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Apple Watch Series 8: Everything we know so far

Alongside a revamped iPhone 14 series, Apple is expected to upgrade the Apple Watch later this year. Unlike last year, competition from Google’s Wear OS is intensifying. It’ll be competing with the Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 when it breaks cover, and a slew of WearOS 3 watches are finally expected to start trickling out. It’ll be tricky, but the wearables market remains Apple’s to lose.

In the lead-up to this year’s Apple big fall event, rumors have swirled about the company’s hardware lineup. The Apple Watch Series 8 has gotten the short shrift on this, at least compared to the iPhone, but here’s everything we know so far from Apple and third-party sources alike.

Design

Apple Watch Series 7 sitting on top of an iPhone 13 Pro.

With the Apple Watch Series 7, rumors spread that Apple would be working on a squared-off design for the Apple Watch. Obviously, with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 7, that didn’t pan out. Still, there may have been some truth to the rumor. A new but growing-in-prominence leaker, ShrimpApplePro, shared a report that Apple would be including a flat display for the Series 8. With the iPhone having flat edges and the MacBook Air and Pro recently joining them, it was possible these plans mean the company was at one point considering bringing a similar look to the Watch as well.

Unfortunately, a flat Apple Watch may not be ready for 2022. ShrimpApplePro posted in August that the Series 8 is “staying the same as the Series 7 with no design improvement.” This is later backed up by reporting from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in an August edition of the PowerOn newsletter.

Design: sadly it’s staying the same as the series 7 with no design improvement.
The base now doesn’t have titanium anymore.
Aluminum: midnight, starlight, product red, silver
Stainless steel: silver and graphite
The source doesn’t notice any new sensors visually sadly 2/3

— ShrimpApplePro 🍤 (@VNchocoTaco) August 5, 2022

“The regular Apple Watch Series 8 will add a body-temperature sensor, but—like the new Apple Watch SE—will look similar to the previous generation. The big smartwatch announcement will be an Apple Watch Pro with rugged titanium casing, larger screen, and beefier battery,” Gurman wrote.

Apple is also said to be introducing three sizes for the Apple Watch for the first time in a while. Apple currently has a 41mm and a 45mm Series 7 watch at 1.7 and 1.9 inches, respectively. The Series 8 may bring a 47mm watch, with display analysts Ross Young and Jeff Wu both concurring that the aforementioned new size would have a 2-inch display.

Software

A variety of Apple Watches showing new Watch OS 9 features and screens.

At WWDC earlier this year, Apple announced WatchOS 9 which will power the Series 8.  The new update brings in more of the company’s ‘rich complications’ and adds additional watch faces including the Utility, Simple. and Activity Analog. New focus mode features will be added to the Watch, allowing you to tie certain watch faces to select focus modes. As with the iPhone, the Apple Watch will be getting a lot more personal this fall.

Fitness and health features will also see a boost with updates to the ECG functionality, a new Medications app, and updates to the Workout app.

“Users around the world love Apple Watch for helping them stay connected to those they love, be more active throughout the day, and better manage their health,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said at the launch. “This fall, WatchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights across fitness, sleep, and heart health, while providing users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own.”

Hardware and sensors

Apple Watch Pride Watch strap
Apple

Expect the Watch Series 8 to have a compass, GPS, a blood oxygen sensor, an electrocardiogram (ECG), a gyroscope, and additional similar functionality. There have been reports that Apple was testing a blood glucose sensor as well as one that would help with sensing temperature, but the glucose one seems to be unlikely for this year. While the temperature sensor was being saved for next year because it was not quite ready, a later report claims that Apple will bring it to the Series 8 this year. At the very least, it’s a lot more likely to make an appearance than it was earlier in the year.

As for power, Bloomberg’s Gurman has also said that the chip powering the Apple Watch Series 7 will be the same as the 8, cutting down hopes of a processor upgrade.

“For those hoping for a faster chip in this year’s Apple Watch, I’m told the S8 chip will have the same specifications as the S7, which was also the same as the S6. Next year’s models, however, are slated to get an all-new processor,” he wrote.

Models

apple-watch-se-pocket
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Alongside the main Apple Watch Series 8, Gurman reports that Apple is also bringing a rugged Series 8 edition and a low-end Apple Watch SE refresh. The Apple Watch SE would be an update to the last SE, bringing the new S8 processor but little else as far as we know. We’d expect the Watch SE 2 to have a larger display and better sleep tracking, and an always-on display, but it’s up to Apple to fulfill those promises.

As for the rugged Series 8, that’s an Apple Watch that’s built for those who like extreme sports. There have been rugged smartwatches in the past from the likes of Samsung, but this would be the first time Apple would be jumping into that pool — so to speak.

Price and availability

Apple Watch Series 7 sitting on top of an iPhone 13 Pro.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Watch Series 8 is expected to cost the same as the Series 7. This means it’ll start at $399. As for availability, Apple typically launches its Watch alongside the iPhone in September, so that is when we expect to see this make a debut. It may actually be made available later as production allows, but we would expect an announcement in the fall in any case.

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