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Apple Watch Series 8 review: The best Apple Watch gets better

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Have an iPhone? Looking for a smartwatch? The Apple Watch Series 8 is the new go-to pick. It’s powerful, familiar, and oh-so-good at everything it does.
In 2022, the Apple Watch is a known quantity — and one of the most recognizable products in Apple’s portfolio. That’s why when you look at the Apple Watch Series 8, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It’s bound to be easy to wear, have plenty of health features, and offer the best software you can find on any smartwatch.
After wearing the Apple Watch Series 8 for a while, I can confidently say that all of those things are true. Wearing the Series 8 has reminded me a lot of my Apple Watch Series 7 I’ve worn for the past year because, well, the Series 8 is practically identical to it. It’s very similar to the iPhone 14 in that way. Apple didn’t reinvent the wheel with the Apple Watch Series 8, and that’s because it’s already so far ahead of the curve that it doesn’t need to.
Call it “boring” or “bland” if you want, but that doesn’t stop the Apple Watch Series 8 from being the best smartwatch money can buy.
What’s going on with the Apple Watch Series 8’s design? Well, it looks like an Apple Watch. Apple’s had a very clear and focused design approach ever since the original Apple Watch debuted in 2014, and while new models have improved things over the years, the general aesthetics haven’t changed very much. When you have a design foundation that’s this good, it’s understandable why that is.
Whether you get the Apple Watch Series 8 in the 41mm or 45mm trim (the version I have), both feel fantastic to wear all day long — and even throughout the night if you’re interested in sleep tracking. The watch sits comfortably on my wrist, the squircle shape is one I personally love to look at, and a WR50 rating provides waterproofing for up to 50 meters of submersion.
Apple’s execution of the Apple Watch’s design is also as excellent as it’s ever been. When you scroll through menus or notifications, the Digital Crown feels wonderful to interact with. Pressing the side button below it offers great tactility to swap apps or open Apple Wallet. When you’re ready to put on a new watch band, Apple’s band system is among the easiest to use.
If you’ve never liked how the Apple Watch looks, the Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t do anything to change that opinion. But if you do like how the Apple Watch looks and feels, the Series 8 is more of what you love.
The standout feature of the Apple Watch Series 7 was its larger screen and slimmer bezels, enabling you to see more content on the tiny display than ever before. The Apple Watch Series 8 recycles that same design, and just like last year, it creates a truly impressive viewing experience. Watch faces have room to shine, notifications creep out to the very edges of the screen, and navigating apps/menus never feels restrictive — especially on the larger 45mm model.
And it’s not just the size of the screen that’s so impressive. Colors pop with vibrancy, text is easily readable, and the 1,000 nits of peak brightness ensure you can easily read the watch even in broad daylight.
When you’re not interacting with apps or notifications, the Apple Watch Series 8 has an always-on display to show a dimmed version of your watch face at all times. The Apple Watch has had an always-on display since the Series 5, so while it’s nothing new, it still remains one of my favorite Apple Watch features. Being able to subtly glance down and see the time, weather, and other info without needing to raise my wrist is enormously convenient — and one of the biggest missing features from the cheaper Apple Watch SE 2.
The market for health/fitness trackers in 2022 is crowded, to say the least. From Fitbit, Garmin, Oura, Amazon Halo, Whoop, Amazfit, and more, the myriad of options to track your daily activity often feels overwhelming. Despite all of that, Apple has done an incredible job of making the Apple Watch’s health and activity suite feel simultaneously approachable, intuitive, and comprehensive.
The crux of activity tracking on the Apple Watch Series 8 revolves around your activity rings — more specifically, your Move, Exercise, and Stand rings. Each one encourages you to burn calories, perform X amount of exercise minutes, and get up and stand throughout the day. It’s one of the most recognizable activity metrics around and has created something of a cultural phenomenon to “close your rings” every day.
If you’ve ever used an Apple Watch, you’ll know precisely why that is. Aiming to close your rings each day is fun, challenging, and a clear metric to work toward. It’s still not great at promoting recovery days, but third-party apps (like Gentler Streak) help to fill that void.

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