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All in all, the Apple Watch Series 8 is for your average user, although the lack of new features is a bit more apparent than in previous years.
The repeat rate on the standard Apple Watch appears to be slower. The biggest changes in 2022 come from watchOS 9, which brought long-awaited features such as low-power mode, improved training and better tracking with the Compass app.
Although there are fewer flashy features in the Apple Watch Series 8, it is still the smartwatch to beat.
Select your Apple Watch
Even with the addition of the Apple Watch Ultra to the lineup, users have fewer choices this year than they normally would. Which is probably for the best.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is available in Midnight, Starlight, Silver and (Product)RED if you choose aluminium, and if stainless steel is more your style, there are gold, silver and graphite to choose from.
Titanium is now exclusively reserved for Apple Watch Ultra owners, and the green and blue versions of the aluminum Apple Watch are a thing of the past. Not to mention the discontinuation of the Nike Edition.
When you choose your Apple Watch, you can pair it with any of the Nike bands, including the stainless steel versions.
With the Nike Edition gone, titanium no longer available, and two colorways discontinued, there are far fewer options for wearers at retail.
But silver is back. This highly sought-after color was absent last year when Apple switched to Starlight. The slight gold hue was a reprieve for people who wanted a more neutral silver – and it looks like they got their requests heard.
We take a look at the 45mm silver aluminum Apple Watch Series 8.
A solid recipe for success
The Apple Watch has followed a reliable recipe for success over the past few years with incremental improvements supported by ever-improving software.
This year, watchOS 9 was a great update for new and existing owners. Low Power Mode can almost double the promised battery life of your Apple Watch, enough for a weekend trip depending on your usage.
There are a host of new training features such as triathlon and duathlon support, the ability to self-drive while you run, and new training views with heart rate zones, activity rings and more.
While the Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t have the rumored redesign, it works with the same bands it’s supported for years, works reliably, and is more capable than the Apple Watch before it.
What is really new
Let’s talk about what’s new instead of using Apple’s proven technology.
Crash detection is one of those new features, and it’s one that Apple openly says it hopes you never have to use. There’s no denying that in some cases, this new collision detection will definitely save a life.
It works by linking to a host of sensors integrated into the Apple Watch. First, it relies on the all-new accelerometer that can detect sudden changes in speeds up to 256g.
Then there’s the updated gyroscope, which detects when there’s been a sudden shift in movement – such as when it’s subjected to a front, rear or side impact.
The barometer will detect a change in air pressure caused by airbag deployment. Finally, the microphone listens for loud sounds that accompany a crash. All of this comes together to (hopefully) reliably record when you’ve been in a car accident.
Should a crash be detected, your Apple Watch will turn on and ask you if you’re ok. If it can’t get you to respond, it automatically calls emergency services with your location and sends an alert to your emergency contacts. Granted, you need a mobile Apple Watch or your iPhone nearby for this to work.
Crash detection is a great feature to bring to the Apple Watch and is an incredible example of Apple taking full advantage of existing sensors by using creative software. It will only be a matter of time before we start hearing stories of people saved by this add-on.
The Apple Watch Series 8 runs on a new S8 SiP, but you don’t get any real speed boost here. The S8 relies on the same CPU as the S7 found in the Series 7 Apple Watch.
Opening apps, navigating the watch, and typing, we didn’t notice any lag, which is also our experience on the Series 7. The S8 just includes Apple’s new sensors we outlined above, as well as the upgraded Bluetooth 5.3 radio.
The last new feature Apple is touting is its temperature sensor, or rather, its pair of sensors. Apple placed two temperature sensors in the Apple Watch Series 8 – one against your wrist and the other the screen, which is used to measure the surroundings.
However, these sensors do not function like a traditional thermometer. You won’t see an alert pop up from the top of your Apple Watch telling you that you’ve had a fever and should check with your doctor.
Instead, Apple offers two primary use cases for temperature sensors.
There are typical body temperature deviations during certain points in a menstrual cycle that may indicate ovulation. Apple’s cycle tracking app uses data from this sensor to retroactively determine ovulation.
Otherwise, the temperature sensor will track a wearer’s body temperature overnight, provided you wear your Apple Watch to bed. We’ve been using our Apple Watch for sleep tracking for years, so this wasn’t a problem.
After several days of data collection, the Apple Watch was able to flag when our body temperature deviated by approximately two degrees or more from our baseline measurements. This can be a sign of illness, stress, diet, exercise, alcohol and much more.
This feels like a very Apple approach. Instead of overpromising to its users, Apple has hedged its bets and only delivers what it can be sure of.
Too many fitness trackers make dubious claims backed by dubious science, and Apple has made a concerted effort to avoid this pitfall.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple add additional benefits to the temperature sensor via software going forward, and developers will ultimately help tell the full story. From September 2022, it is another goal that is nice to have
Apple’s Biggest Apple Watch Problems
With its notebook, Apple has a few issues to address. Sensors are becoming increasingly difficult to integrate into the small body of the Apple Watch – or they are prohibitively expensive – and Apple is not competing with more dedicated fitness trackers.
One of the most rumored sensors Apple has explored is a glucose monitor. We’ve been adamant that anyone expecting this in the near future should temper their expectations.
A non-invasive glucose monitor is still years away from appearing in the Apple Watch, and even then it’s more likely to be general values and not something as accurate as a prescription monitor like the Dexcom G6 or Medtronic Enlite.
This year, Apple settled for something more possible: a temperature sensor. Still, Apple is careful here, using it only for nighttime background readings and retrospective ovulation predictions.
Then we have the problem of Apple’s lack of competition with more dedicated fitness trackers. Garmin’s Fenix line is a favorite for weekend warriors and triathletes who want something more powerful than what the Apple Watch offers.
In this case, however, Apple had an answer. It just wasn’t the Apple Watch Series 8. It’s the Apple Watch Ultra, and we’ll leave that conversation for another review
Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8?
Annual upgrades will upgrade anyway. There isn’t necessarily a killer feature that makes this a must-have upgrade from the Series 7 or even the Series 6. It’s meant to be the best, most capable Apple Watch for your average user and be easily accessible — which Apple The Watch Ultra probably won’t be for a while.
The new Apple Watch Series 8 now sits in the middle of the range. It’s (barely) more capable than the new Apple Watch SE, which we’ll talk about shortly, but won’t set you back as much as the Apple Watch Ultra.
For most people, that’s the sweet spot.
Apple Watch Series 8 – Benefits
- Still the best smartwatch for everyday users
- Unique application for temperature sensor
- Recording crashes is not flashy, but lifesaving
- All-day battery life
- Much to love about watchOS 9
Apple Watch Series 8 – Cons
- Get reasons to upgrade over Series 7, Series 6 or maybe even Series 5
- Most watchOS 9 features are coming to older watches, such as low power mode
Rating: 4 out of 5
Where to buy Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8 is on sale now, with exclusive Apple Watch deals available when you use AppleCare.