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Apple Watch Series 8 review: The best smartwatch for iPhone users


Is the Apple Watch 8 the big hit? No, it’s not. Nevertheless, there has been plenty of changes to it yet again, and the Apple Watch is my constant companion—day and night . Find out what’s new about the smartwatch, for whom the upgrade to the Watch Series 8 targets, and why women in particular, should take a look at the new Apple Watch in our NextPit review.

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Good

  • Car Crash Detection
  • Temperature sensor to predict ovulation and menstruation cycles
  • More accurate sleep monitoring
  • International roaming for calls abroad
  • Better information about your workout
  • New low power mode for up to 36 hours of battery life

The Apple Watch 8 in a nutshell

Compared to previous years, it is pretty obvious that the Apple Watch Series 8 is lacking in innovation. This is probably due to the introduction of the new Apple Watch Ultra, which is the actual, upgraded device this year. Nevertheless, the Watch 8 offers meaningful innovations compared to its predecessor again this year.

With the main function being the new temperature sensor, I’m admittedly not the target market for this feature. This is intended for women who want to keep track of both their menstruation and ovulation cycles. In the medium and long term, however, this feature should be interesting for everyone else. For instance, using it to identify major disease outbreaks in certain areas. As I mentioned, however, that is still a long way off, and the current focus is on female health and family planning.

Personally, I’m happy about the possibility of international roaming on the Series 8 (I’ve been annoyed by this in the past), the new functions for measuring sports activities, and the far superior sleep tracking capability in my opinion.

So, who should buy the new Apple Watch Series 8? Those who currently have a Watch Series 7 on their wrist do not need the new Watch 8. The differences are simply too small to tell. However, when it comes to the difference in features, battery life, and display should be noticeable for older models.

The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 and comes in either aluminum or stainless steel (from $749). The available colors are Midnight, Starlight, and Silver with the aluminum finish, as well as Space Black and Silver with a stainless steel case.

Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 comes in new colors. / © NextPit

In the following table, you can see the new prices of the Apple Watch 8 in comparison with the current market prices of the Watch 7. You can come to a personal conclusion on whether the additional surcharge is worth it.

Model Apple Watch Series 8 Apple Watch Series 7
  41 mm 45 mm 41 mm 45 mm
Aluminum case $399 or $499 (4G) $429 or $529 (4G) approx. $319 or $359 (4G) approx. $359 or $379 (4G)
Stainless steel case $749 $799 approx. $570 approx. $719

Design and display

The Apple Watch 8 arrives in Apple’s familiar smartwatch design. Especially when compared to the Series 7, you will have to look for the differences with a magnifying glass.

What I liked:

  • Tried and proven design
  • Great workmanship
  • Water resistance up to 50 meters and dust-proof (IP6X)

What I disliked:

  • Tried and proven design 🤓

Anyone who has seen the stainless steel cases of the Apple Watch knows that they look really classy. I used to like the Watch with stainless steel myself, but now I’ve been wearing an aluminum watch for two years, whose case, by the way, is made from 100% recycled material. My experience with it has been very good. Although I wear the watch virtually 24/7, neither the display nor the case has picked up any noticeable scratches.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Series 7 im Vergleich
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Series 7 in comparison. / © Apple, Collage: NextPit

The Apple Watch 8 is also suitable for wearing while swimming. It is both waterproof and dustproof based on its IP6X rating. However, it is not suitable for diving—you will need the certified Apple Watch Ultra for that.

Software and features

There is no smartwatch more deserving of that designation than the Apple Watch 8. The integration into the Apple ecosystem is seamless – from messaging and calling to Siri and services like Apple Fitness+.
The Apple Watch Series 8 has watchOS 9 installed by default. Be sure to check out the article behind that link as we have collated all relevant information about the watchOS 9 for you.

What I liked:

  • Unlock function now works much better
  • Reworked calendar app
  • Good, new sports functions
  • Fits perfectly into the Apple universe
  • International roaming
  • Low power mode

What I disliked:

  • Almost nothing works without iPhone

For me, watchOS is by far the best operating system for smartwatches. However, this is only true if you also use other Apple devices. However, that should be the case for every Apple Watch wearer. After all, you need an iPhone to activate an Apple Watch.

Die Apple Watch 8 arbeitet auch weiterhin nahtlos mit anderen Apple-Devices.
The Apple Watch 8 continues to work seamlessly with other Apple devices. / © NextPit

A lot has changed on the watch with watchOS 9, but that also applies to older Watch models. What makes the Apple Watch so special for me is that it can be easily understood as though it is an extended arm of the iPhone. You can do almost everything with the watch that you could otherwise do with an iPhone: Pay via Apple Pay, read messages, control the smart home, write and dictate, listen to music – and now even to make international calls.

What sounds so ordinary at this point is actually a real plus for people who go jogging on the beach on vacation without an iPhone and still want to listen to music or remain reachable. Until now, it was not possible to make calls or be online with the Watch whenever you remain out of reach of the mobile network. In other words, if you only wanted to navigate using the Watch alone when you are abroad, that was not possible.

Apple WWDC 2022
These are all the new features in watchOS 9. / © Apple; Screenshot: NextPit

Another very useful feature is the so-called “Low Power Mode”. It can be activated via the Control Center and requires a click on the battery indicator. In this case, the watch restricts access to WLAN and LTE connections, the display is just no longer always-on, but remains off most of the time. As for some sensors, such as the PPT sensor for heart rate measurement, these are disabled. Nevertheless, the motion measurements and most other functions continue to work. A small yellow circle at the top of the screen indicates that the Low Power Mode is enabled. Once activated, the battery runtime can be extended by up to 36 hours.

watchOS 9 Low-Power-Mode Screenshot
Unspectacular: This is what the Apple Watch 8 looks like in Low Power Mode. / © NextPit

Tracking and sensors

In addition to the familiar PPG sensor for heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, as well as the GPS and ECG sensor, the Apple Watch 8 now offers a set of new accelerometers that can detect car accidents.

What I liked:

  • Car crash detection can save lives in some circumstances
  • New temperature sensor for female reproductive health
  • Better sleep tracking and new sports overviews
  • Automatic detection of sports for triathletes
  • Revised compass app for better navigation

What I disliked:

  • The Apple Watch Ultra has the biggest upgrades

Apple is consistently evolving the Watch into a device to look into our health. While the first generations of the watch primarily focused on “fitness,” the Apple Watch is evolving more and more into a measuring instrument that takes a more holistic look at our bodies. We still have a long way to go before we get there though. However, the watch is helping us better understand our bodies while we are at rest and exertion with measurement data.

Watch 8 Sensor
The Apple Watch 8 comes again with all kinds of sensors on the bottom. / © NextPit

In keeping with the “health” theme, the new “Car Crash Detection” certainly fits in somehow. Via a series of sensors, the Apple Watch very reliably detects whether you are currently in a car accident and can automatically call for help. This function is also available on the iPhone 14 Pro, and the interaction between the Watch and the iPhone gives you something like a second seatbelt.

The biggest innovation of the Watch 8, however, is something that I could not test out for myself. The new temperature sensor measures any fluctuations at night on the wrist to within 0.1 degrees. With this, Apple wants to be able to very accurately predict ovulation in women (or, better: determine when ovulation has occurred), in order to be able to identify, for example, fluctuations in menstruation or but also favorable moments for planned pregnancies.

Temperaturanzeige Apple Watch 8
With the temperature measurement of the Apple Watch 8, ovulation can be determined. / © Apple

It is important to know that this is NOT a thermometer. This means it cannot be used to measure your body temperature when you have a fever or to find out whether you have Covid-19. A body temperature measurement via the skin is far too inaccurate, but the minute temperature differences can be recorded very accurately.

Outdoor sports & GPS

Of course, the Series 8 once again comes with a GPS sensor under the hood. This is especially important for running and hiking activities to help determine distances or to support precise navigation as both functions are extremely accurate.

Apple regularly adds new sports that can be tracked with the watch via watchOS updates. There are already dozens of variants and also include exotic sports, such as ballroom dancing, frisbee, or handcycling. What’s new now is the automatic recognition of different sports, which is especially important for those who want to indulge in a triathlon.

Die neuen verbesserten Trainingsansichten der Apple Watch
The new improved training views of the Apple Watch. / © Apple.

Apple has significantly improved the training views with watchOS 9. I often use the heart rate zone view in particular (see the image in the middle) to see if I’m still moving within the semi-aerobic zone.

By the way: Apple wants to provide the possibility to automatically detect and count running laps with an update later this year. At the moment, however, this does not work yet. As soon as the function is available, we will of course take a closer look at it.

Indoor sports & fitness

There are also a lot of fitness and sports measurements for indoor use. Even though the GPS measurements and/or the barometer do not come into play here: The measurements work very reliably as well.

It probably goes without saying: Of course, the new Watch 8 can also be used with Fitness+ in an optimal manner. Those who do not know Fitness+: For $9.99 a month or directly via Apple One, you can book the service, which also provides you with a variety of other online fitness courses. If you like to do sports at home, then I highly recommend subscribing to this service.

Sleep, stress, recovery & other

An essential aspect of a healthy life is to have a sufficient amount of healthy sleep. For me, sleep tracking is one of the essential functions of the Apple Watch. With watchOS 9, the Apple Watch 8 now shares more accurate sleep data and shows, for example, when and how long you were in which sleep phase.

Das Sleeptracking ist seit watchOS 9 genauer
Sleep tracking is more accurate with the watchOS 9. / © Apple.

Together with the breathing rate and the different sleep phases, sleep quality can be calculated accurately. In my experience, the results are very accurate, and it is thus possible to turn off external influences on our sleep (if desired). This includes influences like alcohol, but also extreme physical exertion can have a significant impact on nightly rest.

Battery

The Watch 8 does not make any big leaps forward in terms of battery life and fast charging.
However, a new energy-saving mode is on board that extends the runtime to up to 36 hours.

What I liked:

  • Fast Charging that unfortunately works only with a special cable
  • Low Power Mode: Get more out of it with a bit of sacrifice

What I liked:

  • The famous “One Day Battery Life” tagline feels antiquated

The battery is something like the Achilles’ heel of Axel Witsel or Callum Hudson-Odoi: It may not last as you expect it to.

I’ve actually been happy with the Watch’s battery for a few years now. During the day, I have always charged my watch briefly from time to time. This always got me through the day (and still does).

Since the Apple Watch 7, Apple also offers Fast Charging. Within an hour, the watch charges from empty to full provided you have the right cable with you! All charging cables before the Watch 7 do not support this function.

Die Apple Watch 8 lässt sich wie gewohnt mit den bekannten Chargern laden.
The Apple Watch 8 can be charged as usual with the familiar chargers. / © NextPit

My quiet criticism of the Apple Watch battery is growing, as my dear colleague Stefan and I regularly debate it. Stefan doesn’t want a smartwatch that can’t last for at least a few days, and keeps citing watches that can do just that. I always add that they might last well, but they can’t do quite as much.

Our discussion sounds like two club bosses of a mediocre soccer club who want to advance to the Champions League, but there are no real quality players to help them do so. It’s not quite that bad, though – because, as I said, the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch for me.

But it is a fact that the Apple Watch battery could definitely use a bit more power. Apple has apparently also recognized this and remedied the situation with the Low Power Mode. As described in greater detail above, this option saves a lot of battery and the Watch can finish the game with little energy in the tank.

Apple Watch Series 8 technical specifications

  The 2022 model The 2021 model
Device
Image
Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 7
Colors
  • Aluminum: Midnight, Polaris, Silver, Red
  • Stainless Steel: Silver, Graphite, Gold, Space Black
  • Aluminum: Midnight, Polaris, Green, Blue, Red
  • Stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold
  • Titanium: natural, black
Size
Display
  • Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 1000 nits
  • Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 1000 nits
Protection
  • Waterproof (50 meters); IP6X dust protection
  • Waterproof (50 meters); IP6X dust protection
Processor
  • Apple S8 + U1 chip (ultra-wideband)
  • Apple S7 + U1 chip (ultra wideband)
Sensors
  • Temperature, Blood Oxygen, ECG, Heart Rate, Compass, Altimeter, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, Ambient Light
  • Blood Oxygen, ECG, Heart Rate, Compass, Altimeter, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, Ambient Light
Safety
  • accident detection, fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, international emergency call
  • fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, international emergency call
Battery life
  • Up to 18 hours
  • 36 hours in power-saving mode
  • Up to 18 hours
  • Power saving mode coming in watchOS 9
Storage
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, W3 wireless chip, LTE optional
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, W3 wireless chip, LTE optional
Test: Pro
  • Larger and brighter screen than the Apple Watch 6
  • Up to 33% faster charging compared to the Watch Series 6
  • IP6X certified: Waterproof and now also dust-protected
Test: Contra
  • Only works with the iPhone
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Final verdict

The Apple Watch Series 8 is certainly not the major hit this year.
This is mainly due to the Apple Watch Ultra, which was introduced by Cupertino this year and is now the “Pro” version of Apple’s smartwatches in essence. Hence, the Apple Watch 8 is more of a refined product and the Apple Watch Ultra looks like the main attraction at first glance.

However, the whole truth is also that the Apple Watch Series 8 at $399 is in a completely different sphere than the Ultra, which is available from $799. Even at the unveiling, I told my colleagues that while the Apple Watch Ultra is designed for extreme athletes and marketed as such, most people with big ambitions will compare the Ultra to the smaller models.

I am not disappointed with the Apple Watch 8 though. In its price segment, it looks to be the best value for a smartwatch for all iPhone owners, and people who are just thinking about getting an Apple Watch can grab it without any worries. I do have one caveat: If you currently have an Apple Watch 7 on your wrist, then you are already very well equipped at the moment with no real need to upgrade.

Apple continues to develop its watch into an indispensable companion when it comes to personal health and the collection of the necessary data. The innovations in this iteration are more in the area of homeopathy – at least as far as the number of functions is concerned. That is due to the Apple Watch Ultra, as described above, and does not mean that this updated timepiece is irrelevant.

For me, this update is not disappointing – I enjoy my watch every day and it is my constant companion. Above all, as I wrote at the beginning of this chapter, it is the best smartwatch in its price segment. From there, there is not only a health certificate for me for the Apple Watch today, but it also receives 4.5 NextPit stars.



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