By Josh Teder
It’s been six months since I bought the Apple Watch Series 8, and while it’s a very iterative update, I’m going to take you through whether or not I think it’s ultimately worth the purchase. And the first thing I really like about the Series 8 is its battery life and how fast this thing charges. I can now keep my Apple Watch on my wrist all day and night, more on sleep tracking later, and only charge it when I shower in the morning, and that’s it. I’ve never had to worry about battery life with this Series 8. I’ve never had to worry about it running out of battery on even long travel days or days where I have multiple high-intensity workouts.
This watch also gets you an always-on display, and the Series 8 comes now with a larger screen, which fits a full-size mini keyboard for text replies. That’s another feature I’ve used way more than I thought I would. It’s a great example of something you can actually do with a watch without needing to pull out your phone to finish a task.
Graphite Stainless Steel
Another thing I’ve come to really like is the graphite stainless steel material that I chose for the watch. I agonized a bit over whether to stay with the regular stainless steel material or to go with that darker graphite color. Because the stainless steel version, Series 4, I had gained quite a few scratches over the four years I owned it. You can always polish that material, which is not the case for any other Apple Watch that is stainless steel that is in a different color. To my surprise, over the past six months, this graphite color seems way less prone to scratching than the original stainless steel material I was accustomed to, and the scratches that do appear haven’t been as noticeable.
Sleep Tracking and Hearing Health
Next, let’s talk sleep tracking. In my opinion, sleep is one of the most underrated parts of our lives, and especially our overall health. I’ve been reading this book called Why We Sleep, it’s a fantastic book. It’s not a sponsor. I’ll leave it in the description below if you want to learn more, but one of the biggest problems with sleep in general is, if you’re not getting quality sleep, it can be hard to know that. But thanks to the Apple Watch’s sleep stage tracking, you can now know if you’re getting quality sleep or not. It not only tracks how long you sleep, but also how long you stayed in different stages of sleep, which all do different beneficial things for our bodies.
Now, speaking of health features, another health feature of the Apple Watch that I really dig is hearing health. Having the tools that allow me to measure the decibel level of the noise around me is really useful.
Fitness and Sleep Tracking, Watch Faces, and Media Control
Now, most of the things that I just went over are not new features to the Apple Watch Series 8. And that’s because for me, the Apple Watch Series 8 is pretty much an iterative update for what I use my Apple Watch for, which is mainly fitness and sleep tracking, contextual information from the watch face, and then controlling media. The three activity circles the Apple Watch shows you quickly tell me how I’ve been doing with my move, exercise, and stand goals, and overall help motivate me to get out and exercise. The watch also has automatic workout detection, which is incredibly useful. If you forget to start a workout, it’s even kicked on for bike rides, which is pretty smart. Apple this year also added heart rate zones, which can now help you determine the intensity of a workout.
One of the best uses I found for the Apple Watch is being able to show you a ton of information at a glance. Thanks to watch faces like the Infograph face, you can now show a lot of information on the watch with complications, and there are quite a few to choose from. And you also have the ability to change the color of them and the rest of the watch face to match the color of your Apple Watch bands.
Right now, I have my watch set to show me my activity level, the current temperature at my location, including the high and low temperatures for the day, and upcoming events. I also have on my calendar when the sun will set, current weather conditions, and, of course, the time and date.
You can also use the watch complications exactly like you use lock screen widgets on iOS. You can use them to show you contextual information, but you can also use them as shortcuts. For example, I have both the Pocket Casts and Fitness complications, which allow me to open those apps up on the Apple Watch in a single tap from the watch face.
Now, the last thing that I mainly use my Apple Watch for is controlling media. Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and of course, Apple Music all have Apple Watch apps that make it easy to control and play music, either on your phone or on the watch itself. The Apple Watch Now Playing app will also allow you to control other Apple devices, like music playing on a group of AirPlay 2 speakers or something playing on your Apple TV. This, for me, over the past six months and actually the past few years now, has just been a fundamental core feature of the Apple Watch experience.
For me, it’s a feature that I think the Apple Watch does better than any other device you can get from Apple because the watch is always on my wrist and easily accessible. The Spotify app in particular is very good because of Spotify Connect. Even if you’re playing music from Spotify on a device that Apple isn’t even aware of, like a Nest Hub, your Apple Watch will still let you control that device right from your wrist.
What about notifications?
Now, one other use for the Apple Watch that can be quite useful is for clearing and responding to notifications. But because notifications just constantly disrupt my focus, this has been something I’ve relied less on the Apple Watch for over time. And instead, what I’ve done is just turn notifications off for the majority of apps on my phone.
New Series 8 features
Next, let’s walk through a few more new things with this Apple Watch. The first is the temperature sensing for cycle tracking. Now, this isn’t a feature I’ve been able to test personally, but it’s a pretty big deal for anyone out there who ovulates and wants to be able to predict when their next period will be.
Now, depending on where you live, you may have some security concerns with your watch tracking this sensitive information. And this information, along with all of your health data tracked from your Apple Watch, is stored locally on your iPhone. It’s encrypted, and it’s never uploaded to Apple servers.
Another new feature you get with Series 8 is the SpO2 sensor that measures blood oxygen levels. Because this feature isn’t really intended for a medical use or even self-diagnosis, you’re only really getting a fitness benefit with it. And for that reason, I haven’t really found it to be all that useful. I’m certainly more neutral on it.
Now, another new feature with this watch is car crash detection. It’s certainly a nice-to-have feature, and actually, I think it makes more sense to build that feature into a watch versus a phone since a watch should be more accessible to you after a crash.
Also, a new one on this Apple Watch is the S8 chip, but I haven’t really noticed a huge difference in performance between the Series 8 and my Series 4. Both of them are pretty good.
Another really cool feature of this watch that I haven’t gotten the chance to use that much is the compass backtrack feature. When you’re out for a walk, for example, you can open up the compass app on the Apple Watch and mark the entrance to a trail. And then if you get lost on your hike, your Apple Watch will show you the way back to the trail head and will use GPS to guide you back to the start of your hike, which is pretty awesome.
The last thing to talk about before I get into the downsides is the Apple Watch app. It’s well-designed, but you’ll only really use it when setting up your Apple Watch. Apple does a great job including a Discover section where you can learn more about how to use your watch.
Downsides and Recommendation
This is also a reminder that you still need an iPhone to get an Apple Watch. All right, now let’s go through the things I haven’t liked about the Series 8. First up is digital crown misfires. This has been an issue I’ve actually run into quite frequently with the Series 8, and it’s not something I experienced with my previous Apple Watch.
But I’ve got my headphones in and I’m going about my day, and this is almost always when I’m listening to something on my phone, not on the watch itself. The volume on those headphones will just rapidly increase or decrease. Specifically, I noticed this one time when I was just kind of moving my wrists down.
At first, I thought the digital crown was getting caught on clothing and turning up the volume of whatever was playing because I turned on Audio launch audio apps on the watch in Settings. However, now I’ve noticed this behavior even when I’m not wearing long sleeves. So I don’t really know what to make of it, and it’s certainly annoying.
Other than that, I haven’t run into any issues with the Series 8. Overall, while I think it is an iterative update to the Apple Watch Series, the Apple Watch remains a fantastic companion device to anyone who uses an iPhone. And in general, for whatever Apple Watch you get, I recommend always upgrading to a version that comes with the sapphire crystal display because that screen is pretty much impossible to scratch.
I’ve banged this watch as well as my previous Apple Watches into all sorts of things, and I have never seen a scratch on any of my Apple Watches with the sapphire crystal display. And if you’d like to learn more about the different types of Apple Watch Series 8 versions that you can get and check their current prices, I’ve left links in the description below where you can do that.
And the next thing I think you should watch is the review I did of the iPhone 14 Pro. This is the iPhone that Apple designed to work perfectly with the Apple Watch Series 8, which comes with the new Dynamic Perspective. As well as my long-term review of iOS 16, which covers Apple’s new lock screen, widgets, and so much more. You can get to both of those videos by clicking the links below. For Six Months Later, I’m Josh Teder. Thanks for reading!
Other videos you should check out:
iPhone 14 Pro Review – 6 Months Later: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-VOCta0V2I&t=1s
iOS 16 Review – 6 Months Later: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ4wb3dU6Pk
• Apple Watch Series 8: https://amzn.to/3MnW9f8
• iPhone 14 Pro: https://amzn.to/3UcsFCM
• Why We Sleep: https://amzn.to/3ZV10Y4