Apple has spoiled its users with three choices when it comes to smartwatches this year – the affordable Watch SE, the updated Watch Series 8 and the adventurer’s choice, the Watch Ultra. I’ve been going about my life for a few weeks now with the Apple Watch 8 on my wrist, and here’s whether it’s worth the investment.
The Watch 8 embodies understated elegance, especially in the Starlight color review unit I have. I think the matching sports band, with a pin-and-tuck closure, is super comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The crisp, bright Always-On Retina display with up to 1000 nits of brightness ensures visibility is never a problem outdoors. I liked playing around with the endless dial options to find my favorites, and loved the fact that I could completely add or deselect complications with each dial.
Complemented by the new watchOS 9, one of the main hardware upgrades that the company has talked about is the setup with two sensors to track temperature. When I wear the watch to sleep, it tracks my basal temperature and shows me the data after I’ve worn it for five consecutive nights. Much like any other smartwatch, the Watch Series 8 breaks down the different stages of sleep – the REM cycle, deep sleep and disturbed sleep.
Just like the new iPhone 14 series, the Watch 8 uses a new accelerometer and gyroscope that work with the barometer, microphone and GPS to detect a car crash and automatically connect me to emergency services in the event of an accident.
I couldn’t really get lost in the urban jungle of Chennai to authentically try out the redesigned compass on the Watch 8. Nevertheless, the Compass app on the watch has more detailed information, and it’s nice to be able to rotate the digital crown to switch between the different aspects of the compass data. Not that I couldn’t get back from a grocery run, but the Backtrack feature effectively retraced my journey once I’d turned it on before leaving the house.
With a special focus on menstruators and their health, Apple Watch 8 also alerts users to changes or delays in their menstrual cycle. Apple says that while cycle irregularities can be quite common, they may indicate underlying health conditions, such as fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome or thyroid disorders. In the app, I have the option to not only record my cycle, but also to export it as a PDF to share with my doctor.
As I attempt a HIIT workout, I can see an indicator slide across five different heart rate zones from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest), giving me a clear idea of how hard I’m pushing. I’m just glad my trainer can’t catch a glimpse of it sliding down when I skip a few burpees in a row.
With a water resistance rating of 50 meters, the Watch 8 can be used for shallow water activities such as swimming in a pool or the ocean. However, it is a no-go for other water-based activities, such as diving or water skiing. The watch is also IP6X dust resistant, meaning it is built not to let in dust particles.
There are a lot of straps made of leather, stainless steel or fabric, including an exclusive range from Nike. If none of these are luxurious enough for you, the company has partnered with French luxury design house Hermès to create watch straps as well.
I think the most disappointing aspect of the Watch 8 is its battery life. With almost 24/7 use, it keeps me company for almost a day, making it another gadget that I have to plug in every day. With low power enabled, Apple claims the watch can power for nearly 36 hours, and you’ll still have access to activity tracking and fall detection. It took me a little over an hour for the watch to fully charge from zero.
The Apple Watch S8 is as feature-packed as they come. You have a smartwatch that not only looks good, but also performs well across health and fitness parameters, with an increased focus on preventative measures. The only downside is that users in India pay a lot more for a product that comes at a fair and reasonable price in other countries, for example the US. If blood oxygen saturation, EKG monitoring, and an Always-On display aren’t important to you, you might even consider checking out the Apple Watch SE, which offers the essential Apple Watch 8 experience, but at a significantly lower price.
INR 45,900 (41mm)
INR 48,900 (45mm)
Advantage – Great build quality, smooth interface, accurate typing and voice features
Disadvantages – Expensive in the Indian market