Sitting between the new Apple Watch Ultra (the top-end variant designed for outdoor activities and athletes) and the Apple Watch SE (this year’s entry-level variant with some trimmed-down features), the Watch Series 8 is similar to the Series 7 Looks great but comes with some minor updates. But is it worth the upgrade? Here’s my long term experience with the watch.
Like the previous generation Apple Watch, this Series 8 is also available in 41mm and 45mm sizes. The 41mm is perfect for smaller wrists and the latter for larger ones. I love wearing large watch dials, and I was glad that my review unit was a 45mm cased one.
The watch boasts of the same iconic Apple Watch rectangular design with rounded corners and a smooth finish. Last year, Apple increased screen estate by about 20 percent without increasing the case size. This meant more screen estate to interact with. But the most impressive thing about Apple is that previous generations of Watch bands (including the first generation Watch) are compatible with this latest watch. Having a collection of silicone bands, leather bands in different colors and even stainless steel bands, I often switch between bands to match my daily attire.
Focused on health and overall fitness, the Watch Series 8 tracks step count, exercise, heart rate, blood oxygen and EKG, among others. What’s new onboard are two temperature sensors – one on the back crystal near the skin and another below the display – that enable advanced features for women’s health, a new crash detection feature and low-power mode.
While I’ve never found Apple’s bicycle tracking to be accurate in the past, the feature is now vastly improved. Taking this cycle tracking feature forward, Apple is now helping women understand when they are likely to ovulate. This can be useful for those trying to conceive or trying to avoid pregnancy.
How does this work? Apple says that wrist temperature is a good indicator of overall body temperature during the night. The sensors sample the temperature of the wrist every five seconds during sleep and measure changes as small as 0.1°C. And to get retrospective ovulation estimates, both cycle tracking and sleep tracking have to be turned on. The watch then uses the wrist temperature data to detect the slight rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation. And by using advanced algorithms with logged cycle data, it estimates the day ovulation occurred. It takes about two cycles to estimate. And the results, as Apple says, are only retrospective estimates for better family planning. For those concerned about data and privacy, all this data remains secure on the device.
While Apple is making a big deal of sleep tracking and sleep cycles, this feature has been available on Fitbit for years (and an accurate one, too). Apple’s Sleep app shows REM, core, or deep sleep and records every time I wake up during the night. The findings were accurate. But unlike other fitness bands, it doesn’t automatically detect sleep and has to be activated manually. However, Apple has this Wind Down feature to help users relax and prepare for bedtime. While this worked out well as a routine, the past month and a half had been stressful due to a family emergency, and varying sleeping hours. As a result, there were some days when the sleep statistics were not accurate. It’s in situations like these where automatic sleep tracking works better.
health check up
What I love about the Apple Watch is the key tracking. And it came in handy during a recent family emergency when I had to share a family member’s heart rate, oxygen level readings and ECG with the doctor in the middle of the night. As the Apple Watch is not a medical-grade device, we followed it up with a medical test in the morning. However, the clock readings were in sync with the reported results.
Car crash detection is another notable feature. Apple says the watch can detect if you’ve been in a serious car crash using the combined power of an improved 3-axis gyroscope and a new G-Force accelerometer. While I couldn’t test it for obvious reasons, I did hook it up to an RC car to see if it worked. Well, I couldn’t fool the clock. But when an actual accident is detected, the feature is supposed to connect with emergency services and automatically notify emergency contacts.
Battery backup of the Apple Watch has improved a lot over the years. Nevertheless, there are situations when it is still on your wrist but practically not charged. The new low-power mode will prove to be a boon for such situations. Unlike Power Reserve, where only the time was visible, this mode would only disable certain power-draining apps to extend battery life. And it works. Using this mode, I easily got over two days without a charger.
Focused on holistic health and fitness, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best in the business. It only works with iPhones. It’s an excellent purchase if you’re new to the Apple ecosystem. Or using a Series 6 or older generation watch and planning to upgrade. But still not compelling enough to upgrade from the Apple Watch Series 7.
Price: Rs 48,990