Hands on: Should you buy the Nike or standard aluminum Apple Watch Series 7

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If you're pondering a new Apple Watch Series 7 purchase and are torn between the Nike and standard aluminum versions, check out this hands-on with a breakout of all the differences and our recommendation.

Here's the important bit — there are no feature differences between the Nike and non-Nike models. You don't get any additional sensors, one isn't faster than the other, and neither comes with bonus accessories.

So what are the differences?

The differences in the two can be enough to decide which model you choose, but they aren't transformative.

In the end, there are two reasons why you may want to buy the Nike model over the standard aluminum.

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 has an Always-on Retina display with nearly 20% more screen area than the Series 6 and the most crack-resistant front crystal yet on an Apple Watch.

Buy the Nike version

All the Nike faces
There are five exclusive Nike faces

One reason is that the Nike version comes with exclusive watch faces that you don't get on any other Apple Watch. There are now five exclusive faces that include Nike Analog Nike Compact, Nike Digital, Nike Hybrid, and the new Nike Bounce face. These faces are also available on previous Nike Apple Watch versions.

All Nike faces feature a Nike Swoosh somewhere on them which will act as a shortcut to the Nike Run Club app. These faces are sporty looking and can be appealing to many users.

Nike Bounce face
The new Nike Bounce face

The new Nike Bounce face is especially cool as it reacts to the movement of your wrist, the Digital Crown, or taps. Touch the time and it will bounce around your display.

The new Nike Sport Loop
The new Nike Sport Loop

Another pro for the Nike model is that it comes bundled with Nike watch bands. Many users love the perforated holes in the Nike Sport Band. They also tend to come in fun colors as well as black and gray.

If you want one of the Nike bands and don't want to purchase it separately, you have to buy the Nike version of the Apple Watch.

Other minor and inconsequential differences includes special Nike packaging, a Nike logo on the back of the watch face, and a prompt during setup to pre-install the Nike Run Club app.

We recommend that almost anyone looking for an Apple Watch choose the Nike version because you get more value for your money with the additional watch faces.

Why you may not want the Nike version

That said, there are clear reasons why should not get the Nike version. Chiefly because the Nike version limits your options.

Aluminum Apple Watch Series 7 colors
Aluminum Apple Watch Series 7 colors

Nike is only available in Starlight or Midnight aluminum, so if you were hoping for (PRODUCT)Red, green, or blue aluminum, gold, silver, or graphite stainless steel, or either of the two titanium finishes you'll be out of luck.

You also are limited in your band choices. If you already have a Nike band or just don't love them, you don't have another option. All of Apple's bands work with the Nike model, but they cannot be bundled at the time of purchase; you'll have to buy them separately on top of the Nike band that comes with the watch.

As Apple includes a portion of the band's cost in the price of the Apple Watch, buying a new watch is often a good time to get one of Apple's nicer band options. The Leather Link is one of our personal favorites. So if one of the other bands has caught your eye, you'll need to look outside the Nike version.

It all comes down to what you're looking for. If you planned on buying the Starlight or Midnight aluminum and don't mind the Nike bands, you should get the Nike version. If you had your heart set on a different color or case material, your decision is already made.

Where to buy

The Apple Watch Series 7 is available for purchase from popular Apple resellers, with AT&T knocking $200 off at press time when you buy two Apple Watches.

Shop the cheapest prices in our Apple Watch Series 7 Price Guide, which is updated daily. The AppleInsider team also tracks the best Apple Watch deals across the entire product line, with closeout savings offering up to $290 off.