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Hidden Apple Watch Series 7 feature teases futuristic new iPhone tech

Published Oct 14th, 2021 4:23PM EDT
Apple Watch 7
Image: Apple Inc.

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The Apple Watch Series 7 preorders opened last Friday, with many versions selling out within minutes. Lucky buyers will get their new watches tomorrow when Apple starts selling the Series 7 in retail stores around the world. The start of preorders also means that the first Apple Watch Series 7 reviews are finally out, so you can get an idea of what the new wearables have to offer. Thanks to these reviews, we know the Series 7 features a secret upgrade Apple never addressed on stage. The hidden diagnostic port is no longer there, a move that might give us a preview of Apple’s work on the mythical portless iPhone of the future.

The missing Apple Watch Series 7 port

Per MacRumors, Apple filings at the FCC indicated last month revealed that the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature a new 60.5GHz module that supports wireless data transfers. Apple never acknowledged the new connectivity option during the announcement event last month. Reviewers have now discovered that the traditional Apple Watch diagnostic port is indeed missing from the Series 7.

To find the port on any other Apple Watch, you have to remove the band. You’ll see it immediately. It’s the port Apple uses to diagnose problems with the device. The port also supports fast battery charging, which prompted a company to develop a watch band with a built-in battery. That was back in 2015, but Apple then blocked the port’s charging capability.

The connector was never supposed to act as a charging port, and Apple has removed it for good from Series 7.

Apple Watch Series 7 launches on October 15th, 2021. Image source: Apple

The portless iPhone

The portless iPhone keeps appearing in rumors and leaks. It was first revealed by top Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known analyst. It’s an iPhone that features no connector whatsoever; the dream phone for some. A device with no ports can withstand accidents involving liquids even better than current models. But before Apple can remove the Lightning port from the iPhone, it needs to develop a reliable way to make all of the port’s features wireless.

The primary purpose for Lightning is wired charging. And Apple has developed MagSafe charging to potentially replace wired charging. You can also use the port for wired headphones. Apple makes various wireless earphones and headphones under its AirPods and Beats brands. Finally, the Lightning port transfers data and it’s essential for local iPhone backups. That’s where the Apple Watch Series 7’s hidden magic might come in.

An obvious choice to replace wired data transfer is wireless data transfer. Apple already has AirDrop, which lets users send data wirelessly between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Performing local backups via wireless connections might be trickier. That’s where Apple might need different wireless data transfer technology that’s much faster.

The 60.5GHz wireless module inside the Apple Watch Series 7 might support the data transfer speeds that Apple needs for the portless iPhone. This is just speculation. But removing the diagnostic port from the new Watch gives Apple the chance to potentially test the wireless technology. Apple can ensure the new tech meets its needs before we see it inside a portless iPhone.

Regular Apple Watch Series 7 users won’t be able to take advantage of the wireless module. The FCC documentation indicates that the module only works when the wearable sits on a proprietary magnetic dock that features its own 60.5GHz module.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.