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  • Cheryl Tan

Apple Watch Series 8 Review: Should You Get It?

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

When Apple announced their new Watch Series 8, it was both a bit of a disappointment and excitement at the same time. Disappointing because there isn’t a very big upgrade from the Series 7, but exciting because the new features included are actually really great.

We have the new Watch Series 8 with us today, and if you’re thinking that this doesn’t look very different from the Series 7, well, yeah.

Design-wise, it hasn’t changed at all. It retains the same 41mm or 45mm case size, and we have the same midnight colour that we had last year, so it really does look quite identical. Weight-wise, Apple’s spec sheet says it’s still the same at 38.8 grams for the 45mm aluminium model, but weighing just the watch modules on my kitchen scale, the Watch Series 8 did register a weight of 39.1 grams, up from my Watch Series 7 which weighed in at 38.7 grams. It’s a really minuscule difference though, so I’d say most people should be able to expect something along Apple’s 38.8-gram figure. I didn’t expect it to stay the same, since there are new sensors, so good job on Apple’s part keeping the watch light.

Inside is where the changes are. We now get two temperature sensors for the new skin temperature tracking feature, one against the skin and one under the display to measure ambient temperature to help ensure accuracy. There are another two new motion sensors in there, along with updated accelerometers and gyroscopes that can sample motion four times faster than before, allowing for the new Crash Detection feature to work accurately. We’ll go into these features later.

The watch is using the S8 SIP, which is actually using the same CPU as the one in the S7 and S6 chips, so there’s no real boost in performance to speak of. Battery life has also been kept constant at 18 hours of battery life according to Apple, which means you’ll still have to charge the watch every day. Typically I just put it on the charger when I’m taking my shower at night and again when I’m having my coffee in the morning, and my watch is never in danger of falling below 20% battery. There is, however, a new Low Power mode that is introduced in watchOS 9, which comes installed on the Watch Series 8 out of the box, which we’ll talk about later.

Durability-wise, it’s still IP6X which means it can hold up to dust and there’s no problem bringing your watch swimming and all with water resistance up to 50 metres.

Let’s move on to the software side because that’s where most of the changes are. First off, let’s talk about skin temperature tracking. Thanks to the new temperature sensors, you can now do two things. For everybody, there’s now skin temperature tracking during sleep. In case you’re thinking, oh hey, I can wear this and it’ll alert me if I have a fever. Stop right there, that’s not what it does. This helps to establish a baseline temperature after five days of wearing the Apple Watch to sleep, which in turn, provides long-term data and logs deviations from your normal temperature.

So while it doesn’t notify you about fevers, it helps to keep a log of your skin temperature which then gives you insight into your body. For example, your skin temperature could spike after a night out drinking, or if you’re sick without the symptoms kicking in yet. Long-term health metric tracking can be extremely helpful and insightful if you pay attention to it, and what Apple is doing here, is just making it easier for you to see any deviations that might be a warning sign. I did write about how keeping track of my health metrics with the Apple Watch helped me figure out something was wrong right before I tested positive for Covid, so this is a good addition.

Coming back to the review, Apple has taken this new feature and introduced basal body temperature tracking for women to track their estimated ovulation periods during their cycles. This does take two cycles to kick in though, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of this. Regardless, this is certainly a very helpful tool for couples who are looking to conceive. With easy tracking and logging of basal body temperature, it means that there’s no need to manually take temperature readings and log them down. The data is stored on the device and encrypted with access locked behind a passcode, Face ID or Touch ID, so that’s good on the privacy front.

As for crash detection, well, that’s something that I can’t really test, nor would I ever want to. But let’s talk about the tech that enables it. As I mentioned earlier, there are two new motion sensors with upgraded accelerometers and gyroscopes that can measure up to 256g of force. Additionally, the microphone, barometer and GPS are all used to measure loud noises, changes in the car’s cabin pressure and any sudden changes in speed or direction respectively. If a crash is detected, there’ll be a popup notification on the Apple Watch asking if you’re alright. If you’re fine, you can always swipe it away, but if there’s no response after 10 seconds, an emergency call will be made to the emergency services in the country you’re in, as well as to your emergency contacts. Something that’s very cool is that the automated call to the emergency services will be broadcasted in that country’s language, so Italian in Italy, French in France and such.

With watchOS 9, there are a bunch of other updates too: custom workouts, heart rate zones, the medications app and all. But what I like the most is the introduction of sleep stages and low power mode. Something that the Apple Watch has disappointed me in all these years has been the absence of detailed sleep tracking, I even complained about it in my Watch Series 7 review. Well, it’s finally here and I can say I’m very, very glad. The sleep tracking is very accurate, and I compared it with two other smartwatches, the Fitbit Versa and the Huawei GT3. Even before Apple’s detailed sleep tracking came online, I already knew that the Apple Watch’s non-detailed sleep tracking was more accurate simply by the start and end times of the sleep recorded, so it wasn’t a surprise to see that the detailed sleep tracking is, well, more accurate than both those watches in terms of exact sleep timing as well as how often I woke up throughout the night.

Low Power mode is nice too, extending the watch’s battery life to 36 hours by turning off the always-on display and background health tracking like background heart rate measurements, blood oxygen measurements and some heart rate notifications.

But that’s about it. While there are some nice upgrades, they’re pretty incremental. If you’re still using an older model, it’s a massive upgrade and I would definitely say it’s worth the cash. But if you’re holding on to a Series 6 or Series 7, it might be hard to recommend spending S$599 or US$399 for the Series 8. It’s just not that big an upgrade. What’s really worth the money is the Apple Watch Ultra, and boy, is that an upgrade. Unfortunately, we don’t have one with us, so we most likely won’t be able to do a review on that, but it comes with a bigger, brighter screen, much better battery life, better durability and hey, it just looks super badass. If you’re looking for the newest and greatest Apple Watch you can get in 2022, that’s the one to look at.

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