apple watch ultra alpine loop 1
Justin Duino / How-To Geek
Update, 01/24/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best Apple Watches you can buy.

What to Look For in an Apple Watch in 2023

The Apple Watch is much more than a timepiece with a screen instead of dials. When the smartwatch first debuted, it might have been mostly a fun gadget that could show the time and buzz you with notifications, but the Apple Watch has come a long way since then.

These days, the Apple Watch is a fitness tracking device, a GPS beacon, and a way to ensure you never miss out on an important message. It’s also a flexible fashion accessory.

All models of the Apple Watch are waterproof, so you can even wear them while swimming. The latest models like the Series 8 even include features like an FDA-approved ECG monitor and a blood oxygen sensor to monitor your vitals. The Apple Watch is simply hard to beat in smartwatch technology.

The biggest new feature in the 2022 Apple Watch models is the addition of Crash Detection, which can help alert emergency services if it detects you are in a severe car crash.

Earlier Apple Watch models played it fairly safe with finish and color options, but now you can get the newest Apple Watch in various finishes and colors. You can accessorize with a variety of Apple Watch bands, as well.

Now that you know what you’re looking at, let’s get into the best Apple Watches you can buy on the market today.

Best Apple Watch Overall: Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS)

Apple Watch 8 nike bands lineup
Apple

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Crash Detection and new temperature sensors
  • Same great design and display as the Series 7

Cons

  • Not a significant upgrade over the Series 7
  • Battery life still limited to a day

The Apple Watch Series 8 is not the company’s flagship smartwatch for 2022. That crown belongs to the Apple Watch Ultra, but the Series 8 is still the best Apple Watch for most people. It builds upon the already excellent Series 7 and includes iterative upgrades, continuing the company’s dominance in the smartwatch space.

You get the same refined design and fantastic display as the Series 7, but under the hood, there are a few changes, including two new temperature sensors. Although these sensors won’t give you on-demand readings, the smartwatch uses temperature data to offer retrospective ovulation estimates and period predictions. You can also see nightly temperature readings in the Health App.

Another marquee feature of the Series 8 is Crash Detection. The smartwatch uses a new high-g accelerometer and upgraded gyroscope with advanced algorithms to detect a severe car crash and call the emergency services for you.

Beyond these, the Series 8 is largely the same smartwatch as the Series 7. Sure, the chip inside now bears a new name—Apple S8—but it features the same CPU as the S6 and S7 chips that powered the Series 6 and Series 7, respectively. That said, even without a new processor, the Apple Watch Series 8 is easily one of the snappiest smartwatches on the market.

You also get the tried and tested collection of health and fitness features, including all-day activity tracking, sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, blood oxygen tracking, and the ECG app. And thanks to the improvements introduced by the watchOS 9, these are better than ever. So you now get more precise workout data, new running metrics, and advanced workout experiences.

Battery life remains a pain point for all Apple watches, and the Series 8 is no different. You get around a day’s worth of power with this watch. But you’ll be happy to know that there is now a Low Power Mode that can extend the battery life by a bit for crunch situations.

All-in-all, if you are looking for the best Apple Watch, it’s hard to go wrong with the Series 8. It’s also considerably cheaper than the Watch Ultra, which is built for those into outdoor adventures and need something extra rugged.

Best Apple Watch Overall

Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS, 41mm)

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

The Apple Watch Series 8 keeps the tried and tested design of the Series 7 but adds temperature sensors and the Crash Detection feature.

Best Apple Watch Overall

Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS, 45mm)

The Series 8 has everything most people need: robust health and fitness tracking, a refined design, and the latest bells and whistles.

Best Budget Apple Watch: Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen)

Grid app drawer on the Apple Watch SE 2022
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Pros

  • Affordable and cheaper than the original Watch SE
  • Includes the same S8 chip as Series 8 and Watch Ultra

Cons

  • No always-on display
  • Lacks dust resistance
  • No ECG or Blood Oxygen apps

The Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) is not only an upgrade over its previous generation but also replaces the Series 3 as the cheapest smartwatch in the company’s portfolio, making it a no-brainer if you want an affordable Apple Watch. But that doesn’t mean the new Watch SE is a slacker.

The 2022 model packs the same S8 chip as the more expensive Series 8 and Watch Ultra, so you get the same snappy performance. The new chip also makes the smartwatch futureproof, so you won’t need to upgrade for at least a few years unless you want to.

Still available in 40mm and 44mm versions, the Watch SE (2nd Gen) looks the same as its predecessor, but Apple has redesigned the back to color-match the aluminum case. Plus, the smartwatch includes new accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to offer the Crash Detection feature like the other new Apple Watch models.

The smartwatch is also great for essential health and fitness tracking. You get all-day activity tracking, sleep tracking, and heart-rate monitoring. The watchOS 9 handles the software duties and brings almost all the newly introduced bells and whistles, including updated Workout and Compass apps, more insights into your sleep, and a new Medications experience.

Unfortunately, while the Watch SE (2nd Gen) offers a lot of what’s available in the Series 8, it lacks an always-on display, ECG app, ability to monitor blood oxygen saturation, dust resistance, and temperature sensors, among the significant features.

However, if these features are not a deal-breaker for you, it’s an excellent option for an iPhone owner looking for their first smartwatch or a budget pick. Moreover, the Watch SE (2nd Gen) launch price is $30 less than its predecessor, making it a better value for money and an enticing purchase.

Best Budget Apple Watch

Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen, 40mm)

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

From the same chip as the Series 8 to the lower price than its predecessor, the newest Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) has a lot going for it.

Best Budget Apple Watch

Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen, 44mm)

The Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) packs enough goodies to satisfy people who don't need advanced health tracking and are happy with a solid smartwatch that does the basics right.

Best Apple Watch with Cellular: Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular)

Apple Watch Series 8
Apple

Pros

  • Ability to make calls and send texts without the iPhone
  • Support for Family Setup

Cons

  • LTE usage can drain the battery quicker
  • Costs $100 more than the GPS-only version

Cellular connectivity on your smartwatch can be helpful if you like to go on a run or bike ride without your phone. And fortunately for you, our best overall pick—the Apple Watch Series 8—comes with a variant with cellular modems to enable connectivity on the go even without your iPhone. You can use it to make calls, send texts, stream music, and much more, features that are otherwise unavailable without the paired iPhone.

Beyond the cellular-specific features, this version of the Series 8 has the same hardware and features as the GPS-only variant. So, you get a beautiful always-on display in a polished design. Plus, you can access all the health and fitness features, including all-day activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, ECG, blood oxygen monitoring, and more.

Another advantage of the Apple Watch with a cellular connection is the ability to use the Family Setup feature. With this feature, you can set up the Apple Watch for a family member who doesn’t own an iPhone. It’s particularly helpful if you don’t want to give your child an iPhone but want them to stay connected.

One thing to remember about the Apple Watch Series 8 cellular version is the impact of LTE connectivity on the smartwatch’s battery life. The more you are away from your phone and relying on LTE, the faster Apple Watch’s battery will drain. That said, Apple claims you should get about the same battery backup as the GPS-only version as long as you limit LTE use to four hours.

Also, the cellular model costs a $100 premium over the GPS-only Apple Watch Series 8, and then there is the monthly cost of the cellular connection.

Best Apple Watch with Cellular

Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 41mm)

The cellular variant of the Apple Watch Series 8 lets you stay connected without needing the paired iPhone. It also packs everything you get in the GPS-only version.

Best Apple Watch with Cellular

Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 45mm)

Reply to messages and stream music while you're out on a walk or a run, all without your iPhone, thanks to the built-in LTE connectivity in the Series 8 (GPS + Cellular).

Best Apple Watch for Durability: Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra with Night Mode on
Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Best battery life among all Apple watches
  • Dual-frequency GPS
  • Big, bright display
  • Cellular connectivity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too big for petite wrists

Apple has been gradually enhancing the durability of its smartwatches, and thanks to IP6X dust resistance, 50m water resistance, Ion-X front glass/ sapphire front crystal, and an aluminum/ stainless steel case, the Apple Watch Series 8 is tough enough for most people. But if you want the best Apple Watch for durability, there is no competition for the new Apple Watch Ultra.

Targeting endurance athletes and folks into outdoor adventures, the Watch Ultra is the company’s most rugged smartwatch to date. It sports an aerospace-grade titanium shell that is extra tough without being too heavy and a recessed sapphire front crystal to avoid corner damage to the screen.

The watch also comes with IP6X dust resistance and 100m water resistance. Plus, Apple claims that it has been tested against the MIL-STD-810H standard. In short, it’ll be hard to damage this Apple Watch.

Available in a single 49mm size, the smartwatch has the largest display on an Apple Watch, which is 20% bigger than the Series 8 and 27% more than the Watch SE. This large screen is great for readability, and thanks to the watch’s up to 2,000 nits peak brightness, you won’t have trouble reading, even under direct sunlight.

The Apple Watch Ultra is also the company’s first smartwatch to feature dual-frequency GPS with support for the new L5 frequency to provide the most precise location, distance, and route data in dense urban environments and the wilderness.

Another area where the Watch Ultra shines compared to the other Apple Watch models is battery life. It easily lasts through two days on moderate usage. While it’s not much when you consider some Android smartwatches, it’s certainly a welcome improvement for an Apple Watch.

In other features, like the Series 8, you get the S8 chip, new temperature sensors, an upgraded accelerometer, and a new gyroscope. The Ultra also houses a water temperature sensor for swimmers, a three-microphone array for better calling, and a secondary speaker for loud, emergency sirens.

Another little detail that you’ll only find on the Watch Ultra is the new Action button. You can customize it to do whichever function you want, making it easy to do a specific designated task no matter the situation.

Overall, the Apple Watch Ultra is perfect for anyone who wants the toughest Apple Watch with all the health and fitness features we expect from the company’s smartwatches.

Best Apple Watch for Durability

Apple Watch Ultra

Read Review Geek's Full Review

The Watch Ultra pips the other Apple watches in durability thanks to its titanium case, sapphire crystal front, and 100-meter water resistance.

The Best Apple Watch Bands

A black Apple Watch Series 7 on top of a matching iPhone 11.
Prilutskii_Evgenii/Shutterstock.com

If you thought that picking an Apple Watch was difficult, just wait until you try to pick a band. While you’ve got a handful of models and finishes for the Apple Watch itself, there are too many types of bands in various color options to try and narrow down in this roundup.

Even limiting your options to those offered by Apple, you still need to choose between about seven or so different models. That’s not even including all the third-party bands on the market!

The Solo Loop is one of the best starter options if you’re unsure what kind of band you want. It’s affordable, simple, and comes in a variety of colors. Once you’ve got a better idea of what you’re looking for, you may be ready to move on to other bands.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to make this choice alone. For a little help narrowing down your options, look at our roundup of the best Apple Watch bands.

The Best Apple Watch Bands of 2023

Nike Sport Band
Best Apple Watch Band for Running
Nike Sport Band
Nike Sport Loop
Best Apple Watch Band for Weight Lifting
Nike Sport Loop
Apple Sport Band
Best Apple Watch Band for Swimming
Apple Sport Band
Carterjett Tire Tread Band
Best Apple Watch Band for Large Wrists
Carterjett Tire Tread Band
Apple Braided Solo Loop
Best Apple Watch Band for Small Wrists
Apple Braided Solo Loop
Hermès Attelage Double Tour Band
Best Designer Apple Watch Band
Hermès Attelage Double Tour Band
Nomad Modern Band
Best Leather Apple Watch Band
Nomad Modern Band
Apple Sport Loop
Best Apple Watch Band for Sensitive Skin
Apple Sport Loop
Apple Milanese Loop
Best Metal Apple Watch Band
Apple Milanese Loop
Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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Profile Photo for Gaurav Shukla Gaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla is a technology journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting and writing about consumer technology. His work has appeared in Android Police, XDA Developers, and NDTV Gadgets 360.
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