Technology

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Watch Ultra vs. Series 7 vs. SE comparison

During its “Far Out” event, Apple announced the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, new AirPods Pro earbuds, and a whole slew of new Apple Watches. We’re used to seeing an annual refresh of the Apple Watch, where a Series flagship begets another flagship — but this year marks the introduction of three new models: the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and a new Apple Watch SE. These watches are designed to offer new options at the entry-level, flagship (for generalists), and specialized markets.

At the bottom of the new lineup, the new Apple Watch SE continues the 2020 SE’s formula. It’s the “bargain” model, sacrificing niceties like an always-on display for the sake of a much lower price. Apple’s SE brand of budget-tier products are rarely the most exciting ones, but at least the arrival of this Apple Watch SE helps end the decrepit reign of the Apple Watch Series 3.

Higher up the spectrum, the Series 8 carries on the usual progression of previous top-tier Apple Watches, now with a new temperature sensor built in. And for the first time, there’s a third model to sit at the top, one with an entirely distinct set of capabilities. Despite the new Samsung-sounding moniker, the new Apple Watch Ultra is designed to cater to the hardcore outdoorsy crowd — ones that normally turn to brands like Garmin for their needs.

We’ve never seen three separate Apple Watch models launched all at once before.
Image: Apple

So that’s a whole lot of Apple Watch. But how do the features and specs shake out across this new lineup? And are there big improvements here over the outgoing Series 7 if you’re contemplating picking up one of those on sale before they’re gone? We’ve only gotten a brief hands-on so far, but let’s take a look at the specs and see where we can find the biggest differences or look for any major omissions in these new units.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

The 2022 Apple Watch SE looks like most Apple Watches before it.
Image: Apple

At the budget end, the Apple Watch SE brings us a mostly familiar approach: take some of the latest tech and put it in an old chassis to sell for less. That’s what the original Apple Watch SE did, and that’s what this new SE is doing now. The new SE looks a lot like the previous SE, but it packs the S8 CPU and crash detection from the Series 8 and Ultra. Oh, and the rear of the new SE is color-matched to the rest of the case, which is a sharp little treat.

What you lose out on is the always-on display, ECG, and blood oxygen monitoring — all of which were missing from the previous SE, too. But what you gain is more money in your pocket, as the new 2022 Apple Watch SE starts at just $249 for a 40mm model with GPS or $299 with cellular. That’s $30 cheaper than the starting prices of the first SE when it launched in 2020.

Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the direct follow-up to last year’s Series 7.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

In any other year, the new Apple Watch Series 8 would be the flagship offering. It continues Apple’s steady development of its watch formula, looking a lot like the Series 7 but now adding a sensor to detect your body temperature as well as improved period and ovulation tracking. It also gets the car crash detection that is prevalent on this entire crop of Apple Watches because Apple is apparently really into car crashes right now. (The keynote video had an alarming amount of doom and gloom.)

Unlike the SE, you’re not making any major tradeoffs outside of the extra rugged features of the Ultra (more on that in a moment). The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at the usual $399 for the 41mm model with GPS or $499 with cellular, or add $30 to either of those for the larger 45mm version.

Apple Watch Ultra

The Apple Watch Ultra features a large, flat display with a protective bezel.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Finally, the new kid on the block is trying to tackle a whole new segment for Apple. The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s answer to rugged smartwatches and wearables from brands like Garmin and Polar, designed to be taken to very remote places for activities like hiking and rock climbing. The Apple Watch Pro is built from titanium and waterproof to 100 meters. Its flat display is 49mm across, making it by far the chunkiest Apple Watch. It also features a programmable action button on its side. On the connectivity side, it supports multiband GPS with trackback to help you navigate very remote locations and retrace your steps on the return journey. It’s being sold in a single model with natural titanium finish and both GPS and cellular for $799.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Ultra vs SE (2022) vs Series 7

Categories Apple Watch Series 8 Apple Watch Ultra Apple Watch SE (2022) Apple Watch Series 7
Categories Apple Watch Series 8 Apple Watch Ultra Apple Watch SE (2022) Apple Watch Series 7
Starting price $399 $799 $249 $399
Processor S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor S7 with 64-bit dual-core processor
watchOS version watchOS 9 watchOS 9 watchOS 9 watchOS 8 (update to watchOS 9 on September 12th)
Water resistance Water resistant up to 50 meters Water resistant up to 100 meters Water resistant up to 50 meters Water resistant up to 50 meters
Dust resistance IP6X-rated IP6X-rated Not rated IP6X-rated
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0
Material house Aluminum, stainless steel Titanium Aluminum Aluminum, stainless steel
Weight (grams) 41mm: 32g (aluminum) 42.3g (steel); 45mm: 38.8g (aluminum) 51.5g (steel) 61.3g 40mm: 26.4g (GPS) 27.8g (cellular); 44mm: 32.9g (GPS) 33g (cellular) 41mm: 32g (aluminum) 42.3g (steel) 37g (titanium); 45mm: 38.8g (aluminum) 51.5g (steel) 45.1g (titanium)
LTE Yes, starting at $499 Yes Yes, starting at $299 Yes, starting at $499
GPS L1 GPS Precision dual-frequency (L1 and L5) GPS L1 GPS L1 GPS
Built-in mic and speaker Yes Yes, triple-mic array Yes Yes
W-series Wireless chip W3 W3 W3 W3
U1 Ultra Wideband support Yes Yes No Yes
Always-on altimeter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes Yes Yes
Digital Crown haptic feedback Yes Yes Yes Yes
Heart sensor Third-generation optical heart sensor Third-generation optical heart sensor Second-generation optical heart sensor Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature sensor Yes Yes No No
Case sizes 41mm, 45mm 49mm 40mm, 44mm 41mm, 45mm
Display Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display Retina LTPO OLED display Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display (1000 nits brightness)
Display size (approx.) 41mm: 1.61-inch, 45mm: 1.77-inch 1.93-inch 40mm: 1.57-inch, 44mm: 1.73-inch 41mm: 1.61-inch, 45mm: 1.77-inch
Screen brightness Up to 1000 nits brightness Up to 2000 nits brightness Up to 1000 nits brightness
Screen resolution 41mm: 352 by 430, 45mm: 396 by 484 410 by 502 40mm: 324 by 394, 44mm: 368 by 448 41mm: 352 by 430, 45mm: 396 by 484
Storage 32GB 32GB 32GB 32GB
Estimated Battery Life Up to 18 hours Up to 36 hours Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours
Family Setup support Yes, with cellular version Yes Yes, with cellular version Yes, with cellular version
Detection failure? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Emergency SOS Yes Yes Yes Yes
EKG app Yes Yes No Yes
Blood Oxygen app Yes Yes No Yes
Noise monitoring Yes Yes Yes Yes
High, low, or irregular heart notifications Yes Yes Yes Yes
Optical heart sensor Yes Yes Yes Yes
Crash detection Yes Yes Yes No
Low-power mode Yes Yes Yes After a future software update
Night mode No Yes No No
Additional sensors Depth gauge and water temperature sensor, Dive computer app
Colours Aluminum: midnight, starlight, silver, and red; Steel: graphite, silver, and gold; Hermes: silver and space black Natural titanium midnight, starlight, and silver Aluminum: midnight, starlight, blue, green, and red; Steel: graphite, silver, and gold; Titanium: space black and titanium

Which Apple Watch is right for you?

The Apple Watch has been a mainstay in Apple’s garden for years, but we’ve never had this many choices all at once. In the past, the question for Apple users was mostly just whether or not to get an Apple Watch at all — as it’s the only game in town that has this level of iOS integration. Now, finding the right one for you may be something that takes a bit more thought and consideration. Be sure to check our spec comparison table and let us know in the comments if one of these feels like the right choice for you.

Correction September 8th, 1:49PM ET: The Apple Watch Ultra supports Bluetooth 5.3, not 5.0, as previously listed in this article. We regret the error.

Update September 8th, 2:48PM ET: Added the weights of all the listed Apple Watch models to the comparison table.

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