Back in September, Apple’s Far Out event introduced us to its latest generation of shiny new toys: one of which was the Apple Watch Series 8.
A couple of months have passed since then, and that means a couple of things. One: that you may be considering an Apple Watch Series 8 as a Christmas gift this year, and two: that I’ve had a couple of months to get to know this little device.
There is certainly no shortage of available Apple Watch reviews for folks interested in purchasing one for themselves or as a gift, so I figured that as someone with a keen interest in health and fitness, it may be useful to give you my views on the best health-related features the Series 8 has to offer.
If you’re considering taking one home for yourself or gifting it to the wellness fan in your life, here is a quick, fuss-free run through what I thought.
Real Life Review: Apple Watch Series 8
First off, here are the key specs you need to know about when it comes to the Apple Watch Series 8.
- 45-mm or 41-mm
- IP6X dust-resistant
- Always-On Retina display
- Blood Oxygen app
- ECG app
- High- and low-heart-rate notification
- Irregular rhythm notification
- Temperature sensing
- Cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimate
- Emergency SOS
- International emergency calling
- Fall Detection
- Crash Detection
- Available mobile connectivity
- Family Setup — pair multiple watches with one iPhone
Speaking from a health and fitness perspective, there’s a lot of good to talk about here. The Apple Watch Series 8 has expanded on existing tech offered by the Apple Watch to make workouts and general health monitoring that little bit easier. I’d say that overall, there are three features that stood out most to me, however.
With the Series 8, Apple has rolled out wrist temperature measurements which can be used to help people who menstruate to track their cycles more effectively. If you’re someone who can’t be bothered with another app to keep on top of their monthly period (me), hearing that the Apple Watch can now fold this capability into your Health app is likely music to your ears.
The design of the tracking is simple and easy to navigate, and you can very quickly add in symptoms (if you wish) as well as forecast when your next period, or fertile window, is expected to be. Big fan.
It’s also worth noting that all of this information is private to your devices, and data is encrypted when your phone is locked.
Heart rate zones and customised workouts
While I was already a fan of the Fitness features on the Apple Watch, Series 8 has elevated the experience that little bit more. Most notably, the Workouts app now allows you to monitor your workouts according to heart rate zone and/or intervals.
For me, someone who has a history of using heart rate to monitor how I approach my workouts (especially during runs), this breakdown of information is really useful. It’s also displayed in a way that’s really clear.
With heart rate zones, you can leave your watch to work out zones for you automatically, or you can manually update those if you prefer (just make sure you know what a healthy range is before you play around too much here).
In addition to this, the Series 8 offers the option for trainers to customise their own workouts if the general workout options aren’t your vibe.
Another new offering with the Apple Watch Series 8 is the introduction of a new Medication app. I quite like this one because I am useless when it comes to remembering to take medication and often rely on my Reminders app to give me a nudge.
Depending on how visible you’re comfortable making your medication requirements, you can list specific names or nicknames and even sort meds according to what they look like – if that’s useful for you.
It’s not a must, as you can stick with Reminders if you like, but for me, it’s a nifty addition that fits in with the rest of the Apple Watch health elements.
What’s not so good?
Some of the features I’ve enjoyed most while using the Apple Watch Series 8 come with watchOS 9, so it’s not really enough to justify the $629 (plus) cost of a new watch if you already have one. You can probably get a fairly close experience with a Series 7 watch – though, of course, not all of the new features will be available on older models.
The new Apple Watch is fantastic, but I don’t find it different enough to the Series 7 to say it’s a must-buy.
Apple Watch Series 8: The verdict
If you’re a fitness and health fan – or you’re shopping for one – adding the Apple Watch Series 8 to your list of devices will come with some incredibly useful features. Chances are it will get used a whole damn lot.
The cost of the watch starts off at $629, which is not a whole lot more than what the Series 7 is going for right now, so if you’re getting your first Apple Watch, it very well may be worth going for the newest model. But if you’re considering upgrading and feel dissuaded by the price, you can probably stick with the model you’ve got – or even just grab an SE.
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