Apple now sells three different Apple Watch models: the Series 8, the SE 2 (Gen 2) and the Ultra. (Apple no longer sells the Series 7, the SE (Gen 1) or Series 3 — all of which it was offering before September 2022.) If you have an older Apple Watch and are curious whether you should upgrade, we're going to highlight the key differences between all the Apple Watch models that are still capable of running the latest watchOS — meaning all Apple Watches that are Series 4 or newer.
The truth is that every Apple Watch that has been released in the last four years has been generally similar — except for the all-new Ultra. They all run the same watchOS, look and work fairly similar and have the same 18-hour "all day" battery life. Choosing between the different models is ultimately going to come down to the newer design, an always-on display, some exclusive wellness features and how much you're willing to pay. (Apple does have some enticing deals on older refurbished models.)
The Series 8 is very similar to last year's Series 7. It has the same look and feel, the same display, same battery life and costs the same amount. The main difference, other than a newer and faster processor, is that the Series 8 has a few more health and safety features. It has a new body temperature sensor that is really designed to help women track their cycles. And it has a new car crash detector feature that's powered by upgraded sensors (specifically accelerometers and gyroscopes).
Should you buy? If you want the best Apple Watch for most people, the answer is "yes." However, if you have a Series 7, you probably won't notice much difference with the Series 8.
The Ultra is a brand-new Apple Watch for 2022. It's the biggest, brightest, most rugged, most capable, longest-lasting and most expensive Apple Watch that has ever been released. It's a smartwatch that has been specifically designed for extreme athletes and adventurers — including recreational scuba divers — but it's also an option for people who want the best smartwatch that Apple has to offer. Also, if they want a really big (49mm) display.
Should you buy? The Ultra is the best and biggest smartwatch that Apple has created. It's also the most expensive, so you should really make sure you're going to use the extra features; otherwise it might be worth it just to go with the Series 8.
The second-generation Apple Watch SE is very similar to its 2020-released predecessor. They have the same look and feel and also most of the same features. The main difference with the new Apple Watch SE, other than having a newer processor and being available in new colors, is that Apple lowered the price. It now starts at $249. As for the made tradeoffs compared to the Series 8, the new SE still lacks the always-on display and many of the health and wellness features. There's no cycle tracking or sleep tracking, for example.
Should you buy? Yes. It's a great entry-level smartwatch and the best value Apple Watch you can buy.
The big thing with the Series 7 is that it has a new look. It has an always-on display that's 20-percent bigger, has thinner bezels and has more rounded corners than the Series 6; this allows for more watch faces and interphases, but more importantly it makes the display easier to navigate and use (there's a larger keyboard!). The Series 7 supports faster charging (33% faster) and has a more rugged design (IP6X rated), too. Other than a faster processing chip, the Series 7 has all the same sensors and capabilities as the Series 6.
Should you buy? Not unless you get a really good deal. The Series 8 costs the same amount and is better (or as good) in every single way.
The Series 6 was new in 2020. It has always-on display, a blood oxygen sensor and an altimeter. It also has a newer processor and slightly brighter display. If you're debating between the Series 6 and the SE, it mostly will come down to how much you want the always-on display. Apple doesn't sell the Series 6 anymore, but you can find it discounted on third-party sites like Amazon or Best Buy. However, it's going to cost almost as much as the Series 7, so you might as well just go with the newer hotness.
Price: $279+ (Best Buy)
Should you buy? No. The Series 6 is two-years old and lacks a lot of features and power of the Series 7 and Series 8.
The SE was announced alongside the Series 6 — and the two are very similar. Both have the same display size, most of the same sensors (including the gyroscope, compass, fall detection and an always-on altimeter) and the same battery life. The difference is that the SE lacks the always-on display and two sensors that measure wellness. It lacks an electrical heart sensor and is thus not capable of taking an ECG (but it does have an optical heart sensor, similar to the one found in the Series 3, so it's still able to record your heart rate). And it lacks a blood oxygen sensor, which can help identify asthma and various heart conditions.
Should you buy? No. Go with the new SE (2022-released) if you're looking for the best entry-level Apple Watch.
The big thing when the Series 5 was announced was that it was the first Apple Watch with an always-on display. That's not as big of a deal anymore, however, as the newer models also have an always-on display — and it's nicer. The SE has electrical and optical heart rate sensors and is capable of taking an ECG, but lacks the blood oxygen sensor of newer models. Apple hasn't sold the Series 5 for two years now, so models (and deals) can be difficult to come by.
Price: $269+ (Refurbished)
Should you buy? No. Go for the Series 8 or new SE if you're looking for an Apple Watch. The Series 5 is too old to recommend buying now.
The Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to get a substantial redesign — with a larger display and slimmed down bezels — and it looks identical to the Series 5, SE and Series 6 that followed it. Like the Series 5, the Series 4 has been antiquated for a few years and the deals mostly aren't great enough to justify getting such an old smartwatch. Apple does sell refurbished models, however.
Price: $249+ (Refurbished)
Should you buy? No. It's too old and you can get a better/newer smartwatch for basically the same price.
As of fall 2022, Apple has officially stopped selling the Series 3. The five-year old smartwatch has a dated design that feels really old. It has a built-in GPS and an optical heart sensor so it's decent for fitness tracking, but lacks an always-on altimeter or built-in compass, so it's probably not as great of hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. You can also only buy the Series 3 in a GPS-only model.
Should you buy? No. It's too old and isn't great at running the new watchOS. Spend the extra dough and get an SE or a refurbished Series 5. Apple has stopped selling them, too.
As we continuously get closer to September (the month where Apple typically announces new Apple Watch models), you can get a really good deal on an existing model. We round up the latest deals on all the Apple Watch models, from the Series 7 to the Series 3.
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