The Apple Watch has become a staple wearable for every iPhone user. As the years have gone on, the design’s become more compact, the battery life has improved and the functionality of the Watch has only gotten better. The Apple Watch Series 8 is no different, now including a new wrist temperature sensor that’s designed to work with Cycle Tracking to let women know when they’re ovulating, plus a brand new crash detection feature.
That’s not all — here’s what we thought of the Apple Watch Series 8 after spending two weeks with it.
More from Rolling Stone
Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8: Thin Bezels and Extremely Lightweight
The Apple Watch Series 8 has a pretty similar design to that of the Series 7, including an almost bezel-less display and larger screen compared to its predecessors. If you haven’t upgraded your Apple Watch in a few years, you’ll definitely notice the larger screen (now available in 41mm or 45m) and crisp always-on display.
The screen is still pretty durable and crack-resistant. The watch also features WR50 water resistance, so you can swim with it on (just make sure you choose a waterproof band).
There’s a slight change to the color line up too, with the Series 8 available in Starlight, Product RED, Silver and Midnight in the aluminum build and Gold, Silver and Graphite in the stainless steel finish.
Apple Watch Series 8: Advanced Cycle Tracking and Crash Detection
Similar to its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 8 can auto-track your workouts, check your blood oxygen levels, measure your heart rate, take an ECG and track your sleep. That said, the new Series 8 adds a bunch of new health features that truly set it apart from its competitors on the market.
Now, your wearable can keep track of your wrist temperatures as you sleep, to let you know when you’re ovulating. Advanced Cycle Tracking takes two menstrual cycles to kick in — as your watch needs to continuously gather data — but you’ll be able to monitor trends in your wrist temperature after 5 days of wearing your new watch to bed. I was able to see temperature fluctuations five days in, letting me know if there were any deviations from my baseline temp.
It’ll take another month or so for my ovulation tracking to accurately start, but once it does, I’ll be able to receive notifications on both my watch and iPhone to let me know my ovulation estimates.
Apart from adding features to Cycle Tracking, Apple also added a new Crash Detection feature which can automatically detect when you’re in an accident and can help you connect yourself to emergency services. The watch features a new motion sensor to achieve this and was tested in labs to detect four types of severe crashes, including head-on, rear-end, side-impact, and rollovers. The motion sensor has a high-g accelerometer and an improved gyroscope. This together with the GPS and microphone uses one of the most robust crash detection algorithms to date.
Obviously, I didn’t test this feature for safety reasons but it’s reassuring to know that my Apple Watch has my back in the unlikely case of an accident.
Apple Watch Series 8: watchOS 9 Takes This Smartwatch to A Whole other Level
WatchOS 9 rolled out with the new Apple Watch release and is available on the Series 8 and older Apple Watches, up until the Series 4.
To start, there are a bunch of new watch faces available, my personal favorite is the ‘Lunar’ watch face which you can see in the picture below. Watch faces can even be adjusted with focus automation, this means your “Work Focus” can have a different Watch Face from your “Personal Focus.”
The Compass app got a big redesign, now with a hybrid view that supports an analog compass dial. You’ll even be able to add compass waypoints through the Orienteering View, which helps you quickly note points of interest to keep you from losing your way. If you do however lose your way, Backtrack helps you replace your steps — I find this exceedingly helpful when I’m hiking.
The other big change is to the Sleep app. Now you can track the different stages of sleep to see just how much REM sleep or deep sleep you’re getting every night. I suffer from ‘middle-of-the-night insomnia’ a common condition where one wakes up and has trouble going back to sleep, so it’s great that I can track just how much time I was awake and how much REM sleep I was able to get after. You can also check your sleep comparison chart through the Health app on your iPhone to see your respiratory rate, heart rate and wrist temp as you sleep.
Fitness got an upgrade topo. Now your Apple Watch can detect heart rate zones while you run — this helps you train and more importantly keep an eye on your cardio health, especially if you’re a new runner like me and don’t want to overdo it. You can customize your workout too, setting intervals during your run — both haptic and voice feedback will let you know when an interval is starting or ending.
There are a couple of advanced fitness features coming later this year too, including automatic track detection, which means your Watch will now track your laps and lap time automatically when you arrive at a running track. There’s also ‘Race Route’ which automatically saves your route data on an outdoor run and helps you improve your metrics by telling you if you were faster or slower on the same route the next time round.
The last notable update is to Afib history, with your watch now being able to track Afib over time and even letting you know what days of the week your Afib was the highest. While I don’t suffer from Afib, I do think this is a great additional health feature that once again gives you peace of mind.
Apple Watch Series 8: Battery Life is Decent, but There’s Always Room for Improvement
The Series 8 has a similar battery life to the Series 7 and you can get a whole day in without springing for a recharge. Recraging takes you about 45 minutes depending on how much battery you depleted — I usually get a quick charge in before bed. Obviously, unlike some of its competitors, you can’t yet go days with this smartwatch on your wrist, which might be a con for some people.
That said, with watchOS 9’s low power mode, you should be able to extend battery life to 36 hours, according to Apple. I haven’t yet spent a full day with low power mode yet but initial tests show it does seem to extend battery life, but doing so means you’ll have to forego some features like an always-on display, auto workout detection, and irregular rhythm notifications.
Apple Watch Series 8: Worth The Upgrade, Especially if You’ve Got an Older Apple Watch
If you held off on upgrading your Watch Series 4, 5 or 6, the Apple Watch Series 8 is definitely worth the jump. For the new features alone, I also think the Series 8 is worth the upgrade from the Series 7.
While the two share a remarkably similar design, advanced cycle tracking and crash detection are two game changers for me. As a woman, being able to keep an eye on my ovulation and cycle deviations is imperative and that’s something I can only do with the new Watch Series 8 or Watch Ultra (more on that later).
The Apple Watch Series 8 is a beautifully designed smartwatch that functions as a health companion, workout buddy, and sleep accessory all in one.
Apple Watch Series 8
A Quick Note About Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen)
If wrist temp data doesn’t appeal to you but crash detection does, you can choose the Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen). This upgrade on Apple’s starter smartwatch gets you the new S8 chipset and a slightly elevated design. It’s not enough to warrant an upgrade from the original Apple Watch SE but if you are new to the Apple world and are looking for a starter smartwatch with crash detection features, the Apple Watch SE is a great pick.
Apple Watch SE
The Ultra on the other hand is Apple’s premium Apple Watch offering, geared towards outdoor and sports enthusiasts. It’s got a new ‘action’ button which can be customized for one-tap-access to your favorite apps. There’s also an in-built siren, which really sets this rugged smartwatch apart. Other features include an extended battery life, a WR100 water-resistant rating for divers, and a wrist temperature sensor, similar to the Series 8. If you’re big into sports or love heading outdoors and have the cash for the Apple Watch Ultra, there’s nothing in the market that compares to it.
Apple Watch Ultra
Best of Rolling Stone