The best smartwatch Apple users can buy today is the Apple Watch Series 8. And in October, the best smartwatch Apple users can buy will still probably be the Series 8. That's because while a new Apple Watch model is almost guaranteed for a late 2023 launch, it's not going to be a considerable upgrade. This year, Apple Watch innovation is happening in the software.
That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who writes in his latest newsletter that "hardware changes are expected to be minimal". However, he also says that the watchOS 10 upgrade – which, of course, will be backwards compatible with the Series 8 – will be a big deal.
Why buy the Apple Watch Series 8 instead of waiting for the Series 9?
The only real reason to hang on is to get it cheaper. Right now, in the UK, the Series 8 is £419, but the Apple Watch Series 7 I wear every day is available for £339 refurbished from Apple.com, less from third parties and for £309 brand new from retailers such as Argos. You can expect exactly the same to happen to Apple Watch Series 8 prices when the Series 9 ships. And inevitably, there will be deals on the Apple Watch 8 in the coming months.
So what software updates can we expect? Gurman's information is sketchy, but he says that it will be a "major" update with an updated interface and some of the biggest changes we've seen in years. We'll find out much more in June at WWDC 2023, but the key detail here is the price: zero. Provided your Apple Watch is compatible – watchOS 9 works with Apple Watches going back to the Series 4, so there's no danger of watchOS 10 not running on the Series 7 or Series 8 – you can get the latest, greatest update for free as soon as it's available.
The Apple Watch isn't like the iPhone: when the iPhone 15 drops, I'll be trading in my trusty iPhone 14 Pro for a new Pro because I know it'll be a significant upgrade, especially in the camera department. But I don't feel the same need to replace my Apple Watch Series 7: I'll probably move up to the 8 later this year because my well-used 7 has more scratches than an 80s hip-hop record, but that's for cosmetic reasons rather than because of any must-have hardware.