Apple has pampered 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 pick, the Watch Ultra. I’ve been going about my life for a couple of weeks now with the Apple Watch 8 on my wrist, and here’s whether it’s worth investing in. 

Design

The Watch 8 embodies understated elegance, especially in the Starlight colour review unit I have. I find the matching sport band, with a pin-and-tuck closure, 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 an issue outdoors. I liked playing around the endless watch face options to find my favourites, and loved the fact that I could add or opt-out of complications altogether with every single watch face. 

Noteworthy updates

Supplemented by the new watchOS 9, one of the main hardware upgrades the company has been talking about is the two-sensor setup to track temperature. When I wear the watch to sleep, it tracks my baseline temperature and shows me the data after I’ve worn it for five nights straight. Much like any other smartwatch, the Watch Series 8 breaks down the different stages of sleep - the REM cycle, deep sleep, and disturbed sleep. 

Exactly like the new iPhone 14 line-up, the Watch 8 uses a new accelerometer and gyroscope that work in tandem with the barometer, microphone, and GPS to detect a car crash and would automatically connect me to emergency services in case of an accident.

Redesigned Compass 

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 cool to be able to rotate the digital crown to toggle across the various aspects of the compass data. Not that I couldn’t make my way back from a grocery run, but the Backtrack feature efficiently retraced my journey, as I’d switched 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, while cycle deviations can be quite common, they can possibly indicate underlying health conditions, such as fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or thyroid disorders. In the app, I have the option of not just recording my cycle but also exporting it as a PDF to share with my doctor. 

While trying on a HIIT workout, I can see an indicator sliding across five distinct heart rate zones from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest), thereby giving me a clear idea of how much I’m exerting myself. I’m just glad my trainer can’t catch a glance at it sliding down when I’m skip a couple of burpees in a row.

With a water resistance rating of 50 metres, Watch 8 can be used for shallow-water activities, like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, it’s a no-go for other water-based activities, such as scuba diving or water skiing. The watch is also IP6X dust resistant, which means it’s built to let no dust particles in. 

There are a bunch of strap options crafted from leather, stainless steel, or fabric, including an exclusive lineup from Nike as well.  In case none of these are luxe enough for you, the company has partnered with the French luxury design house, Hermès to create watch bands as well.

Battery life

I think the most disappointing aspect of the Watch 8 is its battery life. With almost around-the-clock usage, it keeps me company for just about a day, which makes it yet another gadget that I have to plug in every day. With low-power mode on, Apple claims the watch can go on for almost 36 hours, and you’ll still have access to activity tracking and fall detection. It took me just over an hour for the watch to be charged fully, from zero. 

Verdict 

The Apple Watch S8 is as feature-packed as they come. You have a smartwatch that doesn’t only look good but also performs well across health and fitness parameters, with increased focus on preventive measures. The only downside is that users in India are paying a lot more for a product that comes with a reasonable and justifiable price tag in other countries, for example, the USA. If blood oxygen saturation, ECG monitoring, and an Always-On display are not important to you, you can even consider checking out the Apple Watch SE, which offers the quintessential Apple Watch 8 experience but at a significantly lower cost. 

Price

₹45,900 (41 mm)

₹48,900 (45 mm)

Pros - Great build quality, smooth interface, accurate typing, and voice features

Cons - Expensive in the Indian market

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