2022 is the year of the Apple Watch Series 8, the latest in Apple’s celebrated line of smartwatches. While this year’s model continues with much the same design as 2021’s Apple Watch Series 7, it introduces new safety features, a temperature sensor, and the all-improved watchOS 9. Not only that, but the eighth entry in the Apple Watch series also brings a new premium model, the Apple Watch Ultra. It takes everything that makes the Apple Watch 8 great and amplifies it, featuring bigger dimensions, rugged (yet elegant) titanium casing, and an exclusive Wayfinder watch face (which is aimed at hikers).
The Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are the two newest Apple smartwatches available today, yet September of this year also brought the Apple Watch SE 2, equipped with similarly great battery life, faultless software, and highly comprehensive fitness tracking. This article offers a roundup of these three new models while also providing an overview of earlier Apple Watches no longer sold directly by Apple.
The Apple Watch Ultra — officially launched on September 23, 2022 — is the newest and most state-of-the-art Apple smartwatch available today, closely followed by the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE (2022), both of which were released on September 16, 2022. These models usurped the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE (2020), respectively, with these two models discontinued by Apple.
Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 might just be the perfect smartwatch. While superficially similar to the Series 7, it nonetheless provides refinements that help to advance it beyond its predecessor. This includes car crash detection, tracking for different stages of sleep, and a new temperature sensor, which is designed to track subtle changes resulting from changes to a user’s diet, fitness, and overall health, providing users with a more nuanced and finely grained global picture of their overall well-being.
Other than that, it carries over many of the software and hardware features that made the Apple Watch Series 7 such a supreme wearable. The Apple S8 is at least as powerful as its predecessor, its 1.9-inch Retina OLED display is sumptuous and detailed, and watchOS 9 provides the kind of intuitive UX that has helped make the Apple Watch the world’s most popular device of its ilk.
Being an Apple Watch, users also have the option of various colors (graphite, silver, gold), as well as an ever-expanding array of bands. Needless to say, link-up with your iPhone is fluid and seamless, while the fitness- and health-tracking features are really second to none, helping users to set goals for themselves and track their progress.
Apple Watch Ultra
If the Apple Watch Series 8 is the perfect smartwatch, then the Apple Watch Ultra is something else entirely. While it keeps all of the features that make the Series 8 such a standout smartwatch, it also adds a few premium extras of its own. Most noticeably, this includes its luxurious titanium casing, which houses its larger dimensions and display, providing some serious durability. On top of this, it incorporates a significantly larger battery, which has twice the staying power of the Series 9, capable of lasting around 36 hours as opposed to 18. There’s also a Depth app for divers and a dual-frequency GPS (helping hikers to monitor their positions more precisely), making it a touch more useful as a fitness-tracking device than its less expensive stablemate.
The Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t stop there with the special features, with its exclusive Wayfinder watch face providing walkers and hikers with such data as elevation, incline, latitude, and longitude. Then there’s the extra hardware button on the left-hand side of the device that can be programmed to work with certain apps in certain ways, making it more convenient to use. It’s also worth mentioning that its 1.92-inch Retina OLED display is brighter than the Series 8, maxing out at 2,000 nits compared to 1,000.
It’s almost tiring to run through the additional features the Apple Watch Ultra packs into its small volume, such is its prowess. Suffice it to say, you can’t really find a better smartwatch at the moment.
Apple Watch SE (2022)
The second generation of Apple’s Special Edition smartwatch, the Apple Watch SE (2022) is serious value for money. While it recycles the same exact design as the Apple Watch Series 6 (and its predecessors), it contains the S8 processor of the Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, making it highly capable as a device. It also has as long-lasting a battery as the Series 8, and without the always-on screen of the latter, it can usually survive a little longer without needing a recharge.
While the SE 2 doesn’t have as many sensors as the Series 8 (lacking the new temperature sensor and also the ECG monitor), it nonetheless enables users to track their health and fitness in a suitably comprehensive way. For example, it provides notifications for abnormally high or low heart rates, fall and noise detection, menstrual cycle tracking, crash detection, and sleep tracking. It can also track a wide range of workouts, with the watch displaying the user’s heart rate, active calorie burn, and other metrics as they exercise.
Yes, it may not have the wow factor of the Apple Watch Ultra, but in terms of its core functionality, the Apple Watch SE (2022) is arguably more or less as good. It’s also much cheaper, making it a real winner in our book.
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 — while it brought some subtle visual updates — was still very similar to the earlier Apple Watch Series 6. That said, the Retina screen is 20% larger with a 1.7mm bezel that’s 40% thinner than previous models. A 2.5D screen curve flows over the edge of the body, and is covered in a thick, crack-resistant crystal surrounding the rounded corners of the case. The larger, always-on screen fits 50% more text and is large enough to display a full keyboard. The screen is 70% brighter than previous models when viewed indoors, while the new IP6X dust resistance certification teams up with the WR50 water resistance rating of the previous model.
The aluminum model comes in five colors, Midnight, Starlight, green, blue, and Product Red, supporting new watch faces designed for the larger, curved screen. The Series 7 is also larger, with 41mm or 45mm case sizes, but maintains compatibility with all existing Apple Watch bands from the first version on.
The Series 7 is powered by Apple’s S7 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor, just like the S6. It has the same sensor array on the back, to measure heart rate and blood oxygen and can take an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading. There’s a new fall-detection feature for workouts and when cycling, and via watchOS 8, the Series 7 also measures sleep respiratory rate.
Battery life lasts around 18 hours before needing a recharge. Fast-charging technology moves the Apple Watch Series 7’s battery to an 88% charge in just 45 minutes.
Apple Watch SE (2020)
To put it reductively, the Apple Watch SE is basically the Apple Watch Series 6, except it doesn’t have an always-on display, an electrocardiogram sensor, a blood-oxygen monitor, or the latest S6 processor. Otherwise, it’s a highly powerful and usable smartwatch, albeit a cheaper one. Really, the Apple Watch SE looks virtually identical to the Apple Watch 6. It features a 1.78-inch Retina display with a 326 pixel-per-inch density, which is identical to the Series 6’s display. It also offers a wide range of bands and straps, although it doesn’t come with the option of having it in either stainless steel or titanium.
Aside from the missing ECG and SpO2 sensors, the Apple Watch SE is also a very comprehensive health-and-fitness tracker. As with the Apple Watch Series 6, you can use it to monitor your heart rate and track your sleep, while it also provides copious amounts of data for a variety of workouts.
As for the general user experience, the SE’s harnessing of the S5 processor makes it very quick. It works seamlessly with a wide range of apps, from social media applications such as Twitter to more productivity-focused software like Microsoft Teams. As with other Apple Watches, the Digital Crown dial remains intuitive and responsive, allowing you to navigate watchOS with a minimum amount of fuss.
The Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, while you can also spend $50 extra to have a version with cellular connectivity (letting you make telephone calls). Regardless of which option you go for, you’ll have one of the best smartwatches around.
Apple Watch Series 6
The Apple Watch Series 6 is the best discontinued smartwatch you can find (if you’re lucky) right now. Starting at $399, it covers every base you’d want a smartwatch to cover. Its health-and-fitness tracking is as comprehensive as anything else out there, its software is probably the smoothest on any watch out right now, and its powerful Apple S6 processor can handle any task you’d need from a smartwatch.
Its standard model comes in a lightweight aluminum frame, although you can also choose to spend more to have either stainless steel or titanium instead, which are more durable but a little heavier. The Apple Watch Series 6’s screen makes the always-on screen more visible and useful in the vast majority of conditions. Another feature is the watch’s blood oxygen (SpO2) sensor, which measures whether there’s enough oxygen in the blood to give you a rough idea of how quickly you recover after vigorous exercise, for example. It really is one of the best fitness trackers out there, while its software is seamless and its battery provides around a day-and-a-half of use under a moderate usage regime. Though it’s no longer sold on Apple’s website, it’s still available both new and refurbished from popular vendors like Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
Apple Watch Series 5
Launched in September 2019, the Apple Watch Series 5 brought the always-on display to the Apple Watch line for the very first time, and it also further cemented the Apple Watch’s reputation for slick software and rigorous fitness-tracking features.
While you won’t be able to buy it directly from Apple, a quick browse shows that it can be found refurbished on sites such as Amazon and Best Buy, and from deep discounters like Dailysale. Some new models are even still available on Amazon.
Apple Watch Series 4
Dating back to 2018, the Apple Watch Series 4 received a perfect 5-out-of-5 score from us when we reviewed it, calling it “Apple’s finest hour in years.” It’s still a great smartwatch three years later, and while it lacks the always-on display of the Series 5 and 6, it does more or less everything else you’d want a smartwatch to do. Its design is (unsurprisingly) beautiful, its 1.78-inch Retina OLED screen is bright and crisp, and its fitness monitoring is reliably accurate. Given it’s compatible with watchOS 7, you’ll also get all of the latest Apple Watch software innovations.
It is quite hard nowadays to find a new Apple Watch Series 4 online, although you can buy it renewed/refurbished on Amazon, Best Buy, and eBay and deeply discounted on Dailysale. Some new models are even still available on Amazon.
Apple Watch Series 3
Yes, it may seem odd to include the 2017 Apple Watch Series 3 in an article on the latest Apple Watches. However, Apple does indeed continue to sell the Apple Watch 3 on its website as a low-cost model, having discontinued the Series 4, 5, and 6. The Apple Watch Series 3 remains a very good smartwatch and was the first Apple Watch to offer a 4G LTE cellular connection.
The Apple Watch 3 now begins at $199, making it $80 and $200 cheaper than the standard models of the Apple Watch SE and Series 7, respectively. And for that price, you get a whole lot of features, including a 1.65-inch Retina OLED display packing 303 ppi, the dual-core S3 processor, long battery life, a faultless software experience (it’s compatible with watchOS 7), and the customary range of useful health-and-fitness tracking apps.
While the Apple Watch Series 3 lacks some of the newer sensors you get with the later watch generations, it still offers heart-rate tracking and the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and barometer you need to track many workouts. Because it supports watchOS 8, it offers basically the same software tricks as newer devices, such as sleep tracking and automatic hand-washing detection. Sure, it may not be quite as fast as the Series 7 (or SE), but it still outperforms many other smartwatches.
Apple Watch Series 2
Now we’re really going back in time. Launched in 2016, the Apple Watch Series 2 provided a noticeable leap forward compared to its predecessor. It added waterproofing (making it great for swimmers), a brighter OLED display, the dual-core S2 processor, and its own GPS sensor. Taken together, this truly promoted the smartwatch to the ranks of full-fledged health and fitness tracker, while the inclusion of watchOS 3 improved messaging and offered a number of relaxation features. That said, the Series 2 was let down slightly by relatively short battery life.
You’d be very hard-pressed to find a new Apple Watch Series 2 for sale these days. The likes of Amazon and Best Buy no longer stock it, while even eBay lists only secondhand models and Dailysale only has refurbished models.
Apple Watch Series 1
If you’re a historian of consumer tech, you may be interested in checking out the Apple Watch Series 1. Released back in 2015, it was Apple’s first smartwatch, and while it lacks the refinement and power of its successors, it proved highly successful. You won’t get as many fitness-tracking features as you would with the Series 6 or SE (or 5, 4, 6, or 3), but it is compatible up to watchOS 4, which provides support for a wider variety of workout types, as well as more watch faces, improved heart-rate visualizations, and a new Music app.
Unsurprisingly, you’re not going to find this for sale new from Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy. Instead, you’ll have to go to eBay or Dailysale, where you’ll find only pre-owned and refurbished models for sale.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is the newest Apple Watch, along with the super-powered Apple Watch Ultra and the value-for-money Apple Watch SE 2. While the Ultra has the most features, the biggest battery, and is simply the most eye-catching in terms of design and size, the Series 8 retains most of what it offers, including the same sharp screen, the same processor, and pretty much all of the same fitness- and health-tracking tools. Much the same goes for the SE 2 in relation to the Series 8, with the cheaper device lacking an always-on display (as well as the ECG and blood-oxygen monitors) but nonetheless offering nearly everything else.
Of course, many of the smartwatches Apple has discontinued are also worth checking out if you can find them online, with the Series 7 barely indistinguishable from the newer Series 8. Likewise, if you already have the Series 7 or 6, you may prefer to wait another generation or two before upgrading, such is the similarity between the more recent entries in the Apple Watch series.
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