Apple Watch 7’s fast charging only works with one specific cable

Apple Watch 7
(Image credit: Apple)

One of the upgrades in the Apple Watch 7 is its charging speeds, which are 33% faster than on the Apple Watch 6. That’s enough to get the wearable from 0% to 80% power in just 45 minutes, but to get those speeds you’ll have to use the charging cable that comes with it.

That’s on top of also making sure you have a wall plug that supports these higher speeds, with Apple recommending its own 20W one. Of course, we’re used to different plugs offering different charging speeds, but tend to expect cables to be more consistent, so the change here is worth being aware of.

This means that if you have an old Apple Watch cable kicking around it will only charge your Apple Watch 7 at slower speeds, and it’s worth keeping track of which cable is which as they look identical.

When buying a new cable, the trick is to look for ‘fast’ in the name, as you want the ‘Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger,’ not the older ‘Apple Watch Magnetic Charger.’ Apple itself has stopped selling the older model, but as spotted by The Verge, some other retailers still stock it.

Perhaps the bigger issue with this change to the cable though is that if you have a dock or stand with a built-in charger designed to charge an older Apple Watch, it too won’t match the speeds you’d get with this new cable when paired with an Apple Watch 7. That’s a real shame given how expensive charging docks and stands can be, but it was probably unavoidable.

An Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger against a white background

The new Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger (Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: don’t buy the old cable even if you have an old watch

If you’re still rocking an older Apple Watch model then none of this will be an issue until you upgrade of course – and buying the new cable now won’t increase your charging speeds, but it will mean that you have something more future-proofed for when you do upgrade.

With that in mind, we can’t recommend anyone buys the old cable anymore, unless you see it for a substantial discount.

Of course, by the time you upgrade your Apple Watch it’s possible that there will be a new model with even faster charging and yet another cable available for it. But probably not unless you wait a few years, as we doubt Apple would boost the charging speed two years in a row. And even then, the new current cable would still allow for higher speeds than the old one does.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.