Apple Watch Series 7 screen and size changes leak but with bad news too

Fresh leaks about the Apple Watch Series 7, the Cupertino firm's next-generation smartwatch expected to be announced later this year, suggest improvements both inside and out, though some of the earlier rumors of hardware improvements could have been pushed back on the roadmap. Since its original announcement as an accompaniment to the iPhone, the Apple Watch has progressively doubled-down on its fitness and health tracking features, but tech delays may have derailed plans to continue that with the 2021 Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch Series 6 which launched last year, for example, added a sensor capable of tracking blood oxygen levels. It proved to be a timely addition, too, given the use of that metric in COVID-19 diagnostics and monitoring.

Earlier iterations added features like ECG measurements and other heart-health tracking, and the Apple Watch is an instrumental part of Apple's Fitness+ subscription-based exercise program. Rumors had indicated that Apple would again be targeting that as a key area of improvement, to encourage new buyers and upgrades.

However two such features now may not make it into the device likely to be branded the Apple Watch Series 7. A body temperature sensor had been on the roadmap, Bloomberg reports based on insiders familiar with the current plans, but that's apparently more likely to be added to the 2022 version. If Apple follows its usual nomenclature pattern, that would probably be the Apple Watch Series 8.

Meanwhile, the well-rumored blood-sugar sensor – which could be used for vital tracking by diabetics, as well as those with specific fitness goals, without having to take an actual blood sample – is also unlikely to be in this year's Apple Watch, or indeed next year's either. That, the insiders say, is not likely to be ready for a commercial debut "for several more years," according to Bloomberg.

As for what this year's upgrade will include, there we can apparently expect display and connectivity changes, along with some aesthetic updates. Fitting with earlier leaks, the new Apple Watch is said to have a tweaked design and a new display, with a panel lamination technology that brings the panel itself closer to the cover glass for improvements in visibility and clarity. The new screen is also said to have thinner bezels.

Improvements in Ultra-Wideband support are also indicated, the same technology which Apple uses for tracking things like AirTags in the Find My app, and to power new watchOS 8 features like keyless car door and hotel room unlocking. Altogether, the new Apple Watch Series 7 could be very slightly thicker as a result of the hardware changes, but that won't, apparently, be noticeable on the wrist.

Where that leaves some of the previous Apple Watch rumors for 2021 remains to be seen, but the suggestion is that Apple has pushed some of its planned updates further down the schedule. One early report had suggested that an Apple Watch "Explorer Edition" was in the pipeline for as early as late-2021, with a more rugged case to suit those doing outdoor activities. That, now, is unlikely to arrive until 2022, it's suggested.

Then, it'll probably arrive alongside a new version of the Apple Watch SE. The company's more affordable smartwatch currently lacks features like ECG and blood oxygen tracking, though starts at $120 less than the existing Series 6 flagship.