Struggling to decide which Apple Watch is best for you? Here’s our pick of the bunch
With a long line of wearables to its name, Apple is one of the biggest players in the smartwatch game. And with all the many different models and generations out there, choosing the best Apple Watch to buy certainly isn’t an easy task, particularly as the brand is constantly throwing new models into the mix.
That’s why we’ve put together this list to help you find the right Apple smartwatch for you, whether it be the Series 8, the Ultra or the more affordable SE. Before you make your decision, though, it’s important to ask yourself whether an Apple Watch really is the best option for you. The smartwatch market isn’t a narrow one, and there are heaps of wearables available from rival brands such as Garmin and Samsung, as well as lesser-known, budget-friendly options such as the Mobvoi Ticwatch E2.
With this in mind, be sure to check out our roundup of the best smartwatches you can buy, where you’ll find a handy buying guide covering the most important criteria to consider when buying a smartwatch.
With that said, read on for our picks of the best Apple Watches to buy.
Which Apple Watch is best for me?
1. Apple Watch Series 8: The best Apple Watch you can buy
Price: £419 (41mm) £449 (45mm) | Buy now from John LewisWith the release of the Series 8, Apple has once again delivered a highly usable, sleekly designed and well-featured smartwatch that sees just enough improvement over previous models to put itself top of the heap.
As with previous versions, updates to the device are iterative. However, Apple has still managed to add some new features and refinements to the device, including: the improved S8 chip, a new accelerometer for car crash detection, a second temperature sensor that provides more accurate data for health apps, a low power mode that grants up to 36 hours of battery life, as well as a range of new features in watchOS 9.
While it may not have a bevy of new features or the battery life improvements fans have been clamouring for, the Apple Series 8 is still a solid update to the best smartwatch line available.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 8 review for details
Key specs – Operating system: WatchOS 9; Screen size and type: Always-on 430 x 352 (41mm), 484 x 396 (45mm), Retina LTPO OLED display; Battery life: Up to 18 hours (regular mode); Up to 36 hours (low power mode); Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes
2. Apple Watch Series 7: A great, cheaper Series 8 alternative
Price: £364 | Buy now from Argos
While the Apple Watch Series 7 may no longer be the best smartwatch you can buy, it’s no slouch either.
A solid upgrade on the Series 6, the Series 7 saw a 20% increase in screen size and the addition of faster charging, with other improvements including better glass thickness and dust proofing – improving the device’s overall robustness.
Elsewhere, fitness tracking features and apps such ECG heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, sleep tracking and Apple Pay remained the same. The only qualm we had with the Series 7 is the mediocre 18 hours of battery life, which remains an unsolved problem, being the same as both the Series 6 before it and the new Series 8.
For those looking to get into the smartwatch game for a little bit less, the Series 7 is an attractive option, currently resting comfortably below the £400 mark which the Series 8 has vaulted over.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 7 review for more information
Key specs – Operating system: WatchOS; Screen size and type: 396 x 484, 1,143mm2 display area (44mm) / 352 x 430, 904mm2 display area (41mm); Battery life: Up to 18 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes
3. Apple Watch SE: Best value Apple Watch
Price: £249 | Buy now from Amazon
The Apple Watch SE is a great option if you don’t have the budget for the Series 7 or 8 Apple Watches: It does a lot of what these flagship smartwatches can do, at a much lower price. It’s a fine option for those who want an Apple Watch but can do without the more flashy features such as ECG and blood-oxygen measurements, or the more expensive models’ always-on-display mode.
With a new chipset to match that of the Series 8, the second generation Apple Watch SE claims to run 20% faster than the original model (which we gave a five-star Best Buy review). At 18 hours, the battery life is no worse than the Series 8, either. Plus, you can still use the watch to reply to texts, answer calls and employ Siri to set alarms and reminders, and install all the same apps from the App Store. While it doesn’t have an ECG app, the SE does have all the same fitness motion tracking sensors, as well as an altimeter and irregular heart rate notifications. If you can’t afford to pay £419 or more for a Series 8 the SE is still the perfect alternative.
Key specs – Operating system: WatchOS; Screen size and type: 1.57in 394 x 324 Retina LTPO OLED; Battery life: Up to 18 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes
Apple Watch Ultra: The best Apple Watch for athletes
Price: £819 | Buy now from Amazon
The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s foray into the world of sports wearables and is the brand’s toughest and longest-lasting smartwatch yet. Indeed, the Ultra promises two-day battery life, which is leaps and bounds ahead of the Series 8’s 18 hours and long enough to track ultra-marathons as well as more ‘normal’ distances.
GPS accuracy is excellent thanks to dual-frequency GNSS support and the watch introduces a depth gauge and diving features – the watch is water resistant to 100m and meets EN13319 certification for diving equipment. It will also track core activities such as running, cycling and pool/open water swimming as well as your steps, sleep, blood oxygen levels and more.
On the outside, the Ultra is notably chunky, with a heavy titanium case, and an extra “Action button” that can be programmed for different functions. Elsewhere, though, it’s similar to the Series 8, with the same WatchOS 9 software.
It isn’t perfect, though. We found the accuracy of the heart rate monitor to be lacking and the price is very high at £849, more than £400 more than the Series 8. It’s also more expensive than rivals from Garmin and (and more affordable) sports watches available. With this in mind, we’d recommend checking out our best sports watch roundup before deciding whether or not the Apple Watch Ultra is for you.
Read our full Apple Watch Ultra review for more information
Key specs – Operating system: WatchOS; Screen size and type: 401 x 502 OLED; Battery life: 36 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes
5. Apple Watch Series 3: Now even cheaper
Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon
When we reviewed the Apple Watch Series 3 way back in 2017, we said it was one of “the best smartwatches money can buy”. Of course, that was long before the Series 6 and SE came around. Nevertheless, this is still a very fine smartwatch, and now at just £197 it’s hard to fault.
Once again, you won’t find the ECG or always-on display that the Series 6 has, but you get all the core features including heart rate monitoring, GPS and an altimeter. So, what stands in the way of recommending the Series 3 over the SE? Well, in terms of physical design, the SE (and the Series 6) has a larger retina display (30% larger to be exact), which makes it easier to read. The Series 3 also runs on an S3 processor chip, which isn’t quite as fast as the SE’s S5 chip.
That said, if you’re after a budget-friendly Apple Watch, you really can’t go wrong with the Apple Watch Series 3.
Key specs (Non-cellular) – Operating system: WatchOS; Screen size and type: 1.5in 272 x 340 OLED; Battery life: Up to 18 hours; Replaceable strap: No; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No