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Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2, and Apple Watch Ultra are now official

Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and Apple Watch SE.

iPhone users loyal to the platform know that the September launch events also bring over new wearable gadgets that work with the iPhone. It’s usually new Apple Watch generations that are unveiled during the event, and this year is no different. The iPhone 14 event brought us Apple’s Apple Watch Series 8, the new Apple Watch flagship. On top of that, Apple introduced the second-gen Apple Watch SE 2, updating the hardware of its more affordable smartwatch.

But this Apple Watch announcement delivers a big twist in the form of the Apple Watch Ultra. That’s Apple’s largest and more durable smartwatch to date.

Apple Watch Series 8: Specs, prices, and release date

The 41mm and 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 models will replace the Series 7 that came last year. They’re identical to last year’s models, featuring the same generous displays that extend from edge to edge.

The new Apple Watch Series 8 models also run on a similar System-in-Package (SiP) platform. Apple calls it the S8 chip, but it’ll be nearly identical to last year’s S7. That will ensure top performance for the wearable.

Apple Watch Series 8 ovulation estimate feature.
Apple Watch Series 8 ovulation estimate feature. Image source: Apple Inc.

You also get GPS-only and Cellular versions and an assortment of case colors, materials, and bands.

What has changed concerns the sensors department? Apple isn’t ready to bring blood sugar monitoring and blood pressure readings to the wrist. But the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature a new body temperature sensor, a first for the Apple Watch.

The temperature sensor will not show precise temperature readings throughout the day. But it’ll be able to determine abnormal values indicative of a fever. Similarly, women can use the temperature sensor can to monitor peak fertility.

Apple Watch Series 8 Crash Detection feature.
Apple Watch Series 8 Crash Detection feature. Image source: Apple Inc.

The temperature sensor joins the previous sensors that Apple built into the Watch. The Apple Watch Series 8 will still feature sensors for the heart rate and blood oxygen. You can also use the device to take EKGs on the go.

The new wearable features a new Crash Detection feature that will automatically detect car accidents and notify first responders.

Apple Watch Series 8: Low Battery Mode.
Apple Watch Series 8: Low Power Mode. Image source: Apple Inc.

A new Low Power Mode will let users extend battery life for up to 36 hours. Cellular models will get international roaming support.

Apple Watch Series 8 will be available for preorder on Wednesday, September 7th, alongside the iPhone 14 models. The wearable will have the same release date as the handset, September 16th.

Apple Watch Series 8: All new features.
Apple Watch Series 8: All new features. Image source: Apple Inc.

The prices will remain unchanged. The 41mm Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399, and the cheapest 45mm model will retail for $429. Add $100 on top of these prices for cellular connectivity. And obviously, prices change depending on your mix-and-match of cases and bands.

What’s new in Apple Watch SE 2?

The Apple Watch SE mid-ranger is finally getting a much-needed upgrade. That means the wearable will get a processor bump all the way to the S8 SiP, the same chip that powers the Apple Watch Series 8.

The name of the first-gen Apple Watch SE will stay in place. We’re not going to have an Apple Watch SE 2 moniker, although that’s what we’ve used to differentiate the two models.

Apple Watch SE announced during Apple's iPhone 14 event.
Apple Watch SE announced during Apple’s iPhone 14 event. Image source: Apple Inc.

Like its predecessor, the new Apple Watch SE will not get all of Apple’s health sensors. There’s no support for EKG, blood oxygen, or temperature readings on this one.

Still, the new Apple Watch SE is a great choice starting at $249 (40mm) and $279 (44mm). Like the Series 8, the new SE goes on sale online on Wednesday, hitting stores a week later. It also comes in Cellular variants, and they’ll cost an extra $50 each.

Apple Watch Ultra: “Far out” experience?

The big Apple Watch redesigned that some leaks claimed was coming to the Series 8 this year is finally here. But only the Apple Watch Ultra gets it. We’re looking at a larger titanium chassis with flatter sides and a flat sapphyre crystal screen. These features should increase the durability of the wearable and make it a suitable gadget for extreme sports fans.

New Apple Watch Ultra: Digital Crown and Side button.
New Apple Watch Ultra: Digital Crown and Side button. Image source: Apple Inc.

Another significant design change concerns the buttons. First, the Digital Crown and the Side button are encased in a protrusion to protect the former. Secondly, there’s a third, customizable button opposite the Side button. It’s called the Action button.

New Apple Watch Ultra: Action button.
New Apple Watch Ultra: Action button. Image source: Apple Inc.

The display is even larger than on the Series 8, with the Apple Watch Ultra coming in a massive 49mm size. That’s not going to fit all wrists, but Apple is really going for better battery life here. The only way to increase battery capacity is to make a larger wearable.

Add to that the new Low Power Mode that offers users access to apps and notifications, and you end up with a gadget that can provide up to 60 hours of battery life (after a software update). The Ultra can offer 36 hours of battery life before without Low Power Mode.

Apple Watch Ultra bands.
Apple Watch Ultra bands. Image source: Apple Inc.

Also important to note is that the Apple Watch Ultra comes only in a Cellular variant. After all, you’ll want to have cellular connectivity handy if you’re out hiking or surfing.

Everything else stays the same. The Apple Watch Ultra is essentially a larger Apple Watch Series 8 model. It has the same guts, the same sensors, and the same watchOS 9 features. The extra screen real estate will help display additional complications. And the Ultra will support extreme sports and extreme environments.

Apple Watch Ultra display.
Apple Watch Ultra display. Image source: Apple Inc.

You’ll have to pay $799 for one of these babies, and they’re available to preorder on Wednesday. They’ll ship on September 23rd, however.

Apple Watch Ultra: All features.
Apple Watch Ultra: All features. Image source: Apple Inc.

As with the other models, you can mix and match cases and accessories, so the final price will vary. The good news is that the old bands work with the new chassis, so your collection isn’t useless. However, they might not look as good as the new dedicated Apple Watch Ultra bands.

Apple Watch Ultra price.
Apple Watch Ultra price. Image source: Apple Inc.

More Apple Watch coverage: For more Apple Watch news, visit our Apple Watch Series 8 guide.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.