Smartwatches have been on the rise over the years, especially when Apple entered the wearable tech market with the very first Apple Watch. In fact, the Apple Watch is the most popular and best selling smartwatch in the world. Ever since its release, the tech company has been refining the wearable with every new iteration.
However, trying to find the sweet spot for an Apple Watch is easier said than done because much like the Apple iPhone and the Apple MacBook, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s where we come in. This buyer’s guide will help you find the best Apple Watch at the best price for you. Whether you’re planning to pick up your first Apple Watch or you’re looking to upgrade, we’re here to navigate you through the various models that suit you the best.
Looking for discounts? Check out our guide to the best Apple Watch deals right now.
TL;DR – These are the best Apple Watches to buy
Apple Watch Series 8
If you want the best Apple Watch in 2023, then the Series 8—which is the most current model—is the one to pick. It has the same features that people have enjoyed in the past with the Apple Watch, such as GPS, heart rate monitor, and sleep tracker.
But, the watch also comes with a new S8 SiP chipset and new features that are not available on previous models, including crash and fall detection for emergency SOS, a skin temperature sensor, cycle and fertility tracking, and more. The smartwatch also boasts up to 18 hours of battery life per charge.
Meanwhile, it comes in two models—41mm and 45mm “always-on” watch faces—while it also comes in four aluminum or stainless steel case colors with matching sport band—including Midnight, (PRODUCT) RED, Silver, and Starlight. The smartwatch also comes in a cellular option, so it doesn’t have to be tethered to an Apple iPhone for mobile data.
Apple Watch Series 7
While the Series 8 is the latest and greatest from Apple, it’s a pretty small upgrade from the Apple Watch Series 7—which is the best runner-up pick in 2023. It features the same GPS, heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, blood oxygen tracker, electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure electrical activity of the heart, and more, but it doesn’t have the latest chipset (it sports the older S7 SiP) and features, like crash and fall detection, cycle and fertility tracking, and others.
Released in 2021, the Series 7 also comes in the same two model sizes as the Series 8—41mm and 45mm “always-on” displays. But, it does come in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium, instead of the Series 8’s aluminum and stainless steel options.
If you don’t need the latest features and you want to save some money, then the Series 7 is the one to pick. However, Apple discontinued the smartwatch, but you can find it in various color options available at retailers like Amazon starting as low as $221.
Apple Watch SE
Looking for an Apple Watch on the cheap? Starting at $249, the Apple Watch SE (second generation) is a fantastic pick if you’re on a budget. Although its exterior design is a bit older, the SE’s interior is blazing-fast with Apple’s latest S8 SiP chipset—which is the same chipset in the newest Series 8. This means you’re going to get the same speed as the Series 8, but at a fraction of its price tag.
The wallet-friendly smartwatch also features GPS, fitness and sleep trackers, heart rate monitor, and more. It even comes with crash and fall detection—which isn’t available in the Series 7. However, it doesn’t come with ECG, cycle and fertility tracking, or a skin temperature sensor.
It comes in 40mm and 44mm watch face options (“always-on” displays are not available), while there are three aluminum case color options available—Silver, Midnight, and Starlight. Stainless steel and titanium materials are also not available.
Apple Watch Ultra
Best for Adventurers, Athletes, and Runners
Apple created a new category with their newest wave of Apple Watch models. The Apple Watch Ultra—which starts at $799—is made for adventurers and serious athletes who need something with a very long battery life and durability for outdoor activities, such as trail running, mountain climbing, deep sea diving, and more.
Made from titanium and sapphire glass, the rugged smartwatch is designed with an extra physical “Action” button that’s customizable for additional control. This means you can start a workout, mark a location on a compass, begin a dive, and more with just a touch of a button. It even has increased water resistance of up to 100m (about 328 feet) underwater and up to a whopping 36 hours of battery life to keep up with you.
It only comes in one size, 49mm, and one case color, titanium, but also comes in an assortment of band and loop colors and types—such as Starlight alpine loop, blue and gray trial loop, Midnight ocean band, and much more.
Apple Watch Hermès
Want to splurge? The Apple Watch Hermès is the tech company’s most expensive smartwatch. Apple partnered with Hermès, a Paris-based design house, to deliver an Apple Watch that’s luxurious and chic for high-end and fashionable shoppers.
The watch itself is a 41mm or 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 with stainless steel case, so you’re going to get the same features, functions, and usage as our best overall pick. But, Hermès makes the packaging, exclusive watch faces, and watch bands—which are made from high quality leather or woven nylon and cut and stitched by hand.
However, that kind of opulence is not cheap. The Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1,229 with a Casaque Single Tour woven nylon band and goes up to $1,759 with a Gourmette Metal Double Tour leather band.
What to Look for in an Apple Watch
Although there are more Apple Watch models than ever before, it’s not as overwhelming to pick the best one. While models vary from size, durability, and price, its user experience stays just about the same—thanks to the current watchOS 9 software.
Each model will run at its best, while delivering notifications, tracking health vitals and sleep, taking phone calls, sending text messages, and, of course, displaying the time all from the convenience of your wrist. But, there are differences in the hardware itself that could make it tough to navigate, so here’s what to look for in an Apple Watch in 2023.
From casual everyday use to the rugged outdoors, there’s now an Apple Watch for just about all users. Starting at $399, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the model most people will gravitate to—thanks to its sleek design, wide range of features and apps, and usefulness when paired with an Apple iPhone. It’s the all-around favorite for its speed, long battery life, and utility when tracking health and sleep. It’s the gold standard.
However, if you’re on a budget, then go with the previous model Apple Watch Series 7 or the wallet-friendly Apple Watch SE (second generation). The Series 7 has just about the same features and usability than the latest Series 8, except it’s slower and doesn’t have crash and fall detection or cycle and fertility tracking. Apple discontinued the Series 7, but you can still find it new at retailers like Amazon and Walmart at slightly cheaper prices.
As for the SE, which starts at $249, it features an older design on the outside, but the latest S8 SiP chipset on the inside. This means it will run as smooth and fast as the Series 8, but without the latest features, such as an ECG, cycle and fertility tracking, and a skin temperature sensor.
For the serious athlete or the outdoorsy among us, the Apple Watch Ultra will satisfy. Apple created the Ultra line specifically for adventurers, athletes, and runners who want precision and detailed tracking and utility. This model is rugged enough for even the harshest of conditions and activities, such as mountain climbing and deep sea diving.
Meanwhile, most Apple Watch models come in two sizes—either 41mm or 45mm “always-on” watch faces—except for the Apple Watch SE, which comes in 40mm or 44mm, and the Ultra, which comes in only one size, a generous 49mm “always-on” display. Picking the best size for you depends on the size of your wrist.
As for connectivity, there are only three Apple Watches that have a GPS-only model option—the Series 8, Series 7, and the SE. This means you’d have to be tethered to an Apple iPhone for mobile data. But, the other models—Series 8, Series 7, and Ultra—have GPS and cellular connectivity options. This means you don’t need an iPhone for mobile data to use these models. They have their own cellular antennas and work independently. But, this also means you’d have to get a separate mobile plan line for the Apple Watch.
Overall, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best option for most people. It hits the mark when it comes to the newest features and price. But, if this model is too expensive, then the Series 7 is a worthy runner-up pick—especially since it has just about the same design as the Series 8 at a discounted price.