The Series 8 is not a huge upgrade over the Series 7. It has the same design, same screen, and essentially the same chip. It includes a temperature sensor that is very good if you are tracking your cycle or temperature changes during sleep, but currently not much else. It includes an improved gyroscope and accelerometer that can detect crashes. Otherwise it’s a Series 7 and you could save some money one if you don’t need those features.
It’s a lot more attractive if you are upgrading several generations like I am. I’m upgrading from a Series 4, which was the first model to include the larger screen and slightly larger 40 and 44mm cases. It introduced a faster 64-bit chip and the ECG sensor. The Series 8 brings all of the improvements that I’ve missed out on including:
- The always-on display, more internal storage, and the compass from the Series 5
- The 2.5x brighter always-on display, blood-oxygen sensor, always-on altimeter, fast charging, and 20% faster chip from the Series 6
- The 20% larger and 70% brighter display, crack-resistant face, even-faster fast charging, and on-screen keyboard from the Series 7
The biggest game changer for me is the always-on display. I’ve used an Apple Watch since the beginning (a Series 0 way back in 2015), so I’ve become accustomed to raising my wrist to see the time. It is a bit odd to no longer have to do that just to glance at the time, but it’s very natural and I got used to it quickly. It’s bright enough to catch the time at a glance and it feels as if it springs to life quickly when I need to see everything, probably because I’ve already started processing the information on the screen. It’s also kind of neat the way that the watch faces change in low power mode to optimize the use of pixels of the display; it gives each face a second style.
The extra screen real estate is nice as there are some watch faces that allow for additional complications, and the keyboard is far more usable than I expected it to be. Everything in the UI is also just ever-so-larger, which never hurts.
I’ve always wanted a red watch but have stuck with space gray because I’ve been locked into the Nike watch series. Now that Nike watch faces are available on all models, I can finally have my (PRODUCT) RED version. I’ve been infatuated with Apple’s RED products since the first RED iPod nano was released in 2006, but have always missed out on them. I already had an iPod nano when the RED one came out and the RED iPhone 7 came out during my regular skip-year. By the time I had a chance with the iPhone 8, Apple had segmented the line with the X (and eventually Pro) which do not get fun colors. This watch is the first RED I’ve ever purchased for myself. I really enjoy the color. It’s a deep crimson and contrasts nicely with the black display.
Even though I’ve been fantasizing about it for years I had a brief moment of buyers remorse after my purchase. I panicked thinking it wouldn’t match with anything but that quickly faded when I opened the box. Speaking of the box, it’s one of Apple’s best. I’ve been loving Apple’s packaging since before unboxing was cool and it really hits the mark with the RED watch.
The outer box is a cardboard wrapper that has a cool red pattern on the inside facing the two product boxes. The bottom box is for the band and looks like the box you’d get if you purchased a band on its own. Apple no longer includes the band in the same box as the watch like it used to, probably to make customization easier at purchase time. There is some magic in the watch box though, with a bright red edge on the standard documentation slip and a nice crimson cardboard wrap around the watch itself.
I’m also happy to have another Apple-branded watch band. At $50 a piece minimum, Apple’s bands are a luxury that I choose not to afford. I have a bunch of silicon non-Apple bands, but Apple’s fluoroelastomer bands are quite nice. They never get sticky or collect lint like third-party bands and they have a nice weight to them. Apple limits the RED watch to two bands – a red sport band or braided solo loop. I opted for the sport band.
I’m far more excited about the compass than I thought I’d be. I’ve had a compass on my iPhone since my first 3GS (back in ’09 when Facebook was still for young people) and have probably used it 10 times ever. Something about having it on my wrist seems far more compelling, especially with WatchOS 9’s addition of the Backtrack feature that will chart your path and lead you back through it. It’s not like I go hiking often (or ever) but there’s something about the compass that I find intriguing. I bet I’ll use it more this year than I’ve used it on my phone in the 13 years its been there.
Overall I’m happy I bought it. It looks great, it’s snappy, and it has all the features I want. I’d love to see a software update in the future that would enable it to take my direct temperature, but I don’t know if that’s even possible. Even so, I think I’ll be keeping this watch until I replace it with a Series 12.