The best Apple Watch for you depends on what you’re looking for out of a smartwatch. Do you want an Apple Watch for fitness tracking? An extension of your iPhone? Or do you want a device that can save your life in select emergencies?
Many Apple Watch models can do all of those things, but some do it better than others. Despite the limited visible differences between Apple’s annual refreshes, each Apple Watch generation has distinct perks that makes it the best smartwatch every year. The best Apple Watch always gets better.
That’s the case with the new Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE (2022). This lineup of smartwatches has something for everyone, though it came at an expense — the original Apple Watch SE and 2017’s Apple Watch Series 3 are no longer available through Apple.
You still might be able to find those models as well as the Apple Watch Series 7 with the best Apple Watch deals as retailers finish clearing out stock, as well as the Apple Watch Series 6, too. Pre-owned models of the Apple Watch Series 5 and earlier Apple Watch models may circulate online as people look to upgrade as well. But watchOS software updates are only available to Series 4 devices and newer.
You can see our guide on how to trade in your Apple Watch if you want to get credit for your older model, too. See all of the best Apple Watch models below.
What is the best Apple Watch right now?
The best Apple Watch is the latest Apple Watch — the Series 8. Not only does the Apple Watch Series 8 benefit from Apple’s activity tracking sensors, FDA-approved ECG monitor, an always-on display and dedicated App Store, but it has a a new skin temperature sensor that informs cycle and sleep tracking. It also has crash detection and offers the new Apple Watch low power mode.
You won’t get most of these features on the Apple Watch SE (2022), but the mid-range option is still a good alternative and perhaps the best Apple Watch for first-time users. It starts at $249, and offers the cheapest entry point to an Apple Watch with LTE, $299. Plus it benefits from all the best Apple Watch apps and watchOS 9.
As does the Apple Watch Ultra, which haven’t yet had a chance to review. Between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra, there are several differences in design, features, battery life and price. The Apple Watch Ultra costs $799.
So for now, your decision comes down to the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022). Take a closer look at how they compare below.
The best Apple Watch you can buy today
The Apple Watch 8 is the best Apple Watch yet. It’s not a major upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 7 in terms of features, but it has the same great design and larger screen. What’s new between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Series 7 is the skin temperature sensor, which can inform cycle and fertility tracking, as well as sleep tracking. The Series 8 also launched with the long-awaited low power mode, which can extend the latest Apple Watch’s battery life to 36 hours. What’s more, the Apple Watch 8 has a new crash detection feature, leveraging improved motion sensors for instant help when you might need it most.
Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a full-featured health tracker and communications tool. With watchOS 9, this smartwatch packs the latest and greatest of what the Apple Watch experience has to offer. Whether you want a smartwatch for working out, answering calls from your wrist, or using the best Apple Watch apps, this is the smartwatch for you.
Read our full Apple Watch 8 review.
The Apple Watch SE is kind of a hybrid device, pairing an older Apple Watch design with the Apple Watch Series 8’s chipset. The $249 smartwatch doesn’t have all the Series 8’s features, but still stands out for its great fitness tracking and safety features. It also offers an LTE option, making it a good choice for those interested in trying out Family Setup.
When choosing between the Series 8 and SE your ultimate decision will be if you want to spend an extra $150 for a brighter display with an always-on option, an ECG monitor and skin-temperature, and a bigger display. If those tools aren’t deal-breakers for you, the SE is a highly capable option for iPhone users. It even gets watchOS 9, the most up-to-date Apple Watch software with low power mode, fresh new watch faces, an upgraded workout interface, a redesigned compass tool and the new Medications app.
Read our full Apple Watch SE (2022) review.
The Apple Watch 7 was the best Apple Watch last year, offering a larger display in new Apple Watch 7 sizes. For the first time, the Apple Watch came in 41mm and 45mm versions, complementing the large screen. The seventh-generation Apple got some exclusive watch faces and a full QWERTY keyboard, too.
But it’s been replaced by the Apple Watch Series 8, so you can’t buy it new from Apple. That said, you’re likely to find it on sale as retailers clear stock. If the best Apple Watch deals take over $100 off the device, it could be a great score depending on what you’re looking for out of an Apple Watch. Here are all the differences between the Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch 7.
Read our full Apple Watch 7 review.
How to choose the best Apple Watch for you
Choosing the best Apple Watch for you doesn’t need to be a hard decision. In most cases, it will come down to the newest Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022). We’d recommend getting the Series 8 if you have the $399 to spend for its bigger display. The Apple Watch SE might be a better option for first-time users, though.
No matter which you choose, you’ll benefit from the watchOS 9 software update, meaning all three watches will have several features in common. Just be sure to review our Apple Watch guide so you know how to make the most of your smartwatch.
Also, check out our Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Series 6 and Apple Watch Series 6 vs. Series 5 face-offs to see if a refurbished version of the discontinued model makes the most sense for you.
And, if you’re still questioning which Apple Watch is best, or whether the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch for you, take a look at our smartwatch buying guide. It includes our face-offs, which may help you determine whether a fitness tracker from Fitbit better suits your needs.
Should you get an Apple Watch with LTE?
Select models of the Apple Watch Series SE and Apple Watch 6 support LTE service. LTE-capable models come at a $50 or $100 premium, but it’s important to know that the cost of liberating your Apple Watch from your iPhone won’t end there. You’ll need to pay a monthly fee to your cellular provider to support your watch’s phone-free features.
We still bring our iPhones everywhere, so we haven’t felt like LTE is a must for Apple Watch users yet. That said, as the Apple Watch becomes more autonomous, there could be more scenarios in which leaving your phone behind makes sense. There’s a safety benefit to having LTE, too — if your phone dies or gets lost, your Apple Watch is able to keep you in touch. It’s also helpful if you know how to use Apple Pay on Apple Watch.