Apple Watch Series 8 review: Another year, another Apple Watch

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in Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 8 is a jack of all trades for your average user, though a lack of new features is a bit more apparent than in years past.

Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8 45mm in silver


The rate of iteration on the standard Apple Watch seems to be slowing. The biggest changes in 2022 come from watchOS 9 which delivered long-awaited features such as low power mode, improved workouts, and better tracking with the Compass app.

Even though there are fewer flashy features in the Apple Watch Series 8, it is still the smartwatch to beat.




Pick out your Apple Watch

Even with the addition of the Apple Watch Ultra to the lineup, users have fewer choices this year than they typically would. Which is probably for the best.



The Apple Watch Series 8 can be picked up in Midnight, Starlight, silver, and (Product)RED if you opt for the aluminum and if the stainless steel is more your style, there are gold, silver, and graphite to choose from.

Titanium is now solely 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.

Lots of apps on our Apple Watch Series 8
Lots of apps on our Apple Watch Series 8


When choosing your Apple Watch, you can pair it with any of the Nike bands, including the stainless steel versions.

With the Nike Edition gone by the wayside, titanium no longer available, and two colorways being discontinued, there are far fewer options for users at retail.

But, silver is back. This much-requested color was absent last year as Apple transitioned to Starlight. The slight gold hue was a put-off to people who wanted a more neutral silver -- and they seem to have had their requests heard.

Silver Apple Watch Series 8
Silver Apple Watch Series 8


We're taking a look at the 45mm silver aluminum Apple Watch Series 8.

A solid recipe for success

Apple Watch has been following a reliable recipe for success for the past few years, with incremental improvements bolstered by ever-improving software.

This year, watchOS 9 was a great update for new and existing owners. Low power mode can nearly double the promised battery life of your Apple Watch, enough for a weekend getaway depending on your usage.

There's a host of new workout features such as triathlon and duathlon support, the ability to race yourself while running, and new workout views with heart rate zones, Activity rings, and more.




Even if Apple Watch Series 8 doesn't have that rumored redesign, it works with the same bands it has supported for years, works reliably, and is more capable than the Apple Watch before it.

What is actually new

Let's talk about what is new, instead of harping on Apple's tried-and-true technology.

Crash detection is one of those new features, and it's one Apple openly says it hopes you never have to use. There is no denying that in some instances, this new crash detection will most certainly save a life.

It works by tying into 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 256 g.

Crash detection toggle for Apple Watch Series 8
Crash detection toggle on Apple Watch Series 8


Then there is the updated gyroscope that will detect when there has been a sudden shift in motion -- such as when suffering an impact to the front, rear or side.

The barometer will detect a shift 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 detect when you've been in an automobile crash.

Should a crash be detected, your Apple Watch will fire up, asking you if you're ok. If it can't get you to respond, it will automatically call emergency services with your location and send an alert to your emergency contacts. Granted, you need a cellular Apple Watch or your iPhone nearby for this to work.

Crash detection is a fantastic feature to bring to Apple Watch and is an incredible example of Apple fully utilizing the existing sensors by applying creative software. It will only be a matter of time before we start hearing stories of people saved by this addition.

The Apple Watch Series 8 runs on a new S8 SiP, but you won't any real speed boost here. The S8 relies on the same CPU as the S7 found in the Series 7 Apple Watch.

As we opened apps, navigated the watch, and typed, we noticed no lag, which is precisely our experience on the Series 7 too. 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 temp sensors in Apple Watch Series 8 -- one against your wrist and the other the screen, used for measuring surroundings.

These sensors don't act like a traditional thermometer, though. You won't see an alert emerge from the top of your Apple Watch telling you that you've run a fever and should check with your doctor.

Instead, Apple provides two primary use cases for temperature sensors.

Side view of Apple Watch Series 8
Side view of Apple Watch Series 8


There are typical body temperature deviations during certain points in a menstrual cycle that may indicate ovulation. The Apple cycle tracking app uses data from this sensor to determine ovulation, retroactively.

Otherwise, the temperature sensor will track a wearer's body temp overnight, assuming you wear your Apple Watch to bed. We've been using our Apple Watch for sleep tracking for years so this was no issue.

After several days of data collection, Apple Watch was then able to flag when our body temperature deviated by roughly two degrees or more from our baseline measurements. This can be indicative of illness, stress, diet, exercise, alcohol, and more.

This feels like a very Apple approach. Rather than overpromising to its users, Apple has hedges its bets and only delivers what it can be confident about.

Far too many fitness trackers make dubious claims backed by questionable science and Apple has made a concerted effort to steer clear of 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 tale. As of September 2022, it's another nice-to-have metric

Apple's biggest Apple Watch problems

With its wearable, Apple has a few issues to tackle. Sensors are becoming increasingly difficult to integrate into the tiny body of the Apple Watch -- or they're prohibitively expensive -- and Apple isn't competing with more dedicated fitness trackers.

One of the most oft-rumored sensors Apple has been exploring is a glucose monitor. We've been adamant that anyone expecting this in the near future, should temper their expectations.

Wearing the Apple Watch Series 8
Wearing the Apple Watch Series 8


A non-invasive glucose monitor is still years away from showing up in Apple Watch and even then, it's more likely it will be general values and not something as accurate as a prescribed monitor like the Dexcom G6 or Medtronic Enlite.

Apple settled this year for something more feasible: a temperature sensor. Still, Apple is being cautious here only using it for background readings at night 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 that want something more powerful than what Apple Watch offers.

In this case, though, Apple did have an answer. It just wasn't the Apple Watch Series 8. It's the Apple Watch Ultra, and we'll leave that conversation for a different review

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8?

Annual upgraders are going to 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 readily available -- which the Apple Watch Ultra will probably not be for a while.

Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8


The new Apple Watch Series 8 now sits in the middle of the lineup. It's (barely) more capable than the new Apple Watch SE which we will be talking about soon, 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 - Pros

  • Still the best smart watch for everyday user

  • Unique use for temperature sensor

  • Crash detection isn't flashy, but lifesaving

  • All-day battery life

  • Lots to love with watchOS 9

Apple Watch Series 8 - Cons

  • Few reasons to upgrade over Series 7, Series 6, or maybe even the Series 5

  • Most watchOS 9 features coming to older watches such as low power mode

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy the Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 is on sale now, with exclusive Apple Watch deals available when you tack on AppleCare.

Save $15 on AppleCare when you shop through this activation link at Apple Authorized Reseller Adorama and enter promo code APINSIDER in the same browsing session. Need help with the code? Here's how to activate it.

You can also order the Series 8 at Amazon and Best Buy, with easy price comparison at your fingertips in our Apple Watch Series 8 Price Guide.

Read on AppleInsider
muthuk_vanalingam

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,010member
    Very informative. Thank you.
    I’m more sure than ever that I want to upgrade from my 4.

    Interesting thought about how the temperature sensor may be very limited in function now, but future software upgrades could give it more uses. We can hope!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Can the temperature sensor on or near the face give you the ambient air temperature?
    edited September 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Strange review. 

    A product isn’t good based on how much “new” it can do, but rather how WELL it does what it does. 

    Series 8 has meaningful improvements that make it (still) the best smart wearable on the market and a notable improvement over its predecessor. 

    Since there are now multiple tiers, including the new Ultra, Apple Watch has something for everyone, including those no one thought would ever have meaningful use for one. 

    It’s not just some “Jack of all trades. It does some things better than dedicated devices as well. 

    How this does not earn a 5 star review is beyond understanding. 

    Strange review. Sounds like it was just an amalgam of the negatives discussed in the Apple Watch ultra review forum posts - including the “Jack of all trades” remark. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    as an annual upgrader I dont see the point.

    Couple of new sensors, the temperature thing is of no use to men.

    The crash detection is in my iPhone 14.

    no point.

    very disappointed.


    9secondkox2darkvader
  • Reply 5 of 11
    as an annual upgrader I dont see the point.

    Couple of new sensors, the temperature thing is of no use to men.

    The crash detection is in my iPhone 14.

    no point.

    very disappointed.


    What are the reasons you upgrade from 4 to 5, 5 to 6, and 6 to 7?
    scstrrfwatto_cobra9secondkox2
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Seriously buy a Presidential Rolex - if you want to know the TiME you have an iPHONE- And like I said before it gets you the Bad GiRLS. 

    https://www.chrono24.ca/rolex/rolex-day-date-40-2022-full-set-rose-gold-sundust-baguette-diamond-president-strap--id23743898.htm
  • Reply 7 of 11
    My comment has not much to do with Series 8 or this article per se, but just an interesting observation from me.  My 84 yr old Mother has an iPhone but she is very challenged with using it.  I don't blame her.  Apple makes it harder and harder for the elderly to use their phones.  But she tries her best and can fuddle through.  At least we got it to the point where she can take calls and to a point even make calls using the Contacts app.  That is a win enough.  Anyway, when my series 6 took a fall and cracked (and then went into the water) it was time to get a new Apple Watch (series 7).  For some crazy reason, my Mom was intrigued by this device I got for myself and wanted to wear it and try it.  I'm telling you it was love at first wear.  So many problems with her using the phone and even sending simple text messages like OK and Thank you were solved with this Apple Watch.  I set it up so she could get the weather on her watch face also.  She cannot go for a day without it now.   One time we visited my Sister for the weekend and her Apple Watch got left behind and she missed it terribly.  I'm so amazed that someone who is 80+ yrs. old could take to something like this when I know she is challenged with technology.  Needless to say my Series 7 went to her now and I bought myself another one...so now we both have one.  Again, has nothing to do with this article or the Series 8 but just to tell you the power of this amazing little device.
    waveparticledarkvaderStrangeDaysforegoneconclusion
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Paul_B said:
    Seriously buy a Presidential Rolex - if you want to know the TiME you have an iPHONE- And like I said before it gets you the Bad GiRLS. 

    [spam link removed]

    I have absolutely no use for a bracelet.  And that's all a mechanical 'watch' is in 2022, it's only capable of a vague approximation of the time, it's been obsolete as a timepiece since the Seiko Quartz Astron came out in 1969.  A $20 Timex would be a better choice than Rolex mechanical garbage.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,397member
    Strange review. 

    A product isn’t good based on how much “new” it can do, but rather how WELL it does what it does. 

    Series 8 has meaningful improvements that make it (still) the best smart wearable on the market and a notable improvement over its predecessor. 

    Since there are now multiple tiers, including the new Ultra, Apple Watch has something for everyone, including those no one thought would ever have meaningful use for one. 

    It’s not just some “Jack of all trades. It does some things better than dedicated devices as well. 

    How this does not earn a 5 star review is beyond understanding. 

    Strange review. Sounds like it was just an amalgam of the negatives discussed in the Apple Watch ultra review forum posts - including the “Jack of all trades” remark. 
    To my thinking a 5 star would be this is a huge thing, does everything well, and even if you have an AW that’s only a year or two old, there’s enough new to warrant considering upgrading. That’s isn’t what we have this time around.
    This is a nice if unimpressive update. No must have features. No clear flaws, but not really fixing any shortcomings from previous iterations. Hence the four stars. 
    FWIW three stars would be, this is the new watch, but it’s no improvement at all, don’t bother upgrading unless you have to. Below that would be for clear flaws. 
    That’s how I’d see it anyway. 
  • Reply 10 of 11
    fred1 said:
    Very informative. Thank you.
    I’m more sure than ever that I want to upgrade from my 4.

    Interesting thought about how the temperature sensor may be very limited in function now, but future software upgrades could give it more uses. We can hope!
    fred1, that's exactly what I've done. My Apple Watch 4 has been very reliable and productive, but w/ the 8, I felt it was time. The new watch is working just as flawlessly and I do like the somewhat larger screen (text). For us, this is a no-brainer upgrade. 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    I was all ready to upgrade my AW4 to the 8

    But I have been happy with my AW4 for years and years and nothing about the AW8 especially tempts me aside from the always on screen 

    I am going to hold out one more year I think - I would love a brighter display and a thinner watch body 

    Tbf says a lot about how solid the AW4 is 
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