Apple Watch Series 8 review roundup: Best smartwatch gets a tick better

Apple Watch Series 8 review roundup: Best smartwatch gets a tick better

By

Apple Watch 8 is great. But it's not necessarily great enough to upgrade, given its minimal improvements.
Apple Watch 8 is great. But it's not necessarily great enough to upgrade, given its minimal improvements.
Photo: Apple

The upcoming Apple Watch Ultra garners most of the oohs and aahs, and the Apple Watch SE takes the cake as Cupertino’s best-selling wearable, but gosh darn it, people like the Apple Watch Series 8, too. And by people, I mean reviewers.

Early reviews of Apple Watch Series 8 started coming in Thursday morning. They tend to emphasize that it remains the best smartwatch you can buy, even though its upgrades over the Series 7 seem minimal.

Apple Watch Series 8 reviews: The best smartwatch made better, incrementally

Apple Watch Series 8 looks and feels a lot like Apple Watch Series 7, which was not unlike Apple Watch Series 6. But small updates, like the always-on display and improved health sensors, add up over time.

The 8 and 7 series share the same sizes and design. So reviews focus on the guts of the wearable, where a few changes took place.

They make the new wearable “a tick better,” as Tom’s Guide put it in a glowing review that only wished the watch could have borrowed the new Apple Watch Ultra’s 86-decibel siren.

What’s actually new?

“New to the 8 is its temperature sensor, along with improved gyroscope and accelerometer motion sensors that are now able to detect car crashes and make SOS calls in the event of an emergency,” summed up CNET‘s review.

As TechRadar puts it, Apple Watch 8 is “a minor upgrade for anyone not planning a family.” That’s because the passive temperature sensors are mainly intended for cycle tracking related to ovulation and to add to health metrics over time.

In other words, the timepiece doesn’t take your temperature like a thermometer.

“You can only get wrist temperature readings when you have the Sleep Focus turned on and sleep tracking enabled. Plus, you need to sleep with the Apple Watch for five nights to establish a baseline. Once that’s completed, you’re only going to see deviations from that baseline,” The Verge review explained.

Car crash detection

Multiple reviews pointed out they skipped testing the new car-crash detection feature — “for obvious reasons,” as CNET said. But reviewers like that it’s there, noting it could turn out to be as important as existing hard-fall detection and emergency SOS features when it comes to saving lives.

However, you don’t have to shell out $399/$499 for an Apple Watch 8 to get car-crash detection. You can get it on the $249 Apple Watch SE.

Battery life could always improve

Some reviews referred to battery life as an ongoing sticking point with Apple Watch, including the Series 8. Like past models, it’s rated for 18 hours.

That’s not great, especially because its sleep-tracking and temperature features make it useful, if not necessary, to wear overnight, as CNET complained.

But Tom’s Guide found low-power mode quite helpful, extending battery life “well past 24 hours.” Apple said it can goose it up to 36 hours.

The best part may be wonderful watchOS 9

Many reviews agreed that while the Apple Watch Series 8’s upgrades are good, the watchOS 9 update that followed is great. And that’s in part because it applies to other models besides Series 8, of course.

CNET described it succinctly:

WatchOS 9 adds a number of extras that are really great: a compass app that now tracks your steps via GPS to help you navigate back home during hikes, medication tracking, multistage sleep tracking and a low-power mode that shuts down some functions to extend battery life. But you don’t need a new watch for these; a free update to WatchOS 9 could give you these upgrades and make you feel like you already have a new watch.

The bottom line here is folks who have an Apple Watch Series 7 (or even a Series 6) don’t really need to upgrade to Apple Watch Series 8. That is, unless the new features, like temperature readings, are particularly important to them.