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Apple Watch Series 8 Review
Apple Watch Series 8
Products & Services5/5
Ease of Use4/5
Apple Watch 8 was released in September 2022. And, although the iPhone seems to be something people always want to upgrade to the latest and greatest, watches and wearables tend to be more of an accessory.
The iPhone by Apple is practically a monopoly, and many feel changing brands would be too big a shift, so the Apple Watch is a natural choice. However, wearable devices are a more competitive market, and consumers are willing to branch out for the lifestyle and tracking specs they want. In this Apple Watch Series 8 review, we tested the overall experience, accuracy, and amount of information the product reports, in three key categories: workout, sleep tracking, and safety.
Accurate, good for at-a-glance stat checking
Tracks sleep stages, bulky to wear at night
Unmatched safety features including fall/crash detection
How We Tested It
Since I personally have owned 2 Apple Watches in the past, I was able to compare the Apple Watch 8 to the older versions in terms of features and the product experience. Also, I simultaneously wore the Apple Watch and the WHOOP during intense workouts to compare numerical data, comfort, fit, and design of each of the products. And, I tested a Fitbit Charge 5 separately.
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What is New and Innovative with the Apple Watch Series 8
Personally, I would not have noticed the differences in the updated Series 8, had I not researched them beforehand. The updates are subtle and mostly focused on safety and temperature readings (ovulation tracking).
These additions make the Apple Watch Series 8 ideally suited for:
- Fashion-forward stylish people: those looking for new colors and designs
- Drivers: Car crash detection is a great feature for everyone, but especially people concerned while traveling, such as those going long distances, or the aging population.
- People with disordered sleep or interested in improved sleep. This version of the Apple Watch now tracks stages to better understand your sleep patterns.
- People with serious health conditions: The ECG app is a massive benefit for seniors, or anyone with at-risk health. With the ECG app you can generate a single lead electrocardiogram at any time.
Syncing to iCloud
One of the arguments for having an Apple Watch has always been its ability to integrate and sync with your phone and other devices (since the majority of the population have iOS devices.) Because it is by the same maker, and operating system, it creates an ease of use for the general population. It’s ingrained in us that “settings” looks like a wheel, the green dialogue icon is for texts, and so forth. It also means that the majority of the apps on our phones will also work on our wrists.
Similar to the iPhone, notifications are super customizable to your Watch too. In the Watch app you have the option to choose which applications you wish to watch, be notified by, etc. You can even use Apple Pay.
This means not only do you not need a wallet, you don’t even need a phone anymore to make a payment, or make a phone call. This is great if you want to go for a run or walk to your favorite restaurant, or coffee shop, and not have to lug a bulky phone in your pocket.
For a yoga class or meditation, I would recommend putting your watch on Do Not Disturb. Nothing is worse than getting text notifications while you’re trying to zone out, and silence life’s distractions.
Read our review of the Best Fitness Trackers for 2023Read More
Key Features of the Apple Watch Series 8
As someone who had an Apple Watch that cracked and rendered the touchscreen – therefore the watch – unusable, the new Durable Crystal Face is a super important feature. I tested this by throwing the Watch across the room when I was angry (perk of the job, something we all would love to do sometimes!), and the face did not crack.
Although the Apple Watch Series 8 is not as water resistant as the Apple Watch Ultra, it can go up to 50M underwater. It will be fine in the rain, or a swim in a pool.
Environmental Sound Measurements & Monitoring
The Watch allows you to track and control your exposure to high sound levels each day. You are able to choose your thresholds and time limits ranging from 80 decibels with a limit of 5.5 hours per day to 100 decibels at 3 min per day.
This feature definitely worked! I received notifications during all the loud workout classes and events I attended.
For obvious reasons I did not personally test the car-crash detection feature. However, I did research the process by which Apple advanced this technology in the newest Watch. Using simulations at professional crash test labs, they were able to use: motion, barometer, GPS, and microphone on an iPhone to detect whether a crash has taken place.
The device will check in with the user and dial emergency services if they are unresponsive after a 10-second countdown. Emergency services will receive the location, and the person’s emergency contacts will be notified.
I believe that sleep and recovery have long needed a closer look, and greater emphasis in the health and wellness industry. Large fitness brands such as Nike and Fitbit have long focused on the numerics of exertion and exercise as the biggest, and only measure of success. Tracking miles, calories burned, or number of reps a person can do was most often our benchmark to success.
WHOOP seemingly was the first device to really put an emphasis on recovery and sleep as equal parts to the holistic well-being of a person. Apple and other wearable devices may have had sleep tracking for quite some time, but honestly, who wants to wear a bulky watch to bed? I found that WHOOP is the most comfortable of the devices for this option.
Price and Subscriptions
The Apple Watch 8 price will range depending on type of casing and band you choose. Apple offers a 1-year limited warranty and 14-day return policy.
Some fitness trackers, like the Whoop, require a subscription. Apple Watch does not require a subscription.
However, you can choose the optional Apple Fitness+ Subscription at $9.99/month or $79 annually. The subscription gives you access to thousands of video and audio workouts. Owning an Apple Watch is not required but would be a great compliment to the on-demand fitness classes, tracking your workouts and health data seamlessly with your iCloud. Since the Watch keeps track of heart rate and other data, you’ll be gathering more statistics while doing the workouts. Without the device, but logged into your Fitness account, it will track that you completed the workout, but without the additional reporting data like calorie burn, HRV, etc.
Although the price of the Apple Watch Series 8 is steep compared to the Whoop initial investment or the Fitbit, it definitely has better functionality and features (by a landslide, see my Fitbit review). If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles it is well worth the extra dough.
Real-Life Performance and Comparison
I wore both the Apple Watch and the Whoop during a 60-minute Dance Fitness workout, and here’s how the two compared:
The two devices slightly differed in measuring heart rate and calories. I feel like this is similar to owning a scale or mirror that makes you look thinner. If you’re someone who likes seeing higher numbers for caloric burn, Apple Watch is the way to go.
For any high-intensity exercise, I prefer the Apple Watch 8 over any other wearable device. With a larger screen face than most, you have the ability to see your heart rate, elapsed time, and other stats more clearly. It also connects to Apple Music, Spotify, and other music apps from your phone. As a dance fitness instructor, the ability to change the song or volume from my wrist, without picking up my phone, is a major benefit.
If music and the perfect playlist are crucial to your workout routine, then having this ability to be hands-free from your phone is an excellent perk.
I also wore the Apple Watch and a Fitbit Charge 5 during a quick run, and here’s a short video on how the two compared:
Overall, the Apple Watch 8 is a huge step forward with innovations that greatly benefit many people, and have some specific safety features that older adults will appreciate, although safety is something we all should value. Apple is really focusing on the life-saving/health aspects of the device and its technology. The investment in an Apple Watch may just be a literal lifesaver.