While it may not have all the bells and whistles that leakers promised, the Apple Watch Series 7 contains a wealth of mysteries. Our friends at iFixit performed an in-depth teardown to reveal some of the Apple Watch Series 7’s biggest secrets, but funny enough, we’re left with a few questions that may be impossible to answer.
The new Apple Watch was first announced in September, but it took weeks to reach customers’ doorsteps. Naturally, iFixit wanted to know why the Apple Watch Series 7 encountered such a big delay—it’s just an incremental upgrade, after all.
So to help with its teardown, iFixit called on three former Apple engineers. Not only are these engineers familiar with the Apple Watch, but they now work at Instrumental, a company that helps optimize supply chains and prevent product delays. According to these engineers, the Apple Watch Series 7 may have encountered production delays because of its new touch-integrated OLED panel, a thinner OLED variant that combines the (usually separate) touchscreen and display components.
This touch-integrated OLED panel is responsible for the Apple Watch Series 7’s super thin bezels. And oddly enough, it also makes the Apple Watch Series 7 easier to take apart—the new display requires just one flex connector, while previous Apple Watch screens used two connectors.
Once the iFixit team removed the Apple Watch Series 7’s display, they found the device’s new, larger battery. Unfortunately, we’re still living with an 18-hour battery life; this upgraded battery just compensates for the Watch’s brighter display.
And here’s where we run into some weird questions. Unlike previous releases, the Apple Watch Series 7 doesn’t have a diagnostic port. We thought there might be a hidden port somewhere on the device, but that’s not the case. It seems that Apple is now performing device diagnostics, an important part of the assembly and repair process, using wireless technology.
It may seem like a small change, but it could be the first step toward a portless iPhone. As regulatory bodies threaten to replace the Lightning connector with USB-C, Apple may be testing wireless data transfer technology at a large scale. But we can only speculate on what this means—Apple’s diagnostic tools are under lock and key, and we still haven’t figured out where Apple is hiding the diagnostic chip in this new Watch.
One last thing; the iFixit team found that, unlike the new iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 7 doesn’t disable any features when you replace its parts. Not only that, but you can take a Series 6 Watch’s battery and stick it in an Apple Watch Series 7. But if Apple is capable of building a device with this kind of interoperability, why isn’t the iPhone easier to repair?