Apple Watch Series 7's Flat-Sided Design Could Make It Look Bigger

Maybe it’ll be a great fidget toy, too

Key Takeaways

The next Apple Watch will have flat sides and a bigger screen.

The Watch will have to be thinner to avoid looking bulbous.

This would be the first major change to the watch’s case design.

person in blue shirt checking apple watch

Luke Chesser / Getty Images

The next Apple Watch will have flat sides, and a bigger, flatter screen, but could end up looking thicker. 

According to Apple rumor meister Mark Gurman, the Apple Watch Series 7 will add 1mm to the size of both the small and large models, bringing them to 41mm and 45mm. At the same time, the screen will be flatter, as will the case’s edges, making it look more like the iPhone 12 and the latest iPad Pro and Air. Other than that, there’s a faster processor, a few new watch faces, and some rumors of additional health sensors.

"Rumor has it that a glucometer and new swim-tracking features will be added to take advantage of the extra space," Apple Watch wearer and gadget writer Daniel Carter told Lifewire via email. 

Blobby

The current Apple Watch design has been revised over the years, but remains essentially the same as the very first model. It’s way thicker than a regular non-smart watch, and tries to hide this with rounded edges, the same way that early iPhones and iPads curved their backs to make the edges slimmer.

If Apple is moving to a flatter, more squared-off design, then it will need to be thinner, too, or else it will look a lot thicker. The current iPad Pro design was Apple’s thinnest device ever when it launched in 2018, and yet many people who saw it thought it was thicker than the previous model. Those tapered edges go a long way toward tricking the eye. 

Thickness is especially apparent with the Apple Watch because its bulbous body sticks up from your wrist, and there’s nowhere to hide its girth. You might not notice it until you try to pull a shirt or sweater cuff down over it, but anyone seeing it from afar will clock its depth. If Apple is ready to give up the visual trickery that makes it seem slim, then it must surely have a thinner body ready. 

The Apple Watch may be at its iPhone 4 moment, the model where Apple opted for a then-radical flat-edged slab design.

Or should we say flat-fronted design? One of the major features of the Apple Watch is its biometric capabilities. It knows it’s on your wrist, it can detect heart rate, and so on. And that’s down to the sensor on its curved back. Is it possible to get enough solid wrist-to-glass contact with a flat back? Only Apple knows, but the protruding nubbin on the back seems likely to stick around. 

What Difference?

A slimmer, flatter watch with a larger screen doesn’t just fit better under the clothes. It might also allow for some new uses. 

For instance, a larger screen can fit more on it. That’s obvious, and so will be the benefits. As a watch, showing a dial with hands, it doesn’t really matter how big the display is, but when it comes to more computer-y uses, the watch needs all the space it can get. Take something simple, like notifications. If you have more than one, then you’ll be doing a lot of scrolling. Ditto with incoming iMessages and WhatsApps—more space is always better, even if it’s just a millimeter. 

apple watch shot in black & white

Polly Alexandra / Getty Images

You also could fit more complications on the screen, or just make them larger and easier to read without cramping the display.

And that extra space, assuming it’s not taken up by batteries, allows for extra sensors. Various rumors point to a blood-glucose level reader and also a body temperature sensor. 

But my favorite possibility for an Apple Watch with a larger display is it will be a better camera remote. If you’ve never used your Apple Watch’s Camera Remote app, you should check it out immediately. The watch has no camera, of course—at least not yet. The camera app is a remote control for your iPhone’s camera, and it’s great. 

And finally, let’s not discount the value of the Apple Watch as a fidget toy. When the screen is sleeping, you can already play with the Digital Crown as much as you like without it affecting the watch. Sharp corners might be an equally irresistible target for idle fingers. They certainly are on the old iPhone 5, and the latest iPhone 12. 

And to be honest, who doesn’t love a good fidget toy, especially one that’s always on your wrist?

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