Which Apple Watch is best? From its style to ease of use, here's our verdict
We highlight the latest features so you can pick an Apple Watch to suit you and your next adventure
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter
Chances are that you own something from Apple already. Most modern homes, owned by people with creative outlooks, will have something - an iPad, at least. Yes, we're the Apple generation, and you'll probably want to sync up even further. So which Apple Watch is best?
Powered by watchOS 9, the latest generation Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8 and SE smart watches all offer excellent features to encourage a healthier lifestyle and help you stay seamlessly connected with friends and family. But they're so much more than simply the best fitness trackers. You can also use Apple Watch to control and access any HomeKit-enabled accessories in your home via iPhone using the Home app on your Apple Watch.
But with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know which Apple Watch is right for you and your needs? For instance, do you opt for a rugged Apple Watch Ultra that has impressive battery life and is ideal for outdoor adventures? Or, perhaps the Series 8 with innovative new temperature-sensing capabilities to monitor your health is best? Alternatively, you may want to opt for the SE entry-level Apple Watch to see if a smart watch is for actually right for you at all? If you choose the GPS + Cellular models you can set your Apple Watch up to send and receive calls too, although you'll need to consider the extra running costs of this on top of the cost of the device.
There’s also the watch size, casing and strap to consider, which makes picking the perfect finish almost as painstaking as choosing a paint color to complement your sofa. Your can choose from refined styles such as the Apple Watch Hermes with leather strap and ride-along Lucky Horse that will look just as good in the office as when you’re in evening attire. Or perhaps something sporty like the robust titanium case of the Apple Watch Ultra is more suited to your style and workout goals.
To help you decide which Apple Watch is best for you, we take a closer look at the latest Apple Watch Series 8, SE and Ultra and highlight their most enticing features.
Which Apple Watch is best?
1. Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 (opens in new tab) replaced the Apple Watch Series 7 (opens in new tab) as Apple’s flagship model. While you can still buy the Apple Watch 7 and pervious generations on sites such as Argos and Amazon, Apple only sells the latest models direct.
Powered by watchOS 9, Apple Watch Series 8 looks super stylish with a large, always-on retina display and narrow borders that push the display right to the edges. Its crack-resistant front crystal is also robust and built to withstand knocks and scratches. Choose from a range of cases and straps to satisfy the stylist in you. We particularly like the beautiful gold stainless-steel case with leather link strap (pictured above).
Similar to previous generation Apple Watches in terms of functionality, the Series 8 will encourage and nudge you to get moving, standing and exercising. But it does come with advanced sensors togive you better understanding of your health and its new features are particularly insightful for women’s health and family planning. Its clever temperature sensors and cycle tracking, for example, make it particularly useful for you to track your temperature and estimate ovulation.
Meanwhile, the Sleep app will help you keep tabs on your sleep, or lack of, and indicate how much time you spent in REM, Core or Deep Sleep. With the ECG app, you can also take your ECG at any time, while there's also a setting to measure your blood oxygen – all with the aim to make you the CEO of your own health.
Crash detection is also a new feature worth noting, which comes into its own in a car or when you fall while working out. If you have an accident, motion sensors can detect if you need help and the Series 8 will call emergency services even if you are unresponsive.
While it doesn’t offer the longest battery life of all the Apple Watches, the Series 8 does gives you up to 18 hours on a full charge. This means that provided you charge it up at night - much like you would your smartphone - you’ll be able to enjoy it uninterrupted for the best part of the day.
For a finish that looks and feels a little more luxury, you can opt for the Apple Watch Hermes (opens in new tab). This is the same as Series 8 in terms of features and capabilities, but you can choose from a range of stylish Hermes straps, watch faces and Hermes etching on the design.
2. Apple Watch Ultra
The most rugged smartwatch in the new range, the Apple Watch Ultra is designed to push your boundaries. Built with endurance athletes, outdoor adventurers and water sport enthusiasts in mind, it has advanced features and an excellent battery life. It has all of the great features of the Series 8 and more and can track your fitness levels with temperature sensing and the ECG and Blood Oxygen App. It also has Cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates.
It's an excellent buy if you love swimming as its 100m water resistant and even has an Oceanic+ app for use as a dive computer. If you aren’t that sporty, don’t let that put you off as this is a great choice if you want to get fitter and be pushed out of your comfort zone. What’s more, we think its 36-battery life is a great reason alone to invest in this stylish watch.
It features one of the biggest and brightest displays Apple offers and has a screen that turns red for night mode, which is much easier to read in the dark. It also has a robust and large titanium case that is rugged and has corrosion resistance but doesn’t feel too heavy on your wrist.
It also features a larger than standard digital button and a side button that is raised to make it easy to control when you’re wearing gloves outdoors - so if you don't fancy that hike up a snowy mountain, the Ultra could work equally well when you've got your garden gloves on and weeding in the rain...
3. Apple Watch SE
An excellent value smart watch, the SE is the most budget-friendly of all the latest Apple Watches. It’s great for keeping track of your fitness goals when swimming, running, walking and alike and teaming with the Apple Fitness+ app on your iPhone for personalised metrics.
Like the Ultra and Series 8, you can use it to monitor your heart health and sleep, and make use of Family Set Up so you can pair watches for your children or older adults who don't have an iPhone. You can also use it to access your podcasts, audiobooks and favorite music.
Which Apple Watch is best? The Livingetc verdict:
Our run down of the best Apple Watch for 2022 highlights what you can expect from the latest generation smart watches. In brief, we suggest the Apple Watch Series 8 for something that can accurately track your health and keep you safe, while the Apple Watch SE is ideal if you're new to the smart watch experience and want to enjoy the entry-level features.
Meanwhile, if you're after a design that can push you to the limits and entice you to explore and expand your adventures - knocks and bumps and rainy weather withstanding - the Apple Watch Ultra is one to embrace.
How do I choose the best Apple Watch?
Not sure which size, casing, strap and finish to consider? From the sporty Apple Watch Nike that’s perfect for morning jog, to the elegant Apple Watch Hermes that wouldn’t look out of place with your little black dress, there’s a wide range of Apple Watch finishes to choose from.
For help choosing, you can visit the Apple Watch Studio (opens in new tab) to pick a case, a strap and create one that suits your style. You can use it to sort through the offer of case sizes. You can then select which type of watch you want and match them with a particular strap type and strap color you prefer. When you choose your design it’s worth remembering that while the majority of designs are waterproof, the leather and stainless-steel versions aren't - although they do look rather fabulous.
Should I buy an Apple Watch or Fitbit?
The great FitBit v Apple Watch continues to rumble on. Both FitBit and Apple Watch have their USPs and which smart watch you choose will decide on your ultimate goals and which operating system you use. In short, FitBit works with both iOS and Android devices and is excellent as a pedometer and can track your steps very accurately.
Meanwhile, the Apple Watch’s strong point is that it works seamlessly with your smartphone and has an interface that looks just like a mini smartphone. If you’ve already got your hands on a pair of AirPods, an iPad and iPhone, we think the Apple Watch is a natural extension of your Apple ecosystem.
One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.
How do you pick a living room accent chair? The 10 ideas interior designers live by when making their choices
Looking for the right accent chair to complement your living room? Here's how designers choose the right one for their schemes
By Amy Neason • Published
How do you make a small deck look bigger? 10 design ideas that stop your outdoor space feeling cramped
If you've only got a small deck to entertain outdoors, the right design decisions can help it feel a more spacious place to spend time
By Aditi Sharma Maheshwari • Published
'Avoid the "soap opera" effect' – 4 tweaks you should make to your TV settings to improve your watching experience
You may want to get stuck into your shows immediately, but take a moment to calibrate your new TV for optimal performance
By Alan Martin • Published
Should you invest in an Amazon Echo Show 15? Tech experts weigh in on if now's the time to level up
The smart speaker from tech giant Amazon has a built in display perfect for video calls from the kitchen counter, but is it worth the investment?
By Lilith Hudson • Last updated
Is the Samsung Serif TV worth it? Our editor bought one, and he has a lot of thoughts
Samsung's The Serif TV is clearly the choice of the design lover. But does our editor, who actually bought one, agree?
By Pip Rich • Last updated
Do I need a subwoofer with a soundbar? We decide definitively on what makes the best audio
How much tech is too much tech? An audio expert explains what kit you really need to get the best at-home sound
By Alan Martin • Published
Peak hours of electricity - what are they, and how to work around them for cheaper bills at home
Peak hours of electricity are your key to getting cheaper bills without having to change your home life, if done right
By Luke Edwards • Published
How to save water – 8 design and tech ideas to make your bathroom more eco-friendly
Learn how to save water in the bathroom with these design tips and by embracing new smart home tech
By Hugh Metcalf • Published
The 7 best sleep apps that come expert-approved to give you a better night's sleep
These 7 of the best sleep apps will help to clear your mind, calm your senses, and ultimately lead to a happier life
By Brigid Moss • Last updated
How to set up voicemail on Android – everything you need to know in 3 easy steps
Struggling to set up voicemail on Android? We've got all your questions answered
By Olivia Emily • Published