The best Apple Watch in 2022

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022) shown on wrist - best Apple Watch
(Image credit: Future)

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.

The best Apple Watch you can buy today

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Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist - best Apple WatchTop Pick

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The best Apple Watch overall

Specifications

Display: 41mm, 45mm
Heart Rate: Yes
GPS: Yes
LTE: Optional
Battery Life: 18 hours
Swim-Proof: Yes
Music Storage: 32 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Skin temperature reader for cycle + sleep tracking
+
Crash detection
+
New watchOS 9 workout interface
+
Low power mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Similar to previous Apple Watch

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.

Apple Watch SE (2022) shown on wrist - best Apple Watch

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The best Apple Watch for first-timers

Specifications

Display: 40mm, 44mm
Heart Rate: Yes
GPS: Yes
LTE: Optional
Battery Life (Rated): 18 hours
Swim-Proof: Yes
Music Storage: 16 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Lower price than previous Apple Watch SE
+
Color-matched bottom case
+
Same chipset as Apple Watch Series 8

Reasons to avoid

-
No always-on display

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 (AU$399) 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 (AU$230) 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.

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.

Read our full Apple Watch SE (2022) review.

a photo of the Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)
The best Apple Watch for athletes

Specifications

Display: 49mm
Heart Rate: Yes
GPS: Yes
LTE: Yes
Battery Life: 36 hours
Swim-Proof: Yes
Music Storage: 32 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Best battery life of any Apple Watch
+
Added Action Button
+
Emergency siren

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life still doesn’t compare with competitors

The Apple Watch Ultra is the best Apple Watch to buy if you're a serious athlete. In addition to new watchOS running features, the Ultra has an extra third button — the Action Button, which makes pausing the watch, or lapping the watch on the move, that little bit easier with sweaty fingers, or when wearing gloves. 

Its 49mm screen is huge, especially on petite wrists, but it's built for adventure. The bezel is made from titanium, with a lip around the screen to add more protection. The display is made from sapphire glass, and the watch has an increased water resistance of 100m. With up to 60 hours of battery life (in low power mode), it also has the stamina to keep up.

The Apple Watch Ultra is a serious smartwatch. It's not for everyone, but at the time it's the Apple Watch some people might've been waiting for. 

Read our full Apple Watch Ultra 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 (AU$629) 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.

If your band has seen better days, be sure to also check out how to clean an Apple Watch band.

Should you get an Apple Watch with LTE?

Select models of the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE (2022) support LTE service. LTE-capable models come at a $50 (AU$80) or $100 premium. The Apple Watch Ultra comes with LTE by default.

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.

Apple Watch SE (2022) shown on wrist

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.