Executives noted earlier this summer that economic pressures were having some impact on the company’s wearables business, and they appeared to nod to that dynamic as they unveiled the company’s latest Apple Watch line on Wednesday. ‘company.
The company kept the prices of the new Apple Watch Series 8 line at the same level as the Series 7, and also reduced the price of the new Apple Watch SE model.
Even so, the prices are considerable in light of the strong pressures on consumer spending that leave them with less disposable income. The new Apple Watch SE starts at $249 with GPS and $299 with cellular, while the Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 with GPS and $499 with cellular.
Perhaps grateful that high-income consumers felt less pressure from inflation than other brackets, the company also introduced its newly designed Apple Watch Ultra with a price tag of $799.
Don’t miss: Apple CEO Tim Cook won’t raise iPhone 14 prices. He must face a fierce rival first – and it’s not Samsung
As with Apple’s recent iPhone introductions, the feature changes seen in the latest Apple Watch models are largely incremental.
Owners of last year’s Apple Watch Series 7 will see some improvements, like car crash detection and temperature detection, if they upgrade to the Series 8 lineup, but the overall differences will be more minor. Owners of older Apple Watch models will see greater changes in performance and functionality, but depending on the needs, functionality may not be worth upgrading from older devices that work well.
Those considering grabbing an Apple Watch for the first time will at least know they’ll be getting the latest and greatest from Apple across a variety of price points.
The new models feature additional health tools, which could draw more consumers into the fray. Additionally, the two higher-end models offer more intriguing battery options. The Ultra model is claimed to achieve up to 36 hours of battery life in “normal use” and up to 60 hours in low power mode. The Series 8 can get up to 36 hours in Low Power Mode, a new setting.
Some people chafed at the idea of daily charging with other Apple Watch models, so the longer battery life might prove popular.
Yet while Apple continues to innovate with its watches, one analyst remains unsure whether the recent moves have positioned the devices to appeal to the masses.
“We continue to believe that Apple should seek to make the device more appealing to older, less tech-savvy consumers who value its health monitoring capabilities the most,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a research note, suggesting there was more Apple could do to add health features, reduce the cost of the watch, increase battery life and simplify functions.
Those who see themselves in this camp may see the value of holding out a bit longer in case Apple chooses to change its tune down the road.
Pre-orders for all three models kicked off this week, with the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE becoming available from September 16. The Apple Watch Ultra will be available on September 23.
Below is a guide to the latest Apple Watch models and whether they are worth buying.
Apple Watch Series 8
The Series 8 offers wrist-based temperature tracking, which Apple says will help provide estimates of when someone is ovulating as well as better predictions of when someone’s period will occur. Apple will notify users of deviations in their cycles.
Apple is also adding collision detection to the Apple Watch Series 8. The watch’s gyroscope and accelerometer will seek to determine when a wearer has been involved in a serious car accident, and the device will automatically call 911 after 10 seconds, unless the user responds to a prompt.
The iPhone has a low power setting that helps people maximize battery life, and the feature is coming to the Apple Watch Series 8 line. Low Power Mode disables some sensors, always-on display, and notifications heart health, but it can extend battery life up to 36 hours when an iPhone is nearby. Otherwise, the company claims the watch offers 18 hours of battery life.
Apple continues to push more and more into health with its watches, and the Series 8 could offer value for those interested in ovulation tracking.
The crash detection feature is intriguing, but it’s probably not a selling point yet.
“There are a lot of benefits and value that the Apple Watch can bring to consumers, including benefits for health, safety and overall management of daily life, but if the collision detection function is the main reason to consider someone, it’s too soon to know if that’s a good enough reason to buy the new watch,” said Peter Levinson, vice president of project management at Arity, a spin-off company. ‘Allstate which helps detect accidents and provides other mobility data.
The feature “still has time to mature and acquire the volume of data for its offering to prove itself against other free collision detection solutions already on the market, built using billions of miles of driving and trip data,” he continued, though he was optimistic about crash detection technology in general.
Apple, in its presentation on Wednesday, mentioned training its models on more than a million hours of real-world driving and crash data. The company also mentioned studying the data for years, including through crash-testing labs.
Users don’t necessarily have to pay if they want the comfort of knowing they have the option of collision detection, as this feature is also available on the cheaper SE.
The need for daily charging has been an annoyance for some current Apple Watch users or those hesitant to get a device. The Series 8, with its low-power mode, might be increasingly appealing to people who really hate the idea of charging a watch once a day. If advanced health features and greater battery flexibility aren’t primary concerns, consumers might be better off saving up on the SE.
Apple says the latest SE model will have the same processor found in the other two newly announced watches. The processor makes the device 20% faster than its predecessor.
The Apple Watch SE also benefits from the crash detection function and will be eligible for international roaming.
The Apple Watch SE is a good starter device for someone who wants a smartwatch for functions like communications and more basic health tracking.
The SE doesn’t have blood oxygen sensing, ECG capabilities, or ovulation estimates, but it will track cardio fitness and notify users of high and low heart rates. It supports fall detection and emergency SOS communications, making it valuable for older users who want to do without more advanced health monitoring.
The relatively low price also makes it appealing to parents looking to gift an Apple Watch to their children, although the price could still be considered high in the current climate.
Apple Watch Ultra
The Ultra is a brand new model in Apple’s line of smartwatches, with a different design as well as various functions for adventure seekers.
For starters, the Ultra is larger than any other Apple Watch, with a 49 millimeter titanium case. By contrast, the larger 8-series model has a 45-millimeter case, with stainless steel and aluminum options. The Ultra also has a brighter display and a microphone system to help with the process of making phone calls in windy or noisy conditions.
While the Apple Watch Series 8 has an 18 hour battery life, or 36 hours in low power mode, Apple claims the Ultra lasts 36 hours in “normal use”. In low battery mode, it can reach up to 60 hours of battery life.
The Apple Watch Ultra also comes with a new sporty watch face option as well as more adventurous looking bands. Jeff Williams, the company’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that the Ultra is “the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet” because it was “designed for new and extremes”.
The phone has a new orange “action button” that Apple says will make it easier for users to access various functions or advance workouts.
Apple Watch Ultra owners will benefit from the company’s most accurate GPS technology and the ability to view six advanced running metrics at once. They will also have the option of triggering an 86-decibel siren in the event of an emergency.
The company claims the Ultra can withstand low temperatures of -4°F and high temperatures of 131°F. It has also been tested for various standards regarding shock, vibration, and more.
Apple has designed the watch to work well for diving enthusiasts as it is compatible with dives up to 40 meters. There’s a new depth gauge on the Ultra that will show the time, depth, and water temperature, among other metrics.
The Apple Watch Ultra “is likely to have fervent, but niche appeal,” Bernstein’s Sacconaghi wrote in a research note to customers.
With its 49-millimeter body, the device “is probably too big for most women, and its added functionality (and 2x price) is likely to be widely appreciated by die-hard sports fans.”
The ability to get up to 60 hours of battery life in low-power mode would be nice for those who hate daily charges, but it’s doubtful that convenience alone is worth the extra cash for those who don’t want to take advantage of the advanced adventure features.