Apple Watch 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 might look relatively similar to last year’s Apple Watch 7 and, well, internally, it’s quite similar too.

The main focus will be on the new Apple Watch Ultra, of course, but the Watch 8 provides the upgrade if you just want the basic model.

Will it be that much different or is the ‘new’ Apple Watch 8 nothing more than a rebranded Watch Series 7? We popped it on the wrist to find out.

Apple Watch 8 price and release date

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You’re not going to be too shocked here (unless you live in the UK… thanks, inflation) – the Apple Watch Series 8 price has been set at $399 for GPS and $499 for cellular in the US. In the UK, it starts from £419 and £529 GPS with cellular, with no AU pricing yet.

In terms of the Apple Watch 8 release date, you’ll be able to pick one up from September 16, with pre-orders open now.

Design

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The Apple Watch 8 isn’t changing much at all in terms of the design – the new colors are probably the most notable things in terms of the way the new Watch compares to the Apple Watch 7.

If you need a refresher over what came last year: a larger screen and push to 41mm / 45mm chassis, which brought a slightly larger screen that could show off more information, and that’s the shape we’re seeing on the Watch 8.

The Watch 8 comes in two finishes, stainless steel, and aluminum. The watch comes in four colors for the aluminum option: midnight, starlight, silver, and product red, while silver, gold, and graphite metallic colorways are available for the steel.

We definitely prefer the look of the stainless steel, even though it is a lot more expensive at $749 / £779. The Watch 8 also packs the Digital Crown and lozenge-shaped app/power button on the right-hand side of the device, and the crystal-covered heart rate monitor on the rear.

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All of this is the same as in previous years, and the only changes coming are entirely under the hood. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad design at all – it fits nicely on the wrist, the screen (an OLED affair) is clear and bright as before, and easily flips around under the finger.

It’s just that we’ve seen this all before in the Watch 7, so this is very much an iterative upgrade designed to attract Apple Watch users who are still using a Watch 4 or 5 and thinking that it’s time to upgrade.

In terms of the screen, it’s got the helpful always-on display that will show basic information when dormant, before lighting up when the wrist is raised – in our early testing, this was swift and accurate as usual, as the new S8 chipset inside powers things along quickly and efficiently.

A new temperature sensor

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As mentioned, the big changes to the Apple Watch 8 are inside, where there’s a new temperature sensor for reading your body’s heat and the new S8 chip that brings a few little benefits.

Let’s look at the temperature sensor: when used overtime, it’ll learn your body’s base rate, and for those attempting to get pregnant it will be able to spot when you began ovulating, which can help with your family planning.

Apple took great pains to point out that this was retroactive, and wouldn’t be able to predict ovulation in the future, but rather give a direction to those looking to track said movement within their bodies.

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The brand also made it abundantly clear that only with express permission could this data ever be shared with anyone, so any person worried that their menstrual data could be exposed or seen has total control themselves – even Apple can’t see it.

The temperature changes are spotted using a sensor on the skin and another just under the display on top of the Watch 8, meaning it can more accurately predict overnight how your body is responding to things like ovulation, illness, jetlag, and more.

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It’s very much a tool to use, rather than something that can give specific guidance, but the Watch 8 temperature sensor does seem to be pretty precise, able to spot fluctuations to 0.1 degree change.

Car crash detection

Another new feature, but not one that we can test at all, is the car crash detection feature. Using an enhanced gyroscope and an accelerometer that can now sense G-force changes up to 256G, Apple is pretty confident the new Watch 8 will be able to tell when you’ve been in a crash and will instantly alert the emergency services, giving all the data should you be unconscious.

This will only work when in motion, so it’s using GPS and connection to the iPhone to fully understand whether the wearer is in a car – think of this feature as something that brings peace of mind, rather than a dedicated reason to buy the new Watch 8.

It’s a hard sell when you can still get the Watch 7, or even the Watch 6 in some retailers, for much cheaper – buying the Watch 8 now feels like just investing in that really comprehensive insurance just for peace of mind.

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When every Apple Watch that one can buy has car crash detection, it’ll be a real swaying reason to join Apple’s smartwatch camp, as this is a brilliant feature. It’s just not enough to buy the Watch 8 alone (especially when you can also get it on the Watch SE 2 for a lot cheaper…)

In terms of health features, all those from before are there: atrial fibrillation detection, blood oxygen, an ECG, and more that will be able to alert you of any anomalies. 

Again, this is nothing too new: given the plethora of older Apple Watch models still on sale, it’s hard to get excited about these new features as reasons to buy the new Watch 8.

Apple Watch 8 battery

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The battery life on the Watch 8 is the same as normal: 18 hours, but able to get to the night without too much of a worry.

Nothing really to talk about there, but there is now low power mode, which can extend the life up to 30 hours. This new mode will shut off the always-on display, slow down some of the sensors tracking your vitals and switch off things like auto-workout detection.

It’s odd this mode wasn’t added in until now, but it’s possible thanks to the new S8 chip that’s come with the 2022 Watch models.

This is still likely to be too low for some people, especially if you’re wanting to track your body temperature overnight. Apple advises that you charge it before bed, or when in the shower if you’re using the fast charger, but we’re not sure that’s going to be enough to ward off battery drain most days.

Low power mode will help, but you can’t use that overnight to track temperature as the sensors shut off – so you’ll need to plan your use a little.

Early verdict

It’s really hard to get too excited about the new Watch 8, especially with the Watch Ultra showing how much more can be achieved from the device.

Apple’s habit of just mildly upgrading the device from the previous year is still clearly on display here, playing on the fact that users will just be going to the Apple store to get the latest model rather than purposely going out to buy one specifically.

That is, of course, unless you’re currently family planning and would relish the thought of not needing to manually track your ovulation cycle, letting the Watch on your wrist do the job for you.

Given the Watch SE 2 has many of the new features of the Watch 8, and is a lot cheaper, that might see a spike in popularity for the entry-level model, as there’s very little new about this latest device from Apple.

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