Apple Watch Series 8 and the second-generation Apple Watch SE are set to launch this Friday, September 16, and ahead of time, the first reviews of the devices have now been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels.
Both of the new models are very incremental upgrades compared to the Apple Watch Series 7 and the original Apple Watch SE.
New features for both models include the S8 chip, car crash detection, and international roaming. Given that the S8 chip features the same CPU as the S7 and S6 chips, the Series 8 does not have any notable performance improvements compared to the Series 7 or Series 6, but the new Apple Watch SE is up to 20% faster than the original.
The Series 8 is also equipped with a new temperature sensor to aid with the existing menstrual cycle tracking feature, while the second-generation Apple Watch SE has new color-matched back cases and a lower $249 starting price, versus $279 for the original. Series 8 pricing starts at $399, which is unchanged from the Series 7.
Both models are overshadowed by the all-new Apple Watch Ultra, which is set to launch next Friday, September 23 with a larger 49mm titanium case, a larger display, a more rugged design, a customizable Action button, new bands designed for the outdoors, water resistance up to a depth of 100 meters, and more. Apple Watch Ultra is priced at $799.
We’ve rounded up both written and video reviews of the Series 8 and new SE below.
The Verge‘s Victoria Song on the Series 8’s new temperature sensing feature for retrospective ovulation estimates and menstrual cycle deviation:
As for accuracy, it’s a little hard to say, as I’ve only had the Series 8 for about a week. I don’t have two cycles’ worth of temperature data, and I’ve only just established a baseline. For the few nights I do have temperature data for, however, it largely corresponds to what I got on my Oura Ring. For example, two nights ago, the Oura Ring said my body temperature was 0.5 degrees higher than normal, while the Series 8 said it was 0.41 degrees higher.
Song also commented on Series 8 battery life:
Fair warning: enabling low-power mode isn’t going to magically get you multiday battery life, and I never got the full 36 hours. With regular usage without low-power mode, my Series 8 got around 24 hours before I needed to stick it back on a charger. Low-power mode was mostly a good way to get a bit of extra juice so I could make it home or to get me through the last mile of a long run when I forgot to top up the battery before heading out.
Engadget‘s Cherlynn Low confirmed that the second-generation Apple Watch SE performs equally to the Series 8 given both models have the same chip:
Otherwise, this year’s Watch SE actually packs the same system-in-a-package (SiP) processor as the $400 Series 8, as well as a high-g accelerometer that makes crash detection possible. In my time with it, the SE has, unsurprisingly, been just as responsive as the Series 8, starting workouts and completing heart rate scans in the same amount of time.
MobileSyrup‘s Patrick O’Rourke said that given the Apple Watch lacks major competition, Apple can get away with incremental year-over-year updates to the device:
Apple is in an interesting position with its Apple Watch. In the iOS space, there’s really no viable competition, especially when it comes to the Apple Watch’s app ecosystem, and even on Android, the closest is Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. This leaves the tech giant with very little reason to really push the wearable forward with each new release.