Apple has made the Watch Series 8 official today. The latest iteration comes alongside Watch Ultra and the next iteration of its cheaper SE iteration. Here’s everything you need to know.
The announcements were made at Apple’s ‘Far Out’ event which took place at 10AM Pacific Time today. Other product launches included the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and the upgraded AirPods Pro.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Of course, of primary interest to us were the smartwatch announcements. Most of the details were leaked ahead of launch so there were few big surprises on the big day.
Apple Watch Series 8 – what’s new and different?
As is usual with these types of events, the proceedings began with a series of stories on how the Apple Watch helped people in real-life. Not sure there are many fans of this type of self-promotion, but luckily it only lasted a few minutes. We also learned that the Apple Watch has been the world’s best selling smartwatch for the past 7 years.
On to the product news. Here’s a pic of what we got today – an Apple Watch Series 8, a 2022 iteration of SE and for the first time the Apple Watch Ultra. The last on this list might for the first time give Garmin something to think about. The devices are available for pre-order now with shipping starting later this month.
Apple Watch Series 8 – a modest upgrade
- Temperature sensor
- Better cycle tracking with info on ovulation
- Crash Detection
- Low Power mode doubles battery life
- International roaming
The Apple Watch Series 8 is a modest upgrade over its predecessor. It retains all the things we love about Apple Watch, plus more. The screen is edge-to-edge, and there are new Lunar, Astronomy, Metropolitan and Modular watch-faces to choose from. The overall look is unchanged. As are the dimensions.
The main upgrade this time around is a temperature sensor. Overnight measurements are taken every 5 seconds to monitor changes as small as 0.1 degrees Celsius. In the morning you can see the nightly shifts from your baseline temperature. This is very similar to Fitbit’s skin temperature feature. Apple’s tech consists of two temperature sensors – one just below the display, and another one underneath the watch.
In addition to monitoring a persons temperature, this allows for better cycle tracking. That feature was first added 3 years ago on the Apple Watch but now users can get info on ovulation. Temperature taking is useful for those who ovulate, as it indicates ovulation via biphasic shift. Users can get retrospective estimates on when they’ve ovulated including notifications and detailed views of their cycles. Apple says this “takes its commitment to women’s health even further”.
Privacy is at the core of this new feature. The data is encrypted on your device and is only accessible to a person with the passcode or correct authentication. Apple doesn’t have the key to decrypt this data.
Enhanced safety features
So far Apple has had two important safety features – fall detection and emergency SOS. Now it gets one that activates when you find yourself in a car crash.
Crash Detection utilises an improved 3g gyroscope and high g-force accelerometer capable of 256 Gs force detection to figure out when you are involved in a car crash. The company has spent years developing the software from over 1 million hours of real-word driving and crash data. It is capable of identifying front, side-impact, rollovers and rear-end collisions. The feature runs only when you are driving. It also utilises the microphone to record impact and barometer to detect shift in pressure.
If you find yourself in a car crash the feature will automatically alert emergency services and your select contacts. There is also a countdown during which you have time to switch off the alert before it goes out.
Low Power mode & more
Unfortunately battery life is still the same – under normal circumstances 18 hours. But now there’s a Low Power mode that can give you a total of 36 hours on a full charge. It retains the core features of the watch such as activity tracking and fall detection. But switches certain features off such as auto-workout detection and the always-on display. The good news is that will be available on Series 4 and above.
Cellular models will now support international roaming. Simply add your Apple Watch to your iPhone roaming plan. Roaming will be available on more than 30 carriers worldwide by the end of this year.
Availability starts now
Series 8 sells in two sizes, 41 and 45mm. It can be picked up in a choice between four colours of recycled aluminium (midnight, starlight, silver, product red), alongside three stainless steel finishes (silver, gold, graphite). There are more band styles this time around including some new Hermes styles.
The watch sells from $399 for the GPS model, and $499 for cellular. Shipping begins on September 16th but you can pre-order now (check price on Amazon).
And remember, all these features are in addition to new functionality that is due to land with the launch of watchOS 9. This will be available to download on September 16th.
Apple Watch SE (2022) – a cheaper version of the same
- 20% faster than previous SE
- gets new S8 chip
- No temperature sensor
- low cost option
This year the SE is slightly better. Apple is promoting this device as an option for kids who do not have smartphones. It replaces the Series 3 at the bottom of the Apple Watch line.
SE brings many of the features of the regular iteration. This includes the new Crash Detection feature and Fall Detection.
The watch has a 30% larger display than Series 3. And it is 20% faster than the previous SE thanks to the inclusion of the new S8 chip.
That’s pretty much where it ends. Perhaps this is why Apple chose to retain the SE name rather than changing it to SE2.
The GPS version of SE runs for $249 and the cellular can be picked up from $299 (check price on Amazon). That’s above the $199 levels of the Series 3. September 16th is when shipping begins.
Watch Ultra – Apple’s most rugged and powerful watch to date
- Large 49mm display
- Titanium case
- Customisable action button on the side
- 36 hour battery life (60 hours in low power mode)
- Dual-band GPS chip
- 100 meter water resistance
The big news was reserved for the end. An Apple Watch that can survive in extreme environments? We got that today. A device for those into exploration, adventure and endurance.
The Apple Watch Ultra has a 49mm case made from aerospace grade titanium. This extends all the way up to the flat sapphire front crystal display. Apple says the device has its biggest and brightest display (up to 2000 nits) to date.
There’s a new button on-board. It is the action button which can’t be missed considering that its painted in high-contrast orange on the opposite end of the watch from the crown. You can customise this to trigger certain actions.
The Digital Crown is bigger – designed for using gloves. Apple has added a second speaker for more volume, while the three microphones help ensure voice clarity even in windy conditions.
Navigation features play an important role on Watch Ultra. To this end the company has designed a Wayfinder watch-face. It features a compass in the dial and it is customised for a range of conditions. Plus it has night-mode.
There’s waypoint tracking – so you don’t get lost. Plus users can tap into backtrack to retrace their steps. Useful if you are in the back-country. If you find yourself lost activate the 86 decibel siren – its unique sound pattern can be heard 180 meters away.
The GPS is much improved. It now features dual-frequency tech – so L1 and L5 GPS frequencies combined. Apple says this is the most accurate GPS of any sports watch in the market. Garmin and some other brands have already debuted this type of tech in recent years.
Coupled with these features is better water resistance – WR100 to be exact. Divers can utilise a new diving app that shows everything from temperature to depth. In fact, the device comes with a EN 13319 rating – which is the international standard for dive computers. It also carries the MIL-STD 810 rating.
The important news here is the 36 hours battery life on a single charge. This extends to 60 hours with the new battery optimisation setting coming this fall. So double the battery life of the normal iteration.
You can pick up a Watch Ultra for $799 – the price is the same for all models. Available September 23rd, cellular connectivity is built-in by default. You can pre-order now on Amazon (check price).
The watch can be paired with a few new bands for specific environments. One of these is an Alpine Loop with a titanium g-hook which securely fastens. Its rugged band is woven without stitching. Ocean Band is another option. Endurance athletes have a trail loop – made of lightweight textile with increased elasticity.
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