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Apple Watch Series 8 & SE review roundup: Few reasons to upgrade

Apple Watch Series 8 has a temperature sensor

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Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE reviews are in, and while the new Crash Detection and temperature sensing features are useful, most say upgrades aren't necessary unless buyers are coming from very old models.

Apple announced the updated Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 8 on September 7 during its Far Out event. These new wearables ship to customers Friday, September 16.

The new devices tend to go to large press outlets and YouTube personalities soon after the announcement, giving them just enough time to create first impressions or a full review. Apple didn't do much to change how these watches look or operate, and the reviews reflect that sentiment.

TechCrunch says Apple is great at making a product better one step at a time. The Apple Watch Series 8 is overshadowed by the Apple Watch Ultra announcement, but there's still plenty to like here.

Apple Watch Series 8 is indistinguishable from Apple Watch Series 7
Apple Watch Series 8 is indistinguishable from Apple Watch Series 7

Not every update will be a game changer, but a temperature sensor for improved cycle tracking is a great feature. Crash Detection is a nice-to-have, though the improved accelerometer and gyroscope don't seem to improve workout detection.

Battery life is still a concern, but Apple's giving users something to combat the issue with Low Power Mode. This just addresses the symptom of poor battery life, and TechCrunch hopes that Apple tackles the issue more directly in a future model.

CNET says there is very little reason to upgrade to Apple Watch Series 8 if you've already got an Apple Watch Series 6 or Series 7. However, it is the most complete health watch in the lineup for those not seeking an upgrade to Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch SE has a new plastic composite back
Apple Watch SE has a new plastic composite back

The Apple Watch SE is Apple's new low-point in the lineup since Apple Watch Series 3 has been removed. Though, CNET says it isn't quite everything they'd like to see in a modern smartwatch and the lack of an always-on display isn't ideal.

It is a great choice for anyone who wants their first Apple Watch but doesn't want to spend $400. Those with any Apple Watch made in the last three years need not apply.

The Verge also mentions continuous improvement through minor upgrades. Each upgrade isn't significant on its own, but eventually, they add up.

They say Apple Watch Series 8 isn't a terribly exciting update, and owners of recent models need not upgrade. Most of the best new features are a result of watchOS 9, and since the processor and sensors are mostly the same, users will have a similar experience across generations.

Cycle tracking with a temperature sensor allows retroactive ovulation alerts
Cycle tracking with a temperature sensor allows retroactive ovulation alerts

The temperature sensor is passive like other companies that offer the feature. When tested alongside the Oura Ring, the Apple Watch offered similar results. Since the temperature sensor needs a week to gather a baseline, the reviewer didn't have time to see the other features firsthand.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best option. For most people. Owners of the Series 6 and newer need not apply, but new buyers or older Apple Watch owners have a great option in this model or Apple Watch SE.

YouTube personality iJustine says she is excited to try out the temperature tracking on Apple Watch Series 8 in full, but a week isn't enough to test the feature. She performs a series of workouts via Apple Fitness+ and outdoor running to showcase the fitness features.

The temperature sensor may be enough of a reason to upgrade for some, especially for those who ovulate. It depends mostly on if people plan on wearing the watch to bed for sleep tracking.

She also showcased the new Apple Watch SE with its plastic back. Crash Detection is available on both models, and iJustine says this is one of the most important features of the new Apple Watch generation.

CNN says the Apple Watch SE may be the best option, with a few compromises. If you don't need an ECG option, blood oxygen detection, or an always-on display, the Apple Watch SE is the clear choice.

It offers the Apple Watch Series 4 design with most of Apple's health sensors, along with Crash Detection. Features like workout tracking, Apple Pay, and sleep tracking are all still here.

This is a great first Apple Watch, but upgraders should only consider the Apple Watch SE if they have an Apple Watch Series 4 or older.

The Apple Watch SE is a great option for new buyers and young family members
The Apple Watch SE is a great option for new buyers and young family members

The Wall Street Journal strikes a stronger tone on the new Apple Watch features, stating that both the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 8 could save your life. One could help you conceive a baby.

Which Apple Watch to buy depends largely on the use case and how much money a person is willing to spend. If you're buying for a child, the Apple Watch SE with cellular is a great option, thanks to Family Setup. Most people will be happy with the Apple Watch Series 8 with its wide array of sensors and larger display.

However, the Apple Watch Series 7 is still a great option that can be found at a discount. It lacks the temperature sensor and Crash Detection, but that may not be a deal breaker for many.