgrade from previous generations.

With a new model being released every year, Apple has its work cut out in creating something that catches people's attention - especially if they've only had their current watch for 12 months or less.

Below, we pit the new Series 7 against the other watches currently available on Apple's website, helping you work out whether it's worth splashing out if you've already got a Series 4, 5, or 6 Apple Watch.

Take a look at all of our Apple Watch reviews to see what we thought of each model we've tested.

Apple Watch Series 7: overview

Apple claims that the Series 7 offers its 'largest, most advanced display yet' alongside up to 33% faster charging, improved durability and 'breakthrough' health innovations.

We tested the 45mm version, which is indeed the largest screen we've seen from any Apple model, although it is only 1mm larger than the Series 6. It's also designed to be crack resistant, dust resistant and water resistant - so you can use it in the swimming pool.

You can use it to measure your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, plus the Series 7 is capable of generating an ECG reading in just 30 seconds. This can indicate the regularity of your heart rate to give you peace of mind, but if you're feeling unwell you should always seek professional medical attention.

The Series 7 comes with all of the workout modes that we saw on the Series 6, with the addition of Tai Chi and Pilates modes. You can also turn on a voice feedback feature to announce milestones like speed and distance, so you don't have to keep glancing at your wrist.

Sounds good so far? Read our full Apple Watch Series 7 review to find out whether or not this model is accurate and easy to use.

How does the Apple Watch Series 7 compare to previous models?

See the table below for some key technical specifications for the Apple Watch Series 7, compared to the Series 3 and SE. These are the three models that are currently available to buy directly from Apple.

As far as most features are concerned, there aren't really any major differences aside from screen size options. The only notable functions the Series 3 is missing are NFC (the ability to make contactless payments) and a pulse oximeter, but this is reflected in the significantly lower price.

Apple Watch Series 3Apple Watch SEApple Watch Series 7
Screen size38-42mm40-44mm41-45mm
Claimed battery life18 hours18 hours18 hours
ConnectivityWi-fi and BluetoothWi-fi, Bluetooth and Apple PayWi-fi, Bluetooth and Apple Pay
Screen typeOLED touchscreenOLED touchscreenOLED touchscreen
Compatible withiOS 11 or lateriOS 14 or lateriOS 15 or later
Built-in GPSYesYesYes

Read our in-depth reviews of the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch Series SE if you feel like one of those might be a better fit.

Should you upgrade from an Apple Watch Series 4, 5 or 6?

If you've got one of the newer Apple watches, you may be wondering if it's worth upgrading to the Series 7 now it's here. Long story short, unless you're looking for a slightly larger screen and a handful of niche new features the answer is probably no.

The Series 4, 5, 6 and 7 all offer features like built-in GPS and heart rate monitors, and although the exact workouts you can track on each one can vary slightly there just isn't that much between them. If you're looking to track your blood oxygen levels though, you're going to need to upgrade to at least the Series 6.

If you do decide to upgrade and you've had your iPhone a few years, remember to check that your selected model will definitely be compatible with the version of iOS running on your iPhone (see the table above).

We've tested and reviewed all of the latest Apple models, so you can read our reviews of the Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 6 to help make your decision.

Cheaper alternatives to the Apple Watch

If you don't fancy spending upwards of £369 on the Series 7 - or if Apple watches just aren't your thing - here are a few cheaper options that could be worth looking at.

Amazfit GTS 3, £149

You can see at a glance that the design of the Amazfit GTS 3 is heavily inspired by the Apple Watch, but at almost one-third of the price it'll be a lot kinder on your wallet. It has a 44mm AMOLED touchscreen display and is water-resistant to 5ATM, so you can keep it on in the swimming pool.

Its fitness features include built-in GPS, a heart-rate monitor and tracking for over 150 different activities. It can track sleep too, although this function is never 100% accurate and should only ever be used as a guide - the same goes for its blood oxygen tracking.

You'll be able to control music playing from your phone, although there's no storage to keep anything on the watch itself. It doesn't have the ability to make contactless payments either, so it may not be an option if that's a deal-breaker for you.

Curious to see what else this Apple lookalike has to offer? Read our full Amazfit GTS 3 review to find out more.

Huawei Watch 3 (Active) 46mm, £279

This mid-priced Huawei smartwatch packs in a range of fitness features that would impress even the most seasoned sports fanatic. You can select from over 100 different sports modes, some of which will automatically detect you're exercising, and there's built-in GPS to track your outdoor walks, runs and cycles.

It has a heart-rate monitor and can estimate your VO2 max, which is a measure of your aerobic fitness. You can also monitor your blood oxygen (SpO2) level, plus there's a skin-temperature sensor.

The watch has its own speaker and microphone, enabling you to use voice control or even have a phone conversation using the device itself. You'll be able to make contactless payments too, and it comes with wi-fi and Bluetooth to help you stay connected.

Want to find out more before you make your final decision? Read our full Huawei Watch 3 (Active) 46mm review to discover how it fared in our rigorous lab tests.

Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS, £290

One of the latest releases from Mobvoi, the Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS comes with a 35mm AMOLED touchscreen and has a 454 x 454 pixel resolution. It has Bluetooth, wi-fi and NFC, so you can make contactless payments at the touch of your wrist.

You can control music playing from your phone, plus there's 8GB of internal memory to store music on this watch too. There are more than 20 different workout modes to choose from.

Similarly to the newer Apple watches, this model has a pulse oximeter function, giving you an idea of how much oxygen there is in your blood at any given time. As it isn't a medical device though, any unusual readings should be taken with a pinch of salt and you should always speak to a medical professional if you're unsure.

Find out how accurate this smartwatch is by heading to our full Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review.