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I skipped buying the Apple Watch 7 and bought this $30 accessory instead

Apple Watch 6 back
(Image credit: Future)

When the Apple Watch 7 became available to preorder this past Friday, I didn't rush to buy one. Instead I snapped up a new Apple Watch accessory that could improve older models with one of the Series 7's standout upgrades.

For the first time Apple is shipping its smartwatch with a magnetic to USB-C charger, instead of a magnetic to USB-A charger. If you remember, a similar switch was made for the best iPhones when the iPhone 11 series came with Lightning to USB-C chargers two years ago. The comparable result is faster charging times, so your everyday Apple devices spend less time tethered to a cord.

Though faster charging was touted as a major Apple Watch 7 feature during the Apple eventin September, it turns out the new cord gets the credit. That means if you use the magnetic to USB-C charger with any of the best Apple Watch models from the past, you could experience faster charging.

Maintaining my Apple Watch 6 battery life is a daily priority. I even bought this $10 charging accessory so no matter where I am, my Apple Watch won't run out juice, putting my activity streaks in peril. 

I had hoped the Apple Watch 7 would finally boost to the product's familiar 18-hour estimate so I wouldn't need to be as preoccupied with keeping it charged. While the latest Apple Watch earned a curvier chassis, larger Apple Watch 7 sizes and a bigger display, rumored battery life improvements didn't materialize.

So if you were wondering whether you should buy the Apple Watch 7 to replace your current Apple Watch, you might want to remove faster charging as a deciding reason to upgrade. Sure, if the redesigned display calls to you, or you're ready for more of the health features that have been tacked on in recent years, the Apple Watch 7 will probably be the best smartwatch for you.

But if the enhanced charging is what stood out to you, know that you don't necessarily need to get a new Apple Watch to change your current charging routine. Apple sells the Apple Watch 7's new charger separately. And it doesn't seem to be facing shipping delays or availability shortages like the new watch itself.

Apple Watch Magnetic to USB-C Charger:

Apple Watch Magnetic to USB-C Charger: $29 @ Apple
This Apple Watch Magnetic to USB-C charger costs just less than $30. It allows your smartwatch to spend less time juicing up and more time on your wrist.

It's important to note the product description says the faster charger via USB-C only works for Apple Watch Series 7. The description seems to suggest the Apple Watch 7's battery has a tweaked element that makes is most compatible with the new cord. But I'm optimistic I'll see at least a little bit faster charging when I use it with my Apple Watch 6, the same way the iPhone 11's charger helped my iPhone XR juice up more quickly.

For the best results, it's recommend to use the magnetic to USB-C charger with one of Apple's adapter. I'd go for the 20W one, which costs $19. As long as the new charger does in fact help older models charge faster, you can spend about $50 for an updated experience rather than paying $399 or more for a new Apple Watch. 

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.