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Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6: What will be different?

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6
(Image credit: Jon Prosser/Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch 7 is expected to arrive this fall with upgrades that elevate it from the current Apple Watch 6 flagship. So how exactly will the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6 comparison play out?

Apple will keep its Series 7 plans under-wraps for a few more months, but we can make some educated guesses based on recent reports, as well as precedent. Apple tends to take an incremental approach to improving its smartwatch, meaning we don’t anticipate seeing sweeping changes. 

Based on what we’ve heard thus far,, the Apple Watch 7 won’t be changed enough to convince Apple Watch 6 users to trade in. But it should take exciting steps towards making the best smartwatch even better. Here’s how the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6 might compare according to rumors and latest news leading up to the next-generation model’s launch.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Design

The look of the Apple Watch has hardly changed over the years. You wouldn't be able to tell the Apple Watch 6 from the Apple Watch 5 or Apple Watch 4 before it, unless you noticed the brighter always-on display. 

That could change with the Apple Watch 7. According to Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser, Apple is working on a radical smartwatch redesign that would transition the Apple Watch from curved edges to flat ones. The version would ultimately look like a miniature version of the iPhone 12, based on the renders Prosser shared. The leaker noted that the design changes could be planned for a later model, though.  

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo)

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggested the Apple Watch 7’s design will change. Gurman said the next Apple Watch will sport thinner bezels in a recent report detailing several upcoming features. According to Gurman's sources, Apple is testing a "new lamination technique" that brings the watch's touchscreen display closer to the top casing. The sources also said Apple Watch 7 could be "slightly thicker," but not enough for users to notice.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Features

Apple usually debuts a few exclusive features with each new version of its smartwatch. The Apple Watch 6 got a blood oxygen reader and always-on altimeter, while the Apple Watch 5 got a compass and the first iteration of an always-on display. 

The Apple Watch 7’s new features are difficult to predict. Previous reports pointed to the next Apple Watch getting a built-in blood glucose reader to challenge the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, but those rumors have since fizzled.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Apple)

Instead, the next Apple Watch could focus on fitness upgrades and get new swim-tracking features, according to Bloomberg. We know that with watchOS 8 the Apple Watch will be able to track pilates and Tai Chi (among several other software improvements) but the Series 7’s hardware could support dedicated workout tools.

But as we know, mental wellness is as important as physical wellness. The Apple Watch 7 could take a cue from the Fitbit Sense and introduce its own version of a skin-temperature reader or EDA sensor. By measuring your electrodermal activity alongside manual data input, the Apple Watch would be able to detect your stress and prompt you to launch watchOS 8’s Mindfulness app. 

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Battery life

The Apple Watch 6’s battery life didn’t improve with the S6 chipset. On the bright side, literally, the current Apple Watch's always-on display is two-and-a-half times brighter and the performance is 20% faster than the Series 5’s. 

Will the Apple Watch 7 finally offer longer stamina than 18 hours? While we don’t want to get our hopes up, a report from DigiTimes suggests it's possible. The Apple Watch will allegedly sport a smaller, doubled-sided S7 chip made by Taiwan’s ASE Technology.

ASE Technology’s website confirms the double-sided technology allows for ‘module miniaturization,’ leading to a shrunken chip design. With the saved space, Apple would have the opportunity to include a larger battery in the Apple Watch 7. We know we’d welcome a longer time between charges.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Outlook

Apple set the smartwatch bar high for itself several years ago, which is why the incremental improvements continue to pay off. But competing smartwatches are getting better — not quite good enough yet to beat Apple at its own game, though the gap is closing. 

Though unlikely to materialize, sweeping Apple Watch 7 upgrades could make the flagship unbeatable. But as long as some of the above changes come to fruition, Apple should be able to hold on to its lead. 

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.