The Apple Watch has come a long way since its first release in 2015. Now on its 7th iteration, the smartwatch continues to improve with each new model. Two of the most popular versions are the Apple Watch Series 5 from 2019 and the Apple Watch Series 7 from 2021.
On the surface, these two watches may look quite similar. But there are some notable differences between the Apple Watch 5 vs 7 that are worth examining. In this in-depth comparison guide, we‘ll break down the key specs, features, and changes between these two smartwatch models.
Apple Watch 5 vs 7: Side by Side Comparison
Here is a quick overview of how the key specs stack up between the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 7:
|Apple Watch Series 5
|Apple Watch Series 7
|40mm or 44mm
|41mm or 45mm
|LTPO OLED, 1000 nits max brightness
|LTPO OLED, 1000 nits max brightness
|Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, ceramic
|Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
|Magnetic fast charger
|Heart Rate Monitor
|Blood Oxygen App
|$399 – $1299
|$399 – $849
As you can see from the table, there are quite a few similarities between these two Apple Watch generations in terms of the core features and specs. However, the Series 7 does have some noticeable changes and improvements. Let‘s take a deeper look at the differences.
Design and Display
The overall design and shape of the Apple Watch 5 and 7 are quite similar. They both have the iconic square shape with rounded corners and side button.
However, the Series 7 features slightly larger case sizes – 41mm and 45mm compared to 40mm and 44mm on the Series 5. This allowed Apple to fit larger displays on the Series 7 while keeping the overall footprint nearly the same.
The displays on both watches are excellent. They use OLED technology with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits for great visibility even in sunlight. Both also have an always-on display option to keep select watch face data visible at all times without raising your wrist.
The key display upgrade on the Series 7 is the expanded screen area. By slimming down the bezels and curving the screen edges, Apple increased the viewable display area by around 20% compared to the Series 5. This provides more space for text, notifications, and watch faces.
Performance and Battery
Under the hood, both watches are powered by Apple‘s own S-series chips. However, the Series 7 uses the newer S7 processor while the Series 5 has the previous generation S5 chip.
In benchmarks, the S7 processor shows modest performance gains – around 20% faster than the S5. This allows the Series 7 to run a bit smoother and handle more demanding apps and features. But both watches still provide excellent overall performance.
Battery life is rated at 18 hours of normal use on both models. So there‘s no improvement in daily runtime between the Series 5 and 7.
However, the Series 7 does charge significantly faster thanks to a new magnetic fast charging system. It can charge from 0 to 80% in about 45 minutes – around 33% faster than the Series 5. This allows you to get a quick boost before heading out for the day.
Health and Fitness Tracking
Health and activity tracking are two major focuses of the Apple Watch. And the Series 7 builds on the sensors and features of the Series 5.
Both watches include advanced heart rate monitoring, irregular heart rhythm notifications via the ECG app, emergency SOS, fall detection, and more.
The Series 7 adds the ability to measure blood oxygen levels on demand or during sleep. And it introduced some new workout types to the built-in Workout app, such as tai chi and pilates.
But one of the biggest additions is the new Sleep app on watchOS 8. The Series 5 lacks native sleep tracking, while the Series 7 can automatically track sleep stages (light, deep, REM) and sleeping respiratory rate.
The Apple Watch Series 7 steps up the durability with a stronger, more crack-resistant front crystal. It has an IP6X dust resistance rating, meaning it can better withstand fine dust and sand.
The stainless steel and titanium models also have a more scratch-resistant finish. So the Series 7 should be able to better handle bumps and accidental drops without damage.
Both watches are swimproof with a 50 meter water resistance rating. So they can be used for swimming, showering, and water sports without issue.
The Series 5 came in aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic cases paired with a variety of Apple Watch bands. Color options included:
- Aluminum: Silver, Gold, Space Gray
- Stainless Steel: Gold, Space Black, Polished
- Titanium: Natural Titanium, Space Black
- Ceramic: White
The Series 7 dials back the material options to just aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. No more ceramic.
It also introduces some new colors:
- Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, Red
- Stainless Steel: Silver, Graphite, Gold
- Titanium: Natural, Space Black
So buyers have some new color choices with the Series 7, though ceramic white is no longer an option.
Software and Features
The Apple Watch Series 5 originally ran watchOS 6, while the Series 7 runs watchOS 8. This allows the Series 7 to access more advanced health metrics, updates apps, new watch faces, and more capabilities.
Here are some of the key software features on the Series 7 thanks to watchOS 8:
- On-device Siri for tasks without an iPhone
- Mindfulness app for guided meditation
- Photo watch faces using Focus photos from iPhone
- Portrait mode photos can be set as watch face
- Find My can locate Apple Watch even when offline
- New QWERTY keyboard for tapping or swiping texts
- Updated Home app control more smart home devices
- More accessory support like cycling/rower cadence sensors
The Series 5 is limited to watchOS 7, so it misses out on some of these newer capabilities. However, it can still be updated to receive some new Watch features and improvements compared to its original OS version.
Price and Value
With the release of the latest Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022, both the Series 5 and Series 7 have seen price drops as they are now discontinued models.
New pricing looks like:
- Apple Watch Series 5: $199 to $359 (refurbished/used)
- Apple Watch Series 7: $329 to $429 (refurbished/used)
At their new lower prices, both watches provide excellent value. However, we give the edge to the Series 7 given its larger screen, faster charging, enhanced durability, and updated software features.
The nearly 2 year age gap between these watches also means the Series 7 should continue receiving the latest software updates 1-2 years longer than the Series 5. So it offers a bit more future-proofing.
Apple Watch 5 vs 7: Conclusion
While not a massive leap forward, the Apple Watch Series 7 brings noticeable improvements over the previous Series 5 model. The larger display, faster charging, enhanced durability, and new health tracking capabilities like blood oxygen monitoring give it the edge.
However, the Series 5 remains an impressive and capable smartwatch thanks to its always-on display, extensive health sensors, came changing apps like ECG, great looks, and wide compatibility across iOS devices.
So if you find a good deal on a used/refurbished Series 5 and don‘t mind missing out on some of the latest enhancements, it can still be a nice option. But for the best overall user experience, the Apple Watch 7 pulls ahead as the superior model.
Apple Watch History and Evolution
To better understand the progression of the Apple Watch Series 5 and 7, let‘s take a quick look back at how this iconic smartwatch has evolved over the years.
Rumors of Apple making a smartwatch started swirling as far back as 2011. But it wasn‘t until 2014 that Apple officially announced its plans to enter the smartwatch market.
The original Apple Watch was unveiled by Tim Cook in September 2014, with the official release date set for April 2015.
This first generation model established the core Apple Watch experience – notifications, fitness tracking, app integration with iPhone, Digital Crown control, interchangeable bands, magnetic charger, and more.
Series 1 and Series 2
Just a year and half after the initial launch, Apple released the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 in September 2016.
The Series 1 was essentially a minor update to the original first-gen Watch. The Series 2 represented a more significant upgrade with key new features:
- Waterproof design for swimming
- Brighter display
- Dual-core processor
This helped the Series 2 stand out from other smartwatches of the time and added appeal for athletes and active users.
The Apple Watch Series 3 arrived a year later in September 2017. This model focused mainly on boosting performance through an upgraded S3 dual-core processor.
It also added cellular connectivity on certain models for making calls, getting notifications, and streaming without a connected iPhone.
In September 2018, the Series 4 brought the first major redesign to the Apple Watch. It increased the screen size significantly while reducing overall volume by thinning the bezels and body.
Other new health capabilities included:
- ECG app
- Fall detection
- Heart rate notifications for low and high readings
- Electical and optical heart sensors
The larger, edge-to-edge display of the Series 4 set the tone for future generations.
Series 5 and Series 6
We‘ve already covered the Apple Watch Series 5 released in 2019. It added an always-on display, compass, international emergency calling, and more.
The Apple Watch Series 6 from 2020 focused on enhancements to health tracking. It added a new Blood Oxygen app, updated ECG app, brighter always-on display, and revised finishes.
This brings us to the Series 7 in 2021 and now the recently launched Series 8 and Ultra models for 2022. It‘s been an impressive evolution for Apple‘s wearable in just 7 years. And the smartwatch landscape has shifted dramatically thanks to the Apple Watch‘s influence.
Apple Watch Buying Guide
If you‘re considering an Apple Watch purchase, keep these tips in mind as you shop and compare models:
Look for Series 4 or newer for the larger, edge-to-edge display experience.
Expect to pay more for stainless steel vs aluminum – but aluminum is lighter and resists scratches.
Always-on display is a handy upgrade if you can find it in your budget.
Make sure the OS will be supported for several years into the future with updates.
Prioritize key health features that matter most like ECG, fall detection, cardio fitness notifications, etc.
LTE connectivity is useful for leaving your phone behind, but adds cost.
Compare sizes/watch band options – a snug but comfortable fit is important.
Refurbished/used models can provide great value at lower prices.
While the Apple Watch 7 wins out overall in our comparison, both it and the Series 5 are impressive smartwatches that support comprehensive health tracking, convenient notifications, stylish customizable designs, and deep integration with the Apple ecosystem.
For most buyers, the newer Apple Watch 7 is worth the investment. But deal hunters can still benefit from the well-rounded experience of the Apple Watch 5.