By Javed Anwer: Compared to other tech companies, Apple seems to operate by a very specific set of rules when it comes to new products. We have seen this over and over again. When upgrading its products, the company often believes in the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It also seems to operate on the idea that a product should be upgraded when the upgrade is significant and makes sense. Whether consumers like it or not, something only sales figures will tell in the coming months, this year’s Apple Watch Series 8 seems to adhere to this upgrade philosophy in earnest. This is probably why it’s so similar to the Apple Watch Series 7, which itself was quite similar to the Watch Series 6.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Because it is. Despite the very modest upgrades, and I’ll detail them in a bit, the Apple Watch is still the best option for any iPhone user looking to buy a smartwatch. It still offers a full suite of health tracking features, which are unparalleled in their accuracy, and its design, while familiar to the point of being dated, is still arguably the best of any smartwatch on the market.
Starting at Rs 45,900 for the Wi-Fi variant and Rs 55,900 for the Wi-Fi plus cellular variant, the Watch Series 8 is the best companion for your iPhone if you want a smartwatch. Although, it’s also an easy conclusion to come to because the Watch Series 7 held the same spot last year.
I have a feeling we’ve been seeing the same Apple Watch design in recent years and a similar feature set, because the company is probably waiting for some technological breakthrough. The watch can definitely do with more health tracking features (blood pressure, for example) and badly needs better battery life, but these features aren’t possible either, in useful ways, unless there’s some sort of technological breakthrough. .
So what we’re getting from Apple is the Watch Series 7 and Watch Series 8, which are polished, finished products with very little room for improvement. There’s also the Watch Ultra this year, but it’s a niche product in my opinion, designed and built specifically for mountaineers, hikers, scuba divers and the like. Let’s talk about Watch Series 8.
See the Series 8 design
If you’ve seen an Apple Watch in the past few years, you’ll immediately recognize the Watch Series 8. Even in an iterative design, Apple often changes one element or another (vertical vs. diagonal camera lenses on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13) to distinguish new products from old ones. But not on the Watch Series 8. It looks exactly like the Watch Series 7 and has similar outlines and dimensions. The size of the dial is the same square with rounded edges, the crown is the same and is similarly adorned with a red ring, the aluminum and steel finish of the case is the same, as is the glass layer. The screen is the same 45mm and the brightness of the screen is also the same, up to 1000 nits.
It is also equally stylish and elegant. In general, I find that the Apple Watch offers the best design among all smartwatches. It is neither too big nor too small. It doesn’t have the big chunky look of a chronograph, nor is it diminutive like slimmer smartwatches like the FitBit Versa or even Google’s Pixel Watch.
The watch’s build quality is classic Apple: solid and expensive-feeling when you pick it up. The jewel-like finish, particularly on the steel-cased watch, is remarkable and unique. Watch Series 8 can use existing watch straps.
Apple Watch Series 8: Something New
As I said before, this is a remarkable iterative update. On paper, there are several new updates. The Watch Series 8 is powered by the S8 chip. But in use, I don’t find it any faster or different from the Watch Series 7, which uses the S7 chipset. Additionally, there are two features that are exclusive to the Series 8.
1- The Watch Series 8 comes with a temperature sensor. However, this is an integrated sensor and not an on-demand sensor. This means that the watch can measure your body temperature, but users cannot toggle it. This is probably because skin temperature is notoriously delicate and a one-time reading may not be a good way to read the health of the body. I suspect that Apple is still fine-tuning the algorithms that will allow it to offer on-demand temperature measurements to Watch users or Watch requires more hardware for this feature, hardware that future Watch variants may get.
So what is the temperature sensor on the Apple Watch Series 8 for? Well, it’s part of the watch’s array of sensors that automatically collect information to give you some targeted updates. In Watch Series 8, Apple is using the sensor to check a user’s temperature while they sleep. With the data collected by the sensor, the watch establishes a reference temperature profile for the user. This is unique to the user. Once the baseline is established, the watch tells the user their nighttime temperature. Additionally, for female users, temperature information is also used to check your menstrual cycle and provide your ovulation estimates.
In other words, the way the temperature sensor has been implemented in the Apple Watch Series 8, it will be useful for some users and particularly for female users, but for now it cannot be used to check for “fever”.
2- The second big new feature is accident detection. This is also a feature that the iPhone 14 series has received. Using the sensors inside the watch, Apple will be able to automatically detect if a user is in a car accident. And in case of an accident, the watch will automatically try to make an emergency call.
Aside from these two new features, the Watch Series 8 is just like the Watch Series 7. And that means it’s just as useful, too.
I find the Watch experience, once it’s paired with an iPhone, seamless, powerful, and hassle-free. The Watch Series 8 may feel like vintage wine in an old bottle, but it’s fine wine. The Watch Series 8 health tracking suite is unparalleled. Its fitness tracking is the best in the business, and the kind of data it can offer on various health parameters is really useful. In particular, I find the monitoring of heart health through the Watch Series 8 to be really remarkable. The ability to take an ECG and share it with a doctor in a matter of minutes is a feature that still feels magical. And so does heart health tracking through features like resting heart rate and real-time monitoring of irregular heart rhythms.
The Watch Series 8, like the previous Series 7, is also an excellent communication tool. The cellular variant, which uses the same number that is on your phone via e-SIM functionality, offers the ability to make or receive calls through the watch even when your phone is not with you. Similarly, notifications can be read, managed, and in some cases even responded to through Watch. Siri on the Watch is useful enough and well integrated.
Overall, though, I wish there was more to the Watch Series 8. In particular, I would have liked to see at least some blood pressure monitoring, which has started to appear on some smartwatches. And the temperature sensor, too, would have preferred it to be on demand. But, as I said before, the technology and algorithms for these technologies are probably not up to Apple’s standards yet.
I would also have liked to see better battery life. The Watch Series 8 offers a battery of around 20 hours, which is not enough if Apple also wants us to use it while we sleep. The device is best used as a daytime tool that needs to be charged every night so that it is ready to use again the next day. On paper, the Watch Series 8 has fast charging, but it’s not available in India.
What about the ultra watch?
The question then is: Is the Apple Watch Series worth buying? Not if you’re on Watch Series 6 or Series 7. But if you’re on an older Apple Watch, or buying your first Apple Watch, the answer is: go for it.
The second question is: What about the Watch Ultra? The Apple Watch Ultra offers some nice extras. It has a slightly modified design, a larger size and a larger 49mm screen, a brighter screen with a peak of 2000 nits, a couple more sensors and some unique features such as more accurate GPS, the ability to make sonar the alarm and a longer battery life. 48 hours. But in terms of basic functionality, the Ultra and regular Watch are the same. However, for some people (athletes, mountaineers, people who work in difficult conditions and divers, etc.) the additional features of Ultra offer benefits.
However, for regular users, the Ultra’s cost and size don’t justify it. If you’re just looking to track your fitness and daily physical activity, or you’re looking for a smartwatch that can be a good companion tool to augment the communication features on your phone, get the Watch Series 8. You don’t even need the Watch Ultra. nor will you need it. you will find the additional features it offers useful in your daily routine.