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Apple launched the Watch Series 8 last year, upgrading the Watch Series 7 with a new S8 chip, crash detection, and temperature sensor. And since rumors point to the Watch Series 9 carrying over the same design, we figured we should inspect how the Watch Series 8 holds in the long run.
Should you wait for the Watch Series 9, which could cost more without offering much, or should you get yourself a Watch Series 8 once it gets discounted? Here’s our long-term review of the Apple Watch Series 8 after over six months of usage to help you decide.
Apple Watch Series 8 specs:
Versions: A2773 41mm, A2775 45mm (International); A2772 41mm, A2774 45mm (USA, LATAM, Canada); A2857 41mm, A2858 45mm (China, Hong Kong)
|NETWORK||Technology||GSM / HSPA / LTE|
|2G bands||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|3G bands||HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 – International, China, HK|
|HSDPA 850 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 – USA, LATAM, Canada|
|4G bands||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 39, 40, 41, 66 – International, China, HK|
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66 – USA, LATAM, Canada|
|LAUNCH||Announced||2022, September 07|
|Status||Available. Released 2022, September 16|
|BODY||Dimensions||45 x 38 x 10.7 mm (1.77 x 1.50 x 0.42 in)|
|Weight||42.3 g (41mm), 51.5 g (45mm) (1.48 oz)|
|Build||Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame|
50m water resistant
ECG certified (region dependent SW application; HW available on all models)
|DISPLAY||Type||Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak)|
|Resolution||484 x 396 pixels (~326 ppi density)|
|Protection||Sapphire crystal glass|
|PLATFORM||OS||watchOS 9.0, upgradable to watchOS 10|
|Internal||32GB 1GB RAM|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band|
|Bluetooth||5.3, A2DP, LE|
|Positioning||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BDS|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, SpO2, VO2max, temperature (body)|
|Temperature sensing (0.01˚ accuracy)
Natural language commands and dictation (talking mode)
Ultra Wideband (UWB) support
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Ion 308 mAh, non-removable|
|MISC||Colors||Graphite, Silver, Gold|
|Models||A2773, A2775, A2772, A2774, A2857, A2858, watch6,16, watch6,17|
|SAR||0.31 W/kg (head) 0.55 W/kg (body)|
|SAR EU||0.31 W/kg (head) 0.55 W/kg (body)|
Disclaimer. We can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct.
Features and Performance
The Apple Watch Series 8 is largely identical to its predecessor but comes with a new chip (S8 vs. S7), a temperature sensor, and crash detection. It also comes with the usual slew of health and fitness features, including real-time heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen level measurement, sleep tracking, ECG, sedentary reminder, steps counter, and indoor and outdoor workouts.
Aside from that, the Apple Watch Series 8 comes with camera and music controls, weather forecast, compass (with Backtracking), phone finder, stopwatch, countdown timer, fall detection, noise monitoring, and GPS (L1). The Watch Series 8 also has temperature sensing, which is only useful for females since it’s used for Cycle Tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates to help women better understand their menstrual cycle.
The Apple Watch Series 8 has 32GB of storage onboard, allowing users to download music on the smartwatch for offline playback. You can listen to them through the watch’s speakers if you feel adventurous, or connect the watch to any Bluetooth earphones to listen to music through the Apple Watch without requiring your iPhone.
This is useful when going for an outdoor workout since you don’t have to carry your iPhone with you, more so if you own the LTE model, which lets you make and answer calls without being connected to an iPhone.
Speaking of, the Apple Watch Series 8 comes with Apple’s W3 wireless chip and the U1 chip and supports Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz) connectivity.
Talking about the health and fitness features, the Apple Watch Series 8 measures the heart rate automatically at an interval of one minute, and there’s no way to change it, which isn’t ideal since letting users increase the gap by even a few minutes would help extend the battery life. However, automatic heart rate measurement at an interval of one minute is recommended on most wearables for more accurate results, so I understand why Apple didn’t provide that option.
That said, if you don’t want to rely on data from automatic tracking, you can measure your heart rate manually whenever you wish through the Heart Rate app on the smartwatch. It’s fast and displays the resting heart rate, with a detailed analysis available in the Health app on the companion iPhone. The heart rate sensor recorded the pulse accurately most of the time, but it’s still best not to use it for diagnosis.
The Watch Series 8’s ECG sensor can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram with the ECG app on the smartwatch. All you have to do is put your finger on the crown for 30 seconds, and like heart rate monitoring, you can find the ECG data in the Health app. I didn’t have any means of checking its accuracy, but regardless, we recommend you don’t use that data as a basis for diagnosis or treatment.
The SpO2 sensor on the Watch Series 8 can also measure blood oxygen levels throughout the day like the heart rate sensor, including in Sleep Focus and Cinema Mode. However, you can also take on-demand readings using the Blood Oxygen app on the smartwatch, which takes 15 seconds for the measurement. The readings were mostly accurate, and you can find the related data in the Health app. Just don’t use it for diagnostic purposes.
Next up is sleep tracking, which breaks down the total sleep hours into four stages – Core Sleep (aka Light Sleep), Deep Sleep, REM Sleep, and Awake. You get the previous night’s sleep metrics on the Apple Watch through the Sleep app, which shows your total hours of sleep, fall asleep and wake up times, and the time you spent in the aforementioned stages during your sleep. It also shows you the average sleep time for two weeks. A detailed analysis is available through the Health app on the iPhone, where the Sleep section also displays information about your respiratory rate and heart rate during sleep, along with other data, including the time you spent in bed, which I found interesting.
However, sleep tracking on the Apple Watch Series 8 was disappointing and unreliable in my experience. It did track the Awake times accurately, but not the fall asleep time.
The Watch Series 8’s sleep tracking algorithm clocks the sleep time even when you are lying on a couch or a bed watching videos on a phone/tablet and moving regularly. I’ve used smartwatches in the past with similar behavior, and I’d have been fine with the Watch Series 8 as well for that if it didn’t give me Stand Reminders when the algorithm thought I was asleep. It’s weird. The Health app also doesn’t let you edit the sleep record, meaning you are left with an overall inaccurate sleep analysis since the data used for that is incorrect. Apple lets you add sleep data through the Health app, so I hope the company will let users edit existing sleep records with future updates.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t track afternoon naps even after you turn on the Sleep Focus mode, which is a bummer since even watches that cost less than half of the Apple Watch do that. Here’s hoping Apple will bring that functionality to some – if not all – of its smartwatches with a software update.
The Apple Watch Series 8 supports several indoor and outdoor workouts. I obviously couldn’t try all of them. I mostly used the Indoor Walk and Outdoor Walk workouts. And while the steps counted by both modes weren’t entirely accurate like most other smartwatches, the margin of error was minimal enough not to be a concern. However, the Indoor Walk used GPS for some reason, which I find unnecessary as that’s something more useful with outdoor workouts. The Outdoor Walk mode used GPS, but it didn’t trace the route of my walk and instead only pinned the starting point of my walk on the map, which I didn’t find useful.
Moreover, the Apple Watch Series 8 also asked me if I’d like to end my Indoor/Outdoor Walk despite me not slowing down or pausing for a few minutes for the algorithm to show that prompt. This started with the watchOS 9.2 update and still happens with watchOS 9.6.1.
Talking about the Watch Series 8’s LTE feature, I made and received calls through the smartwatch, and the people on the other end could hear me clearly when I brought the watch closer to my face when relying on the built-in microphone. The same goes for its speakers to listen to the folks on the other end. However, in a noisy environment, you can always connect the Watch Series 8 to any Bluetooth earphones for calls without requiring an iPhone due to its LTE connectivity. This also worked when I moved the SIM card from the companion iPhone to another device (provided it isn’t connected to the companion iPhone via Bluetooth), but that didn’t work for text messages.
The Apple Watch Series 8 LTE’s ability to let you make/receive calls, send text messages, and compose emails, in addition to doing a few other things without being connected to an iPhone, makes it a true extension of the iPhone.
The Backtracking on the Apple Watch Series 8 worked fine, but I obviously didn’t test its crash detection feature. However, over the months, we’ve found reports that it proved useful.
My only major complaint with the Apple Watch Series 8 after over six months of usage is its sleep tracking, which needs significant improvements. I hope this will be fixed with the next update. I’d also like Apple to introduce afternoon nap tracking.
The Apple Watch Series 8 with cellular connectivity is a nice extension of an iPhone since it allows you to make and receive phone calls, send and receive texts, and do a few other things like checking and composing emails without being connected to an iPhone. You can also download music for offline playback and listen to it through the watch’s speakers or Bluetooth earphones without keeping it connected to an iPhone, which could come in handy when going for a run or working out.
The Watch Series 8 has a bright screen that’s legible outdoors under strong sunlight and sturdy build, which has held up well after over six months of usage. The same goes for the bundled straps. The smartwatch’s performance is also snappy, which, paired with good haptics, offered a pleasant experience.
However, notification management needs polishing, and UI navigation could be improved for a more convenient experience. I’d also like to see Apple release an app that serves as a one-stop solution for everything related to Apple Watches, eliminating the need for users to juggle between three different apps for different purposes.
So, a year later, should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8 or wait for the Watch Series 9? If rumors are to be believed, the Apple Watch Series 9 won’t come with significant upgrades since it’s said to be “basically unchanged” from the Watch Series 8. It’s expected to get a new chip based on Apple’s A15 SoC, which could bring performance and efficiency improvements to the smartwatch.
Considering that, and if you trust Apple to fix the software issues we mentioned with the subsequent software updates, I don’t see any reason not to buy it if you find a great deal on it, which is likely to happen soon as we inch closer to the September 12 Apple event since retailers would want to clear their old stocks at discounted prices before the Watch Series 9 arrives.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Sturdy build
- Bright screen with nice touch response
- Snappy performance
- 50m water resistance
- Nice haptics
- LTE connectivity is one very convenient feature to have on a smartwatch
- Requires three different apps for use
- Notification management needs polishing
- Sleep tracking is inaccurate
- No afternoon nap tracking
- Battery life