If you have an iPhone and want a smartwatch, buying an Apple Watch is a breeze, and for most people the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best option available. But with all the new Apple watches coming out, deciding which Apple Watch to choose is harder than ever. This year, Apple has three new models: the Apple Watch Series 8 (which replaces last year’s Series 7), the second-generation Apple Watch SE, and the expensive, durable, and huge Apple Watch Ultra.
The Apple Watch Series 8 offers advanced health and fitness features, car crash detection, and all the notifications and third-party apps people expect from a smartwatch, and has the best combination of features and price for most people. If you don’t need the Series 8’s health-tracking features, which include temperature sensors for more detailed menstrual cycle data, the second-generation Apple Watch SE is our budget pick. Our upgrade pick, the Apple Watch Ultra, is designed for athletes, but it’s also great for anyone who wants a gigantic screen and long battery life.
Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best model for most people. With an always-on display, two sizes to choose from, and advanced health and fitness features, they’re great for buyers upgrading from an older Apple Watch or people trying out smartwatches for the first time.
Apple Watch Series 8 offers the best combination of style, health and fitness features, app selection, battery life and price of any smartwatch for any platform. Available in 41mm and 45mm body sizes, it has a more active screen area than the Apple Watch SE and watches released before the Series 7. The Series 8 also offers more premium features than previous models, including dual temperature sensors and auto-crash detection in addition to always-on displays, blood oxygen measurement, EKG, glass more resistant to cracking and fast charging. It is also available in more expensive steel and titanium cases.
Choosing a budget
Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)
The SE offers many of the same key features as the Series 8, aside from an always-on display and certain health-monitoring tools, at a much lower price.
The 2nd generation Apple Watch SE looks almost identical to the 1st generation model and is slightly smaller than the 8 series. The new SE comes in 40mm and 44mm case sizes, making it easier to wear for people with small wrists, but its slightly smaller screen it won’t stay on when you put your wrist down, so it’s not that useful for timekeeping. The temperature sensors, ECG functions and blood oxygen measurement of the more expensive Apple Watch are also missing. Otherwise, it does the same Apple Watch-y things, including notifications, heart rate monitoring for health and fitness, and fall detection, and costs at least 30% less depending on configuration, making it a great option for users on a tighter budget.
Apple Watch Ultra
In the Ultra, you get all the flagship features of the 8 Series and more, like long battery life and a rugged design – but it will cost you.
The Apple Watch Ultra is a rugged smartwatch designed to compete with dedicated Garmin dive watches and running watches. The Ultra’s 49mm case size gives them the biggest display of any Apple Watch you can buy, and at up to 2,000 nits (a unit of brightness), they’re also the easiest to see in bright sunlight. In addition to its larger size, the Ultra has several key design differences that set it apart from other Apple Watches, including a flat-edge screen, a 30% larger Digital Crown, and a new side action button to quickly launch an app. All these features, combined with a long battery life – more than double that of the 8 Series – make the Ultra an absolute beast. Given its size and price tag, it’s overkill for many people, but for some, the features may be worth the upgrade.