Apple Watch 7 may not work with old bands — here's why

Apple Watch 7 leak
(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo)

A number of sources have reported that the new Apple Watch 7 will feature the first screen size increase since the fourth generation arrived in 2018. The 1mm change to 41- and 45mm may not sound like a lot, but this could mean that, across the diagonal, the larger model goes from 1.78 to 1.9 inches

While generally viewed as a positive move, it does raise an interesting question about what happens to existing bands, both Apple made and third party. While previous leaks have suggested that older straps will continue to fit the Apple Watch 7, Android Police’s Max Weinbach speculates that this may not be the case, based on what he’s heard from an Apple Store employee.

Any anecdotal observation like this should be treated with a degree of skepticism, and there are reasons to be extra cautious here. Note that the team only “expect” the Watch won’t use the same strap, and Weinbach’s source is just one member of said team. Maybe their specific store isn’t getting any more, but every other shop in the district is? Maybe they have a surplus they need to get rid of? Maybe more will be coming, but Apple first has to rework the packaging to indicate the product is compatible with both the 40- and 41mm versions?

All of these things are possible or Weinbach’s source could be bang on the money. Perhaps the new design simply doesn’t fit the older generation, and/or Apple sees an opportunity to sell new straps to people who’ve been using the same one since the first-generation watch arrived in 2015.

After six years of band compatibility, it’s hard to complain too much if the seventh generation of Apple Watch mixes things up. After all, we don’t expect our iPhone cases to work from one generation to the next, so should Apple Watch straps really be any different? The device will almost certainly ship with a strap of some kind, so it’s not like buyers will be stuck without: it’s just up to them to decide whether they want to spruce it up with something a little more distinctive than the default choice.

In addition to generally making things easier to read on the wrist, the new larger Apple Watch 7 screen could lead to a number of brand new watch faces. While every new design might not eventually ship with the Apple Watch 7, Apple is apparently toying with a design featuring a number of extra complications stacked to the side, and another which shows all the world’s 24 time zones simultaneously. 

Hopefully, we’ll get to see the new watch this month at the Apple Event, though the production line has reportedly hit problems that could either see the Apple Watch 7 delayed or available in limited quantities at launch.  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.