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Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 4: Should you upgrade?

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4
(Image credit: Future)

There are quite a few differences between the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4. Three years later, Apple Watch 4 owners might be wondering if it's time to upgrade after reading our Apple Watch 7 review.

You're supposed to get a few years out of Apple's smartwatches. Not that the iPhone isn't built to last, but there aren't as many annual trade-in incentives for the Apple Watch as there are for the company's smartphones. That's why it's pretty unexpected for someone to swap out the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6.

But if you've been using the same Apple Watch for several years now, you could be due for something fresh. In our "Should you buy the Apple Watch 7?" guide, we recommended looking into how to trade in your Apple Watch if you have a Series 4. This is probably the last year it'll be worth a fair sum.

Still, is enough different for you to make the upgrade to the best Apple Watch? Here's everything you need to know about the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4, from new features to how their battery lives compare.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Specs compared

Apple Watch 7Apple Watch 4
Sizes41mm, 45mm40mm, 44mm
ColorsMidnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, RedSilver, Space Gray, Gold
ProcessorS7S4
Always On DisplayYesNo
Storage32GB16GB
Health featuresSpO2, ECG, heart rate notificationsECG, heart rate notifications
Battery life18 hours18 hours

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Price and availability

The Apple Watch 7 is available now and starts at $399 for the 41mm model. The larger 45mm model starts at $429. For cellular support, which lets your Apple Watch optionally work untethered from your iPhone, you'll spend $499 for the 41mm size or $529 for the 45mm size. 

You can't buy the Apple Watch 4 new anymore. You can trade it in for about $100 towards a different device through Apple or Best Buy, if you want. And yes, you can also buy the Apple Watch 4 refurbished, but we'd recommend checking out the best cheap smartwatches instead.

And see all the best Apple Watch deals right now before you buy. You could find big savings on Apple's smartwatches, depending on the retailer.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Design and display

The first thing you probably noticed about the Series 4 was its face. At the time, Apple stripped away the thick bezels surrounding the watch’s display and brought the screen much closer to the edge compared to the Apple Watch 3. It also grew the Apple Watch sizes from 38mm and 42mm to 40mm and 44mm.

Apple Watch 7 review

(Image credit: Future)

Now, the Apple Watch 7 features the first real redesign since the Series 4 changes made in 2018, again introducing new Apple Watch 7 sizes — 41mm and 45mm. The chassis is slightly curvier, with a more seamless transition from the screen to the case. The Apple Watch 7 display is up to 20% larger than the Apple Watch 6 display, and by proxy the Apple Watch 4 display.

Apple Watch 7 display

(Image credit: Apple)

Speaking of displays, the Apple Watch 4 doesn't have an Always On option. It's been a screen feature of every Apple Watch since the Apple Watch 5, with the exception of the Apple Watch SE. The Apple Watch 7 even has a brighter Always On mode than before. We appreciate being able to see our complications more subtly, without raising our wrists, so this could be a reason to upgrade your current Series 4. 

apple watch 4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A few more design differences to note are durability and color options. Both the Apple Watch 7 and Apple Watch 4 are swim-proof, though only the former is rated IP6X for resistance. The Apple Watch 7 colors are completely new compared to the Apple Watch 4 colors, too. The seventh-generation smartwatch comes in Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Green and Red.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Features

There are a few Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4 features worth noting, though they offer mostly the same UI and app collections thanks to watchOS 8. The Apple Watch 7 has a Blood Oxygen app thanks to the SpO2 sensor added with the Apple Watch 6, but apps like Noise, Sleep and Find My that didn't originally ship on the Apple Watch 4 became available via software updates. 

apple watch 4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the Apple Watch 7, watchOS 8 is slightly altered to make use of the increased screen space. In addition to some exclusive watch faces, certain buttons are larger, plus the Apple Watch 7 has a QWERTY keyboard.  

Apple Watch 7 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Both Apple Watch models have in-depth activity tracking, on-board GPS and the option to add a Cellular line. The Apple Watch 4 doesn't have a compass like the Apple Watch 7, though. It also has less music storage — 16GB compared to 32GB.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Battery life

The Apple Watch 7 and Apple Watch 4 should both last up 18 hours on a full charge. Of course, device batteries deteriorate over time, so you might find your Apple Watch 4 needs to be charged more often. You can check your smartwatch's battery health in settings.

Apple Watch 7 USB-C to magnetic charger

(Image credit: Future)

One battery life perk of the Apple Watch 7 is that it comes with a new USB-C to Magnetic cord that's supposed to help charge the watch 33% faster than the Apple Watch 6. You should be able to get 8 hours of battery life for sleep tracking with an 8-minute top off before bed, too.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 4: Should you upgrade?

While Apple Watch 4 users have a few more years of software updates to look forward to, the Series 4 is now three years old, and might be worth swapping out. Especially if you wear your Apple Watch every day. The larger screen and Always On display mode make a big difference with the Apple Watch 7.

Another reason you would consider upgrading is if you're running short on storage. The Series 4 only holds 16GB, while the Series 7 holds 32GB. Of course, you'll also get other upgrades from the Series 5 and Series 6 like a compass and Blood Oxygen monitoring.

If you're hoping to get trade-in value for your current Apple Watch towards a new one, this is probably the last year the Series 4 will be worth a good sum. Consider handing over your Apple Watch 4 to ease the price of the Apple Watch 7, as long as it's in working condition. You can check out our guide to the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch SE to find out if Apple's midrange smartwatch makes more sense for you, too.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.