Apple Watch 8 — this is what it needs for me to upgrade

Apple Watch 8 renders
(Image credit: Jon Prosser)

As a runner, my requests for a running watch are simple — to be easy to view, and navigate around on the run, and have a decent enough battery life to cope with marathon training. Until now, the Apple Watch hasn’t ticked those boxes.

Sure, it looks beautiful, but I’ve clumsily lost runs due to accidentally clicking end instead of pause. And even when using third-party apps on the watch, it just doesn’t compare to some of the best running watches on the market, such as the Garmin Forerunner 255, which is a similar price point. 

My second issue has always been battery-life related. On training days, I might head out for a run, then a recovery dog walk with my dog, then into the office, and I don’t want my watch to die before my legs do. I’ve never gotten used to the idea that I need to charge my Apple Watch 7 as often as I charge my phone, and it’s another reason why I usually leave it on charge and grab my Garmin when I head out the door. 

That said, with rumors circulating that Apple is launching a rugged, outdoor edition of the Apple Watch 8, designed for extreme sports and outdoor use, I’m excited. Apple has clearly put a lot of work into new running features, which will roll out with the launch of watchOS 9 later this year, so here’s what the rumors say, and what I hope to see this year. 

Apple Watch 7 workout test outdoor cycling automatic tracking

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Watch 8 sports edition: What we want to see 

Current rumors suggest that the Apple Watch 8 rugged edition will launch later in the year, likely at the same time as the iPhone 14 range, which we’re predicting will be announced September 13. There's no information available about the Apple Watch 8 price right now. But Apple has maintained the same price structure for several years, so we expect the Apple Watch 8 will match the price of the Apple Watch 7. The Apple Watch 7 starts at $399 for the 41mm model, with premiums for the larger 45mm model and cellular connectivity.

As for a sports, or ‘rugged’ edition of the Apple Watch 8, no name has been rumored yet, so it’s all still speculation. Most leaks or rumors have been speculating to the device not by name, but by its characteristics. It’s also nothing new — rugged Apple Watch rumors have been circulating since before the launch of the Apple Watch 7.

Whatever the watch is named, here’s what I’m hoping for: 

Apple Watch 7 Workout app

(Image credit: Future)

Longer battery life 

Compared to some of the best Garmin watches on the market, the battery life on the Apple Watch 7 doesn’t compare. Apple says the watch has an 18-hour battery life, but compared to the likes of the Garmin Forerunner 55 or Fitbit Charge 5, which have a smartwatch battery life of up to two weeks or 7 days, respectively, 18 hours just isn’t enough, especially for multi-day events or adventurers. If Apple really does want this to be an outdoors watch, they’re competing with the likes of the  Garmin Enduro, which can last up to a year (yes, 365 days) in its optimized battery-saving mode.

A sturdier design 

Smartwatches are expensive items of kit, but they’re often some of the most fragile. I’ve smashed a number of different devices by dropping them on the side of the pool or in the gym. More recently, a number of smartwatches, like the Garmin Fenix 7, have reinforced glass screens, built for tough adventures.

If Apple truly is designing a ‘rugged’ watch, it’ll need a tougher screen with better waterproofing to prevent it from getting ruined on its first climb.

The option to pause activities with a physical button 

If Apple is making a rugged Apple Watch 8, I’d want it to have a physical button that will let you stop, start and pause activities.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think sports watches should have touchscreens, or if they do, they should still have physical buttons. Sweaty fingers and touchscreens just don’t mix, no matter how sensitive said screen is designed to be. If Apple is making a rugged, adventure watch, I’d want it to have a physical button that would let you stop, start, and pause activities. Sure, you can press the digital crown and the side button at the same time to pause, but that’s not all that easy to do during an activity. 

Looking for more Apple Watch info? Here’s the best Apple Watch to buy right now, everything you need to know about the watchOS 9 updates, and all of the Apple Watch 8 rumors circulating right now.   

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.