The best smartwatch you can buy

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Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

I have been testing the new Apple Watch Series 7 for about a week before its release on Friday. Compared with last year’s model, there are three major upgrades: more durable, larger screen, and faster charging.

Apple does not announce watch revenue like the iPad, iPhone and Mac. However, the company’s wearables, home and accessories business-including Apple Watch, HomePod, AirPods and Apple TV-is one of its fastest-growing market segments. The business generated $8.7 billion in revenue in the third fiscal quarter, surpassing Macs and iPads.

Research firm Canalys said in March that Apple’s Apple Watch shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020 were estimated at 14.5 million units, leading the market with a 25% share and a year-on-year increase of 49.2%.

Apple told me that about 75% of Apple Watch customers are buying Apple Watch for the first time, and I think Series 7 provides the best experience so far.

Buyers who are buying Apple Watch for the first time will love the Apple Watch Series 7, which starts at $399. Those who own Apple Watch Series 3 or earlier should consider upgrading, because there are enough reasons to justify it.

However, if you only need a basic smartwatch for notifications and fitness tracking, and you don’t care about the screen size, you can still buy the cheaper Apple Watch SE for $279. I would skip the $199 Series 3, although Apple is still selling it because it is outdated, and SE pays an additional $79 to get more features.

Here is what you need to know about the new Apple Watch Series 7:

What’s good

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smart watch you can buy. No other smartwatch manufacturer can match the ease of use and reliability of Series 7. There are some niche fitness tracker manufacturers — such as Garmin, which produces watches that are more focused on fitness (or things such as ultramarathons) and have longer battery life — but Apple still has the best all-round solution The program can work well with Apple phones.

The bigger screen is the biggest difference this year. Compared with last year’s Series 6, your screen area has increased by 20%, and the screen area of ​​Apple Watch Series 3 has increased by more than 50%. In contrast, it now looks a bit like a small stamp.

Due to the curved design, from a certain angle, it almost looks like the screen is scrolling on the edge.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

The bigger screen is more than just better looking. Because the buttons are larger, it is easier to enter the password. I like to see more content on the map when I walk around, and more text in pop-up emails or messages. The watch also provides a very easy-to-use touch keyboard. So you can swipe or tap the message directly on your wrist to reply to someone. I also like the new Modular Duo watch face, which allows you to display more information on the home screen.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

The larger screen means I can now see my next calendar event and a complete breakdown of all my fitness activities. But you can also customize these larger complex functions to display other data, such as the song being played, the stock or index you are watching, and the weather forecast.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

I also like that the new Apple Watch can be charged to 80% in 45 minutes. This is helpful if you just want to recharge a few minutes before going to bed to get enough battery life to track sleep. Apple said that 8 minutes of charging can provide 8 hours of sleep tracking. One day, I found fast charging useful, and just before running, I realized that I only had about 15% battery power left. I charged it while I was wearing clothes and was able to go out with more than 50% power. You must use the newly included Apple Watch data cable to charge faster.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

The Series 7 Apple Watch is more durable than any previous version. Apple says the screen is more resistant to cracking (whether it’s the glass version or the more expensive sapphire version). This watch is also dustproof for the first time. This is a feature that excites me because I always go to the beach with my Apple Watch, but worry about the sand around the crown or in the speaker. I don’t need to worry about this now. The waterproof rating of Series 7 is still up to 50 meters, and it can provide waterproof performance anywhere (including in the ocean or swimming pool), so you can swim anytime, anywhere.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

Always on Display is a must-have for me, and it works well on Apple Watch Series 7. I like it so that I can look down at the time at any time without having to raise my wrist. Apple said that now when the wrist is down, the internal brightness has increased by 70%, which should be easier to see. However, I have never really encountered a problem when reading the screen, nor have I seen a huge difference in brightness.

Then there is everything you get with Apple Watch. I like the tight integration with the iPhone, so I can get all notifications anywhere, and when I use CarPlay, it will display information such as the next driving direction. I often buy a cellular model (also available for the SE series) and leave the phone at home, but I still know that I can call my wife or play music, find my way on the map, talk to Siri, or run Text someone at the time.

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

There are more apps than competitors such as Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin. Therefore, you can pre-order Uber from your wrist or save Spotify songs offline, get more in-depth sleep tracking analysis or listen to audiobooks from Audible. If you want to access Apple’s subscription service, all models can be used with Fitness+. I really like the indoor bike course and its new meditation function. My wife uses it for yoga.

Like the previous Series 6, Series 7 is also the only product that can track blood oxygen, in case you need to pay close attention when hiking to higher altitudes. If your doctor wants to view this information, it also has an ECG app, although my doctor never asked for it, and instead performs this type of heart test in her office.

What’s wrong

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

I hope it has a longer battery life. Apple promises up to 18 hours, and I have been using Apple Watch Series 7. I just hope Apple can find a way to extend it to two or three days so that I don’t have to worry about charging. A faster charger will definitely help, but sometimes I still worry that I need to find a charger and before running Charge it. But a larger battery will make it thicker, and I don’t want it either.

It comes with a charging cable, but no plug. This is part of Apple’s environmental initiatives. The good news is that the faster charging speed works with any USB-C plug of 7.5 watts or greater, and you may have used it on an iPad or MacBook. You can still use the older cable to charge the Series 7, but it will not power up as quickly as possible.

Should you buy it?

Apple Watch Series 7

Todd Haselton | NBC Finance Channel

If you can afford it and want a larger screen, faster charging, and greater durability, buy Series 7. This is the model I will tell my friends and family to get, mainly because it is the latest model and will last for several years.

You can save money on the Apple Watch SE, which starts at $279, but you miss the larger screen, blood oxygen and ECG apps, new anti-crack crystals, and dust-proof features. You can save more money and buy the $199 Series 3, but you will miss features such as emergency calls, fall detection, cellular options, and always-on display. I will skip that.

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