As a company that is highly self-aware, Apple knows when it has stumbled upon a good thing. And the Apple Watch is the best new category to come out of the Cupertino design HQ in a long time. So much so that the Apple Watch has seen the most iterative changes of any Apple product in recent years. The fact that the Watch bands and straps are compatible all the way up and down the generations proves how subtle the changes to hardware have been!
Apple Watch S8 review
Better than the Ultra?
In the newest iteration, the Watch probably sees the least amount of design change. Which isn’t a bad thing at all since it still remains the most comfortable wearable device for all-day and all-night wear. Both the 41mm and 45mm versions have a slim profile and the edge-to-edge display that fuses with the frame can be as dressy or sporty as the strap you choose. The stainless steel case in graphite of our 45mm review sample ups the “formal” quotient a fair bit though.
The biggest change is on the inside, with new sensors that enable temperature sensing for more accurate analysis of retrospective ovulation so you can make lifestyle changes if necessary. The twin temperature sensors are placed just under the main display and at the bottom, mitigating any ambient effects on the readings. The temperature sensors will also help with wrist temperature during sleep tracking, provided you first set a baseline by wearing the watch to bed for at least five nights. New barometer and gyroscope measure pressure changes and extremely high G-forces, necessary for enabling the headlining feature, Crash Detection. Made possible with improved motion sensors and even more capable accelerometers that can monitor forces up to 256Gs, Crash Detection is one of the primary new hardware-related improvements in the S8 compared to the S7. If set up, it will automatically trigger a call to emergency services, yes, even in India, and even alert emergency contacts. Visually though, this is a case for Holmes, as they look identical with a couple of varying shades of silver to choose from.
What helps exponentially in distinguishing it as a 2022 Apple Watch is WatchOS 9 in fact, which is available for Watches from gen 4 onwards actually. New and super cool watch faces, including a bunch of Nike options, which were earlier available only on the Nike editions, an all-new Compass app that lets you add waypoints and backtrack your way via them easily, a more in-depth sleep tracker that shows data across various stages of sleep (REM, Core, Deep or Awake). Smaller but more meaningful updates include a new Low Power mode that can extend battery life to 36 hours, sacrificing some non-critical background functions periodically and less intrusive banner-type notifications if you’re already staring at the watch screen.
So what makes the S8 so great if it’s such a minor iterative version? Simple. The fact that it makes an already great smart wearable even more accomplished and polished. Sure, Apple could’ve refreshed the design and added a siren, like on the Watch Ultra, but that would’ve stolen the spotlight away from the Ultra as the star of the line-up. For every normal person who doesn’t have to swim or skydive their way into the office, the Watch S8 is more than sufficient for daily use and now only made better with a more holistic approach to workout metrics and sleep tracking, the two areas where the competition repeatedly snapped at Apple’s heels.
The screen, with its bright Always-on display is always visible even when you just give it a sideways glance, without the need to flick your wrist. The 1000nits really make themselves visible in outdoor conditions too and even under the harshest sun, I had no trouble with any of the watch faces or even in resting mode. Over the years, the Apple Watch has proved to be extremely hardy towards casual nicks and bumps against gym equipment, car doors, bags and all sorts of hostile surfaces, without ever cracking on me. The stainless steel version we have on test comes with sapphire crystal instead of the Ion-X glass in the base variant and not only does this make it sturdier, but it even feels smoother to touch. The perception is of course helped by the slick WatchOS running on the S8 chip. Watchface animations, app transitions and starting workouts is totally frictionless and with Siri getting smarter with Indian accents all the time, it makes for a comprehensive tool that effortlessly becomes a part of your life.
If you are OK with charging another gadget every night, that is. A full charge should take about 40 minutes but a quick charge of 8-10 minutes should get you through the night for Sleep Tracking. With an hour-long workout, using remote camera, talking to Siri and replying to messages on my Watch S8 all day, I still went to bed with 10-15% charge every night. Yes, the Low Power Mode will help extend this, but even then, the S8 can’t be taken too far away from a plug point if you’re on an adventure. On the positive side, you have the benefit of taking calls on your watch through its eSIM functionality, or go for a run leaving your phone behind but not your music, thanks to its onboard storage. The wearable ecosystem is perhaps the richest for the Apple Watch, with plenty of amazing workouts, games, utilities and productivity tools available right on your wrist. The nifty SPL meter complication comes in handy to even check out how well the new AirPods Pro (gen 2) cancel out ambient noise.
No other smartwatch has an official strap line-up that is as extensive as the Apple Watch and that alone contributes to one of the biggest reasons behind the Apple Watch’s versatility. Every kind of strap is designed to be comfortable, easy to swap and will undoubtedly outlast the watch itself. The S8 may not look like a big update and it isn’t for S7 owners, but if you are on S6 or earlier, the bigger display, always-on screen and a plethora of sophisticated sensors are reasons enough to upgrade. This really is a computer on your wrist!
A refined and sophisticated wearable that just keeps getting better with every generation. The best smartwatch out there.
|Durability:||IP6X / 50mt WR|