Should You Buy an Apple Watch Series 8?
Released in September 2022, the Apple Watch Series 8 is nine months old, and Apple is due to refresh the Apple Watch in September 2023. For that reason, you may want to hold off on buying the Apple Watch Series 8 if you prefer to have the latest technology.
The main Apple Watch line is refreshed every year like clockwork, so we know that a Series 9 model is coming. It's okay to buy the Series 8 right now as long as you don't mind that a new version will be released in a matter of months.
Apple's Series 8 is the middle-tier Apple Watch. If you want something more affordable, it's best to check out the Apple Watch SE. If you can wear a larger watch, want the top-of-the-line features, or do a lot of outdoor activities, you will want to check out the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch Series 8 Detailed
- Should You Buy an Apple Watch Series 8?
- Apple Watch Series 8 Detailed
- How to Buy
- Always-On Display
- Health Features
- Battery Life
- Nike and Hermès Models
- Available Bands
- Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE
- watchOS 9
- What's Next for the Apple Watch
- Apple Watch Series 8 Changelog
- Apple Watch Series 8 Timeline
Announced in September 2022, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the newest iteration of the Apple Watch that originally came out in 2015, and it replaces the prior-generation Apple Watch Series 7.
The Apple Watch Series 8 features no design updates compared to the prior-generation model, with all of the same features and functionality. There continue to be 41mm and 45mm size options, and the casings feature the same rounded edges, slim-bordered display, sapphire crystal backing, and Digital Crown with haptic feedback.
There is an Always-On display that lets users see their watch face and complications at all times, and the Series 8 features crack-resistant front glass, IP6X dust resistance, and a WR50 water resistance rating. Apple Pay purchases are available with credit and debit cards stored in the Wallet app, and it has the same faster charging speeds with updated charging puck as on the Series 7. There is an S8 chip inside, but it is essentially identical to the S6 chip from two years ago with no speed improvements.
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.
The feature is based on a two-sensor design that captures temperature information from the back of the watch near the skin and under the display, reducing environmental bias. At night, the Apple Watch Series 8 takes a temperature reading every five seconds, and it can detect changes as small as one degree. Apple Watch Series 8 owners can see nightly shifts in their baseline temperature that can be the result of exercise, jet lag, or illness.
Apple Watch Series 8 uses the temperature sensor to provide women with retrospective ovulation estimates, which can be helpful for family planning purposes. The data also provides improved period predictions, and in watchOS 9, women can receive notifications if a logged cycle history shows a possible deviation like irregular, infrequent, or prolonged periods.
A new Crash Detection feature takes advantage of an updated gyroscope and accelerometer along with an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm to detect severe car crashes and alert emergency services. When a crash occurs, the Apple Watch checks in with the user and if no response is received within a 10-second countdown, emergency responders are contacted.
Battery life remains the same at up to 18 hours, but it can be extended with a new Low Power Mode added in watchOS 9. With Low Power Mode, the Apple Watch can run for up to 36 hours, but it disables the Always-On display, turns off background heart rate measurements, limits WiFi and cellular connections, and more.
There are both GPS and cellular Apple Watch models, and later this fall, Apple plans to add support for international roaming, allowing Apple Watch owners to connect to a cellular plan when traveling abroad.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is available in aluminum and stainless steel. Aluminum colors include Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and (PRODUCT)RED, while the stainless steel models come in Silver, Graphite, and Gold. Apple has introduced new band colors to go along with the Series 8, and it can be purchased with any available band.
Apple has also introduced new bands and watch faces for Nike and Hermès Apple Watch models, and the Series 8 is now being sold alongside the higher-end, larger, and more feature rich Apple Watch Ultra, plus the lower-cost second-generation Apple Watch SE.
Note: See an error in this roundup or want to offer feedback? Send us an email here.
How to Buy
The Apple Watch Series 8 models became available for purchase on Friday, September 16. They can be purchased from the online Apple Store or from Apple retail stores, with third-party retailers also offering the devices for sale.
Pricing on the Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for the 41mm GPS-only aluminum models, with price increases for larger sizing, LTE connectivity, and the stainless steel material. Apple also sells refurbished versions of the Apple Watch Series 8 at a discounted price.
Initial reviews of the Apple Watch Series 8 were positive, but noted the very incremental upgrades compared to the previous generation. The improvements include the S8 chip, car crash detection, and international roaming.
The Verge's Victoria Song on the Series 8's new temperature sensing feature for retrospective ovulation estimates and menstrual cycle deviation:
As for accuracy, it's a little hard to say, as I've only had the Series 8 for about a week. I don’t have two cycles' worth of temperature data, and I've only just established a baseline. For the few nights I do have temperature data for, however, it largely corresponds to what I got on my Oura Ring. For example, two nights ago, the Oura Ring said my body temperature was 0.5 degrees higher than normal, while the Series 8 said it was 0.41 degrees higher.
Song also commented on Series 8 battery life:
Fair warning: enabling low-power mode isn't going to magically get you multiday battery life, and I never got the full 36 hours. With regular usage without low-power mode, my Series 8 got around 24 hours before I needed to stick it back on a charger. Low-power mode was mostly a good way to get a bit of extra juice so I could make it home or to get me through the last mile of a long run when I forgot to top up the battery before heading out.
MobileSyrup's Patrick O'Rourke said that given the Apple Watch lacks major competition, Apple can get away with incremental year-over-year updates to the device:
Apple is in an interesting position with its Apple Watch. In the iOS space, there's really no viable competition, especially when it comes to the Apple Watch's app ecosystem, and even on Android, the closest is Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. This leaves the tech giant with very little reason to really push the wearable forward with each new release.
The Apple Watch Series 8 has received no design updates. It continues to use the same rounded, square look from previous generations, and it is available in 41mm and 45mm size options, which were introduced in 2021.
There are soft, rounded edges around the Apple Watch's display, and weights range from 32 grams to 51.5 grams depending on casing size and material. The stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 models are the heaviest.
All Apple Watch Series 8 models feature a black ceramic and crystal back that houses four LED clusters and four photodiodes to facilitate health-monitoring features such as heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring, and ECGs.
There is a Digital Crown on the side of the Apple Watch for scrolling and navigation, and there is a side button for bringing up frequently used apps, accessing emergency services, confirming Apple Pay purchases, and more.
The Digital Crown is equipped with haptic feedback that offers a precise, mechanical feel when scrolling through lists and controlling various aspects of the Apple Watch, and it is key for the ECG app because it has a built-in electrode that works in tandem with the rear sensors.
Note that the Digital Crown looks different depending on the Apple Watch model you purchase. LTE models have a red ring around the Digital Crown so you know that they have LTE functionality, while GPS-only models lack the red ring.
Colors and Materials
The Apple Watch Series 8 comes in aluminum and stainless steel. The aluminum Apple Watch models are the most affordable, while the stainless steel models are pricier.
Aluminum colors include Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and (PRODUCT)RED. Stainless steel colors include Gold, Graphite, and Space Black.
The aluminum Apple Watch models are made from 100 percent recycled 7000 series aluminum, are lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for an active lifestyle, while the stainless steel models are heavier, more expensive, and designed for everyday wear rather than focused on activity.
- Aluminum: 32.0 grams
- Stainless Steel: 42.3 grams
- Aluminum: 38.8 grams
- Stainless Steel: 51.5 grams
The Apple Watch Series 8 models feature the same stronger front crystal component introduced with the Series 7, which is more resistant to cracking than prior Apple Watch models.
The aluminum Apple Watch models feature Ion-X glass to protect the display, while the stainless steel and titanium models use sapphire crystal glass. Sapphire crystal glass offers better scratch resistance than Ion-X glass because it is a harder material, which means the models with sapphire crystal models are more resistant to scratching and everyday wear.
All Apple Watch Series 8 models feature IP6X dust resistance for use in environments like the beach or the desert, and they offer WR50 water resistance, rated for immersion in water as deep as 50 meters thanks to seals and adhesives. The speaker, which needs air to produce sound, is the only point of ingress and has been designed to expel water using sound vibrations after exposure to moisture.
Because it is rated for 50m immersion, the Apple Watch can be used when swimming in the ocean or in a pool. It is only suited to shallow water activities, and can't be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, showering, or other activities that involve high-velocity water or deep submersion. For these water activities, the Apple Watch Ultra is recommended.
Apple's Apple Watch warranty does not cover water damage, so it is best to exercise caution when exposing the device to water.
The Apple Watch Series 8 features the same display as the Series 7, with 1.7mm borders and a contour that causes it to bend slightly around the top edges of the glass.
The watch uses an OLED ultra low power temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO) to enable Always-On functionality, which allows the watch face, complications, and other information to be continually visible.
The display dims when the wrist is down in order to preserve battery life, but key features like watch hands remain illuminated all the time. Touching the watch face or raising the wrist brings the display back to full brightness, and to minimize battery drain, Apple has optimized watch faces for the feature. The Apple Watch's display also has a variable refresh rate that drops from 60Hz to as low as 1Hz when the watch is inactive.
The Apple Watch Series 8 offers a third-generation optical heart rate sensor that calculates metrics like calorie burn, resting heart rate, and a heart rate that's too high, and the electrical heart rate sensor can be used for taking electrocardiograms, while LEDs and infrared light enable blood oxygen monitoring. A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope enable other important health-related features such as fall detection.
The Apple Watch can detect a low heart rate, a high heart rate, and an abnormal heart rate, monitoring for health problems like atrial fibrillation and sending notifications when anomalies are detected.
Blood Oxygen Monitoring
Sensors on the back of the Apple Watch enable the blood oxygen monitoring feature available in the Apple Watch Series 8. Blood oxygen saturation in a healthy individual is around 95 to 100 percent, and when the percentage of oxygen in the blood drops below that, it can be indicative of a serious health issue that needs immediate attention.
Green, red, and infrared LEDs shine light onto the blood vessels in the wrist, with photodiodes measuring the amount of light reflected back. Apple's algorithms then calculate the color of the blood, which is an indication of how much oxygen is present. The Series 8 can measure blood oxygen between 70 and 100 percent.
Electrodes in the back of the Apple Watch and the Digital Crown work together to allow users to take single-lead electrocardiograms. An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and can be used to diagnose health conditions by a doctor.
ECGs are captured by holding a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch and can detect a sinus rhythm (normal), an abnormal result, or, sometimes, an inconclusive result that should be shared with a doctor. The ECG is able to detect atrial fibrillation at heart rates above 100 beats per minute.
A single-lead ECG like the Apple Watch means there are two points of contact measuring the electrical sensations of your heart. Clinical electrocardiograms done by your doctor can have six to 12 leads for greater accuracy, but the Apple Watch offers the convenience of being able to take an ECG anytime anywhere in approximately 30 seconds.
The Apple Watch Series 8 models can be worn at night to keep track of your sleep. It monitors when you're awake and when you're asleep, letting you know how much time you spent in the REM, Core, and Deep sleep stages. Sleep tracking also lets you know how often you've woken up in the night and for how long.
Updated motion sensors and an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm allow the Apple Watch Series 8 to detect a severe car crash and alert emergency services. After a crash is detected, the Apple Watch checks in with the user and then dial emergency services after a 10-second period with no response. It also alerts emergency contacts.
Apple added two temperature sensors to the Apple Watch Series 8, including one that measures the temperature at the wrist and one that measures the ambient temperature in the air to cut down on outside bias.
The temperature sensor is used for the Depth app, but its main purpose is for women's health. It is able to take temperature readings every five seconds when the wearer is asleep, aggregating the data in the Health app. Temperature fluctuations can provide data on overall health, but it is also useful for fertility planning.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is able to deliver retrospective ovulation estimates, letting users know when they might have ovulated for better cycle tracking. Apple says temperature sensing also improves period predictions for those who menstruate.
Apple advertises "all-day" 18-hour battery life for the Apple Watch Series 8 models, which can be increased to up to 36 hours with a new Low Power Mode added in watchOS 9.
Apple bases "all-day" battery life estimates on 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback via Bluetooth. For LTE models, Apple assumes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone. In some situations, the Apple Watch drains faster, such as during calls or workouts.
The Apple Watch Series 8 can fast charge with Apple's Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C Cable and an 18W or higher power adapter. Just eight minutes of charging can provide up to eight hours of sleep tracking.
Apple Watch Series 8 models are equipped with an Apple-designed W3 chip, and there are two variants available: GPS and GPS + Cellular. GPS + Cellular models have a built-in LTE chip and can connect to LTE without an iPhone, while GPS models are Wi-Fi only.
LTE connectivity has been available since the Apple Watch Series 3, and with an LTE connection, the Apple Watch is untethered from the iPhone and does not require an iPhone or known Wi-Fi network for an internet connection.
The Apple Watch is still not entirely independent from the iPhone, because LTE connectivity through a carrier requires an Apple Watch and an iPhone 6s or later to share a cellular plan with the same carrier. The Apple Watch also does not have the battery capacity to be used constantly without an iPhone nearby.
The Apple Watch Series 8 continues to feature a U1 chip, which is the same Ultra Wideband chip that first debuted in the iPhone 11 lineup. The U1 chip enables highly accurate short-range wireless that Apple says supports new experiences like Car Keys, the feature that allows an Apple Watch (or iPhone) to be used in lieu of a physical car key.
The U1 chip also allows the Apple Watch to track AirTags.
LTE connectivity enables an international Emergency SOS feature that was first released with the Series 5. With Emergency SOS, the Apple Watch can make international calls to emergency services regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if there's an active cellular plan.
That means if you're traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the side button to automatically get in touch with that country's emergency services. International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch's fall detection feature, so if that's enabled, it automatically places an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS
Apple Watch Series 8 supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. Compared to Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5.0 offers longer range, faster speeds, larger broadcast message capacity, and better interoperability with other wireless technologies.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Series 8 models, LTE and non-LTE, feature a GPS chip that allows the Apple Watch to determine its position without needing to be near an iPhone.
With GPS, the Apple Watch is able to keep tabs on speed, distance, and route when you're walking, running, hiking, or biking, providing more insight into your fitness activities. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS systems are supported for positioning technology across multiple countries.
Nike and Hermès Models
The Nike Apple Watch was created in partnership with Nike and is designed specifically for runners. Nike Apple Watch models are all made from aluminum and are the same price as the standard aluminum Apple Watches.
Nike Apple Watches come with Nike watch faces (though the watch faces are available on all iPhone models) and unique Nike-themed bands.
The Hermès Apple Watch collection was created in partnership with French fashion house Hermès and features some of the most expensive Apple Watches Apple offers because of the high price of the bands.
All Hermès models feature a silver or space black stainless steel Apple Watch body paired with one of the Hermès signature hand-crafted leather bands and an additional orange Hermès-branded Apple Watch Sport band. Hermès Apple Watches include unique watch faces based on Hermès watch designs.
Apple has designed several types of bands for the Apple Watch, which it updates on a regular basis, debuting new band options during fall and spring media events, as well as other times throughout the year.
Apple offers an Apple Watch Studio feature that allows most bands to be paired with most Apple Watch casing options so specific Apple Watch band and casing pairings are no longer required when making a purchase. Available Series 8 bands include the Sport Band, Sport Loop, Milanese Loop, Modern Buckle, Leather Link, Solo Loop, and Braided Solo Loop.
The Solo Loop is similar to the Sport Band, but it's the first Apple Watch to feature a slip-on design with no buckle or clasping mechanism. It's made from a stretchy liquid silicone rubber that can stretch to fit over the hand and then collapse to fit tightly on the wrist.
Apple says that it's ultra-comfortable because there are no overlapping parts, and it's simple to slip on and off. It's swim-proof, sweat-proof, and treated with UV for a silky finish. The Solo Loop is priced at $49.
Braided Solo Loop
Like the Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop is a newer Apple Watch band designed without a buckle or clasp of any kind. It's made from a stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicone threads so it can fit over the hand before wrapping around the wrist.
Apple says the soft, textured feel of the band is sweat and water-resistant, plus ultra-comfortable to wear. The Braided Solo Loop is one of Apple's more expensive band options at $99, and the same sizing caveats apply to the Braided Solo Loop.
Apple's Sport Bands are some of the company's lightest, most comfortable bands, made from a flexible and lightweight fluoroelastomer. Because they're ideal for use when exercising or engaging in vigorous activity, most of Apple's aluminum watches ship with Sport Bands. Pricing starts at $49 for the Sport Bands.
Designed to be soft, breathable, and lightweight, the Sport Loop is made from fabric that wraps around the wrist for a tight but comfortable fit.
It's made from a velcro-like double-layer nylon and comes in a range of colors, with Nike-branded Sport Loops also available. The 41mm version fits wrists sized 130 to 190mm, while the 45mm version fits wrists sized 145 to 220mm. Apple charges $49 for the Sport Loop.
The unique perforated Nike Apple Watch bands that come with Nike watches are also available for purchase on a standalone basis.
Nike bands are made from a high-performance fluoroelastomer and are available for both 41mm and 45mm Apple Watch models, plus Apple sells Nike-branded Sport Loop options in unique colors. The bands fit wrists sized 130 to 200mm. Nike Bands are priced at $49.
The stainless steel Milanese Loop, available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, is a flexible metal mesh band that wraps around the wrist. It's made of such a fine metal material that it's comfortable to wear all day long, and it's surprisingly lightweight.
The Milanese Loop is priced at $99, and it comes in silver, gold, and space black.
The Leather Link features a two-piece design that doesn't involve a loop. The Leather Link is made from Roux Granada leather sourced from France, and it has flexible, molded magnets that wrap around the wrist for a comfortable fit.
The Leather Link fits both 41 and 45mm models. It comes in small/medium and medium/large and fits wrists sized from 130 to 180mm.
The Modern Buckle, made from supple Granada leather, is a band that's designed to work with the smaller 41mm Apple Watch models. It features a two-piece magnetic buckle and an inner layer of Vectran weave for strength and scratch resistance.
The 316L stainless steel alloy Link Bracelet, available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, is Apple's most expensive band made in-house. Available in silver ($349) and space black ($449), the Link Bracelet resembles a high-quality traditional watch band.
The 41mm model fits wrists sized 135 to 195mm while the 45mm model fits wrists sized 140 to 205mm. A 6-link add-on kit expands its size from 205mm to 245mm for an additional $49.
Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch SE uses an older design and it does not feature a blood oxygen sensor or ECG capabilities, while the high-end Apple Watch Ultra is aimed at adventurers and explorers with a larger 49mm case size, longer battery life, and a more rugged build.
The Apple Watch Series 8 runs watchOS 9, the latest version of the Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 9 introduced new watch faces, enhancements to the Workout app and many types of workouts, a feature for tracking medications, updates to notifications, an AFib History option for those who have irregular heart rhythms, and more. Full details on watchOS 9 can be found in our watchOS 9 roundup.
What's Next for the Apple Watch
In 2023, Apple is not planning any major changes for the Apple Watch, and will implement only minor updates, such as a small speed boost thanks to an updated S9 chip. For more on what to expect from the Apple Watch Series 9, we have a dedicated rumor guide.
According to analyst Jeff Pu and display analyst Ross Young, Apple is working on a new high-end watch that will feature a 2.1-inch (diagonal) micro-LED display, which could use display technology from LG. The watch is rumored to be coming in 2024 or 2025, and it is likely be an upgrade to the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple is working on noninvasive blood glucose monitoring technology for a future version of the Apple Watch. The feature is still three to seven years away, but in early 2023, Apple hit a milestone in development, creating a proof-of-concept model that is viable, but needs to be sized down to fit into a wearable. There is no word on when blood glucose monitoring could launch, but it is not expected in the near future.
Apple Watch Series 8 Changelog
- May 8 - Added information about refurbished Apple Watch Series 8 models.
- May 8 - Added details about Series 9 chip updates.