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Apple recently launched the Series 8 and a new SE, along with the new rugged Ultra sport watch. And while the company has stopped selling last year's Series 7, along with older models, you can still find them at many online retailers (sometimes for a significant discount). All these watches look pretty similar and share a rotating stable of features. Here, we break down which one is best for you, and whether older models are worth the price.
Most people hold on to their Apple Watch for a while, which makes buying the latest one a safe bet. The latest Series 8 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best watch for most Apple users, especially people who menstruate or want to track their fertility. The wrist-based temperature sensing feature tracked my skin temperature dropping steadily as I recovered from Covid-19. I haven't had the opportunity to test the latest Crash Detection feature (and I hope I never will), but that may offer you and your loved ones a little peace of mind.
Apple has dropped last year's Series 7 from the lineup, along with the Series 5 and 6. Last year, I noted that the Series 7 was one of the best sports watches on the market, with better water- and dust-resistance and updated algorithms, a bigger screen, and a full-size keyboard for texting. And when I hold the Series 7 next to the Series 8, the difference in the display size and brightness is negligible. If you can find it on sale for around $300, I think it's worth buying.
WatchOS 9 works with Series 4 watches and later, so if someone wants to give you one or you can find it significantly marked down, those are also worth considering. As Apple has added its health features one by one to each watch, you should double-check to make sure it has the ones you want. For example, the Series 5 doesn't have SpO2 monitoring, and SpO2 monitoring doesn't work on the Series 6 if the user is under 18 or doesn't have a paired iPhone.
It's been years since we've seen retailers carry the Series 1 or Series 2. You may see them on resale sites, but they are probably not worth the price. Family Setup works only on Series 4 and above, so you can't pick these up as cheaper options for your very old or very young family members. The Series 1 isn't waterproof, neither watch has cellular capability, and neither is compatible with the latest WatchOS version. And after many years of recommending the Series 3, we are now giving it the boot as well, as it's no longer compatible with WatchOS 9.
Bigger and more expensive isn't always better. If the case is big and doesn't fit well, it will rattle annoyingly every time you get a notification. I like the Spigen Thin Fit Case ($14) and a screen protector set from Amazon ($10); extras are nice if you mess up the first application. My favorite strap is Nike's woven nylon Sport Loop ($49). Since the battery life still sucks, I would also pick up a power bank ($50) with a built-in Apple Watch charger so you're not caught out with a dead watch.
There is an Always-On display that lets users see their watch face and complications at all times, and the Series 8 features crack-resistant front glass, IP6X dust resistance, and a WR50 water resistance rating. Apple Pay purchases are available with credit and debit cards stored in the Wallet app, and it has the same faster charging speeds with updated charging puck as on the Series 7. There is an S8 chip inside, but it is essentially identical to the S6 chip from two years ago with no speed improvements.
The feature is based on a two-sensor design that captures temperature information from the back of the watch near the skin and under the display, reducing environmental bias. At night, the Apple Watch Series 8 takes a temperature reading every five seconds, and it can detect changes as small as one degree. Apple Watch Series 8 owners can see nightly shifts in their baseline temperature that can be the result of exercise, jet lag, or illness.
Apple Watch Series 8 uses the temperature sensor to provide women with retrospective ovulation estimates, which can be helpful for family planning purposes. The data also provides improved period predictions, and in watchOS 9, women can receive notifications if a logged cycle history shows a possible deviation like irregular, infrequent, or prolonged periods.
Battery life remains the same at up to 18 hours, but it can be extended with a new Low Power Mode added in watchOS 9. With Low Power Mode, the Apple Watch can run for up to 36 hours, but it disables the Always-On display, turns off background heart rate measurements, limits WiFi and cellular connections, and more.
Apple has also introduced new bands and watch faces for Nike and Hermès Apple Watch models, and the Series 8 is now being sold alongside the higher-end, larger, and more feature rich Apple Watch Ultra, plus the lower-cost second-generation Apple Watch SE.
The watch uses an OLED ultra low power temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO) to enable Always-On functionality, which allows the watch face, complications, and other information to be continually visible.
The display dims when the wrist is down in order to preserve battery life, but key features like watch hands remain illuminated all the time. Touching the watch face or raising the wrist brings the display back to full brightness, and to minimize battery drain, Apple has optimized watch faces for the feature. The Apple Watch's display also has a variable refresh rate that drops from 60Hz to as low as 1Hz when the watch is inactive.
That means if you're traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the side button to automatically get in touch with that country's emergency services. International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch's fall detection feature, so if that's enabled, it automatically places an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
All Hermès models feature a silver or space black stainless steel Apple Watch body paired with one of the Hermès signature hand-crafted leather bands and an additional orange Hermès-branded Apple Watch Sport band. Hermès Apple Watches include unique watch faces based on Hermès watch designs.
Apple's Sport Bands are some of the company's lightest, most comfortable bands, made from a flexible and lightweight fluoroelastomer. Because they're ideal for use when exercising or engaging in vigorous activity, most of Apple's aluminum watches ship with Sport Bands. Pricing starts at $49 for the Sport Bands.
The 316L stainless steel alloy Link Bracelet, available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, is Apple's most expensive band made in-house. Available in silver ($349) and space black ($449), the Link Bracelet resembles a high-quality traditional watch band.
The Apple Watch Series 8 runs watchOS 9, the latest version of the Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 9 introduced new watch faces, enhancements to the Workout app and many types of workouts, a feature for tracking medications, updates to notifications, an AFib History option for those who have irregular heart rhythms, and more. Full details on watchOS 9 can be found in our watchOS 9 roundup.
According to analyst Jeff Pu and display analyst Ross Young, Apple is working on a new high-end watch that will feature a 2.1-inch (diagonal) micro-LED display, which could use display technology from LG. The watch is rumored to be coming in 2024 or 2025, and it is likely be an upgrade to the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple's \"digital crown\" mechanism is still an intuitive way to scroll on the watch, and there are fun case colors and a plethora of band options to suit your style, including the Nike sport bands, stylish metal options, woven bands, and a ton more.
With the impending release of watchOS 9 this fall, the Series 7 will also gain the ability to provide advanced running metrics (e.g., stride, cadence, pace), heart rate zones, and new multisport tracking modes, among other features.
Safety features include Fall Detection, Emergency SOS, and Crash Detection which detects the unique features of a crash while providing your location and notifying emergency services and contacts. Apple Watch watches over you.
2The ECG app and irregular rhythm notification require the latest versions of watchOS and iOS and are not intended for use by people under 22 years old. The ECG app is available on Apple Watch Series 4 or later (not including Apple Watch SE). The irregular rhythm notification is not designed for people who have been previously diagnosed with Afib.
One of the biggest reasons to avoid it is its storage space, however. The Apple Watch Series 3 only packs 8GB of internal storage. If you don't plan on loading songs, apps, or other content on your watch, that doesn't sound like a problem.
However, the lack of storage is a problem for all Series 3 owners. Current software updates are too large for the Series 3 to handle, meaning users need to unpair and erase all the content on their watches to install an update. That's an unnecessary headache.
Of course, since the Apple Watch Series 3 is also nearly five years old, its processor is outdated and its list of features lags behind current watches. The Series 3 is missing a range of different and useful Apple Watch mainstays like ECG, fall detection, and multiple complications. Its age is apparent in other places too. For example, it's actually the last 32-bit device that Apple still sells. 781b155fdc