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Apple Watch Series 8 buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
Few smartwatches are as highly respected as the Apple Watch series. Just as the Series 7 builds on the solid foundation of the Series 6, the new Apple Watch Series 8 brings added shine to its predecessor. This guide covers everything you need to know or may want to know about the Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple Watch Series 8 at a glance
Apple launched the Series 8 on September 7, 2022, alongside the Apple Watch SE (2022) and Apple Watch Ultra. It went on general sale nine days later alongside the Watch SE (2022), followed by the Ultra a few days after that.
As you might’ve guessed, the Apple Watch Series 8 is now the middle child. The Ultra is the more premium model with more impactful advancements, while the Watch SE (2022) remains the budget option.
So what else is new? Well, the Apple Watch Series 8 largely retains its predecessor’s body but includes a new body temperature sensor that fuels more intuitive menstrual cycle and sleep tracking. Crash detection, a new frugal battery usage mode, and plenty of watchOS 9-powered software enhancements round out the major introductions. These upgrades make for an even more compelling smartwatch, especially considering that it keeps the Series 7’s launch price of $399.
More reading: The complete Apple Watch buyer’s guide
Is the Apple Watch Series 8 worth buying?
In a word, yes. The Apple Watch Series 7 was the best smartwatch money could buy, a title the Series 8 now inherits thanks to its upgrades. This is especially true if you own an iPhone. You also get a thoroughly well-built device that looks good on and off the wrist, a useful list of smart features for those deep in the Apple Watch ecosystem, and a reliable health-tracking experience. Still in doubt? The Series 8 once again received our coveted Editor’s Choice award this year.
However good it is, the Apple Watch will never suit everyone. The Series 8 still has flaws, from its meager battery life that remains untouched to its lack of support for non-Apple smartphones. Considering how similar the previous three Apple Watch generations have been, those considering upgrading from the Series 5 or 6 may not find marked value in the new model, either.
What reviewers are saying about the Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch series has always been divisive for Android phone users, but there’s no denying that the Series 8’s iterative updates make for a more polished smartwatch.
That’s what Ryan Haines feels in his Series 8 review for Android Authority. Despite the minimal improvements, “Apple’s Watch Series 8 remains one of the best smartwatches around, and it does so by staying the course,” he writes.
Ryan had plenty to say about Apple’s disregard for the Watch’s biggest weakness. “Its claims of all-day battery life still stop at just about 18 hours, with Low Power mode — a new feature after all these years — extending the juice to 36 hours. We found it performed better than that, though the Apple Watch’s battery endurance remains a sore spot,” according to Ryan.
What other reviewers from around the web think of the Apple Watch Series 8
- CNET‘s Scott Stein lauded the Apple Watch Series 8’s health tracking advancements, even though they felt the Ultra overshadows the watch. They claim the best part of the Series 8 is its new software features, thanks to watchOS 9, while battery life remains a sore spot.
- Victoria Song for The Verge cautioned users against upgrading, once again calling out the watch’s lousy battery life and its similarities to previous models. However, praise arrived for watchOS 9 once more, with low power mode getting a nod of recognition.
- Finally, Macworld‘s David Price believes the Series 8 remains the smartwatch to beat, although those with a Series 6 or 7 may not find a reason to upgrade. “But for quiet, mid-priced excellence this remains the watch to beat,” they write.
Apple Watch Series 8 specs
Find a full list of the Apple Watch Series 8 specs below.
|Apple Watch Series 8|
LTPO OLED Retina
484 x 396 pixels (45mm)
430 x 352 pixels (41 mm)
Dimensions and weight
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 51.5g
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Apple S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple U1 chip (Ultra-wideband)
45 min to 80% charge
USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Case materials and colors
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red
GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Model A2475 (41mm)
Model A2477 (45mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Blood oxygen sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Ambient light sensor
iOS 15 or later
Design and hardware
You’ll notice few aesthetic differences in the Apple Watch Series 8 compared to previous generations. In terms of dimensions and weight, the Series 8 practically mirrors the Series 7. This is true for both the 41mm and 45mm models. In addition to this similarity, the Series 8 retains the durability improvements and larger screen heralded by its predecessor. There’s no longer a titanium body option for the Series 8, with stainless steel and aluminum now standing as the only options. The hardier metal is now exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra. The Series 8 also lands with a WR50 water resistance rating and an IPX6 rating for dust.
While many will criticize Apple for not seeking any physical refinements, there’s only so much you can do with the Apple Watch’s classic body shape. It also translates into development cost savings that can be spent elsewhere. In reality, we’d take a more refined software and health tracking kit over a brand new body. It’s worth mentioning that Apple Watch straps from the Series 7 will happily work with the Series 8, too.
In terms of hardware, there’s one change to note. The Series 8 now uses the Apple S8 SoC, which carries the same identifier as the company’s two previous smartwatch chipsets. In other words, it’s unlikely that users will experience any marked processing speed buffs this time around despite the new badge.
Finally, while Apple hasn’t upgraded the Series 8’s battery, watchOS 9 does include a new power-saving trick. Those short on power can toggle on low power mode that effectively doubles the Apple Watch Series 8’s endurance at the cost of a few features. In short, the standard 18-hour battery life jumps to 36 hours with this feature activated. During our review, we found this mode actually to extend endurance beyond this claimed figure.
Health and fitness tracking
The Apple Watch Series 8 continues Apple’s health-tracking heritage and includes the typical fare. You’ll find a heart rate sensor, SpO2 monitor, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to keep tabs on heart and blood health.
Beyond these, there are some exciting additions, chief of which is a skin temperature sensor that powers more accurate menstrual cycle monitoring. Unlike the sensor on the Galaxy Watch 5, Apple’s works right out of the box. It helps gauge a wearer’s baseline temperature during sleep and detects anomalies. This includes post-ovulation temperature shifts, which makes for more accurate fertility data.
Apple also refined its sleep monitoring system using this temperature-tracking trick. Thanks to watchOS 9, the Series 8 now displays the time spent within each sleep zone, including REM and deep sleep, and charts these trends over time. It’s by no means the finished article, and Apple still has plenty of work to do to catch up with Garmin and Fitbit when it comes to sleep tracking, but it provides the best experience yet of sleep tracking on an Apple Watch.
watchOS 9 also brings AFib (atrial fibrillation) history for those who want to monitor potential heart rate blips, an app for managing prescriptions and medication alerts, and more polished workout modes. You’ll notice a new multi-sport option within the upgraded Fitness app, with better running and swimming tracking.
Finally, although not strictly a health-tracking feature, the Apple Watch now includes crash detection technology, which automatically connects to emergency services and contacts with critical information in the event of a car crash. This feature isn’t exclusive to the Series 8, though, and will roll out to all iPhones and Apple Watches in due course.
Apple Watch Series 8 vs Series 7: What’s new?
We’ve covered the similarities of the recent Apple Watch duo in length above, but it’s important to highlight the changes as well.
- Skin temperature sensor: The Apple Watch Series 8 gains a temperature sensing system that powers menstrual cycle tracking and sleep monitoring. The Series 7 misses out on this tech.
- No titanium case option: While the Series 7 includes a titanium body option, the Series 8 does not. It’s only available in aluminum and stainless steel.
- Apple S8 chipset: You’ll find a rebadged chipset in the Series 8, however, the new Apple S8 SoC and the outgoing S7 SoC don’t have any major differences.
- watchOS 9 features: In addition to these hardware changes, the Series 8 gets first dibs on Apple’s new wearable software. watchOS 9 includes a low-power mode, crash detection, upgraded sleep and menstrual cycle tracking features, improved running and swimming tracking, and a few new apps. Note, these changes are not exclusive to the new model and will land on the Series 7 eventually.
Deeper comparison: Apple Watch Series 8 vs Series 7
Apple Watch SE 2 vs Series 8: What’s the difference?
The Apple Watch SE (2022) is a stripped-down version of the Series 8 that borrows the older SE’s shell. You’ll find the same chipset as the Series 8, the same 18-hour battery life claim with the low-power mode boost, and the same base health tracking features powered by watchOS 9.
Concerning hardware, the Apple Watch SE (2022) is effectively a cheaper Apple Watch Series 8 devoid of several key features. Like the Series 7, you won’t find the new skin temperature sensor on the SE. The budget Apple Watch also lacks ECG smarts and an SpO2 monitor. While this reduced feature list keeps prices low, it makes the SE a far less impressive fitness watch. The SE also packs slower charging speeds than its pricier sibling and skimps on ultra-wideband support. That said, you can still have an LTE version for $299. The base model starts at $249.
What are some good Apple Watch Series 8 alternatives?
If the Apple Watch Series 8 is not setting your heart aflutter, you could consider plenty of alternatives. As the only genuine replacement for an Apple Watch is an Apple Watch, we’ve included two picks from Cupertino below.
- Apple Watch Series 7: Apple’s previous-gen smartwatch is still a good deal at the right price. You’ll miss out on the skin temperature sensor, but you’ll gain many of the Series 8’s features.
- Apple Watch Ultra: The big updates to the Apple Watch series can be found on the Ultra. The new range-topper packs a titanium shell, a WR100 water resistance rating with new diving features, and dual-band GPS for more accurate activity tracking. You’ll also find the biggest battery on an Apple Watch yet.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Not a proper Apple Watch rival, the Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t pair with iPhones. However, if you’re on the Android side of the fence, you be hard-pressed to find a more refined and feature-packed Wear OS smartwatch at this price.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Garmin’s best smartwatch seamlessly blends an impactful health and fitness tracking kit with voice assistant and on-wrist call support. It also sports better battery life than the devices listed above.
- Fitbit Sense: The original Sense features an EDA sensor to monitor stress, an ECG, and a skin temperature sensor. It may lack the app support of the Apple Watch, but its sleep and fitness tracking are near unmatched.
See also: The best Apple Watch alternatives
Where to buy the Apple Watch Series 8
- Apple Watch Series 8 (41mm, aluminum, BT): $399 / £419 / €499
- Apple Watch Series 8 (45mm, aluminum, BT): $429 / £449 / €539
- Apple Watch Series 8 (41mm, aluminum, LTE): $499 / £529 / €619
- Apple Watch Series 8 (45mm, aluminum, LTE): $529 / £549 / €659
- Apple Watch Series 8 (41mm, stainless steel, LTE): $699 / £729 / €849
- Apple Watch Series 8 (45mm, stainless steel, LTE): $749 / £779 / €899
The Apple Watch Series 8 is available directly from Apple, as well as from major online stores like Amazon and Best Buy. Like its predecessor, pricing starts at $399 and increases based on the dial size, case material, and connectivity options you include. To give an example of this, the range-topping stainless steel LTE Apple Watch Series 8 with a 45mm dial will set you back $749, which is just $50 shy of the Apple Watch Ultra’s starting price.
There are plenty of colors to choose from, including Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and Product Red for the aluminum case and Silver, Graphite, and Gold for the stainless steel variety.
See also: The best Apple Watch accessories
Top Apple Watch Series 8 questions and answers
No, the Apple Watch Series 8 will only pair with iPhones. You’ll need an iPhone 8, iPhone SE 2, or a later model.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is water resistant up to 50 meters.
Not too many things are fundamentally different between the two, but the Series 8 does have a new skin temperature sensor that improves menstrual cycle and sleep tracking.
The Apple Watch Ultra is now the flagship Apple Watch. With its higher price comes a more durable body, a 49mm watch face, water resistance up to 100 meters, and a bigger battery.
If you’re considering the Apple Watch Series 8 as your first Apple Watch, it’s well worth buying. However, if your Series 7 or Series 6 still works just fine, there’s no huge reason to upgrade.