Apple watch

Still the one we love – Review Geek

Evaluation:

8/10

?
  • 1 – Absolute hot waste
  • 2 – A kind of lukewarm waste
  • 3 – Severely flawed design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great, but not best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price:
From $349

Josh Hendrickson/Geek Review

What do you get when you take one of the best smartwatches in the country and add a few small upgrades to it? Well, one of the best smartwatches in the country… only slightly better. It’s the Apple Watch Series 8 in a nutshell. That’s great…because the Series 7 watch is, too.

Honestly, it’s a tough time for gadget reviewers (in an incredibly privileged sense). Never mind the old complaint that every smartphone looks the same; over the past year, each updated gadget has barely looked any different from the device it replaced. It looks like a problem of Strong points where we all play “spot the differences”.

But I’m also not sure I blame Apple (or the other companies) entirely. The Apple Watch Series 7 is, by all accounts, a very good smartwatch. Change anything drastically, and you might break something along the way. So the Apple Watch Series 8 plays it safe with minor differences here and there. It might not be exciting for a tech critic, but for the average person who probably won’t upgrade every year, it means that once again the Apple Watch is one of the best (if not the best) smartwatches you can buy.

Design: always the same

An Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8 worn on the same wrist
Series 8 left, Series 7 rightJosh Hendrickson/Geek Review
  • Dimensions: 41mm (41 x 35 x 10.7mm) or 45mm (45 x 38 x 10.7mm)
  • Weight (Aluminum): 41mm + GPS (31.9g), 45mm + GPS (38.8g), 41mm + Cellular (32.2g), 45mm + Cellular (39.1g)
  • Weight (stainless steel): 41mm + cell (42.3g), 45mm + cell (51.5g).
  • Display: Always-On Retina LTPO OLED, up to 1000 nits of brightness
  • Building material : Aluminum or Stainless Steel

You know Office meme that ends with “they’re the same picture” as a punchline? You can basically do that with the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8 side-by-side. You still get the same square screen with rounded corners (a squircle), the same digital crown and the same button to press.

Look to the sides and you’ll find the same exclusive cutouts, dimensions and watch strap connections. About the only real difference is fewer color choices. I have the Starlight Aluminin and Sport Loop case. Starlight Aluminum is apparently another way of saying “different shades of gray”. It seems good. The Sport Loop adds more color than anything else and is suitable for everyday wear. It probably wouldn’t work for evening wear, but you can always buy another band.

I don’t want to rely too much on “if you’ve seen one watch, you’ve seen them all” here, but in this case it’s pretty true. If you like how the Apple Watch looked in the past, you will too. And if you haven’t, you won’t.

Some new features you can’t use

  • System on chip: 64-bit Advanced Dual-Core S8 SiP (same as 2nd Gen SE and Apple Watch Ultra)
  • Storage: 32 GB
  • Navigation: L1 (single channel) GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, Beidou, always-on altimeter, compass
  • Optical sensors: third generation heart rate sensor, ECG heart sensor, blood oxygen sensor, wrist temperature sensor
  • Other sensors: High-G (Crash Detection) accelerometer, high dynamic range gyroscope, always-on altimeter, ambient light sensor, microphone

So what’s new on the Apple Watch Series 8? Well, not a ton. And the few new features might not even be useful. One of the big hits is a new temperature sensor built into the watch. It measures your temperature at the wrist. But before you think, “honey, I can check to see if I have a fever,” sorry, but you can’t.

Rather, it’s a bottom sensor that enhances other trackers, like sleep and ovulation. As a man, the latter does not apply to me. And as for sleep tracking, well, the battery life still isn’t good enough for me to use this feature. You might be a day and a half out of the Apple Watch if you haven’t enabled the always-on-screen feature. It’s my preference because when I turned it on, I didn’t even turn it on a day.

But with a day and a half of autonomy, the night remains the best time to recharge the watch. And that means I couldn’t use it to track my sleep patterns. In no time, a day and a half of battery life means that if you forget to charge it, you’ll have enough battery life left to recharge it in the morning. But that’s not long enough to give up nightly charging altogether.

Another new feature is car accident detection. Alas, I have not tested this. I could theoretically try because apparently a quick trip on a roller coaster at my local theme park, Kings Island, will trigger the feature and call 911. But that would be irresponsible and cause undue strain on our 911 system, so I don’t ‘t won’t.

Still, if you’re in a car crash and have an iPhone 14 or Apple Watch Series 8, the latest devices are supposed to better detect that fact and automatically call for help. Other devices can do this, including other iPhones and Apple Watches, but the latest versions claim to be more accurate.

Beyond that, this is again an almost identical watch to the Series 7, meaning all good and bad applies here, right down to battery life.

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8?

An Apple Watch Series 8 held in one hand
Josh Hendrickson/Geek Review

So here’s the thing. I don’t often use Apple Watches. I spend more time on Android phones so I tend to wear OS watches. Let me tell you, every time I come back, the Apple Watch is the reason I consider sticking with an iPhone. The Wear OS experience, insofar as it’s arrived, just doesn’t compare.

The fact that Apple can tightly integrate the experience between the iPhone and Apple Watch really shows that, and the whole experience is simply better than what Wear OS gives you. And at the end of the day, the latest series of Apple Watches is the best the company has ever offered.

But should you buy one? Well, that depends. Do you already own one? If you don’t own an Apple Watch and use an iPhone, I can wholeheartedly recommend some sort of Apple Watch. Chances are the latest Apple Watch SE is the better choice – it’s almost as good as the Series 8 for a lower price. The Ultra, although the creme de la creme of the latest Apple Watch series, is far beyond the needs of the average person. But if you want the best features that don’t call for the escalation, the Series 8 is the best Apple Watch you can buy.

On the other hand, if you already have an Apple Watch, the calculation is a little more complicated. Do you have a Series 7 era Apple Watch? Then you can skip that. There just isn’t enough to justify the extra cost. But if you have something older then yes you will appreciate the upgrades you get here. Because at the end of the day, it’s an Apple Watch. And truth be told, Apple still makes the best smartwatch in the country.

Evaluation:
8/10

Price:
From $349

Here’s what we like

  • Still the same great watch
  • Collision detection could save lives
  • No price increase

And what we don’t do

  • Still basically the same watch
  • Fewer finish choices
  • Battery life could use improvements