For teardown of the new Apple Watch Series 7, iFixit engineers sat down with three former Apple engineers, now at Instrumental. The process revealed that without adding new components, Apple has introduced new display technology “that was probably a huge pain to manufacture at scale, likely causing a cascade of delays.”
Apple Watch Series 7 comes in two new larger display sizes: 41mm and 45mm, with thinner bezels. Although ostensibly the changes do not appear as a major upgrade, they are significant. We have listed down all the secrets revealed in the teardown.
The new Apple Watch Series 7 display has subtle but significant changes
Upon carefully lifting the display screen with the help of heat, a suction handle, and a pick, all the changes Apple made were revealed one by one.
- The bracket underneath the battery is missing in Series 7, where the diagnostic port used to be.
- Series 7 display has one flex cable at the bottom. Series 6 has two prominent flex cable folds: one at the top for the touch sensor layer and the second at the bottom for the OLED panel.
Engineers note that it is not “trivial” to reduce the flexes by half. Apple has introduced the iPhone 13’s “on-cell touch” tech which uses a touch-integrated OLED panel which is the likely cause of the smartwatch’s delay.
This brings us to the dreaded D-word: DELAY. Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 7 in September without a release date, saying only that it would arrive “later this fall.” Even though the wait proved to be short, our friends at Instrumental suggested this signals production delays—and a missed target release date. The most likely culprit, by far, is manufacturing hiccups with this new display; screens have some of the most complex supply chains and assembly processes in the industry. The introduction of this new technology, combined with pushing the limits of the border design, likely caused delays in shipping the Series 7 to market.
On both 41mm and 45mm models of Series 7, the batteries are slightly wider with slightly higher capacity and energy density. But the battery life remains the same with the max voltage and average voltage as the Series 6 models.
With IP6X dust and water resistance, Apple has removed the additional domestic mesh layer in the new Series 7, presumably to simplify the design.
The engineers gave Series 7 a 6 out of 10 repairability score for its intergenerational parts compatibility. They were able to swap display and Taptic Engine with “unauthorized” parts and it worked great. “All features, including automatic display brightness, remained functional with replacement parts from a second watch.” The same is true for battery replacement, the battery from Series 6 worked perfectly with Series 7. The teardown was concluded with these final thoughts;
The Apple Watch Series 7 earns a 6 out of 10 on the iFixit repairability scale, for its modular construction and straightforward access to the screen and battery. It’s also nice to see the bands are still swappable and backward-compatible all the way back to the original Series 0. Improvements? We’d suggest a free public service manual, OEM replacement parts at a fair price, and maybe a screen that doesn’t have to be unglued and re-glued during every repair attempt.