Tom's Guide Verdict
The Apple Watch Series 8 gets a skin temperature reader, low power mode and crash detection to make the best smartwatch around a tick better. But the design and watchOS 9 are what really make Series 8 shine.
Same great design and display
Skin temperature reader for cycle + sleep tracking
New watchOS 9 workout interface
Longer battery life with low power mode
Wish it borrowed the Apple Watch Ultra's siren
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Apple Watch Series 8: Specs
Starting price:$399 / AU$629
Colors: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red
Connectivity:Cellular (optional,) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, U1, NFC, GPS
Waterproof:Up to 50 meters
Sensors:Skin temperature, heart rate, ECG, SpO2
Battery life: 18 hours (36 with low power mode)
Not that much is new for the Apple Watch Series 8, and that's OK. I mean, it might seem less exciting compared to the brand-new Apple Watch Ultra, but don't get me wrong —useful upgrades to health tracking, safety and connectivity make the best smartwatch even better.
The standout Apple Watch Series 8 upgrades compared to the Apple Watch Series 7 are exclusively on the inside. The new watch has the long-rumored skin temperature sensor and long-awaited low power mode, which can extend the latest Apple Watch's battery life to 36 hours. The Apple Watch 8 also has a new crash detection feature, leveraging improved motion sensors for instant help when you might need it most.
Maintaining the $399 starting price while offering an affordable alternative in the Apple Watch SE (2022) rounds out Apple's smartwatch lineup quite nicely, too.But is the latest flagship Apple Watch right for you? Let's go over what you need to know in this Apple Watch Series 8 review.
Apple Watch Series 8 price and availability
The Apple Watch Series 8 is available as of September 16, 2022 with a starting price of $399 (AU$629) for the 41-millimeter, GPS-only model. The price is$499 (AU$789) for the GPS + cellular version. The 45-millimeter size, meanwhile, will start at $429 (AU$679), and go up to $529 (AU$839) for cellular support.
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|Header Cell - Column 0||41mm||45mm|
|Aluminum GPS + Cellular||$499||$529|
There are two additional Apple Watch models to choose from this year: the $799 (AU$1,299) Apple Watch Ultra and $249 (AU$399) Apple Watch SE (2022). You might recall the original Apple Watch SE started at $279, so that model received a $30 discount —a move that makes sense with the Apple Watch Series 3 being discontinued... finally.
Apple Watch Series 8 review: Design
It's almost impossible to tell the Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch 7 apart, with the new smartwatch sporting the curvier chassis and thinner display bezels that debuted last year. This screen, which is 20% larger than the Apple Watch Series 6's, is optimized for features like Always-On Display, the new watchOS 9 faces and a QWERTY keyboard for sending messages.
Yes, these are things I've had for a year with the Apple Watch Series 7. But I'll assume people upgrading from older Apple Watch devices will see the redesign as a major improvement. If you’re thinking about moving on from an Apple Watch Series 5 or Apple Watch Series 4, prepare for more usable screen space.
On the side of the Apple Watch Series 8 you'll find the familiar digital crown and side button, which are used in hand with the touchscreen to navigate the device. While it would be neat if it got an action button on the side like the Apple Watch Ultra, the Apple Watch Series 8's design is still plenty intuitive.
The Apple Watch Series 8 colors include Midnight, Silver, Starlight and Product Red. Blue and Green watches are no longer available, though I don't feel one way or the other about their departure. Besides, customization comes by finding the best Apple Watch bands for your style.
Apple Watch Series 8 review: Skin temperature sensor
Let's take a closer look at the skin temperature sensor Apple introduces in this update. The skin temperature sensor informs two areas of Apple's health suite: sleep tracking and cycle tracking. For sleep, deviations in baseline overnight temperature might help you keep tabs on what external factors impact your regular rest. Think: traveling or partying late.
If I were trying to conceive, using my wrist temperature and other period tracking information, the Apple Watch Series 8 is able to predict my ovulation windows. Changes to wrist temperature have been proven accurate indicators of probable ovulation (opens in new tab).
Alternatively, if you have some kind of condition that impacts your cycle, overnight wrist temperature data might provide a sense of validation. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS (which was actually highlighted in the Apple Women's Health Study), so maintaining a "normal" ovulation cycle is something that requires certain lifestyle habits on my part. If my wrist temperature data is off in a given month, it could mean I need to take better care of symptom management. Important to note: This feature requires at least a month to calibrate, so I'll need to check back with more details on my experience.
As for privacy, all cycle tracking data is secured with end-to-end encryption, and data can be deleted at any time. You also have control over who you share your health data with. For example, you might want to share your cycle information with a doctor assisting you with fertility.
Down the line, Apple could use skin temperature more like the Fitbit Sense 2, using it as one of the metrics to understand stress. Others have speculated it could be used for fever detection, too. We'll just have to wait and see.
Apple Watch Series 8 review: Crash detection
Crash detection isn't a new Apple Watch Series 8 feature I hope anyone ever has to test, but regrettably car accidents happen. Apple Watch has had fall detection and emergency SOS features for some time, but crash detection is a new kind of safety tool made possible by upgraded motion sensors in Series 8.
The Apple Watch Series 8 features two new motion sensors inside, plus an improved gyroscope and accelerometer. These together can sample motion 4x faster than before, so the watch will be able to detect a crash precisely as it happens. And, in the unfortunate case of a crash, the Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts.Though it's a somber thought, quicker help could be a matter of life or death.
I'll also note crash detection is one of the ways the Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022) compare, demonstrating that it's possible to promote safety without paying more. I just wish this was also the case for an Apple Watch Ultra feature, but more on that in a minute.
Apple Watch Series 8: Battery life with low power mode
The Apple Watch Series 8 has a long-time, wishlist feature of mine: low power mode. Yes, earlier Apple Watch devices have Power Reserve, letting you see the time when the watch is practically dead. But borrowing a handy setting from the iPhone, the Apple Watch's new low power mode will disable certain power-draining features while leaving the device still mostly usable.
It's easy to toggle on Apple Watch low power mode from the control center and be prompted on which features become compromised. You'll temporarily lose Always-On Display, continuous health sensor readings and cellular connectivity. Depending on the situation, you can assign low power mode to turn off automatically after 1 day, 2 days or 3 days.
With normal use, the Apple Watch Series 8 battery life is rated for 18 hours. With low power mode, the watch can last up to 36 hours. I'm in the habit of charging my Apple Watch every morning, but I found using low power mode for even just a few hours during the day extended my unit well past 24 hours.
Charging looks the same, with a fast charger juicing the Series 8 up from 0-100% percent in about an hour, and 8 minutes of charging before bed offering 8 hours of sleep tracking. I'd like to note the Apple Watch magnetic charger can now also be used to charge the new AirPods Pro 2, offering some cable consolidation for users who have both products.
Apple Watch Series 8 review: watchOS 9
All the watchOS 9 supported devices get low power mode, so if you haven't tried it yet on your current timepiece, see our guide on how to update your Apple Watch. But even if they're not "exclusive," there are several watchOS 9 features that stood out while using the Apple Watch Series 8.
The Apple Watch's fitness tracking interface received a major overhaul in watchOS 9. You can now create custom workouts, switch automatically between multisport events and monitor your heart rate zones throughout a workout. I’m personally a fan of heart rate-based training to promote effective recovery, so I liked seeing my zones for cardio and HIIT workouts. Everything felt as responsive and as accurate as any of the best fitness trackers.
I also love the new interface that shows you your Apple Watch rings within the workout app — before, I would regularly leave the workout app to go check my progress. Of course, when I work out with Apple Fitness Plus I can also see my rings on my iPhone or iPad screen during each class. The $9.99/month exercise platform recently made it possible to workout without an Apple Watch, but having one definitely makes for the optimized experience.
Another watchOS 9 feature I use daily is the new Medications app. Once I set up my medications in the Health app on my iPhone, my Apple Watch Series 8 started alerting me the same time each day to log my intake. It even adapted when I changed time zones, and alerted me to possible interactions I should know about.
I'm always searching for the best Apple Watch apps, but there are a few I've been loving recently that I thought you might want to try if/when you get a new Apple Watch. SwingVision is a great program for upping my tennis game, while Headspace has helped me meditate in small doses each day. WaterMinder is my favorite app for staying hydrated, too.
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: How they compare
While theApple Watch Series 8has shaped up to be an iterative update, the $799Apple Watch Ultrais unlike any smartwatch we've seen from Apple before —it figures to be the largest and longest-lasting Apple Watch ever, and also the most rugged. There are several differences between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra, including size, design and features.
And mostly, it makes sense why the Apple Watch Ultra has certain features that the Apple Watch Series 8 does not; I'm not planning to go deep sea diving with the Apple Watch Series 8 anytime soon. But the one Apple Watch Ultra feature I think Apple should've tried to add to the Series 8 is the siren.
The siren on the Apple Watch Ultra is 86 decibels loud, as made possible by a new speaker system in the larger watch. Even if it's not quite as loud, I wish the standard Apple Watch had a siren app that could be triggered in case of emergency. Personal safety is a major concern in the city in which I live —not just in the great outdoors.
Fortunately, the Apple Watch Series 8 does get the redesigned compass app found on the Apple Watch Ultra. I used the new waypoints tool to save points of interests (a.k.a. photo ops) on a recent hike, while the new trackback feature succeeded in taking me back to my car.
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and many of the best Garmin watches have these kinds of GPS features, but it's now easier to call the Apple Watch Series 8 one of the best sports watches for basic outdoor activities.
That said, if you're truly adventure-driven, you might find the Apple Watch Ultra has more to offer. We'll have a full Apple Watch Ultra review soon and will give you our verdict on it then.
Apple Watch Series 8 review: Verdict
The skin temperature sensor, crash detection feature and low power mode make the Apple Watch Series 8 better enough than the Series 7; however, I will say the design and watchOS 9 —neither "exclusive" assets — are what make the experience as great as it is.
I think the Series 8 is the sweet spot for upgrades for owners of the Apple Watch Series 4 or Series 5, or just anyone who wants a full-featured Watch experience. It will also be a great choice for those who have health conditions the Apple Watch Series 8 can help monitor, like aFib.
Do I wish a bit more was different? I guess, but for what most people with an iPhone could need out of a smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 8 has it all. Despite the growing competition, the Apple Watch still sets the standard for wearable technology.
And for more Apple Watch information, check out our Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8 comparison.
Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs theTom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.
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Is Apple Watch 8 worth buying? ›
Bottom line. This one is easy: If you own an Apple Watch Series 7, Series 6 or even a Series 5, you really don't need the Series 8. Series 7 and 6 users won't notice much of a difference at all, and while Series 5 users might be enticed by things like blood oxygen monitoring, it's still not a life-changing leap.Can I wear my Apple Watch 8 in the shower? ›
Is my Apple Watch waterproof? Your Apple Watch is water resistant, but not waterproof. For example, you can wear and use your Apple Watch during activities such as exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), walking in rain, and washing your hands.What can I do on Apple Watch 8? ›
Heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen detection, ECG readings, sleep tracking, fall detection, and loud noise monitoring continue to be available, plus Apple has added a few new features this year. There's a built-in temperature sensor that's used for giving women additional insights into their health.Is Apple Watch 8 worth it over SE? ›
The biggest reason to choose the Series 8 over the SE right now is its extra health-tracking smarts, such as its new wrist temperature measurements, blood oxygen saturation readings and the ability to take an electrocardiogram. The Apple Watch isn't a medical device and shouldn't be treated as such.Does Apple Watch 8 have a camera? ›
“You've got a self-facing camera for quick, candid selfies and for live video chat. And then you've got a world-facing camera that captures 4K photo, 1080p video, and … it's pretty cool.”What is the difference between Apple Watch 7 and 8? ›
Arguably, the three biggest differences between the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8 are crash detection, body temperature monitoring, and Bluetooth 5.3.Will Apple Watch 8 have better battery life? ›
It's a notable change from the older watches, which use the GPS from a nearby iPhone to preserve battery life on the watch. Now, GPS will run solely on the Apple Watch, which means the Series 8 and SE actually have better battery life than before.Should I wear my Apple Watch to bed? ›
Wear your watch to bed, and Apple Watch can estimate the time you spent in each sleep stage—REM, Core, and Deep—as well as when you might have woken up. When you wake up, open the Sleep app to learn how much sleep you got and see your sleep trends over the past 14 days.How long does the battery last on Apple Watch 8? ›
Get 18 hours of all-day battery life and up to 36 hours with the new Low Power Mode. Great for occasions when you're away from your charger, like a long flight.Can you FaceTime on Apple Watch? ›
Open the Phone app on your Apple Watch. Tap Contacts, then turn the Digital Crown to scroll. Tap the contact you want to call, then tap the phone button. Tap FaceTime Audio to start a FaceTime audio call, or tap a phone number.
Does Apple Watch 8 have a speaker? ›
Apple Watch Series 8 Audio Quality and Haptics
The Watch does have an internal microphone and speaker, so you can take calls from your wrist.
With a WR50 rating, the new Apple Watch Series 8 is water resistant up to a depth of 50 meters. That means you have nothing to worry about sweat exposure, water splashes, or rain damaging your smartwatch.Why is Apple Watch SE so cheap? ›
The second-generation SE Apple Watch is $30 cheaper than the first generation. The SE comes with a new S8 chip, sleep tracking and crash detection. The updates to the Apple Watch Series 8 aren't significant enough to justify an upgrade.What is the difference between Apple Watch Ultra and 8? ›
The Watch Ultra offers precision dual-frequency GPS (L1 and L5), while the Watch Series 8 offers L1 only. The Watch Ultra also has a dive computer in the Oceanic+ app, and EN13319 certification. In terms of battery, the Watch Ultra has a 36-hour battery life, while the Watch Series 8 has an 18-hour battery life.How long do Apple Watches last? ›
Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps, and doing a 60-minute workout. And because everyone will use Apple Watch differently, we tested several other metrics as well.Will Apple Watch 8 have FaceTime? ›
These calls can be placed from iPads, iPods, Macs, iPhones, and, yes, even Apple Watches. Unfortunately, since the Apple Watch does not house a camera, users cannot make FaceTime video calls from the wrist. While you will be able to hear the person you contact, you won't be able to see the person on the other end.Which Colour Apple Watch Series 8 is best? ›
The gold variant of the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 offers a premium glossy finish and looks amazing with a Leather Link band.Does Apple Watch 8 come with charger? ›
Your Apple Watch comes with the Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger to USB-C Cable (Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch Series 8 only) or the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable (other models).Is it worth upgrading from Apple Watch 7 to 8? ›
If you have an Apple Watch Series 7, there's no reason to upgrade right now. The Series 7 and 8 have a lot in common, like their larger screen, QWERTY keyboard, fast charging and nearly identical suite of health and wellness features.Will Apple Watch 8 have blood glucose monitor? ›
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently said that Apple's blood-pressure monitoring technology is not expected to arrive until 2025, and blood-glucose monitoring is not set to be ready until "nearer to the end of the decade."
Will Apple Watch 8 be thinner? ›
Same display as the Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 8 features the same Apple Watch Series 7 display, which has 20% more screen area and thinner borders at 1.7mm, making it 40% smaller than those on Apple Watch Series 6.
Now, with watchOS 8, you can also track your respiratory rate throughout the night, which could help to detect early signs of medical conditions like sleep apnea, and chronic lung disease, among others. Using its built-in accelerometer, the Apple Watch can track the number of breaths you take per minute while asleep.What drains Apple Watch battery most? ›
The display screen drains the Apple Watch battery the most.What kills Apple Watch battery fast? ›
The display is among the biggest battery drains on modern devices, and that's no less true on the Apple Watch. Consider decreasing the display's brightness, disabling the always-on display, and decreasing the wake screen time. You can find all three by heading to Settings > Brightness & Display on your Apple Watch.What is the advantage of having an Apple Watch? ›
You won't miss a call, text, or notification, even if you don't have your iPhone. From music to podcasts to audiobooks, Apple Watch streams miles of motivation. And with maps on your wrist, you'll always know which way you're headed.Can you use your Apple Watch if your phone is off? ›
When your iPhone is off or out of range, your Apple Watch can use a Wi-Fi network to send and receive data. Your watch can also connect to a cellular network if it's a cellular model. And if you've set up an Apple Watch for a family member, they can use a cellular or Wi-Fi connection with their watch.Can you swim with Apple Watch? ›
From laps in a pool to a freestyle across open water, your Apple Watch Series 2 or later is ready for a swim with you.Is Fitbit or Apple Watch better? ›
If you're only interested in an activity tracker for fitness and you want to save a few dollars, Fitbit is the way to go. But if you have an iPhone and don't mind the cost, consider the Apple Watch. You'll get excellent fitness tracking abilities plus all the other features that come with this clever Apple device.Should I charge my Apple Watch every night? ›
Regardless of how you use your Apple Watch, the battery life will deplete ever so slightly after every charging cycle. Apple defines a charging cycle as every 100% battery capacity discharged. There's no indication from Apple that charging overnight affects battery health.How long does it take to fully charge Apple Watch 8? ›
When used with Apple's 20W USB-C Power Adapter, it takes about 45 minutes to charge the Apple Watch Series 8 to 80 percent, and 75 minutes to charge the smartwatch to 100 percent. The charging speed is similar to what Apple offers on the Watch Series 7.
How far away from iPhone will Apple Watch work? ›
Normal Bluetooth range is around 33 feet / 10 meters (this will vary in practice due to wireless interference). Whenever the Apple Watch cannot connect to the iPhone via Bluetooth, it will attempt, as a fallback, to connect to a compatible Wi-Fi network.Can Apple Watch take pictures? ›
Take a photo
To adjust exposure, tap the key area of the shot in the preview on your Apple Watch. To take the shot, tap the Shutter button.
No, the device does not have a camera. However, there is a Camera app on the device. You can set your iPhone's camera timer for a photo using the app on your Watch.Can you answer calls in Apple Watch Series 8? ›
Answer a call
Send a call to voicemail: Tap the red Decline button in the incoming call notification. Answer on your Apple Watch: Tap the Answer button to talk using the built-in microphone and speaker or a Bluetooth device paired with your Apple Watch.
For example, if you're using an Apple Watch Series 1 or Series 2 with 8 GB of storage, you'll be able to store up to 250 songs with 2 GB of allocation for music. Likewise, you can also sync photos to your Apple Watch and have quick access to your favorite album even when it's not connected to your iPhone.Do I need case for Apple Watch 8? ›
Air Case for Apple Watch Series 7/8
Since your Apple Watch can get scratched and dented from time to time, it deserves the same, if not more protection than your phone. Start protecting your smartwatch with an Apple Watch Case and screen protector.
From $399 or $16.62/mo.Does Apple Watch Series 8 take temperature? ›
Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra have 2 temperature sensors—one on the back crystal, near your skin, and another just under the display. While you sleep, Apple Watch samples your temperature every five seconds. This design improves accuracy by reducing bias from the outside environment.Can Apple Watch measure blood pressure? ›
The answer is no. The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn't offer blood pressure monitoring. This feature is available on some Samsung smartwatches but not on the Apple Watch.Is Apple Watch 7 better than SE? ›
The Series 7 is therefore, 20% faster than the SE. The Apple Watch Series 7 has a blood-oxygen sensor and you can even perform an ECG. If you're interested in health tracking, you should be sporting an Apple Watch Series 7. The Apple Watch Series 7 features fast charging.
Is it worth getting the Apple Watch 7 or SE? ›
If you prefer stainless steel or titanium, you should get the Apple Watch Series 7 as it is the only model to offer these finishes options, but if you are content with a light-weight aluminum casing, and basic Silver, Space Gray, or Gold finishes, then the Apple Watch SE will be sufficient.Is the Apple Watch SE worth it in 2022? ›
The Bottom Line
With a faster processor, better battery life, and a lower price than the previous model, the second-generation Apple Watch SE is an excellent budget-minded alternative to the Series 8.
Bottom line. This one is easy: If you own an Apple Watch Series 7, Series 6 or even a Series 5, you really don't need the Series 8. Series 7 and 6 users won't notice much of a difference at all, and while Series 5 users might be enticed by things like blood oxygen monitoring, it's still not a life-changing leap.What is the best version of an Apple Watch? ›
The best Apple Watch is the Apple Watch Series 8 based on pricing, features, and battery life. There are other options to choose from, so we've broken down the features of each model below.Which smart watch is best? ›
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 - Check Amazon Offer. WearOS, used by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Classic, immediately grants the gadget access to many applications. ...
- Amazfit Zepp - Check Amazon Offer. ...
- Fitbit Versa 4. ...
- Titan Smart 2. ...
- Google Pixel smartwatch. ...
- Fastrack Reflex. ...
- Apple Watch 8. ...
- Noise Pulse 2.
The Apple Watch sometimes drains your iPhone battery at the beginning, but it stops after 3 months of owning it. At first, it usually drains your iPhone battery when you do running or walking workouts on your watch.Do I need a protector for my Apple Watch? ›
A: This depends on your preference entirely. If you're only concerned about the screen of your Apple Watch getting scratched, then a simple screen protector will suffice. However, if you wish to keep the body of the watch scratch free as well, you can opt for a hard case that covers everything.Will Apple Watch 8 have longer battery life? ›
Now, GPS will run solely on the Apple Watch, which means the Series 8 and SE actually have better battery life than before. Despite the new battery-draining functionality, Apple still rates battery life at 18 hours.Is Apple Watch Ultra better than Series 8? ›
If it fits your wrist and your budget, get the Apple Watch Ultra. Its longer battery life and action button make all the difference for me. It's also just so much more fun to use, even if you don't consider yourself an athlete or outdoor adventurer. But at its core, the Ultra is an Apple Watch Series 8.What will be different about the Apple Watch 8? ›
Apple Watch Series 8 has an innovative new sensor that tracks your temperature while you sleep, so you can see changes over time. Cycle Tracking uses this data to provide a retrospective estimate of when you likely ovulated, which can be helpful for family planning.
Is 8GB Apple Watch enough? ›
Apps are getting larger and they take up more storage space. If you only use your Apple Watch to count steps, 8GB is probably enough for you.How long do Apple watches last? ›
While the device might keep working and can still be paired to an iPhone, a lack of updates makes it a security risk. That means the end of life should really be thought of as three to four years, even if the Apple Watch is in perfect condition.