The new Apple Watch Series 8 is functionally superior

March 21, 2023
3 mins read


Apple Watch Series 8 REVIEW

Apple’s new Series 8 watch is so feature-packed and multifunctional that PAT PILCHER is completely won over.

From $729

The Apple Watch Series 8 might look like the earlier Apple Watch, but big upgrades have been added. So, is the Apple Watch Series 8 all that and a bag of (apple) chips? I went in wrist-first to find out.

Design-wise, the Apple Watch Series 8 is virtually identical to its predecessor. It has the same curved rectangular case with rounded corners, a hidden side button, and Apple’s trademark Digital Crown. It can be had in 41mm or 45mm form factors and is available in aluminium or stainless steel. Both come with Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi support, with optional cellular connectivity for an added cost.

The 1.6-inch x 1.8-inch OLED Retina display is vivid and readable indoors and out. As well as being super bright, the touch screen is also responsive. While square watch faces are not as aesthetically pleasing as traditional round faces, the squarish display does make reading text and notifications easier.

The Aluminium Apple Watch Series 8 comes in Midnight, Red, Silver, or Starlight, and its stainless steel sibling in Gold, Graphite or Silver. The stainless model weighs more and is more durable than its aluminium counterpart. The Series 8 Apple watch is also IP6X certified, so it’s dustproof. A WR50 rating also means it’s water resistant to 50 metres, so swimming in a pool or having a shower is like water off a duck’s quack.


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The Series 8 chips use watchOS9, which comes with a Compass app and (if you’ve paid extra for the cellular model) international roaming. There are also a few new watch faces, a medication app and extra workout, sleep, and ovulation tracking capabilities. A particularly nifty addition for me was watchOS9’s new AFib (atrial fibrillation) History feature. It tracks the frequency of AFib and shows how often I have an irregular heart rhythm.

According to Apple’s blurb, the Series 8 will run for 18 hours with regular use. This can be extended to 36 hours if you fire up the new Low Power Mode. With it, battery-intensive features are disabled. Fall detection, activity and sleep tracking, and overnight temperature sensing are unaffected. With light use, I typically got 40–48 hours, which handily equated to two nights of sleep tracking.

This is a substantial improvement over earlier Apple Watch models and compares well to the Galaxy Watch 5, which gives around 36 hours with light use. Huawei still holds the lead by a massive margin, but their watches lack much of the functionality of the Apple Watch. That said, charging it was no hardship. Attaching the supplied magnetic charging puck for an hour was usually enough to return it to 100 percent charge. Either way, longer battery life would vastly improve the user experience.

The new Compass app in WatchOS9 allows you to create waypoints, marking a location you want to find again, which could be a campsite or even your parked car. The Backtrack feature handily helps you retrace your steps to find your way back to your point of origin.

Apple has carved a real niche with the App Watch’s safety features in a market awash with wearables. These include heart health notifications, Emergency SOS and Fall Detection. Now Apple has also added Crash Detection. In short, the Apple Watch Series 8 will detect if you’re in a car prang and can call emergency services for help if you’re unable to.

Should the unthinkable happen, the Apple Watch will display “It looks like you’ve been in a crash” and gives you the choice of calling emergency services or cancelling the alert. If there’s no response from you after a pre-set countdown, you’re connected to emergency services, and the watch will supply them with your location and emergency contacts. This feature also works even If your Apple Watch isn’t cellularly capable; it’ll instead contact emergency services via your paired iPhone, assuming it’s within Bluetooth range.

Another bonus with Watch OS9 is the sheer amount of fitness tracking capabilities. These include a multisport tracking option for triathletes, heart rate zone data, and custom workouts. The level of detail tracked is mind-boggling. The Apple Watch shows your stride length, running power, heart data, oxygenation, and the list goes on. The only fitness tracking feature lacking is pint lifting. Hopefully, watchOS 10 will have that covered.

Cellular watch owners planning to travel will like the International Roaming feature, which is set to be added to watchOS 9 as an update later this year. With it, you can extend any roaming part of your iPhone calling plan to the cellular-connected Apple Watch. Apple says that international roaming will be supported on the Apple Watch Series 5 to the latest as long as they’re running watchOS 9. Apple also says that this will be supported via 30 carriers worldwide. Here’s hoping 2Degrees, Spark and One get on board too. Calls on the Apple Watch sounded clear, but my fat fingers struggled with texting using the tiny QWERTY keyboard. Voice dictation, however, worked a treat. Notifications were also perfectly delivered thanks to a gentle but loud tone, a haptic buzz and a readable display.

The Apple Watch has an unmatched selection of apps, both baked in and available via the app store. While the battery life is still significantly lower than the Fitbit or Huawei GT Watch, it has improved noticeably with the Series 8, which offers considerably more features and functionality. The Series 8 Apple Watch is a no-brainer if you’re an iPhone user.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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