The Apple Watch Series 8 was unveiled at the Far Out event on September 7, 2022. It’s no longer the most powerful smartwatch in the family, having been replaced by the king of the hill Apple Watch Ultra. But even if Series 8 has become something of a middle child in the family, it still has excellent battery life and solid features, and it’s more than a worthy successor to the Apple Watch Series 7.
Our review of the Watch Series 8 calls it the “best flagship the company has ever created,” and when you look at all the stats and tech inside, you can see why. Sure, the Watch Series 9 is expected to debut in September alongside the all-new iPhone 15, but we’re expecting the next model will be a fairly modest upgrade. So if you’re looking for a new watch now, Series 8 is probably your best bet.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Apple Watch, and WatchOS 9.3.1, the latest version of the wearables software.
Apple Watch Series 8: Design
(Image credit: Apple)
The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t reinvent the wheel; Apple hasn’t moved to a circular design or something like that. In fact, the Series 8 looks exactly like the Series 7 that came before it. That means it’s available in both 41mm and 45mm sizes. The Apple Watch Series 8 retains its crack-resistant front crystal and its Aluminum and Stainless Steel finish options.
It is also certified IP6X dust-resistant and water-resistant up to 50 meters, as well as swimproof.
iMore expert tip
Your old Apple Watch bands will fit the Series 8
Since there are no design or size changes to the Series 8, your old bands will also work with the new wearable, providing they are for the correct size.
Apple Watch Series 8: Display
Series 8 features the same 41mm and 45mm display options with an edge-to-edge Always-On Retina display with up to 1,000 nits of brightness. Apple describes The Watch display as an LTPO OLED, a needlessly complicated detail most people won’t need to know about. It stands for low-temperature polycrystalline oxide — an Apple-designed and patented technology that aims to reduce the power consumption of your watch display by varying the refresh rate.
As with other Apple Watch models, the screen is beautiful, colorful, and makes good use of the deep, inky blacks that OLED televisions are famous for.
Apple Watch Series 8: New Features
(Image credit: Apple)
The Apple Watch Series 8 can sense your temperature
The rumors were true: Apple added a temperature sensor (opens in new tab) to the Apple Watch Series 8. The module is sensitive enough to detect a 0.1 degree Celsius temperature change in your body, the company claims, a feat it achieves by taking your wrist temperature during sleep every 5 seconds. A big part of the sensitivity is the two-sensor design — one sensor on the back of the watch, near the skin, and another under the display. Apple says this helps eliminate interference from the outside environment.
The temperature sensor will improve the cycle-tracking feature of Apple Watches by notifying a wearer of potential cycle deviations, as well as through improved ovulation tracking. All Cycle tracking data is encrypted right on the device, for privacy.
(Image credit: Apple)
Thanks to two new and improved sensors — a three-axis gyroscope and a G-Force accelerometer — the Apple Watch Series 8 can tell when you are in a crash.
Crash Detection uses many sensors and features to determine if you’ve been in a severe crash, including the barometer, GPS, and microphone on your iPhone. This should prevent the Apple Watch from accidentally misdiagnosing a mere drop from your wrist.
When it detects a severe crash, the Series 8 automatically calls 911, provides your location, and notifies your emergency contacts if you don’t respond to the on-screen notification in 10 seconds.
Besides these new features, Apple Watch Series 8 retains many of the great features of previous models including ECG, fall detection, the Always-On Retina display, and more.
Apple WatchOS 9
Apple’s Watches are powered by watchOS, a version of Apple’s iOS software that’s specifically built for the wearable devices, and contains functions and features tuned for it. As of this writing, the latest version of Apple’s watchOS supported by the Apple Watch Series 8 is 9.3.1, released Feb. 13, along with new versions of Apple’s software for iPhones, Apple TVs, and iPads.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to talk about with watchOS 9.3.1. There aren’t any new features and Apple’s release notes for the new update simply say that the new software version includes “bug fixes and important security updates for your Apple Watch.”
Watch OS 9.3 was released on January 24, 2023, adding support for a new Unity wallpaper in celebration of Black History Month. Watch OS 9.1 — released last October — was a bigger improvement to the core OS, adding a number of battery life improvements for select workouts, support for Matter, and more.
Watch OS 9 was announced at WWDC 2022 and ultimately released Sept. 19, 2022 — and in the wonderful words of the incredibly talented Lizzo, “it’s about damn time.” The latest version of the Watch operating system added sleep stage tracking (at last!) workout enhancements including Heart Rate Zones and customizable workouts, crash detection, medication logging and reminders, a more complete Compass … and of course, new watch faces. It’s a heckuvan upgrade.
Apple Watch Series 8: Battery Life
The Apple Watch Series 8 has the same battery life as the previous model when using it like normal. But there’s more to it than that: There’s a new low-power mode in this wearable device.
Apple Watch Series 8 has a low-power mode
With your iPhone present, you can get up to 36 hours of battery life using the new and improved low-power mode. While you can do much more with low-power mode than you can on the Apple Watch Series 7, there are still limitations the new low-power mode will impose on you. It will disable and/or limit the use of select sensors and features, for example, most notably the Always-On display and heart health notifications.
This new low-power mode is also coming to other Apple Watch models from the Series 4 onwards thanks to watchOS 9.
Apple Watch Series 8: Finishes and colors
(Image credit: Apple)
The Apple Watch Series 8 is available in only two finishes — aluminum and stainless steel — and each of them has different color options.
The aluminum Series 8 is available in four colorways, including Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and PRODUCT(RED), while the stainless steel finish is available in Silver, Gold, and Graphite.
Apple Watch Series 8: Price
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|Row 0 – Cell 0||41mm||45mm|
|Aluminum GPS + Cellular||$499||$529|
|Stainless Steel GPS + Cellular||$699||$749|
|Hermès||$1,229||Row 4 – Cell 2|
Today’s best Apple Watch Series 8 deals
These are the base prices of each Apple Watch Series 8 model, but you’ll see the price increase slightly depending on which band you buy with your watch. The Braided Solo Loop or certain Leather Link bands can add more cost to your Watch.
Apple Watch Series 8: Release date
(Image credit: Apple)
Apple Watch Series 8 is fully available now and has been since its September 16, 2022, release date. You can buy it directly from Apple, or from numerous retailers. Check out our full guide on the latest Apple Watch Series 8 deals and if you can’t decide which version to get, read our Apple Watch Cellular vs. GPS guide will help.
Apple Watch Series 8: Review
the Apple Watch Series 8 is an incredibly well-made and capable device, our Watch 8 review notes. It’s no doubt the best flagship smartwatch the company has ever made if you consider the SE to be its budget offering and the Ultra to be a specialist device.
Yet there were so few upgrades in this year’s model that we found it extremely difficult to recommend. Users of the Apple Watch Series 7 do not need to upgrade, and users of older devices could save more money buying the Series 7 without missing out.
There is no fresh design or display to speak of, and very limited and quite niche new features such as temperature sensing and crash detection. The battery life remains quite frustrating thanks to the aforementioned lack of 24-hour support, which can make battery life feel like a bit of a lottery. There’s definitely enough juice to get you through a regular day including multiple workouts and usage, but that will leave you short when it comes to bedtime and sleep tracking, or worse in the morning when you wake.
watchOS 9 is another solid iteration in the Watch software life cycle, yet paradoxically it makes the Series 8 less enticing thanks to a number of upgrades that breathe new life into older models, notably Low Power Mode.
As I’ve said, Series 8 is an enigma this year thanks to Apple Watch Ultra and the refresh of the SE. If you’re budget conscious or looking to save money and you’re in the market for an Apple Watch right now, I’d recommend either the SE or the Series 7. If you truly want the best Apple Watch money can buy, then save up a bit more and go for the Apple Watch Ultra, which despite its rugged appearance and special focus is actually the best Apple Watch for most people.
Do I need to upgrade to Apple Watch Series 8?
There are some great additions from the Apple Watch Series 7, but not quite enough to warrant an upgrade. If you’ve got an older watch, like the Series 5 or 6, then it may be worth taking a look at the Series 8, with its improvements across the board.
When did the Apple Watch Series 8 come out?
The Apple Watch Series 8 came out Friday, September 16 2022.