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Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 (2022): Are There Any Changes?

The release of the Apple Watch Series 8 stirs the same questions as with every iteration of the best-selling wearable. How different is it from its predecessor? After all, the Apple Watch Series 7 introduced big changes to the design of Apple’s smartwatch lineup. Does the Series 8 follow the same path or is it a minimal upgrade to 2021’s Series 7? Below, we unpack the two wearables and compare their features to help you decide.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 8Apple Watch Series 7
 
Price
Sizes41mm, 45mm41mm, 45mm
ModelsGPS, GPS + CellularGPS, GPS + Cellular
DisplayAlways-On Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 1,000 nitsAlways-On Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 1,000 nits
BuildIon-X glass display on aluminum cases; sapphire crystal display on stainless steel and titanium cases

Ceramic and sapphire crystal back
Ion-X glass display on aluminum cases; sapphire crystal display on stainless steel, titanium cases, and ceramic cases

Ceramic and sapphire crystal back
Water and Dust ResistanceWater resistant up to 50 meters; IP6X dust resistantWater resistant up to 50 meters
ChipsetS8 with 64-bit dual-core processorS7 with 64-bit dual-core processor
ConnectivityLTE and UMTS, Wi-Fi, BluetoothLTE and UMTS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
NavigationL1 GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDouGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
SensorsTemperature, compass, altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, third-gen optical heart sensor, high-g accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient lightCompass, altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, third-gen optical heart sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light
Crash DetectionYesNo
Digital Crown with Haptic FeedbackYesYes
Built-In Speaker and MicYesYes
Apple PayYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 18 hours in standard use and 36 hours in low power modeUp to 18 hours
ChargingUSB-C magnetic fast charging cableUSB-C magnetic fast charging cable

Design

The Apple Watch Series 8 comes in fewer color selections. It also left off the titanium variant as an exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 Design
Next to each other, it’s hard to distinguish the Apple Watch Series 8 (left) from the Series 7 (right)

If you were hoping the Apple Watch Series 8 came with a larger screen, you’d be disappointed. The latest iteration has the same screen size as the Apple Watch Series 7. Like its predecessor, the Series 8 has a 20% larger display than the Series 5. It’s also the same Always-On Retina LTPO display with a brightness of up to 1,000 nits.

The Series 7’s larger screen was made possible by minimizing the watch’s borders. But it also meant larger model sizes from previous Apple Watch series. Since you’re getting the same display on the Series 8, you’re getting the same 41mm and 45mm options.

However, Apple ditches the titanium build on the Series 8 models and leaves it as an exclusive on the new and rugged Apple Watch Ultra. Apple’s Series 8 also enjoys an IP6X dust-resistant certification, although the 50-meter water rating is unchanged.

Material isn’t the only change. You get fewer color selections on the new Apple Watch, with Green and Blue saying goodbye to the choices.

Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any noticeable exterior difference between the Series 8 and Series 7 models.

Activity and Fitness Tracking

The Apple Watch Series 8 takes advanced training and multisport workout seriously, courtesy of the watchOS 9.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 Fitness and Activity Tracking
Heart rate zones on the new Apple Watch Series 8 (left); the Series 7 in use for underwater activities (right)

While the Apple Watch Series 8 brings new activity and fitness tracking features, they aren’t exclusive to the model. You’ll get these upgrades on the Apple Watch Series 7, too, courtesy of watchOS 9. Most of these additions will be on the Workout app. For instance, Apple has added new running form metrics like vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground contact time.

The watchOS 9 also brings heart rate zones, pacer, and custom workouts for improved training experiences. In addition, split, elevation, and segments have been added to in-session views for more accurate workout data. Meanwhile, triathletes will appreciate the new Multisport mode that uses autodetection to switch between running, swimming, and biking.

Despite all the new metrics you’re getting, Apple manages to keep the user experience intuitive. The workout interface, for example, now shows your activity rings, so you don’t need to leave the app to monitor your progress. You can further customize the workout view by adding data points like running power and splits for one-glance monitoring.

Health

Apple’s Watch Series 8 has new health tools that will also be available on the Series 7, along with exclusive features courtesy of its new sensors.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 Health and Safety
Crash detection on the Apple Watch Series 8 (left); the Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch Series 7 (right)

The latest iteration of the Apple Watch offers decent upgrades in health monitoring. Like in fitness tracking, the changes will be available to other Apple Watch models up to Series 4 courtesy of the watchOS 9.

First up, Apple Watch and iPhone users get a new Medications experience that allows them to set medication schedules and reminders. You can also create a list of the medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking and view information about them on the Health App.

AFib history, already cleared by the FDA, is also available. The feature estimates the frequency of AFib symptoms in a user’s heart rhythm. Aside from the deeper insights into the condition, users can readily share their history with doctors and healthcare providers.

In addition, watchOS 9 introduces sleep stages in Sleep Tracking. Now, the Apple Watch can estimate when you’re in Deep, REM, or Core sleep. More detailed information, including respiratory rates and sleep comparison charts, are displayed in the Health app on your iPhone.

Some features, however, are exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 8. With two new motion sensors, a gyroscope, and a high-g accelerometer, the wearable can precisely detect when a car crash happens.  It will also subsequently notify your emergency contacts about the incident.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is also equipped with skin temperature sensors. Although it’s a staple in other wearables like the Fitbit Sense, Apple’s take on the feature focuses on accurate monitoring of women’s health, particularly menstrual cycles.

Smart Features and Battery Life

There are no big changes in the smart features and battery life of the Apple Watch Series 8 from the Series 7.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs 7 Smart Features and Battery Life
Taking calls on the Apple Watch Series 8 (left); contactless payments on the Apple Watch Series 7 (right)

With every new Apple Watch release, you also get access to new watch faces. Through watchOS 9, the new designs will be available for all models that support the platform. Where the big change comes is in customization. Now, users can change their watch face color and gradient on select faces. It’s an update that aligns with the customization features introduced on iOS, too.

Productivity has also been given attention. Thanks to the watchOS 9, the Series 8 and other compatible models now get a more intuitive dock that provides quick access to favorite apps. Notifications have also been refined to minimize distractions while you’re actively using the watch. Plus, users will be able to add events to a calendar directly on the wearable.

Other features remain the same. Apple’s latest wearable still supports calls. You can even do without your iPhone nearby if you purchase the GPS + Cellular model. Apple Pay is also available on the new model.

In terms of battery life, the story doesn’t change much. Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 7 offer up to 18 hours of battery life in standard use. The smartwatches also support fast charging. If the latest Apple Watch iteration has an edge, it’s in the new Low Power Mode that should extend battery life to 36 hours. The only caveat is that the mode only works with an iPhone present.

Verdict

If it’s your first time buying an Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best model to get. However, for Apple Watch Series 7, the latest iteration only offers modest upgrades.

With the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple continues refining its lineup of smartwatches. The latest model offers new and improved features that make it the most complete model available. It also moves toward a greater focus on multisport support, advanced training metrics, and critical health and safety features. For first-time buyers, this is the Apple Watch to get.

However, Apple Watch Series 7 owners will find that the new model leaves a lot to be desired. Many of the upgrades come via watchOS 9, which will also be available on the Series 7. You’ll only miss out on crash detection and a skin temperature sensor. Design-wise, the Series 8 is the same as the Series 7, too. This leaves even fewer reasons to upgrade to the latest iteration.

FAQs

📌 What are the key differences between the Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 7?

The Apple Watch Series 8 comes with new sensors. These include two new motion sensors that, combined with the gyroscope and high-g accelerometer, serve the new crash detection feature of the model. The Series 8 also comes with skin temperature sensors for more accurate women’s health tracking.

📌 Can I use the Apple Watch Series 7 for scuba diving?

No. The Apple Watch Series 7 is water-resistant only up to 50 meters. This makes it suitable only for activities in shallow depths, like swimming in a pool or ocean.

📌 Is the AFib History feature of the Apple Watch Series 8 available across the globe?

The Apple Watch Series 8’s AFib History feature is only available where it has received local clearances and approvals.

📌 Does the Apple Watch Series 8 come in special editions?

Yes. The Apple Watch Series 8 comes in the usual Hermès and Nike editions, which includes new bands and watch faces.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.