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Apple Watch Series 8 In-Depth Review

While all eyes last week were on the Apple Watch Ultra, the reality is that the Series 8 will sell the most units (by far), has almost every software feature of the Ultra, and includes the same slate of massive sports and feature changes as part of WatchOS 9. The Apple Watch Series 8 hardware itself was a modest update at best, instead, relying heavily on new sports & fitness software features like triathlon support, deeper structured workout/interval features, a revamped compass app with backtrack functionality, and running power/efficiency metrics.

To be sure, the hardware features – however minor, will likely be important to Apple’s longer-term vision. These features include vehicular crash detection (using high-impact detecting sensors & algorithms), but more notably on the health/fitness side include a new skin temperature sensor set at the wrist. This sensor set aims to track your wrist temperature while sleeping, primarily with the goal of providing women’s menstrual cycle tracking. However, in this iteration, it falls short of cycle prediction, as we’ve seen from some of Apple’s competitors who leverage similar temperature tracking hardware.

I’ve been putting the Apple Watch Series 8 through its paces in a variety of workouts, including running, cycling, swimming, and more. This is of course in addition to testing WatchOS 9 most of this summer as well, using the new features there – even in a triathlon. I’ve also got an Apple Watch SE In-Depth Review slated for tomorrow, and of course in due time you’ll see a review of the Apple Watch Ultra.

Finally, note that Apple did provide a media loaner Apple Watch Series 8 unit, though I’ve also been testing WatchOS 9 on my own Apple Watches. As usual, the loaner unit will go back to them afterwards. If you found this review useful, feel free to hit up the links at the end of the site, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter. With that – let’s begin!

What’s New:

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When it comes to the Apple Watch Series 8, the changes are very minor in the hardware department – at least as far as sports & fitness features go. Instead, the vast majority of the changes come from WatchOS 9 itself, which is the software platform. These changes are available back to Apple Watch Series 5 (though, some like the Backtrack feature, are only from Apple Watch Series 6 and higher, and inversely, some features are actually available on WatchOS 9 on a Series 4). It’s within the WatchOS 9 feature updates though that you’ll find the biggest increase in new sports/fitness/health metrics that we’ve seen since the launch of the Apple Watch.

Nonetheless, here’s what’s changed hardware-wise on the Apple Watch Series 8 since the Series 7:

– Improved gyroscope
– New high-g accelerometer (for vehicle crashes)
– Wrist temperature sensor

And while the software side has a massive slate of changes, including fitness and non-fitness, here’s a look at the sports/fitness changes first:

– Compass App: Revamped user interface
– Compass App: Added new waypoints option (saving, navigating to)
– Compass App: Added Backtrack capability to save a track without starting a workout
– Compass App: Added Backtrack to track back following your route
– Workout App: Adding three new running form metrics for efficiency: Vertical Oscillation, Stride Length, and Ground Contact Time
– Workout App: Can now see heart rate zones during the workout zones
– Workout App: Can now create new custom workouts, including repeats based on distance or time intervals
– Workout App: New alerts for heart rate zones, cadence, and other metrics (not shown yet)
– Workout App: New Running Power support, now natively tracks running power
– Workout App: Revamped data pages with more data per page
– Workout App: Will race against past workouts, which are saved to the workout app
– Workout App: Triathletes get triathlon support including auto-switching between swim/bike/run and triathlete tracking time
– Workout App: Adding kickboard swim detection
– Workout App (coming later this year to the US): Track mode for running tracks

There are then of course lots of non-sports changes around general usability, Apple Home/HomeKit, etc…, the bulk of which I’ve outlined in my WatchOS9 post when it announced this summer.

Finally, in terms of pricing – that remains unchanged as well with the Series 8. Of course, Apple has revamped the lower-priced Apple SE with a new 2nd gen unit at the same time, while concurrently announcing the new higher-end Apple Watch Ultra, which has longer battery life and an extra button.

Here are the basics of the lineup:

Apple Watch SE (2022): $249
Apple Watch Series 8: $399+/$499+ with LTE
Apple Watch Ultra: $799

Got all that? Good. Let’s get this unboxed.

Unboxing:

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When it comes to the Apple Watch unboxing ‘experience’, it remains unchanged from past years. The multi-layer box is designed to account for multiple strap and watch body SKUs, with no noticeable difference between the Apple Watch Series 8/SE or previous units.

Inside the outer wrapper you’ll find basically two sets of boxes:

A) One box for the watch pod, including the charging puck
B) One box for the watch strap, including two sizes

Here’s a closer look at that:

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One fun tidbit I caught but never noticed previously, is that the Apple Watch SE pod (the watch itself sans-strap) is packaged in a thin plastic wrapper, while the Apple Watch Series 8 is packaged in a felt/cloth wrapper. I guess like fancy car interiors, paying an extra $120 upgrades you to a nicer wrapper. Except, you’ll never use it again, likely going into the trash.

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In any case, here’s a closer look at the meaningful parts, which includes two strap sizes.

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Note that I didn’t measure the depth of the Apple Watch Series 8 at unboxing time, and now with some unexpected flight changes I’m not with my handy-dandy measuring tool.

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However, it is clear that Apple (like years past) isn’t listing the correct depth of the Apple Watch 8, and is excluding the heart rate sensor in their measurements. Albeit, at least in Apple/Garmin’s cases here, that depth measurement is relatively minor, whereas in Samsung’s case it was 50% of the case depth and not-so-minor. Nonetheless, I did want to make that clear for fairness’ sake, and I’ll add those measurements in when I return home.

The Basics:

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This section is all about the basic usage of the watch, primarily from a fitness/health standpoint, but occasionally some general usage bits as well. There are infinite numbers of sites talking about how to use the calculator or listen to music on an Apple Watch, none of which has changed this time around. I’m not here to re-write that. Instead, I want to focus on activity tracking and related.

First though, a quick primer on the display and controls. The Apple Watch Series 8 has two buttons on the right side, one being the digital crown (rotating thingy), and the second being a normal button. The digital crown both can be rotated and pressed inwards for two different actions. It’s used for everything from changing options in menus, to unlocking the screen. The quantity of buttons falls short of the Apple Watch Ultra, which added a 3rd so-called ‘Action’ button on the other side for more precise control in rougher weather conditions.

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Meanwhile, the screen itself is an always-on touchscreen. The difference there being that on the Apple Watch SE for example, the screen turns off you lower your wrist. So as I type this sentence, the Apple Watch SE on my left wrist has the display off, while the Apple Watch Series 8 on my right wrist has the display on and dimmed. When I raise my Apple Watch Series 8-laden wrist, the display brightens automatically. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch SE wrist when raised would turn on entirely.

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Of course, all these display tweaks are in the pursuit of battery savings. While these displays are beautiful in terms of image quality, they come at the cost of being battery blow torches. Thus, any time Apple can save battery time, they do. The Apple Watch Series 8 is rated for “18 hours of all-day battery life”. Though, Apple tends to be pretty conservative in their battery estimates. In my case with the Series 8, inclusive of 1-1.5hrs of GPS time each day, I’m basically charging the battery each day. I’ve roughly varied when I charge it, so it’s not always dead-dead, but yeah, it’s a daily thing.

Last year Apple introduced the faster-charging dock, which helps, but ultimately you’ll have to find some spot during the day to charge it if you want to also do sleep tracking. I find the best time is just after I get to my desk and start doing e-mails and such first thing in the morning. That’s a good block of time where it can charge and I’m not missing out on any activity tracking.

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Now, before we get to activity tracking, note that we can change the watch face displayed on the unit. Apple provides a handful of watch faces, on which you can customize the so-called ‘complications’. These are basically the tidbits of data on them. I ebb and flow with the season as to which watch face I like, sometimes just some more technical stuff, and sometimes the one that automatically pulls photos from my phone so that each time I glance at it, I get a new favorited photo:

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I’ve often talked about the subtle integration bits that Apple has on the Apple Watch that seals the deal for a lot of people, and this is one of those. There’s no complex setup, it just works, and every time (literally) I look at my wrist there’s a new photo, typically of my family or a memorable moment. Contrast that with other watches where you set the watch face photo and it’ll likely stay that way for years. And of course, plenty of them have sports/fitness metrics that can be displayed on the watch face, or customized as well. Even 3rd party apps have the ability to provide data which can be selected from complications.

So let’s turn our attention to the activity tracking pieces. In the Apple fitness realm, everything revolves around the ‘rings’. Apple uses a three-color ringed approach to monitoring your daily activity levels. These rings have daily goals, and complete a circle (ring) each time you achieve that goal. For example, the blue standing ring is goaled by default at 12 hours of standing. Which means you need to stand once every hour, ideally 12 hours of the day. The pinkish-red is for ‘Moving’, and the green is for ‘Exercise’.

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If you swipe down from the rings, you’ll see how you’re doing in each category, as well as a bit of a timeline on the day. Being earlier in the day, this isn’t quite as robust as if I took this photo at the end of the day. You can also see total steps, total distance, and floors climbed listed one swipe lower.

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Of course, like any activity tracking platform, all of this is synced to the companion app on your phone, called ‘Fitness’. This app is only available on iOS (that’s the phone platform, so it’s not available on iPad or any other device type). In turn, the app technically pulls data from Apple Health, which is the health/fitness repository that Apple has on iOS (and, since it’s not on iPad, it’s why the Fitness app isn’t on iPad and why the Apple Watch isn’t supported on iPads).

In any case, within the Fitness app, you can see your daily totals as well as longer-term trending bits.

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There’s also the ability to display trends over time. However, this takes 180 days of data before it starts (it used to take “just” 90 days), which as I’ve said for years, seems like an absurdly long time for basic trends like whether or not you’re standing/walking more this week compared to last week. Every other fitness platform on the planet (and my 4-year-old daughter with her activity tracker) can tell you that if you walked more steps this week than last week, your trend is upwards. I know I’ve harped on this before, but I’m hoping that with Apple’s new focus on sports/fitness, they’ll look at some of these legacy silliness items, and consider it as low-hanging fruit to address in hopes of pulling in other sportier users.

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Though, as you can see above for the running pace one, it’s actually interesting in that it’s pulling from Apple Health, and not Apple Watch specifically. At least, best I can tell. Thus, my average is skewed upwards (slower), likely because of non-GPS-based data sources contributing to my Apple Health data set that aren’t as accurate.

In any case, let’s look at some other data bits, one of those is sleep. Apple has increased its sleep focus on WatchOS 9, namely via adding sleep stage data. When sleeping, your watch goes into a sleep mode, where the display dims substantially and shows just the time. You can change the exact times this occurs, which Apple calls your ‘Sleep Schedule’. This doesn’t dictate when you can sleep or the tracking of it, but just when the display dims.

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Once you wake up the following morning, you’ll get your sleep data displayed in the sleep app on the watch:

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You can see its estimated sleep stages/phases, as well as the sleep times. I generally don’t rate/judge sleep stage accuracy for a few reasons, instead focusing on the exact sleep times as a better proxy. The reason I don’t look at sleep stage/phase accuracy is that the comparative technologies that are available to do so aren’t all that accurate to begin with (about 80% accurate in most cases), and thus, we’d never judge a heart rate sensor or GPS track against something that was wrong 1/5th the time. It does seem like companies are at least getting more consistent here (Apple included), but I wouldn’t focus on this a ton at this time.

Your sleep data is then sent to your iPhone, where you can view it within the Apple Health app. As noted earlier, this is Apple’s giant repository for health/fitness data. You can see details about not just that night’s sleep, but previous data at the week/monthly/6-month level.

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There’s actually an odd quirk in my data from last night. You’ll see it shows 8hrs 12 mins in bed, but only 5hrs 41mins of sleep. Yet, you can see those little pink areas are the ‘awake’ times (so a few minutes before I fell asleep, and a few minutes when I woke up). However, the chart oddly gaps towards the end. It’s done this slightly more recently on WatchOS 9 in some cases, seemingly including time I’m awake, out of bed, and moving around on the chart.

You can also get some sleep-related trends here, such as respiratory rate (aka breathing rate), and sleep time. It even thinks I’m doing better this year than last year, clearly it hasn’t yet accounted for this week and next week in those calculations…

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A new feature for Apple WatchOS 9 is more detailed HRV values (heart rate variability). HRV is an area that has exploded in interest in the last couple of years, with various fitness/sports companies leaning heavily on it to try and estimate how your body is recovering. While that can be tricky (at best) to do from HRV values, Apple isn’t quite going into that realm (yet). Instead, it’s just (slightly) increased the data provided by the watch to Apple Health. Previously, it gave only one data point per night (which is useless). Now, it provides more data, though, still a relatively small amount. For example, last night I’ve only got 5 data points, hardly enough to do anything with.

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Of course, the most notable Apple Watch Series 8 data point is the new wrist temperature tracking. This metric won’t show your exact body/skin/wrist temperature, but rather change relative to the baseline (e.g. + 1°F). This is similar to how other companies do it, as it’s a bit more useful and easier to consume. There are two ways you can use this data. The first, is that women can use this data to get historical cycle tracking data, including (historical) ovulation estimates. The second, is that you could use this data to find trends between nights where you’re body/skin temperature is higher or lower and you’ve got better or worse sleep. For example, a hot room might lead to poor sleep, so you could potentially figure that out and adjust accordingly.

This starts showing in the app after 5 nights of data, and then also shows more female cycle tracking data once you get far deeper historical data. Here’s a shot I took last week of someone’s phone at Apple with much more historical data to exemplify this:

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You can see the estimated ovulation dates on the calendar, again looking retrospectively, as well as on the watch:

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I’m going to take a guess that Apple is probably starting with the retrospective ovulation dates because honestly, nobody is going to get super upset if Apple mistakenly identifies historical data. However, forward-looking ovulation data is an entirely different matter. We see both Oura and Whoop doing work/features in this area today, and with reasonably good accuracy (even for irregular cycles, with enough data). I’m guessing by this time next year we’ll probably see Apple do the same, having leveraged a year’s worth of temperature data within their internal testing. For most women, having forward-looking estimates is really where the value is (especially for those with irregular cycles as well as ovulation estimates).

With that, let’s dive into the sports features in more depth.

Sports Features:

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In terms of hardware, the Series 8 unit offers no new hardware features for sports. However, WatchOS 9 offers a massive number of new sports features. As outlined earlier, this includes everything from heart rate zones, to backtrack functionality, to custom workouts, running power support, to triathlon support. It’s a massive leap forward for Apple.

First though, let’s start with getting a workout set up. To do so, we’ll open the Workout app on your Apple Watch, it’s the one with the green runner icon. Here you’ll see a list of sports to choose from. Each of these allows you to tap the three little dots in the corner. This is where you can customize what type of workout for that sport you’ll do.

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For example, in running the default would be just to track a run. But you can also now create structured workouts, or just simple workouts with a defined end goal (like distance or time).

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Here, for example,  you can create an 8x800m structured workout. When you create these workouts you can add warm-up/work/recovery/cooldown segments, as well as repeat sections.

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You can give this workout a title, as well as specify unit views for the workout itself. And within these workout views, is where you’ll see the ability to toggle fields/pages, like the new heart rate zones, as well as running efficiency metrics, including running power.

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Heart rate zones can be set up on your phone, however oddly, at this time data pages/fields cannot be. Up through WatchOS 8/iOS15, you could actually modify workout data pages on your phone (Watch App > Workout > Workout View). However, with WatchOS 9/iOS 16, that feature/section is gone. All configuration must take place on the watch itself, which can be fairly tedious. It sounds like this will return, but didn’t quite make the cut for launch. You can still modify other things from the phone, like Auto Pause, and the new Workout Low Power Mode (more on that in a second).

In any case, with everything all set, we’ll go ahead and start a workout. When you do so it’ll give a 3-second count-down and then start the workout.

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There isn’t any ability to see whether or not it has optical HR or GPS satellite lock before it starts. With the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple has changed how it does GPS lock. Specifically, it no longer depends on the phone like it used to (if the phone was within range). Now, it’s entirely self-standing in all scenarios. That has its pros and cons, depending on how you look at things. If you didn’t want it to drain your phone’s battery, it’s great (that’s me). But if you wanted longer battery life on your watch instead, it’s less ideal. Perhaps the best solution would be a simple toggle. I know I use the term ‘simple’ when in reality very little is simple in real life, but, given Apple previously had the feature – I’ve gotta imagine the ability to choose the GPS source can’t be that difficult.

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Now that we’ve started our run, we’ll get metrics shown on the watch in real time, as you’ve configured it. This includes the new running power and running efficiency metrics. For these, you’ll need to be actively running, as running power won’t display while walking or hiking. I know this sounds obvious, but in reality, most other running power competitors do actually display running power while walking/hiking. The reason is that energy is still expended, and should be accounted for. This is especially notable if you look at trail/ultra running, where competitors will often power walk steeper hills. In this case, their power output might be no different than ‘running’, but isn’t accounted for here.

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I suspect this is more of an algorithm accuracy issue, in part based on the possibility that the underlying wrist-based running efficiency metrics that drive the calculations for running power may lack the ability to gather this data accurately. It’ll be interesting to see if this changes over time. It wouldn’t surprise me, especially as they expand the footprint into the harder-core running crowd with the Ultra edition.

If doing a structured workout, you’ll see whether you’re in a Work or Recovery interval in the upper left side, as well as distance/time remaining in that interval.

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The structured workout piece is good here, though there isn’t any API for 3rd parties to access it like there is on other platforms. Meaning, a company like TrainingPeaks or such can’t simply export a workout to the device like most other sports watches can. Of course, Apple Watch itself is a platform where apps can be built and someone can build an entire app dedicated to that (and they do). But, I think the one thing Apple knows is that if they want to be true competitors in the endurance sports realm, they have to have these seemingly niche things. It’s the combination of a boatload of niche things for why someone chooses a Garmin watch over an Apple watch when it comes to sports tracking.

Speaking of which, let’s briefly talk sensors. The Apple Watch Series 8 will use its internal heart rate sensor by default. However, you can pair to external Bluetooth heart rate sensors if you’d like. You can do this within the Bluetooth menu:

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Generally speaking, optical HR accuracy is very good on the Apple Watch (as you’ll see later), but it’s certainly still an option if you want. However, when it comes to other sport sensor types, the Apple Watch doesn’t support any of those natively today. Meaning, if you want to pair a Bluetooth Cycling Cadence Sensor or a Bluetooth Power Meter, there’s no option to do so (and certainly not ANT+ either). With Apple including triathlon support, and even making references to iron-distance triathlons on their Apple Watch Ultra keynote section, they’re going to have to tackle this if they want to make headway into those crowds. The majority of iron-distance athletes have a power meter these days, and luckily for Apple the number of companies in the Bluetooth power meter space is relatively small.

There are 3rd party Apple Watch apps that can pair to Bluetooth power meters, but none that support triathlon. Thus, you’re kinda in a pickle today. Speaking of triathlon, I’ve written an entire post already on using WatchOS 9 in a triathlon, and I may try and sneak in another triathlon this weekend. But you can read my previous post here.

Now, once your workout is complete you’ll get a basic summary displayed on the watch. However, it’s better to turn towards the Fitness app to see more data from your run, including all of that new running power/efficiency data. Apple’s actually done a pretty good job in expanding out this section a fair bit. Here’s another set for a different WatchOS 9 run I did with more complexity:

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Next, let’s briefly look at the revamped Compass app. The reason this app is notable is that it now includes the ability to save waypoints, which you can then loosely navigate back to. Once you’ve opened the app you’ll see two icons at the bottom, the left one is for waypoints, and the right one is for Backtrack.

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The waypoints option allows you to save your current location, give it a name, and then also give it a unique color/icon. It’s funny, this isn’t some crazy concept, but it’s just so much cleaner/prettier than their competitors. Again, little things matter.

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Then, back on the compass, we can dive into the Backtrack feature. This feature records a breadcrumb trail of where you’ve been, and displays nearby waypoints you’ve previously saved. This doesn’t actually start automatically when you start a workout. Instead, you can manually start it, or it’ll automatically start when it detects a lower density of nearby WiFi signals (not just yours) and loss of cellular signal. Meaning, it thinks you’re going somewhere you might need help getting out of later.

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Once started, it’ll plot data points approximately every 2 minutes, loosely connecting them with straight lines. This isn’t quite as high fidelity of data as their competitors, but in terms of getting yourself out of trouble, it’s likely good enough in most cases (crazy white-out snowstorms aside). You can then tap on a given historical waypoint to see the compass heading towards it, as well as navigate back to your start.

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You can also select a given waypoint from a list back on the main compass screen, and it’ll use the magnetic compass to point you in the direction of that waypoint, along with the distance.

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Now, obviously, this is pretty basic functionality. First, I’d argue that anytime you start a workout it should be automatically triggered/started in the background. Hopefully that’s an easy change to make. Second, like structured workouts, there isn’t any API into this. So you can’t have Strava Routes pump data into this for example, or Komoot. Sure, apps can again create their own navigation (and many do).

And so in some ways, while this is a good start into this realm, it’s quite a long ways from where Apple needs to be to compete with more outdoor-focused watches in terms of native navigation and routing. After all, you can’t load a route into the watch at this time. The good news is that my conversations with Apple last week in California following the keynote seem to indicate that they understand this, and the gaps. They also acknowledged that this is just the start of their journey into the endurance sports world.

Lastly, let’s briefly chat about battery life. Here’s what Apple claims for workout battery life in two modes:

– Regular mode – 18 hours: This includes always-on display, cellular connectivity on, and all features in their normal state
– Low power mode – 36 hours: This includes turning off always-on display, lowering cellular connectivity to once per hour, stopping automatic workout detection, and irregular heart rate notifications

Now, within that there’s a new Low Power Mode during a workout, which you can see here:

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Interestingly, this low power mode for workouts doesn’t actually reduce fidelity of workout data at this time. Instead, it’s mostly focused on other watch things to save battery (always-on-display turned off, cellular reductions to hourly, limits background features, turns off irregular heart rate notifications, etc…). Apple says that in this mode the full workout GPS and HR data fidelity is retained, and all workout metrics/views/details are retained at full fidelity.

However, there is *a second* reduced workout battery mode coming later this year that will offer further battery savings. This secondary workout mode *WILL* have reduced GPS & heart rate recording/display options for hiking, running, and walking workouts. That’ll extend out the battery times further, but the details on that are slim for now.

Finally, when it comes to getting your workout up to various platforms, you’ve got a few options. Some platforms like Strava & TrainingPeaks have their own apps that can pull in your workout data easily through the settings menus. While other platforms lack integrated connectivity and require a 3rd party app. In my case, I primarily use HealthFit to do all my workout syncing. It supports all the new running power and efficiency metrics, and is generally my go-to for data export to 3rd party platforms (and also, for most reviewers).

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There are other options of course, RunGap being another popular one. Given Apple Watch and iOS are vast platforms with tons of apps on them, there are undoubtedly countless other options out there. In my case, I just use what has worked for me over the years reliably.

GPS & HR Accuracy:

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In this section I’m going to look at the accuracy of the optical sensor, as well as the accuracy of the GPS/GNSS. The optical heart rate sensor here is the same as most other recent Apple Watches over the past two years, and to save you some time reading, it performs the same as those (which is, generally quite good). On the GPS front, it lacks the multi-band/dual-frequency sensor seen on the Apple Watch Ultra edition, but does no longer utilize the phone connection like past Apple Watches did (if your phone was nearby, it of course always used the internal watch GPS if your phone wasn’t with you).

For all these tests, I’ve got multiple other recording devices and sensors. As always, no two watches are on the same wrist so as to not interfere with each other. Extra watches are either worn elsewhere on the body (like a running pack) or bike (handlebars), or sometimes hand-carried. Those watches not on the wrist are collecting heart rate data from connected HR sensors/straps.

First up, let’s start with a reasonably straightforward indoor workout on a trainer. I say straightforward in that it was a series of intervals, but for the most part watches don’t have too many issues with optical HR inside (it’s outside that’s trickier):

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You can see the above where I’ve got the Apple Watch Series 8, SE (2nd Gen), Garmin HRM-PRO Plus, and Whoop 4.0 band. In this case, both Apple Watch units were spot-on with the chest HR strap. The Whoop was fine, but lagged a little bit as it usually does (it was worn on an armband).

So, I then went outside and did a somewhat steady-state run, with some 200m sprints tossed in. As you can see, things were basically spot-on here, minus a single blip with the SE early on in the workout. Specifically, it didn’t seem to find HR lock at the beginning, and then did a random spike for a few seconds. This is one of the challenges with the inability of Apple’s workout app to ensure HR/GPS lock first. The new Apple Watch Ultra actually solves this problem by allowing you to get lock before you start, but that isn’t available on the SE/8 units. After that point though, the HR was spot-on, including in the 200m sprints.

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So, looking then at the GPS track, this is mostly a straightforward route, though I ran it through the forest instead to make it slightly more difficult.

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And while both Apple watches were pretty good and matched the Garmin unit (and more importantly, my actual path), you can see this moment during one of the sprints where the Series 8 unit actually went all wonky into the trees by about 50m or so…twice. I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ve also been recording some of my commutes and other random activities and I haven’t seen this again. So hopefully it was just a random one-off.

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In fact, later the next day I was shooting some action cam stuff via mountain bike. While I was putting out a ton of work on this ride (because it was 105°F), I wouldn’t really classify it as a proper ride per se. However, I did record the GPS on the Series 8 the entire time, alongside a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar (which has multi-band/dual-frequency on it). The tracks across the route were identical.

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However, it’s worthwhile drawing your attention to this little spot below. Here I was in dense brush going back and forth more times than I can count. And you can see that despite that, the tracks of both units are very close to the trail itself, within just a couple of meters. Meaning, even in these conditions the Apple Watch Series 8 was holding its own against a dual-frequency GPS device.

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For fun, here’s the elevation plot from that ride. The two units disagreed on the exact altitude by about 12 meters, though they did trend the same the entire ride. That’s pretty common in my testing of barometric altimeters. Neither was manually calibrated, just automatic like most users would do.

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Next, we’ve got a short interval run from last night. You can see here all is well on the start and through each of the intervals from both Apple Watches.

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GPS-wise, this should have been about the easiest possible thing to get right. It was directly out/back along an ocean road with virtually no tree cover. But sometimes, easy routes expose flaws, such as the inability to precisely lay down the same track going out and back. But that wasn’t the case here, both Apple Watches had no problems matching the track of the multi-band Garmin Forerunner 955.

AW8-Spain-Run-GPS

Now, I did notice an interesting quirk though – which is running cadence. Check out the below graph, and notice how the Garmin unit shows the sharp changes in running cadence. This is correct, because I’m running an interval, and then I immediately walked the recovery for 100m. However, the Apple Watches significantly over-smooth that data, which isn’t correct. I suspect this may contribute to the way Apple isn’t doing running power while walking.

AW8-Spain-Intervals-Cadence

Speaking of which, I’ve previously done a deep dive into Apple WatchOS9 running power and how it compares to COROS, Garmin, Polar, and Stryd. And realistically, nothing changes here. As before, Apple’s running power is in the ballpark of Stryd/COROS, whereas Garmin sits on the higher end, and Polar is about in the middle. Remember, there are no standards for running power, and each company measures slightly different things. So while they trend in the same directions, they aren’t measuring the same things.

Here’s an example from last night, showing the green of the Garmin HRM-PRO Plus strap-based running power, versus the two Apple Watches. I suspect any slight Apple Watch differences you see here are probably from taking a few photos/videos while running (since then I’m holding my wrist up). I’ll be diving deeper into Apple’s running power as part of my Apple Watch Ultra edition down the road (though, it’s all the same software).

AW8-SpainRun-Power

Ultimately, stepping back and looking at both HR accuracy and GPS accuracy, I’m seeing largely good things across the board on both new watches (SE & Series 8). As is usually the case with any watch I test, there’s usually one or two blips – but certainly nothing major here, or even rising to the level of minor concern.

I’ll be doing more city-based testing in the coming days across multiple units, and will add those data sets into this review in time, especially some of the downtown tall building testing I like to do. Hang tight!

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks, and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Wrap-Up:

P1066709

The Apple Watch Series 8 expands Apple’s reach into the sports and fitness area more than any other watch before it (save the also-announced Apple Watch Ultra, which…was technically announced about 6 minutes after the Series 8). The Series 8 does this not through major hardware advancements, but a slate of WatchOS 9 driven software updates. In doing so, it’s significantly encroaching on the lower to mid-tier multisport/running watches from the likes of Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and COROS.

The addition of a triathlon mode (which I used earlier this summer just fine in a triathlon), heart rate zones, running power, and editable structured workouts are key areas that Apple had to address. If we look at Apple’s triathlon mode for example, they made updates throughout the summer in response to feedback from users, such as making manual transitions possible. And in that case, they started out with the default of automatic transitions, something only Wahoo has on their watches. For the other metrics, Apple’s implementations are less detailed for sure than a Garmin watch, but only in Garmin’s Forerunner/Fenix realm. If we look at something like the Venu series, that lacks multisport mode, running power, and running efficiency metrics. All things that Garmin was the first to show on watches over the past decade (in the case of power, via Stryd initially)…but just not on the Venu lineup, the company’s main competitor to the Apple Watch series.

The point in making these comparisons is that’s what Apple is aiming for with all these new sports/fitness features. They didn’t add these features for funsies. They added them to grow and expand into the sports/endurance market, and thus knowing how this stands up in those areas is key. And once you finish judging whether or not the sports features meet your requirements, then you can look back at the watch as a whole. Unquestionably, no smartwatch on the market is as polished as the Apple Watch. Of course, Apple is limited to being iPhone-only today. So if you have an Android phone, you’re outta luck here.

Still, if you’re sporting an older Apple Watch, perhaps a Series 3 or the like, then the Apple Watch Series 8 is a solid upgrade for you – both in terms of hardware and more notably, the fitness and sports workout experience.

With that, thanks for reading!

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Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Apple Watch Series 8 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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98 Comments

  1. Tizzledk

    Looking forward to the Ultra review to decide if I need/want to upgrade from my 7. Thanks for the great work (as usual).

  2. Thomas

    Hi Ray, so will we see structured workouts from Apple as a type of fitness+? I mean some training plans like Garmin offers for marathon or so? That would be the thing I am waiting for.

    • I think eventually it makes sense, a ton of sense. I feel like Apple Fitness+ is one of those things that in aiming to appeal so broadly, has made it tougher to appeal to the more structured training crowd. Which is fine, but with a tiny bit of tailoring, I think they could tie those two groups together and pull in a lot of people.

    • Dave

      I definitely agree. I’ve been using the rowing sessions on Fitness+ quite a bit lately and have been really impressed by them…the only thing I’d add would be that Health would feed straight out to the Concept2 logbook.

      I could see paced, narrated and soundtracked marathon and half marathon suitable long runs being available on the Watch before too long. Having a motivational speaker and good tunes to keep you company for 30km or so could be really nice.

    • chris

      The Nike Run Club does this really well. There are heaps of workouts across all distances. I found they got me through workouts way better than on my own or with just music. You can also let it play a specific playlist to go along with it.

    • Dave

      I’ll give that a look. I’m sort of wondering if Apple will go down this route more now that the AW Ultra is out. I would also like to see some longer rows, too – up to a 10k, for example, or some long steady state stuff with good music and coaching interspersed throughout.

    • Neal McQuaid

      My wife is hooked to that app also. To the point that when she went to buy a running watch (previously just carrying her phone), the only watch that was on the list was an Apple Watch….

    • Stephen Thomas

      There are already structured workouts on Fitness+, though they’re disguised as “Time to Run”. If you look at the descriptions, most are either interval sessions, pyramid runs, or tempo runs. A few are easy runs.

      Currently there are more than 30 workouts and Apple adds more each week. Most are around 30 minutes but some are over an hour in duration.

    • Dave

      I think it’ll be really interesting to see how they get packaged up and also whether they provide some sort of adaptive pace/structure.

  3. David Hensley

    Can I start a workout using the side button (instead of the screen)?

    Starting a workout with the screen didn’t work consistently (especially during a race) for my Series 2 and Series 3 Apple Watches.

    Is it any better now? (I’ll admit, it’s been a long time, but my experiences were BAD.)

    • Dave

      Not on this, but the new button on the Ultra will support that and get rid of the 3-2-1 countdown.

    • Luis

      Double tap on the screen during the countdown also starts the workout 😉

      I learned it a month ago after 4 years and 2 different AW hahahah

    • They key difference though is that on Ultra, it actually waits before you start it. Meaning, it’s designed for being at a race where you want GPS/HR lock, and then press start as you go across the line.

      Whereas skipping the 1.2.3 simply skips it, but doesn’t start lock yet.

    • Matthew

      Would be great for this to flow to normal Apple Watch 8. Makes in water race starts do-able – esp time limited ones.

  4. Matt

    When’s the REAL review we’re all waiting for? I guess this time next week?

  5. Dave

    It’s worth noting that, like the backtrack feature, running power is only available in Series 6+.

  6. Pepe

    The results on accuracy are quite good! What surprised me is the Whoop performance, always late or displaying slightly lower values. Is that what you usually get from it? Wrist, forearm or biceps?

  7. vicent

    Do you think is worth the upgrade from an SE?

    • Honestly depends a bit. I’ve been using the SE a fair bit this past summer, and realistically, I don’t notice much of a day to day difference between the SE and 8, except the Always-on Display. But, Apple’s gesture-based algorithm is so good (unlike some others), that it’s less of an issue for them.

  8. Kelchwid

    very good article!
    It seems that ultra will be the same about the GPS used, will be always the GPS’s Watch?
    I buy the AWultra and I hope I will run an Ironman (in 2weeks) without the low power mode who come this fall? I some doubt about the battery 🤔

    • Kelchwid

      I found my information for Ultra, will be 12h (only GPS + HR) :

      link to apple.com

      Il don’t found without HR…
      But I hope I will finish my triathlon before 12:30…
      I will activate lower power mode during exercice I think…

    • Dave

      Ironman is a long day. Enjoy it, and try not to worry about your watch. Good luck!

    • Andrew

      I think Apple may be being conservative here. With my 2 year old AW6 I can get up go do an hour run with GPS (on the watch, not the phone) and podcasts (again on the watch) and still have 89% battery. So I reckon I’ve got a fair bit of headroom over 6 hours there.

    • Kelchwid

      Thanks 🙏

    • Nick S

      My Series 6 really coughs up battery when I run for an hour with GPS and LTE turned on, and stream music to my AirPod Pros. The hour eats almost half the battery. Granted, I have terrible cellular signal in my town so maybe that is playing a role.

      It doesn’t bother me too much because I basically use the Apple Watch for music and connectivity while my 955 tracks the run.

  9. Raoul Uberoi

    Hi Ray, thanks for the review. Is there a workaround to broadcast the HR to my Garmin Edge or to the original Peloton? It’s one thing that bugs me.

  10. Casey

    How is the Apple Watch at taking manual lap splits? I always use manual splits for track workouts.

    • Ben e

      I have been using the watch 6 with structured workouts and manual lap splits with the double tap on the screen. Provided I am not wet, the double tap works well. But whenever it rains in Seattle, the double tap manual lap split doesn’t work reliably.

      So I am getting the ultra.

    • JonK

      Hey Ben,

      Do you use manual laps and the structured workouts together? I did a speed pyramid and tried to use the double tap. It moved me to the next interval.

      I repeated without the double tap and found Strava had 15s laps when imported.

      Just wondering what else others had seen.

  11. Stephen

    What is the experience with indicating the start/end of an interval? Admittedly it has been a couple of years now but my experience using iSmoothRun was that the watch was not loud enough in most situations to here it announcing the interval (and I don’t run with headphones). Equally the taptic engine was not strong enough to notice the vibration

  12. Nathan M.

    Hi Ray,

    Have you tested the battery over a long period of time? I would use my Apple Watch and iPhone gps all the time together. Since the watch only uses its own GPS now, I worry battery life is gonna take a huge hit. It won’t be as big of a deal on the ultra, but, the regular Apple Watch will be worse now in situations like a long hike. With third party apps I could get 7 hours worth of hiking and only lose 30-40% battery using the iPhones gps. Sadly, I fear those days are over with the new way this works now. I bought an ultra so I am anxious to see what I am able to get out of it. Was hoping to exceed the 12 hours it says it is capable of in one shot. For ultramarathoners the Apple Watch is probably a no go without the help of an iPhone GPS.

    • Ben E

      I completely agree with your comment. The only way my 4 and 6 could make it through a long activity was by using the phone’s gps. Now with the 14 pro having L5, it seems silly to be using the watch’s gps when the phone has a larger battery and better gps accuracy.

      I hope they provide a toggle in a future update.

    • Kelchwid

      I use the same method on ultra trail, I was used view ranger during 16hours with my iPhone GPS and no problem with my batterie on my Watch.
      I think if we launch app from iPhone also we will let on GPS phone? And app will automatically launch on Watch like view ranger, Nike plus, Strava …)
      I think too will be the same with ultra? We will see, but ultra will be 12hour battery life full GPS, I don’t know without HR?

  13. Philip

    Hi Ray, you mention at the end of the video when looking at comparisons: “what used to be their VivoActive series” re Garmin.

    Does that mean there isn’t a VivoActive 5 coming then? Has the Venu series taken over than space? Thanks.

  14. Deme

    Measures temperature when trianing? Or only sleeping?

  15. Rouleur

    Hi Ray,

    Is running power available on Apple Watch series 4 running WatchOS9.

    I upgraded mine and went out for a run but when I scrolled through the workout views there is no power, only cadence, elevations, splits etc.

    I have gone into the menu to add power as a Workout View but my watch only shows, from the top

    Metrics
    Metrics 2 (Cadence)
    Heart Rate Zones
    Split
    Segment
    Elevation
    Activity Rings

    There is no option to include Power

    The watch model is A2008 – i.e. a 4 series with 4G data connectivity

  16. Dave

    Ray, I know you’ve used the native sleep tracking on Series 8 and more importantly WatchOS 9. I’ve seen so many various answers on these questions and it seems so unclear, maybe you can provide insight?

    1. Will WatchOS 9 record naps, ie. sleep outside of either your preset sleep window or manually having set sleep mode to on?
    2. Will it record sleep that extends in or out of a preset sleep window, for example if I have mine set from 11-7 each night, if I fall asleep at 10 and wake at 6, does it capture the time from 10-11 before the sleep mode kicked in? Same thing for sleeping in, will it capture the sleep if I go past my 7am wake up and getup at 8?

    I wish Apple made all this more seamless like Fitbit where the answer is… it just captures everything, anytime, automatically. I know some apps like AutoSleep on WatchOS can do this but I’d prefer to stick to as many native solutions as possible.

    Thanks!

  17. Mike Richie

    I am hoping to find the Apple Watch 7 for $100 cheaper (it was actually on sale for that a few places last summer – but I didn’t know what the 8 would bring). But I suspect there must be lots more in the warehouses. Although I don’t really need the Crash Detection or Cycle Tracking on the 8, I wonder if you think they might be able to use the more accurate gyro and accelerometer, as well as the temperature sensors (there is one under the face as well) to improve accuracy or provide new features? (bike cadence?)

    • It’s plausible, but it’s hard to know this far out. For example, we see cases where features go to Series 6 but not 5, due to various seemingly minor hardware changes at the time, but now three years later manifest itself.

      As of today, the differences between Series 7 and Series 8 are pretty minor for most people. But it’s hard to know where this goes over the next 18-36 months.

      Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!

  18. Cheis

    I switched from the original Venu Sq to an Apple Watch 8, my first from Apple.

    I’m in the Apple ecosystem and with the pricing of the SE laying on top of the new Venu Sq 2, it was hard to not give it a try. On the Venu Sq 2, the cost up for the Music edition and only having the black color on the more $$ option was frustrating. I ultimately got an 8, bit the SE vs Venu Sq 2 pricing was what made me start looking at Apple.

    I cycle casually and track indoor/outdoor runs as well as a general activity tracker. I’m not doing triathlons, so hopefully the fitness features are good enough and the iOS integration and prettier hardware seal the deal.

    I can tell I’m already going to miss Garmin Connect, longer battery life, and being able to pair my ANT/BLE cycling devices, but hopefully Health gets better and I have an old Edge for cycling until Apple catches up.

    Thanks for the review Ray!

  19. Nicholas

    While this is quite an in depth review, the older Ray in depth reviews would do things like have the watch actually run with GPS and sensor data being sent to them and see how long the batteries really lasted.

    I know it isn’t practical for many GPS watches in this day and age but for better or worse, the Apple Watch is still within that area of concern for battery life. I’d appreciate if you visited how long the battery really lasts for GPS with HR tracking and so on.

    • Unfortunately, one can’t do those tests anymore. Companies got smarter (in a good way), and these days watches automatically reduce power to GPS, internal sensors, and HR when not worn or not moving. So I used to be able to place a unit on a ledge outside and then come back when it’s done.

      But now watches are smart enough to know it’s not doing anything, and simply (massively) reduce power, so it’s no longer a legit test.

      Instead, you have to basically kill it off. So, I did that for example on my Garmin Enduro 2 In-depth review last month, where I hiked 60 hours and 180KM to try and kill it. In the case of the Apple Watch Series 8, honestly, that wasn’t in the cards. Plus, it just wouldn’t last all that long to be all that meaningful of a test. Once we get the newer/added low-power battery mode later this fall for workout modes, I’ll circle back with some deeper testing.

      But, I think you’ll see some deeper battery tests in the future.

    • Kelchwid

      Hi Nicholas,
      All is written here
      link to apple.com

      I posted this link some days ago, only unknown is without HR…

      Workout
      Up to 18 hours indoor workout
      Up to 12 hours outdoor workout with GPS
      Up to 10 hours outdoor workout with GPS and LTE
      Tested with heart rate sensor on during workout sessions. Indoor workout tested while connected to iPhone via Bluetooth. Outdoor workout with GPS and outdoor workout with GPS and LTE tested without iPhone. Testing conducted by Apple in August 2022 using preproduction Apple Watch Ultra (GPS + Cellular); all devices tested with prerelease software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, cellular network, signal strength, and many other factors; actual results will vary.

  20. shoreview

    Any sign of an equivalent to Garmin’s XC-ski metrics?

    • Paul S.

      Doesn’t look that way. I fired up Workout on my series 7 running WatchOS 9 and all it shows for cross country skiing is time, active calories, total calories. Not even speed and distance. Of course I actually didn’t move, but it’s not showing speed/distance fields and there’s no room for them on the watch face. In a few weeks I’ll be able to try on an Ultra, but I doubt it’ll be any different. As usual, if I get to ski this winter (not guaranteed around here) I’ll be using my Fenix 5+ and leaving my Apple Watch at home.

  21. Jim Benedetto

    Does the “always-on display” still go dim, requiring one to raise their arm, turn their wrist or touch the watch?

  22. Paul

    > These changes are available back to Apple Watch Series 5

    I don’t think this is accurate. It goes back to at least Watch Series 4, because that’s what I have and I received the update.

  23. Dan

    Hey DC!

    Is the “auto-pause” of the workout still an issue?
    Not referring to the auto pause from the settings, but the situation when someone wears external HRM while training and -in my situation -taking the watching off while Kettlebells training….the training stops automatically.

    Is it still present in os9 or such?

    • It’s definitely still in WatchOS9, or, at least it was about 10 days ago (since I had it happen to me then, and a few other times this summer). I was wondering if that’s a me thing, because it was driving me crazy and I lost a bunch of comparative data sets from it on a different watch.

      But…that reminds me to follow-up with some folks on why it does that…

    • Peter

      It must be security so no one grabs the watch and pays with it 🤷🏽‍♂️

    • In my case though, I’ve been still running with it – just not on my skin/wrist.

  24. Xavier

    Hello Ray,

    In your test I read this sentence
    « On the GPS front, it lacks the multi-band/dual-frequency sensor seen on the Apple Watch Ultra edition, but does no longer utilize the phone connection like past Apple Watches did (if your phone was nearby, it of course always used the internal watch GPS if your phone wasn’t with you). »
    and it confuses me a lot.

    What is then the behavior since the Series 8? It no longer uses the phone’s GPS and always the watch’s, even if you run with your iPhone?

    • Stephen Thomas

      > “What is then the behavior since the Series 8? It no longer uses the phone’s GPS and always the watch’s, even if you run with your iPhone?”

      That is correct. Note that this appears to be a change in the Series 8 hardware, not watchOS 9 software. My Series 7 is still using phone GPS when it’s available.

  25. Ron Scubadiver

    If the Apple watch had a longer battery life it would be nirvana. As it is, two charging sessions per day are needed. The other hang up is everybody has one. It’s kind of like having the Apple trademark all over you.

    • Why would you need two charging sessions? About the only scenario I could see there is if you were doing 10-12 hour sessions that day (that’s the claimed GPS battery life), but even then, the new Low Power mode largely solves that (even on Series 8). I don’t think I’ve ever charged an Apple Watch twice in one day.

    • Ron Scubadiver

      OK Ray, but the apple watch is everywhere which makes it look like a uniform.

    • Yeah, I guess it doesn’t sound like the Apple Watch is for you.

    • Dave

      Dude, come back to that comment after you see how many strap options are available for AW vs Garmin or any of the other brands. It isn’t even close. It’s no more “a uniform” than wearing a bike helmet.

  26. John

    Absolute POS of a watch.

    It doesn’t allow connection of Bluetooth or Ant+ devices????? Am I reading that right?

    What’s the bloody point of a sports watch if you can’t even connect it to measuring devices? No good for cycling then.

    Piece of crap.

    • Dave

      No, you’re not reading it right. It’ll connect to any BTLE power meter as long as you’re using an app that allows it. ANT+ has to be licensed, and Apple don’t license it. There’s a reason it’s called Apple Watch Ultra and not Apple Watch Road Bike.

  27. Keith Kenworthy

    Does it matter if i use the Strava Watch App or the Workout App as far as getting the benefit of all of the features in WatchOS 9?

    • Stephen Thomas

      The additional metrics (e.g. running power) are available from the Watch API, but Strava would have to update it’s watch app to use the new API.

      TBH, the Workout app is sooooo much better that Strava’s watch app that I can’t imagine that there’s any reason not to use it. It would not surprise me if Strava discontinued their watch app entirely.

    • Dave

      Agreed. They’d have to do quite a lot for there to be any point in using it at all.

    • Jon

      Stephen,

      I tend to agree with you – I use the Strava app for walks and that’s about it.

      That said, and as discussed above, there is no way to do a lap on structured workouts, meaning I can’t analyse intervals decently. Tho Strava doesn’t offer structured workouts so it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other

    • Dave

      The age-old tale of the fruit firm slowly edging out previously established players for an in-house replacement…? I’ve got to wonder if there’s a more in-depth running back end coming to the Health or Fitness app.

  28. Alastair

    It seems that the Apple watch is collecting really good data now, so all we need is a better way to analyse it.

    The good news is that the Tempo app for iPhone is a really effective solution. It just sucks your running data out of Apple Health and provides really good metrics and visualisations.

  29. James Lim

    Thanks Alastair.

    Is Tempo iOS app available in the US App store? Can you please provide us a link?

    • James Lim

      Thanks Stephen.

      Much appreciated.
      You guys all know that Apple Health is just a repository of all data. I researched on almost all of the apps that dig from Apple Health and not able to like the one I want. All I’m looking is tapping all of the exercises that I do (running, walking, HIIT, Cardio, Treadmill, Weight Lifting etc) in a nice view and gives me a motivation and shows me insights on my performance improvements. My friend has a Sunnto 7 and the app is absolutely awesome in digging in every bit of info from the tracked data within the Sunnto app. Especially, the running GPS map is fantastic as I can zoom in to the max to see deep into the map. I’m looking for the same exact experience with any of the third party app digging into Apple Health.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Well, if it’s the Suunto experience that you want, you have a couple of options:

      1. The Suunto App is a re-branded version of the Sports Tracker App, which has its own Apple Watch version. Since Suunto’s parent company bought Sports Tracker, they might reserve some features for the Suunto brand. Sports Tracker is free, though.

      2. The RunGap app is able to read workouts from Health and share them with the Suunto App proper (as well as with Sports Tracker). I don’t know whether or not the Suunto App requires proof of purchase of an actual Suunto watch.

  30. Jon

    New observation on the structured workouts/lap (segment) tracking – Ray could you see if this is as expected? (This may be in how the data is imported to Strava, but may be how the segments are captured by the watch)

    Two cases, both using the same structured workout (Fartlek pyramid based on doubling work intervals and constant rest intervals). Case 1 – no alerts set to any intervals, case 2 alerts based on current or average pace.

    In case 1 the run is recorded as a single lap, only analytics are km splits.

    In case 2 the run has a series of segments (see picture). It appears that a segment is created every time the alert boundary is crossed.

    If this is as expected, the only way to get decent lap data is to create alert boundaries so wide that you’ll never drop out of them but also narrow enough that it will detect the change in pace on work vs rest.

    Seems very odd functionality to me.

  31. Allan

    I would like to use my AW 6 with iOS9 to track hrv overnight. I did so the last 3 nights and all values (in MS) were in the 300s. My Garmin fr955 shows values between 40-50 most days. I know this can’t be correct. Any ideas what I am doing wrong.
    Attached are some readings from last night

  32. Allan

    Thanks for replying. That isn’t the case. Well, it is but I can see the rmssd values for apple watch and they are even higher. They really should be inn the same ballpark as the garmin ones – I know this by looking at other people’s comparisons. Their AW and Garmin are ot that different.

  33. Robert Perry

    I do some longer distance runs where turning directions may be listed as longitude and latitude. Can I program these turn points into the watch?

    There are also distance markers like turn left on the unmarked trail after going 3.7 miles after crossing the gravel road. Is that metric supported? Thanks!

  34. Dave

    Has anyone got a preferred tennis app they’d recommend? My wife should have her Series 8 today (her first Apple Watch) and she plays a *lot*. Thanks in advance.

  35. Patrik

    Hi,
    Have you tried the watch with an external heart rate sensor connected like Garmin HRM or similar?

  36. Flash900

    Thanks for another fine review.
    As polished as the Series 8 is, it shares one glaring flaw with all of its predecessors: the battery life still sucks.
    Battery life suffers even more if you turn up the brightness to make the watch easier to see in daylight as you run, walk or bike.
    Poor battery life even when brand new means you will always be chained to an electric outlet and your charger.

  37. I have a very specific but simple question, but there are NO answers online anywhere surprisingly about it. Please tell me you can help? In pont form:

    1. I have the new Apple Watch Ultra
    2. I know how to enable the native Apple Health to sync up to my Training Peak account. Check.
    3. I know how to enable the third party HealthFit to sync up to my Training Peak account. Check #2.
    4. But nowhere can I find out if this will cause conflict. Should BOTH be enabled? Will this cause duplicate workouts uploaded to TP?

    Please and thanks as usually for your general awesomeness 🙂
    Marc

    • Stephen Thomas

      Try it and see. If you get a duplicate workout in TP, just delete one of the duplicates. Then reply here with your results should someone else have the same question.

  38. Steve

    Is this watch accurate enough to do distance / speed on a treadmill? Or is a footpod still needed?

    thanks!

  39. Jonathan Schwarz

    Hey Ray,

    If you are using HealthFit, can you have automatic, two way syncing between Suunto and Apple Health apps? Ie, can I use an Apple Watch for my daily fitness/sleep tracking and my Suunto watch for longer endurance sports, and have the data from both apps sync to each other? Ie have all the Suunto recorded activities in Apple Health, and all the Apple Health workouts synced to Suunto?
    Will it also sync step counts, HR, and sleep (much lower priority for me, just curious)?

  40. Mark

    Best running apps for Apple Watch that use the button and the screen comes on? I have ismoothrun but don’t like how the screen shuts off when I am running. Not a huge fan of the native apple app either. Open to suggestions!