Best Apple Watches: Top 5 Smart Devices Most Recommended By Experts

An Apple Watch is the obvious smartwatch choice for iPhone users. Many models are available, including designs in cooperation with Nike or Hermès! Though no Apple Watch is cheap, prices — and features — can vary greatly, and it’s a bit of a project to compare all options. To save you time, StudyFinds did the work for you and created a list of the best Apple Watches for you to choose from.

Are you a loyal Apple fan? According to a 2018 survey, you may have more money, more friends, and be generally happier than an Android owner. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Android users and 1,000 iPhone users and found the phone in your pocket can indicate certain personality and lifestyle traits. For example, iPhone owners were 27 percent more likely to say they were “very happy” with their lives and were more likely to have a romantic partner with whom they were in love. They were further found to have an average of five close friends, compared to just three for Android users.

This is not to say that buying an Apple Watch will necessarily make you happier. But it could make you healthier. Some models can be used as fitness trackers or as crash or fall detectors. And a way for Apple Watches to detect people with a weak heart pump is in the making, according to scientists at Mayo Clinic. “Advanced diagnostics that once required travel to a clinic can be accurately done, as [our] Apple Watch ECG study demonstrates, from a patient’s wrist, whether they live in Brazil or Baton Rouge,” said Dr. Bradley Leibovich, medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Digital Health. “App-based access to a medical center can help address health disparities by making high-level diagnostics accessible to more people in real-time.”

By now you’re probably eager to view our list, and we won’t make you wait any longer. StudyFinds compared expert reviews across ten websites to determine the top-five best Apple Watches in 2023. Is your favorite model among them? Please let us know in the comments!

Person wearing Apple Watch fitness tracker
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

The List: Best Apple Watches, According to Experts

1. Apple Watch Series 8

In a very close race, the series 8 won by being the experts’ most frequent top pick. Seven out of ten called it the best Apple Watch available. “The Apple Watch Series 8 is the right Apple Watch for most people. It sits squarely between the SE and Ultra models in price and capabilities,” is PCMag‘s sober assessment.

Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8

ZDNET displays greater enthusiasm listing the watch’s advantages, especially its safety features: “The Apple Watch Series 8 is a big leap forward for the flagship smartwatch. It not only features an updated S8 chip but also two new sensors to detect falls and car accidents. This allows you to use the watch to contact emergency services and emergency contacts when you can’t reach your phone or the OnStar button in your car. The case is made of 100% recycled aerospace-grade alloy, giving the watch face plenty of strength to handle everyday wear and tear as well as the occasional accident. The glass watch face is also designed to be tough, using Apple’s Ion-X glass to protect against scratches and cracks while still providing great usability.”

“The Apple Watch Series 8 is the do-it-all flagship model that ticks all the right boxes,” summarizes Insider. “Slim bezels, check. Smooth performance, check. Always on display, check. All of Apple’s latest health sensors, impressive battery life, and safety features like Crash Detection? Check, check, and check.”

Insider‘s favorite feature is the always-on display: “The standard Series 8 is the first Apple Watch we’d recommend to anyone who asks, primarily thanks to the always-on display. A display with an always-on option may sound minor but it’s a quality-of-life feature that makes a big difference. It means you can glance at your watch to tell the time or check a notification without making a wrist gesture to wake the screen.” Another update to this new watch model benefits families in the making: “The most notable changes are a skin temperature sensor that supports tracking ovulation and fertility.”

2. Apple Watch SE

This watch model got just as many recommendations as the Series 8, but didn’t top many lists. It is, however, (in most cases) more affordable than the Series 8. According to Trusted Reviews, “though the SE is hardly cheap, especially compared to some of the dedicated fitness trackers and WearOS watches we recommend, it’s still very good value.”

Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch SE

Wired‘s experts refer to the SE as the Apple Watch that’s “best for most people.” “If you have any doubt as to whether you should get an Apple Watch at all, the SE is Apple’s entry-level option. It doesn’t have the flashiest standout features, like the ability to check your blood oxygen, check your electrocardiogram (ECG), or measure whether you’re ovulating via the temperature sensors. […] But unless you have a specific use case in mind […] you probably don’t need those things. […] It has the latest S8 chip that shows up in the Series 8 as well as newer features like Crash Detection to call your emergency contact and emergency responders if you’ve been in a car accident and are unresponsive for 10 seconds. It also has the newly redesigned Compass app, fall detection, support for international roaming, and works with Family Setup.”

Essentially, “the Apple Watch SE is kind of a hybrid device, pairing an older Apple Watch design with the Apple Watch Series 8’s chipset,” explains Tom’s Guide. “When choosing between the Series 8 and SE your ultimate decision will be if you want to spend an extra $150 […] 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.”

3. Apple Watch Ultra

This Apple Watch model was designed for the great outdoors — and priced for big budgets. “The Ultra model caters to extreme athletes who are looking for a rugged Apple Watch and exclusive features that cater to their adventures above and below sea level,” writes XDA.

Apple Watch Ultra
Apple Watch Ultra

“The Ultra is the biggest, most powerful, and priciest Apple Watch,” praises and cautions PCMag. “To put that price into perspective, you can buy two Series 8 or three SE models for the same price. It works hard to justify its cost, though. […] The Ultra has all of the same health features as the Series 8, but sets itself apart when you step outside the gym. The watch is built for all types of adventure, from dives to hikes and more. When you’re on foot, it uses L1 and L5 GPS for better accuracy and has a built-in 86dB siren that is audible from up to 600 feet away. For underwater treks, the watch has an EN13319 certification and a depth gauge with a water temperature sensor. It also works for recreational dives at depths of up to 40 meters and can function as a dive computer with the Oceanic+ app.”

The Ultra is TechRadar‘s favorite Apple Watch: “The Apple Watch Ultra is the ultimate Apple Watch. It’s bigger and bulkier, adding an action button that you can customize with genuinely useful features. Designed to survive all kinds of terrain, […] it could still offer better battery life (despite surpassing the regular Apple Watch) but a powerful and accurate GPS is great for exploring, plus there’s a diving sensor for the avid underwater adventurer. […] It’s expensive but powerful. And, during testing, we easily found this to be the best wearable that the brand has ever made.”

4. Apple Watch Series 7

The Series 8 predecessor still ranks highly among tech experts. It’s also more affordable than the newer model. “Last year, I noted that the Series 7 was one of the best sports watches on the market, with better water and dust resistance and updated algorithms, a bigger screen, and a full-size keyboard for texting. When I hold the Series 7 next to the Series 8, the difference in the display size and brightness is negligible. If you can find it on sale for around $300, it’s worth buying,” states a reviewer at Wired.

Apple Watch Series 7
Apple Watch Series 7

Insider calls the Series 7 “best overall for less” and echoes Wired’s recommendation: “If you can find the Series 7 on sale […], it offers an excellent way to get a modern high-performance Apple Watch with an always-on display and 99% of the same features as the Series 8 for a lower price. The Apple Watch Series 7 closely resembles the Series 8 except it doesn’t include Crash Detection or skin temperature sensors. When compared to the new SE, the Series 7 still stands as a more premium offering with an always-on display and more advanced health sensors.”

T3 even claims that “the Apple Watch Series 7 remains the best smartwatch on the market and, coincidentally, also the best Apple Watch on the market. […] The Apple Watch 7 may not be a revolution, but that’s okay – it’s the best smartwatch so far, building on what Apple’s done before, and making it even more accessible and useful.” However, this was written while they still awaited “the arrival of the Apple Watch Series 8.”

5. Apple Watch SE 2

The SE 2 was mentioned only twice in expert reviews, but we added it to the list based on the many recommendations for the SE and its price point. “The SE 2 model misses out on some inessential features, such as [always-on display] AOD, fast charging, and [electrocardiogram] ECG. It’s the perfect model for those on a limited budget,” writes XDA.

Apple Watch SE 2
Apple Watch SE 2

“Released along with the Series 8 and Ultra, this model packs most of the watchOS features you know and love. While it lacks some tempting features like AOD, it offers the same Apple Watch experience — for the most part, at least. For starters, all the fundamental sensors and offerings are included. So you get to track your activity, use Apple Pay, text/call people, and more. You even get the S8 processor included in the Series 8. The biggest differences between the SE 2 and Series 8 include the screen size options, Always-On display support, and other health-related features,” says XDA.

For TechRadar, the SE 2 is the best Apple Watch for “users on a budget:” “The Apple Watch SE 2 is the Apple Watch for anyone who doesn’t need an always-on display and isn’t too fussed about tracking their blood oxygen level or ECG. It has the car crash detection tool of the 8, plus extensive fitness tracking so you’re hardly missing out. There’s a gorgeous screen with brightness up to 1,000 nits so flicking your wrist up isn’t exactly suffering here. Using the same processor as the Apple Watch 8 means you get speedy performance while surprisingly, we found the battery overperformed with around two days of life here.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.