Is now the right time to strap on the latest Apple Watch?
Don’t get me wrong. The Apple Watch is still arguably the best wearable on the market. It’s sleek, easy to use and allows its owners to stay more attuned to their health and wellness.
Apple Watch Series 8, available Sept. 16 starting at $399, continues the tech giant’s trend of spitting out polished and highly functional smartwatches. Having tried out the Series 8 for several days, I’ve learned that more than ever, having the newest model really depends on exactly what you want from it.
The key addition this year is a wrist temperature sensor, which Apple said will help users who are cycle tracking. When you wear the Series 8 at night, it will measure your wrist temperature over five nights to determine your baseline temperature. Each night you wear it, the watch will keep tabs on any shifts in your body temperature.
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The sensor can help people create ovulation estimates for family planning or to more accurately track periods. Once it gets to know the user’s body, the watch can then send estimates if a cycle deviates.
Beyond that, the temperature sensor provides another health metric to help users stay up to date on any changes to their body.
Also, in light of concerns raised over data privacy following the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, Apple said all cycle tracking data stays locked on your device and is encrypted.
There’s also Crash Detection, an algorithm leveraging tools on the Watch including the accelerometer and gyroscope to recognize when the wearer is involved in a serious crash. When it does detect a crash, it will check in with the wearer and call emergency services if they don’t respond. Emergency responders and contacts will then receive the wearer’s location.
The Series 8 is a great watch. Like the last two models, it boasts an always-on display that adjusts depending whether you’re looking at the watch. So, you’ll notice watch faces dim or turn darker when your wrist is down. It also features sensors for measuring blood oxygen and heart rate, and can take an electrocardiogram to measure heart activity directly from your wrist.
Series 8 is also comfy to wear. The newly-added sleep stages introduced through WatchOS 9 give the watch more value at night. And just like previous models, it is a great fitness partner when working out. Plus, battery life on Apple Watch is pretty solid. You can easily get through a full day wearing one.
Is Apple Watch Series 8 worth upgrade?
That depends on what you want from an Apple Watch.
Compared to last year’s Series 7, the Series 8 feels like a very similar watch. If you own a Series 7 or even a Series 6 from two years ago, don’t fear missing out on an upgrade.
Also, keep in mind WatchOS 9 covers Apple Watches going back to the Series 4, which means you get several great features such as the enhanced workouts and sleep stages.
If it’s your first time owning a smartwatch, I’d consider the Apple Watch SE. I own a first-generation SE and it gives you 80% of what you want from the latest Apple Watch, minus the sensors for blood oxygen and temperature tracking and an always-on display. Plus, it’s cheaper at $249.
So who is the Apple Watch for? Maybe you want the peace of mind you get from Crash Detection (because hopefully it’s not a feature you’ll need to use). Perhaps you want to take advantage of the temperature sensor for family planning. Maybe you have an older watch and it feels like the right time to upgrade.
In these cases, you’re likely not going to find a better smartwatch.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.