iFixit got their friends at Instrumental, a crack team stacked with former Apple engineers, several of whom led development on early Apple Watch designs, to help them in their Apple Watch Series 7 teardown which reveals some surprising display technology that was probably difficult to manufacture at scale, likely causing a cascade of delays.
It’s nice when you can look like you know what you’re doing while the original Apple Watch architects peek over your shoulder—no pressure.
Inside, the changes are subtle, but significant. Right off the bat, longtime Watch-watchers will note the Series 7 is missing the fiddly bracket underneath the battery where the diagnostic port once lived. Rumor has it that Apple now uses a high-frequency wireless interface instead. More on this later.
The changes to the displays are much less subtle… In short: It appears this display uses a touch-integrated OLED panel, a.k.a. “on-cell touch,” as introduced in this year’s iPhone 13 lineup. And that’s a bit of an anomaly—historically, the lower-production-volume watch gets new display technology first (OLED, LTPO, always-on, variable refresh rate), while the massively popular iPhone might eventually pick those things up. This time it’s the other way around, even if only by a few weeks.
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.
One of the surprising external changes to this year’s watch is the removal of the diagnostic port hidden in the watch band groove. Rumor has it, there’s a new 60 GHz wireless module—probably inside this S7 package—that, together with a proprietary dock, allows Apple to do the same diagnostics without a physical port…
It’s one fewer point of ingress to worry about, so removing it is a win, IPX-wise. It also simplifies assembly and saves a little space internally. And, though we truly don’t like to think about it, this could also serve as a test for a future port-less iPhone.
MacDailyNews Note: See and read about all of the gory details in the full teardown – recommended – so you can know all about that thing on your wrist here.
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