You've come to the right place if you're looking for the best Apple Watch. In this guide, we collated all information worth knowing about the most popular wearable in the world. We meticulously tested, reviewed and ranked all Apple Watch models so you can better decide which one to get.
If you've had your eye on an Apple Watch for a while, you’re probably excited to get your hands on the new Apple Watch Series 8, which replaces the Series 7 as the new smartwatch flagship. But before you hit that buy button and burn all that cash, you might want to read our guide first to make sure the latest model is, in fact, the best Apple Watch option for you.
We get it. It sounds easier to get the newest model to ensure you’re getting the best smartwatch around. After all, choosing the right model for you is a tough decision. Here’s the thing: just because the Series 8 has the most features, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best value for your money – especially if you don't need those extra features.
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The Apple Watch Series 7 has now been replaced by the Apple Watch Series 8, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider buying it. The Series 7 still has a big, beautiful screen and fast-charging capabilities. Apart from that, there wasn't much change from its predecessor.
We found the new changes make the Apple Watch more convenient to use, which, combined with all the smart features and health/fitness options, makes the Apple Watch Series 7 one of the best smartwatches around. We also found the bigger screen gives you more flexibility for which size you might choose and makes it easier to read and accurately tap buttons on-screen.
Naturally, there are areas it could still improve – in battery life and more nerdy activity tracking in particular – but if you can get a deal on the older Apple Watch and don't need the new temperature sensor on the Series 8, then this could be the Apple Watch for you.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 7 review
The Apple Watch Series 8 builds on this and further refines what makes the Apple Watch the best smartwatch. However, some new features, such as crash detection, medication logging, Afib history, etc., are either niche or don't add much to the everyday user experience. We thoroughly enjoyed using the Apple Watch Series 8 – the watch is as sleek as it's always been and more keenly priced than the Apple Watch Ultra (listed below).
What we appreciate the most are the improved health and fitness features. The Apple Watch Series 8 can be used for tracking sleep just as well as 'proper' sleep trackers, and the new-and-improved workout metrics and views bring the watch ever so close to being used for running training. It even has Track Running and Triathlon workout modes now!
Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8? If you have the Series 7, the answer is a definitive no. If you have any other Apple Watch or any other wearable in general, we'd recommend at least entertaining the idea of investing in Apple's latest non-rugged wearable. It's a premium smartwatch experience like no other.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 8 review
The Apple Watch Ultra could also be considered the best Apple Watch, especially if you prioritise battery life and have very specific requirements for your smartwatch. The Ultra was announced alongside the Series 8 but introduced a new bold design and a wide range of features to rival Garmin and Polar.
It features a ruggedised titanium case with chunky hardware features that can be used when wearing gloves. The display is larger than the standard model at 49mm; it's also flat and protected by a lip on the case. Call quality is also better thanks to three built-in microphones, GPS is more accurate with the addition of new frequencies and an improved algorithm, and it's more water resistant than any previous Apple Watch models.
So, in many ways, this is the best Apple Watch out there, but you have to ask, do you need all of these extra features? We suspect most people won't, so that's why we think the Apple Watch Series 8 is better for most people.
Read our full Apple Watch Ultra review
The Apple Watch Series 6 takes everything that was great about the Series 5 – stylish looks, great fitness features, potentially life-saving health tools, slick notifications and apps – and manages to improve on it. If you already have the Apple Watch Series 5, however, you can feel free to skip this model and go straight for the Series 7.
So what do you get in the Apple Watch Series 6? For a start, four colourways: graphite stainless steel, (PRODUCT) RED aluminium, gold stainless steel, and the blue aluminium that we reviewed. Then, in terms of features, you’ve got a blood oxygen monitoring option – otherwise known as SpO2 tech. This makes use of a new red light sensor that monitors the colour of the blood being reflected back and, thus, the level of oxygen in it.
The Series 6 also boasts Apple’s sixth-generation S6 chip, which unlocks a bunch of performance features. It's 20% faster than that in the Series 5 watch, bringing a 2.5x boost in always-on display brightness in daylight and an 18-hour battery, even with the demands of nightly SpO2 readings.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 6 review
The Apple Watch SE is a truly excellent smartwatch, there's no doubt about it. Where Apple has cut back for the more budget price, you won't notice it significantly in general use. It feels like a full Apple Watch experience, with all the advantages that bring in convenience, fitness tracking, and health and safety features… for iPhone users. As ever, Android users need not apply.
If you're looking at your first Apple Watch, the SE gets a really strong recommendation from us. For those who can spend the extra over the cost of the Apple Watch Series 3, you'll be very glad you did – it's better in every way, from screen to design to sensors to being more future-proofed thanks to its faster processor. It's also important to note that these translate into better health features, including more accurate heart sensing (important for detecting irregularities) and fall detection, which the Series 3 doesn't have.
If you're looking at upgrading an older Watch, the SE makes a great replacement for anything from the Series 3 (if you bought it at launch, especially) or earlier. Though the core of the experience is the same, we think it will still feel like a worthy upgrade, thanks to all the things we mentioned above.
Read our full Apple Watch SE review
The Apple Watch Series 5 was another step of Apple's relentless pace at the head of the smartwatch pack. The model takes everything that made the Apple Watch Series 4 so good, sprinkles on a few extra features, and then replaces the previous model with this superior one.
The stand-out new feature is an always-on screen, which means you don't have to raise your wrist for the screen to show something: it will still show your watch face or workout at all times, just dimmed. And with a few other features to hand, plus new software, it's a small but notable upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 4.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 5 review
The Nike edition of the Apple Watch Series 7 has all the standard Series 7 software features, including the sports and health ones, but is a sporty iteration designed for gym enthusiasts and athletes. The big differences are the straps, exclusive Nike branding and watch faces
The Watch is described as 'the perfect running partner' for the Nike Run Club app, and the Nike Training Club app is optimised for the watch too. They include all the usual tracking features as well as a new audio-guided run every week with a curated soundtrack and 'custom cheers', while the training app has over 180 free workouts and notifications to provide workout recommendations to close your 'Exercise ring' (the colourful tracker) for the day. There are also special Nike watch face designs
The Nike Bounce watch face is new for this Series 7 Nike watch and can't be used on any other Apple Watch model. This makes it a little bit special, and it's actually pretty cool – the numbers wobble as you move your wrist or touch the screen. The Other Nike faces are great, too, if you plan to exercise regularly while wearing the watch.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 7 Nike+ Edition review
The biggest updates were beneath the watch’s shiny exterior. The Series 4 featured an upgraded S4 chip, which makes it twice as fast as its predecessor, while an inbuilt speaker is 50% louder, providing better audio quality for Siri and Walkie-Talkie functions. All these little changes, including a more efficient display, mean the watch has up to 18 hours of battery life on a single charge, according to the company (although we've found this is an underestimation).
As well as its looks and hi-tech spec, the Series 4 also included a number of new health and fitness capabilities. On the back, the optical heart sensor present in the first three iterations has been upgraded. It can now even do ECGs thanks to the electrical heart sensor. It lets you check your heart rate and notifies you if it’s above or below your specified threshold, and there’s Fall Detection and Emergency SOS, which could prove handy for more vulnerable users.
Like the Series 3 before it, the new watch is water resistant to 50 metres, but it has a cool new function that allows it to eject water from the speaker with a burst of sound. There's no denying that the Apple Watch Series 4 was a fantastic upgrade for the series, but, of course, now it's been succeeded by even more capable models, it's now difficult to recommend.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 4 review
How we test the best Apple Watch
We spend a lot of time reviewing the latest Apple Watch models, and, as such, are perfectly placed to judge the best Apple Watch model to spend your money on.
During our initial review period, we test out the very latest features announced by Apple. This might be a new health monitoring tool, a new fitness tracking mode, or how useful a new watch face is. We test everything in-depth, so if it's a new fitness feature, for example, we'll get our fitness editor to review it thoroughly.
All of these new features also get tested alongside everything a smartwatch should be classically good at, such as how bright and clear the display is, how reliable the smartphone connection is, how long the battery lasts, and how easy it is to surface useful information.
Once the initial review period is complete we'll publish a full review, give the Apple Watch a star rating, and add an abridged review to this guide.
We'll then continue to use the Apple Watch for the rest of the year, usually until a new model is released. This allows us to test how the battery life performs over time, gives us a chance to test software updates, and should uncover any bugs that weren't present during our initial review phase.
What is the best Apple Watch?
As we mentioned before, the latest, greatest, and therefore best Apple Watch is the Apple Watch Series 8. It's currently the most advanced Apple Watch you can buy, with a large screen, fast charging, and a temperature sensor forming the complete smartwatch package.
It replaced the Apple Watch Series 7 as the flagship model. If you're not fussed over the temperature sensor, then the Series 7 also has a larger screen and faster charging, so it's well worth considering, especially if you can find a discounted one. The Series 7 features a stunning design and a bright always-on display. It wasn't the biggest update over the Series 6, but the small things make a difference.
Aesthetically, the latest Apple Watch models are considered to be better looking. They have larger screens and are thinner, with more metallic colour options, a louder speaker, a ceramic backplate that’s meant to boost reception and the new digital crown with haptic feedback, which is used to navigate the watch's features.
One other big difference is what's inside the watches. The Series 7 and 8 have an S7 64-bit dual-core processor and an S8 processor, respectively, they're massively faster than the S3 processor in the Series 3 Apple Watch. They also come with second-generation optical heart sensors, an electrical heart sensor and a blood oxygen monitor, allowing them to do a whole lot more health monitoring, including ECG tests.
If you're looking for a happy medium between the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Series 3, then you could opt for the Apple Watch SE. It is the most affordable Apple Watch that Apple currently sells, and it will receive software updates for years to come. The second generation Apple Watch SE uses the same design as the first generation SE but features the latest S8 processor (which is the same used in the Apple Watch Series 8) and offers all of the core Apple Watch features.
The standard GPS Apple Watches are cheaper (although not as cheap as the best cheap smartwatches), while the cellular equivalents are £100 more expensive in all cases. So just what do you get for the money? The ability to make phone calls from your watch, thanks to an electronic SIM card inside the GPS + Cellular models.
Personally, we don't think the Celluar model is necessary – it's not worth the extra cost. So, if you’re someone who has their phone with them all the time, you’ll probably want to plump for the cheaper GPS versions and save your pennies.
Last but not least, you’ll want your watch to look good, and there are a lot of decisions to make. The watch’s body comes in aluminium, which is the cheapest option, or stainless steel, with lots of colours and materials to choose from for straps. The most expensive options are made from titanium, and there are even offerings from Nike and luxury fashion house Hermès. Read our guide to the best Apple Watch case material.