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Apple Watch Series 8 review: if it ain’t broke

The Apple Watch Sequence 8 has me occupied with the Japanese enterprise philosophy of kaizen. The idea, made well-known by Toyota, means steady enchancment. The Sequence 7 was a minor replace to the Sequence 6, which was an incremental replace to the Sequence 5, which was a small enchancment over the Sequence 4. These updates weren’t a lot on their very own, however they added up, and over time, they’ve widened the hole between the Apple Watch and each different smartwatch.

2022 is an enormous 12 months for the Apple Watch, however the Sequence 8 isn’t the star of the present. The brand new Apple Watch Extremely is probably the most fascinating watch this 12 months, and the second-gen SE replaces the Sequence 3 on the entry stage. That leaves the brand new Sequence 8 within the center.

So no, this isn’t a really thrilling replace. Then once more, does it should be?

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All of the modifications are below the hood

You’d be hard-pressed to identify the variations between the Sequence 7 and Sequence 8. Full disclosure: the one purpose I can is as a result of my overview models are totally different sizes and colours. This can be a fancy means of claiming nothing’s modified. The Sequence 8 nonetheless is available in two sizes: 41mm and 45mm. There are fewer coloration choices this time round — RIP inexperienced and blue —  and that’s about it. The worth additionally stays unchanged. The Sequence 8 begins at $399 for the GPS-only model and $499 for mobile. 

The 45mm Series 8 in Starlight, and the 41mm Series 7 in green.

The 45mm Sequence 8 in starlight (left) subsequent to the the 41mm Sequence 7 in inexperienced (RIP).

After I noticed the 45mm Sequence 7 and Sequence 8 facet by facet final week, I used to be satisfied that the Sequence 8’s show was a smidge larger, however it isn’t. It was an phantasm: watchOS 9 comes with new watchfaces like Metropolitan that make higher use of the watch’s thinner bezels. My Sequence 8 overview unit is the 45mm mobile model in starlight, which is a champagne-y coloration that splits the distinction between gold and silver. I often favor smaller watches, however this didn’t look too ridiculous on my smaller wrists. I additionally appreciated the slight increase in readability {that a} bigger display offers. 

However whereas all the things appears to be like the identical to the bare eye, the Sequence 8 has some important modifications below the hood.

Spoiler alert: it’s not a quicker chip. So far as efficiency and battery life go, the S8 chip is just about the identical because the S7, which is mainly the identical because the S6. (I’m sensing a theme right here.) What the S8 does add to the combo are a bunch of latest sensors. Particularly, you get two temperature sensors, a brand new high-g accelerometer, and a brand new gyroscope. These new sensors are what energy the Sequence 8’s two marquee options: Cycle Monitoring and Crash Detection.

The Apple watch Series 8 with sensor array lit up

The Sequence 8 provides two new temperature sensors, a brand new high-g accelerometer, and an improved gyroscope.

Temperature and cycle monitoring

A temperature sensor has lengthy been rumored for the Apple Watch, and so they’re changing into frequent in competing wearables. Fitbit added one on the Sense in 2020, and Samsung simply added them to its Galaxy Watch 5 sequence. (Although Samsung’s don’t really do a lot simply but.) However Apple’s take is barely totally different than Fitbit or Samsung’s. One of many sensors sits proper below the show so it may possibly measure ambient temperature, whereas one other sits nearer to the pores and skin. The concept is to remove environmental bias for extra correct readings.

The watch’s temperature sensing is usually passive. Not like the present EKG, coronary heart charge, and blood oxygen sensors, you’ll be able to’t take on-demand readings. You possibly can solely get wrist temperature readings when you’ve gotten the Sleep Focus turned on and sleep monitoring enabled. Plus, that you must sleep with the Apple Look ahead to 5 nights to determine a baseline. As soon as that’s accomplished, you’re solely going to see deviations from that baseline. You’re by no means actually going to take a look at your wrist and go, “Oh, I’ve a fever as a result of my temperature is 100 levels Fahrenheit.” 

That’s not a knock in opposition to Apple. This is similar strategy that the Oura Ring and Fitbit take. The concept is to observe how sure components — like a tough exercise, sickness, or perhaps a few too many margaritas — may impression your baseline. In the event you occur to trace your cycles within the Well being app, enabling wrist temperature readings means you will get retrospective ovulation estimates after about two cycles. 

Woman wearing Series 8 while looking at a phone

Would you already know this can be a Sequence 8 at a look?

There’s a purpose these estimates are retrospective and never predictive. For starters, that is strictly an consciousness instrument — when you higher perceive previous cycles, you will have a neater time when planning to conceive. Basal physique temperature is commonly used as a instrument in household planning, so this isn’t popping out of left subject. Nonetheless, the Sequence 8 isn’t cleared for contraceptive use and it’s completely not meant for use in any type of medical capability. There are apps which were FDA-cleared for this goal, like Pure Cycles and Clue. Pure Cycles even bought the okay lately to make use of wearable temperature knowledge collected from an Oura Ring for contraception — however that’s not the case with the Apple Watch. (No less than, not but.)

As for accuracy, it’s just a little laborious to say, as I’ve solely had the Sequence 8 for a few week. I don’t have two cycles’ price of temperature knowledge, and I’ve solely simply established a baseline. For the few nights I do have temperature knowledge for, nevertheless, it largely corresponds to what I bought on my Oura Ring. For instance, two nights in the past, the Oura Ring mentioned my physique temperature was 0.5 levels larger than regular, whereas the Sequence 8 mentioned it was 0.41 levels larger. 

I’m additionally somebody who struggled for 2 years to get a polycystic ovary syndrome analysis — so it’s good to see that Apple can now notify you when it detects a cycle deviation. Nonetheless, I wasn’t in a position to check how this works since I haven’t skilled a deviation but. It’s additionally not obtainable for folk who might have a “cycle issue” like hormonal contraception. 

Rear shot of the Apple Watch Series 8 showing the sensor array

The sensor array on the Sequence 8.

Within the post-Roe v. Wade world, I utterly perceive if superior cycle monitoring offers you the heebie-jeebies. If that’s the case, you must know that utilizing Apple’s Cycle Monitoring characteristic is non-compulsory. You can too monitor temperature with out monitoring your cycle or utterly disable wrist temperature monitoring within the settings. In the event you do allow temperature monitoring, Apple says that well being knowledge is encrypted in your gadget and solely accessible with a passcode, Contact ID, or Face ID. In the event you allow a passcode and use two-factor authentication, Well being app knowledge synced with iCloud can be end-to-end encrypted.

Crash Detection is new

Apple has all the time touted the watch as a tool that might save your life. It possibly went just a little ham with that messaging this 12 months when it launched Crash Detection, however it’s a neat characteristic that builds on the watch’s different security choices, like Emergency SOS and fall detection. Just like the Extremely and second-gen SE, the Sequence 8 has an improved gyroscope and a brand new accelerometer that may measure modifications in gravitational drive as much as 256 g. These work with the watch’s barometer, GPS, and microphone to detect excessive impression and sudden modifications in velocity and course. If a extreme crash is detected, the watch will name emergency providers in your behalf. You’ll additionally get 10 seconds to cancel the decision if it’s not wanted.

I’m not going to crash my automotive for a smartwatch overview

I really like my job, however I’m not going to crash my automotive (and wreck my insurance coverage premiums) for a smartwatch overview. We did strap the Sequence 8 to an RC truck that we “crashed” across the Verge workplace, however as you may count on, it did nothing. (I think we largely wished an excuse to play with an RC truck.) I’ve worn the Sequence 8 in a number of doubtful Lyft rides with some horrible stop-and-go site visitors, however that additionally didn’t set off the characteristic. That doesn’t shock me. Again when Apple launched fall detection, I — and several other different reviewers — tried to see when you might set off the characteristic with faux tumbles. None of us succeeded. 

All this to say, I’d be genuinely shocked when you bought a false alert. That’s a superb factor.

Woman looking at new color background on watchOS 9 watchface on Series 8.

watchOS 9 permits you to clean up older watchfaces with new coloration backgrounds.

watchOS 9 is the bee’s knees

I’ve been futzing round with watchOS 9 for some time now, and there’s lots to like. An excessive amount of, really, so I’m going to deal with what’s new within the ultimate model and the options I beloved most. (You possibly can learn a few of my different ideas in my watchOS 9 preview.) 

Each model of watchOS 9 has snazzy new watchfaces. I often really feel “meh” about Apple’s watchfaces, however I really loved fairly a number of of them this time round. (They actually do make the display appear larger than it’s!) The Lunar watchface gave me all of the feels this previous week throughout Chuseok. It’s an enormous Korean vacation timed with the mid-autumn harvest on the lunar calendar once you go to your hometown to spend time with your loved ones. I additionally actually dug the Metropolitan face, and switching up the colour backgrounds on my favourite Modular face to match my outfits was good ol’ enjoyable. 

On the productiveness entrance, the redesigned Calendar app actually makes use of the larger show. It was a good way for me to discreetly visualize my weekly schedule. I wrote extra about remedy reminders a number of months in the past, and regardless of utilizing them, I’m nonetheless horrible at taking my meds after I’m purported to. No less than I take them far more constantly when I’ve reminders on than after I don’t.

Nike watchface on Series 8.

You will get Nike-exclusive watchfaces on the common Sequence 8 now, too.

One other factor I wasn’t anticipating was the truth that the Sequence 8 will get one of many Extremely’s coolest perks: the redesigned Compass app. In the event you’re an avid hiker, that is nice information. With the brand new app, you’ll be able to drop waypoints — geographic factors of curiosity — in addition to retrace your steps utilizing Backtrack when you get misplaced. I attempted it out on a stroll, and whereas there was a slight studying curve, as somebody with no innate sense of course, I actually loved utilizing it. (I’ll additionally dive extra into this characteristic in my Extremely overview, so keep tuned.)

Sleep monitoring additionally will get a lift. Now you can view sleep levels in addition to extra detailed sleep metrics throughout the Well being app. It’s nonetheless not one of the best, and Apple is enjoying catchup right here, however it’s masses higher than what Apple launched with in watchOS 7. I think about the addition of wrist temperature monitoring will solely pave the way in which for extra superior sleep monitoring down the highway — although battery life must enhance a bit earlier than the Apple Watch can provide Fitbit or the Oura Ring a run for his or her cash.

The Compass app on the Series 8.

The redesigned Compass app together with waypoints and Backtrack is out there on the Sequence 8, not simply the Extremely.

Battery history screen on the Series 8.

Low-power mode gained’t get you multiday battery life, however it helps in a pinch.

Talking of battery life… the Sequence 8 continues to be a tool you need to cost day by day, however watchOS 9 provides a brand new low-power battery mode. It turns off the always-on show and background sensor readings whereas limiting Wi-Fi / mobile connectivity. It additionally leaves coronary heart charge and GPS intact throughout exercises. Supposedly you’ll be able to rise up to 36 hours with it on the Sequence 8. (Your mileage will fluctuate on older fashions.) 

Truthful warning: enabling low-power mode isn’t going to magically get you multiday battery life, and I by no means bought the total 36 hours. With common utilization with out low-power mode, my Sequence 8 bought round 24 hours earlier than I wanted to stay it again on a charger. Low-power mode was largely a great way to get a bit of additional juice so I might make it residence or to get me via the final mile of a future after I forgot to high up the battery earlier than heading out.

Whereas we’re with reference to train, I beloved all the things in regards to the new exercise views. It’s straightforward to customise the order, and I’m an enormous fan of including an entire second display of metrics. I’m additionally very happy that I can now view coronary heart charge zones within the native Exercise app, which you’ll be able to already do on most different trackers. It’s additionally nice that Apple’s lastly added the flexibility to create your individual customized interval exercises. In the event you’ve been utilizing a Garmin or Polar, you’re most likely rolling your eyes as a result of these are staples you’ve had for ages. I’m merely saying that it’s about time Apple added these options, and it’ll be an enormous profit for learners transitioning to extra intermediate-level exercises.

iPhone showing sleep stages in Health app.

Sleep levels are new in watchOS 9 and iOS 16.

The one factor I didn’t love was scrolling via the a number of exercise views mid-run. The Sequence 8 largely depends on touchscreen navigation; typically it really works wonderful… and different occasions your fingers are so sweaty, it’s a ache. The digital crown can be so slim that it’s not all the time the best factor to make use of mid-motion. That is one thing I think about gained’t be a problem on the Extremely, however it’s a ache on the Sequence 8.

Not many causes to improve

If it’s not apparent by now, the Apple Watch Sequence 8 is a superb smartwatch. However when you’re glad together with your present Apple Watch, there isn’t a lot of a purpose to improve.

For starters, a lot of the issues that made my time with the Sequence 8 stellar come from watchOS 9 — a software program replace. When you’ve got a Sequence 4 or later, you’re going to get the overwhelming majority of what makes the Sequence 8 nice. When you’ve got a Sequence 5, 6, or 7, you even have roughly the identical processing energy. Upgrading to the Sequence 8 isn’t going to make issues zippier or your battery final that for much longer. 

Heart rate zone screen in the Series 8’s Workout App

Coronary heart charge zones! They’re lastly within the native Exercise app!

In the meantime, temperature monitoring continues to be a nascent characteristic. I think about Apple will construct it out sooner or later, however you don’t essentially want it proper now. That is doubly true when you don’t menstruate, don’t really feel snug giving tech corporations your well being knowledge, or don’t use the Apple Look ahead to sleep monitoring. 

You additionally don’t want the Sequence 8 when you’d like Crash Detection. It’s additionally obtainable on the iPhone 14 lineup. If this can be a characteristic you need and your telephone is on its final legs, you may all the time simply improve that as a substitute.

Whenever you take all these components into consideration, Sequence 6 and seven house owners haven’t any compelling purpose to improve. Chill. But it surely’s a special story when you’ve bought a Sequence 3, 4, or 5. (And when you’re on a Sequence 2 or older, my pals, it’s time to get a brand new watch.) Longtime Sequence 3 house owners, you undoubtedly ought to improve to the Sequence 8. Belief me, you’re going to benefit from the efficiency features and the always-on show, and watchOS 9 is a significantly better replace than watchOS 8 was. It’s time. For Sequence 4 or 5 house owners, I believe the larger show is price it. After a 12 months with the Sequence 7 and every week with the Sequence 8, I’m assured in saying both is a sport changer for readability. However when you’ve bought 20/20 imaginative and prescient, you may most likely maintain off one other 12 months.

Woman wearing the Series 8 with her hand in a jeans pocket.

It’s a superb lookin’ watch — and extra versatile than the Extremely by way of type.

In the event you’re shopping for your first Apple Watch, you may go along with both the Sequence 8 or the marginally cheaper SE, which begins at $249 for GPS solely and $299 for mobile. The SE is the higher alternative for first-time patrons who aren’t bought on the concept of a smartwatch in any respect. You’re gonna get the gist of what makes the Apple Watch so in style with out breaking the financial institution. (All you’re giving up is the always-on show and superior well being sensors.) From there, you may make an informed resolution about whether or not you need the fancier model once you improve. However when you’re already dedicated to the concept of an Apple Watch, you may as nicely get the Sequence 8. 

I nonetheless have to check the Apple Watch Extremely, however I’m 99.9 p.c sure that the Sequence 8 is your best option for most individuals. Not solely is it cheaper than the Extremely but additionally it’s the extra versatile watch. It’s higher suited to smaller wrist sizes, and it may be simply dressed up or all the way down to swimsuit all events. Additionally, until you’re into hardcore endurance sports activities or a supreme klutz of the very best diploma, you actually don’t want the Extremely’s additional sturdiness. The Sequence 8 may appear extra fragile, however it’s a lot sturdy by itself. (However, if the Extremely is one thing you actually need, don’t let me cease you.) 

Pay attention, the Sequence 8 doesn’t revolutionize the Apple Watch as we all know it, however it doesn’t should. A part of the explanation why Apple can get away with 12 months after 12 months of incremental updates is as a result of it’s light-years forward of its rivals for iOS customers. We’re seeing extra competitors sprout up amongst Android smartwatches, but when the forthcoming Pixel Watch and Put on OS Samsung watches are any indication, wearable ecosystems will stay siloed for the foreseeable future. In relation to smartwatches, Apple has a successful formulation. And till somebody comes up with one other smartwatch that iPhone house owners really need, it has no purpose to repair what isn’t damaged. 

Pictures by Amelia Holowaty Krales. Video by Owen Grove.

Conform to Proceed: Apple Watch Sequence 8

Each good gadget now requires you to conform to a sequence of phrases and circumstances earlier than you should utilize it — contracts that nobody really reads. It’s unimaginable for us to learn and analyze each single certainly one of these agreements. However we began counting precisely what number of occasions you need to hit “agree” to make use of gadgets once we overview them since these are agreements most individuals don’t learn and undoubtedly can’t negotiate.

You possibly can solely use the Apple Watch Sequence 8 with an iPhone. Which means you’ll have already agreed to the iPhone’s phrases of service and privateness agreements. Utilizing non-compulsory providers, like Apple Pay, Apple Music, or Health Plus, together with your Sequence 8 can even include their very own agreements. Utilizing the Well being app additionally comes with its personal phrases and circumstances.

In the event you select to allow mobile service, you’ll additionally should conform to your provider’s phrases. I activated mobile on T-Cell and was requested to agree to at least one necessary settlement.

In the event you add any third-party apps or integrations, you have to additionally conform to these particular person phrases and privateness insurance policies.

Particular to the Apple Watch, you have to conform to the next:

Some options, like EKG or blood oxygen monitoring, might also require you to reveal your location knowledge, because it will depend on native regulatory clearances.

Closing tally: one necessary settlement plus any necessary agreements to your iPhone. A number of, a number of non-compulsory agreements.

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