The Apple Watch reached its peak with the Series 6 as far as innovations are concerned. Ever since then, the upgrades come in just to make it edge further ahead. The Series 7 simply introduced a larger and more immersive display. While Apple reserved the athlete focused package for the Apple Watch Ultra, the Series 8 continues to be everyone’s luxury smartwatch and with just the bare minimum upgrades required to keep it relevant. The key part? It remains the best smartwatch money can buy.
The theme on the Series 8 has been different than the Series 7 – introduce features for specific scenarios that keeps the Apple Watch in news, as well as makes it more desirable among the masses; both youngsters and the elderly. Hence, crash detection and fall detection take centerstage, while the temperature sensor comes into play for tracking female menstrual health. Do these features make the Series 8 compelling enough?
The Apple Watch Series 7 got a major design update last year, which made it unmistakably unique. I am glad Apple leaves the design unchanged for the Series 8, since it continues to look stunning even after a year! The display melting over the edges and all its curvy surfaces make it an eye candy on wrists! Plus the attention to detail is exceptional. No Action button heree yet, although I hope Apple makes it standard on the Series 9.
For all those new to the modern Apple Watch, the Series 8 is comfortable to wear. The aluminium version comes as standard with silicon straps but you can go for the Sport Loop, or Braided straps, if you fancy aesthetics. My 45mm version looks more like a wrist computer, and many may prefer the petite dimensions of the 42mm version.
An area that the Apple Watch defined years ago! I don’t find any other smartwatch as smart and capable as the Apple Watch. Much of it comes down to its watchOS software, which in its ninth generation, is more polished than ever. watchOS 9 is a beautiful experience to be had, and the Apple Watch hardware justifies it well. The watch faces are beautiful and the customisation options are endless, whether you consider colour combinations, or the complications on your dial. The metropolitan watch face is the hero face for 2022 and on the Series 8, it simply looks gorgeous.
Then there’s the regular smart stuff. You become a part of the Apple ecosystem with the Series 8 and that means you enjoy unparalleled integration between the watch and your iPhone. Notifications are instant and they let you respond to texts, and even check out Twitter links in preview. You can obviously take and make calls, and if you have the eSIM activated, you don’t even need your iPhone on you always. The app library is brilliant, and if any app on your iPhone has an Apple Watch companion app, it will be downloaded automatically. There are endless features to play with, my favourite one being the Walkie Talkie.
All of that is made possible by the display, which is easily the best one I have seen on a watch. It's rectangular, which makes it easy to read text, or see images. It goes fairly bright outdoors under the Sun, and the touch response is brilliant. Thanks to the variable refresh rate that drops it down to 1Hz, you get to have an Always On Display feature. It prevents twisting the wrist everytime to check the watch, but drains battery faster.
Then there’s the crown, which makes controlling it easy. The crown makes it easy to scroll through lists, and even go back with a single press. The Home button takes you back to the watch face, or lets you alternate between active apps.
But this year’s hero feature is Crash Detection and Fall Detection, both of which I am not interested to test out, and I hope I never have to use. The new gyroscope sensor along with the updated algorithms can detect up to 256G force, and in the event of a car crash, it will notify emergency services immediately. A YouTube creator tested the same in a simulated remote controlled car and found it actually worked. Good to know that.
The Apple Watch has always been presented as a fitness forward watch and not much changes on that front. I can still track my workout and keep an eye on my heart health. However, the big addition this year is the temperature sensor. For the time being, Apple makes it useful only for female menstrual health tracking. The sensor tracks body temperature while sleeping and uses the data to predict the ovulation dates, both in the past as well as present. For male users like me, there’s nothing this sensor can do. At least, it is better than being disabled, as it is on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.
What I was able to use was the ECG tracking, Blood Oxygen saturation, and heart rate – all of which the Apple Watch has been great at since years. All of these sensors are used in tandem to keep an eye on your heart health, and the Apple Watch continues to warn you about irregularities.
Sleep tracking gets an upgrade too with watchOS 9. You can finally get to see your sleep data in various stages – REM, light, deep and awake. That said, you still need to manually activate sleep mode for monitoring, and if you accidentally disable it in between your sleep, the watch tracks nothing. My iPhone and Watch are tied to the Sleep Focus mode and an accidental tap led to losing all data, just before I got up from bed. Not smart enough, Apple.
And then there’s workout monitoring – an area where the Apple Watch has been good. Workout detection is of big help – a 5 minute walking session automatically started tracking it. For those into serious fitness routines involving vigorous exercises, this could be of big help. I did not have a medically certified gadget to track the accuracy of the data, but fellow reviewers and users have always verified the same.
The wellness features are as good as they always have been. The MindFullness feature is a cool way to relax and reflect. The same goes for the Breathe feature.
Battery stamina on the Apple Watch Series 8 seems to have remained largely unchanged. With the Always On Display active and an hour of workout tracking daily, the Series 8 could last up to 1.5 days on a single charge. Turning off the AOD helps it extend the battery stamina to the end of the second day. That’s not bad for an Apple Watch, but it is not great either for a smartwatch. Fast charging is available for global users but as always, India has to make do with slow charging; thanks to local regulations. It takes close to just over an hour to fill up the battery.
As I said, the Apple Watch Series 8 is all about the features that keep the Apple Watch in the news. This is the first time Apple seems to have gone for upgrades that actually matter to most common people, instead of stuffing fancy health sensors that are meant only for a limited group of users. Crash Detection and Fall Detection form the safety net for Apple to make you consider its newest watch as a protective gear. The temperature sensor is a good start for catering to women centric health tracking but it does nothing for the male crowd, at least for now. Rest of the stuff is carried over from the Apple Watch Series 7, which is still brilliant a year later.
And that makes the Apple Watch Series 8 an excellent choice. The Series 8 has everything you can expect from a smartwatch – a beautiful display, great design, wear comfort, plethora of smart features to act as an extension of your phone, and all the fitness tracking functions you can use. If you seek the best smartwatch experience money can afford, I think nothing beats the Apple Watch Series 8. Only if you need more athlete focused gear, it may be worthwhile to look at the Apple Watch Ultra.
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