The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best mainstream smartwatch you can buy. This is true despite it being merely an incremental, much more expensive update to last year’s Watch Series 7.
Price: from €499 (41mm); from 539€ (45mm)
Advantages: New sensors offer additional functions
Cons: Steep price increase on Series 7, fewer upgrades than previous years
After a few days of use, it’s clear that the Watch Series 8 is still the most accessible, multifunctional and best-performing smartwatch currently on the market. It’s now a finely tuned machine that excels at health, is unmatched for everyday things like payments, and is more than capable of fitness too.
It also now has the option of significantly longer battery life (although it’s still relatively modest at 36 hours) through a new power saving mode that lets you do most of the watch’s day-to-day tasks.
Aside from the obvious limitation of being iPhone only and the still modest battery life, the only real downside to the new model is the huge inflation-driven price hike that’s currently sweeping all Apple products sold in Europe.
But even if you’re an iPhone owner, this is the undeniably clear choice for an all-purpose smartwatch companion (unless you have £1,000 to spare for Apple’s just-announced Watch Ultra, which can be a bit overkill for anyone other than extreme athletes).
What are the actual improvements of this year’s Series 8 watch over the Series 7?
It mostly boils down to a handful of new sensors, but it also benefits from other headline improvements – like longer battery life via a new power saving mode – applicable to most Apple Watches through the WatchOS 9 software upgrade.
The main sensor-guided feature upgrade that the Watch Series 8 tops over any other model is temperature measurement. This kicks in at night and takes a wrist temperature reading every five seconds. While some general health advice can be gleaned from this, the greatest potential benefit may be for those looking to track ovulation and menstrual cycles. Despite being a retrospective gauge, the watch will start giving you ovulation estimates after two menstrual cycles.
Apple says the feature can also help predict when your period will start and help collect data (you can create a PDF of your cycle history) about possible underlying health issues like thyroid disease or fibroids. I don’t ovulate, so I couldn’t meaningfully test that part of the temp sensor. But it could be useful for those who do or are involved in family planning.
The Watch Series 8’s other main sensor upgrade is a motion sensor, giving the Watch the ability to detect a car crash and then report it Emergency services and your own emergency contacts.
It does so thanks to an improved high-g accelerometer (up to 256g-forces compared to 32 on previous Apple Watches) and a better, more accurate gyroscope. The watch also uses a few other built-in sensors in this process – the microphone (to measure for loud, sudden noises like screeching or broken glass), the GPS (to detect a sudden abrupt stop in speed), and the barometer (to detect an instantaneous change in cabin pressure of the vehicle due to the activation of an airbag).
Together, these system elements are designed to be able to tell if you’ve been involved in a “major” car accident, typically resulting in serious injury. At that point, the watch will give you a notification saying “it looks like you’ve been in an accident” and proceed to call emergency services unless you tap “Cancel.”
Again, this is something I cannot test feasibly. For its part, Apple says it’s been refined with over 1 million hours of real-world driving and crash data, as well as controlled test dummy crash exercises.
While these are the only two major upgrades of the Watch Series 7 (and only one of them – temperature sensing – is exclusive to the Watch Series 8; crash detection is also new to the updated, cheaper Watch SE), there are still quite a few other new features worth talking about. These are mostly from WatchOS 9, which applies to any watch after (but not including) Series 3.
My favorite so far is the new low power mode.
This effectively doubles your watch’s battery life – from just over a day to around two days – by enabling things like heart rate and blood oxygen measurements, as well as your watch’s always-on display (for anyone with a Watch 5, 6, 7, or 8; the Watch SE does not have an always-on screen).
Crucially, you can still do just about any other day-to-day thing you might want, like payments and playing music and navigating; It’s not like the more extreme “power reserve” mode the watch offers when the battery is low, giving you no access to any of the watch’s functions other than telling the time.
The only real compromise I’ve noticed when using the power saving mode is the requirement to now wiggle my wrist again to wake the watch’s display. Since its inception three years ago, I’ve taken the always-on screen for granted as something to be discreetly surveyed.
Nevertheless, I can imagine using this feature a lot when traveling. The biggest downside of any Apple Watch remains its relatively modest battery life compared to almost every other smartwatch on the market. While the trade-off is that the Apple Watch is far more powerful and refined than others, it’s still annoying having to charge it almost every day. Even more so when one of the Watch 8’s cornerstones is a temperature sensor that works at night, when many people naturally charge their Watch alongside their iPhone.
There are a few other nice little updates to WatchOS 9.
As well as a redesigned compass, a new feature called Backtrack lets you use the watch’s GPS to mark a path as you walk it, making it easier to retrace your steps if you need to.
There are also some decent fitness updates, mostly featuring enhanced metrics for runners, but also including a new multisport workout that could be useful for triathletes, as it can automatically switch between running, swimming and cycling.
And it’s worth noting that some of the standard features found in newer Apple Watch models, like EKG and “fall detection,” are still very useful and attractive things to add to your lifestyle health arsenal, especially for older adults.
There are one or two updated features that Watch owners only get if they live in countries like the US or UK. This includes, above all, international roaming for Apple Watch mobile models. Unfortunately, no Irish operator supports Apple Watch cellular models yet, an increasingly bizarre and archaic scenario. I’m hearing that Vodafone Ireland may not be far from a mobile announcement with Apple, but neither side will confirm that yet.
The lack of cellular connectivity here rules out the very handy, handy features of the Family Plan, which allow the watch to be used as a communication and security tool between parents and children.
Meanwhile, Apple’s new “auto-distance detection” feature, which can automatically detect 400-meter routes you use for running, will also only be available in the US.
As with all new Apple products in 2022, there is a huge price increase due to inflation. Last year’s flagship watch (Series 7) cost €429 and €479. This year it’s €499 and €539, although US prices haven’t changed from last year. As I’ve explained in a number of other Apple reviews, this isn’t a gamble, it’s entirely due to the 15 percent collapse of the euro against the dollar, which is the currency to which Apple pegs its new products.[€539despitenochangeinUSpricesfromlastyearAsI’veexplainedinanumberofotherApplereviewsthisisn’taprofiteeringmovebutipurelydowntothe15pccollapseoftheeuroagainstthedollarwhichisthecurrencyApplelinksitsnewproductsto[€539despitenochangeinUSpricesfromlastyearAsI’veexplainedinanumberofotherApplereviewsthisisn’taprofiteeringmovebutispurelydowntothe15pccollapseoftheeuroagainstthedollarwhichisthecurrencyApplelinksitsnewproductsto
But given the arguably small number of updates coming to the Watch Series 8, could it be a wiser move to pick up a Series 7 before regular retailers run out of stock instead? Are the above upgrades worth the extra €70?
It mainly depends on how long you think you will have your watch. Apple Watches are generally kept longer than iPhones, meaning you can have them for five years or more. Apple’s latest software update, WatchOS 9, only supports the watches from the last five years, going back as far as the Watch Series 4. That doesn’t mean the Series 3 (and earlier) will stop working, but it does mean that you none get functionality or efficiency bonuses resulting from the updates.
In other words, if you get the Series 8 you’ll likely get an extra year of updates if that means a lot to you. That being said, the advantages of the Series 8 over the Series 7 are rather marginal and centered on a few specific areas: It would be quite tempting to get a Series 7 model – still better than any other smartwatch for a general iPhone user – and Spend the savings on a really nice second strap.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/review-apple-watch-series-8-will-detect-a-crash-and-help-you-conceive-42004431.html Review: Apple Watch Series 8 will detect a crash and help you conceive