Best Apple Watch 2023: Which model should you buy?

When the first Apple Watch was unveiled way back in 2015, people were sceptical. What was it for? Is it really worth splashing out all of that money just so you can read messages on your wrist?

Over the years, though, the Apple Watch has become a pretty essential gadget for a lot of people. It makes managing your social life easier, tracks your workouts so you can brag about how fast you can run a 5K, and can even detect when you've had a fall or crash and contact the relevant authorities. In 2023, there are a lot of reasons to buy an Apple Watch.

Deciding which Apple Watch to buy is quite a challenge though. There are a lot of models to choose from and, at first glance, there isn't a whole lot of difference between them.

This comprehensive guide to Apple Watches is here to help you choose. We'll help you decide the best Apple Watch to buy by talking you through everything you need to consider while shopping and running through your options… but if you have a particular model in mind, use the links below to skip directly to the relevant section.

In this blog:

How to choose the best Apple Watch for you

The best Apple Watch for you ultimately depends on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend.

To help you narrow down your search, write down an ordered list of everything you'd like to do with your Apple Watch. For example: if you swim regularly, water resistance should be right at the top. If you prioritise style, you might want to consider one of Apple's exclusive collaborations with Hermès (the fashion brand, not the delivery service now known as Evri). Here's a quick list of considerations to help you answer that all-important question: 'which Apple Watch is the best for me?'

  • Will I need to track exercise?
  • If so, what exercise will I track?
  • Am I bothered about appearance?
  • Do I need LTE (mobile data)?

By placing your requirements in order, you can figure out your 'non-negotiables' and, by contrast, what you'd be okay going without.  What you may find from carrying out this exercise is that you can get everything you need without necessarily going for the latest models, which might save you quite a lot of money when buying an Apple Watch!

What is the best Apple Watch?

It really depends on how you define 'best'. The most objective measure is power and performance, which would unsurprisingly put the latest models – the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Series 8 at the time of writing – at the top of the pile. Picking the best out of those two comes down to what you want to use your Apple Watch for, though; the Apple Watch Ultra is more rugged, making it ideal for extreme sports enthusiasts, but it's also quite a bit more expensive than the Apple Watch Series 8 (which has the same chipset) – so, for someone who doesn't ride a BMX at the weekend, the Series 8 is probably the better option.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that there is no Apple Watch best series. The best Apple Watch is the one that most closely fits your requirements, so keep an open mind and don't assume that 'newest' means 'best'.

Which is the best Apple Watch in 2023?

One of the first questions you'll have when buying an Apple Watch: which series should I go for? As we wrote above, the best Apple Watch is the one that best fits your needs and requirements… but here's a run-through of some of the most popular options.

Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 is (at the time of writing) the newest model in the Watch range and, as such, offers the most 'complete' Apple Watch experience thanks to a combination of the latest tech and software.

Powered by the S8 dual-core processor, the Series 8 offers a huge range of fantastic features including improved fitness tracking, pulse and blood oxygen monitoring, fast charging, call/message notifications, music playback and, of course, a massive selection of apps – in short, everything you could ask for from a smartwatch.

There are a few new features too. The first is car crash detection, which uses the Watch's gyroscope and accelerometer to detect if you're involved in an accident and contact 999 if required. It's a feature we hope no one has to use, but it could absolutely save lives.

Apple also added a second temperature sensor to improve the accuracy of body heat tracking. This is especially useful for menstrual cycle tracking, and the Watch Series 8 uses this improved data to predict period patterns and ovulation cycles.

The Watch Series 8 benefits from all of the new features of watchOS 9 too, the most exciting of which is the addition of a Low Power Mode to eke out an extra bit of battery life. You can still track workouts and listen to music in Low Power Mode, so it's a lifesaver if you've rocked up to the gym only to realise you haven't charged your Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn't look that different to the Series 7, although you have the usual plethora of colours and straps to choose from in order to make the Series 8 your own. Pricing varies depending on case size and material, with 41mm and 45mm options available in aluminium and stainless steel.

There's no denying the Series 8 is one of the best smartwatches on the market, but it's also one of the most expensive. If you don't want to splash out and buy a Series 8 outright, take a look at our fantastic Apple Watch Series 8 deals instead!

Apple Watch Ultra

Just look at that name: Ultra! Surely this is the best Apple smartwatch of them all?!

Well, yes and no. The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple's answer to the rugged smartwatches made by the likes of Garmin. It's built to endure harsh conditions, with a robust titanium 49mm case and resistance to water and dust. It features more accurate GPS tracking, 68 hours of battery life, a 40% louder speaker for attracting attention, and a precision start feature that captures your heart rate and GPS location before you set off.

In short, the Apple Watch Ultra is aimed firmly at adventurers, extreme sports enthusiasts and anyone else who might put their Apple Watch through more than the average user. It's built for action, and should be at the top of your shopping list if you're the kind of person who spends their weekends in a kayak, halfway up a mountain, or camping out in the middle of nowhere for no reason other than you enjoy it.

If you aren't that type of person, you might be better off sticking with the Apple Watch Series 8. It has the same S8 dual-core processor, sensors and software, as well as many of the same apps. Crucially, the base model is a lot cheaper too and, as we established earlier in this guide, there isn't much point paying for features you aren't going to use.

Of course, if you are about to set off on a big adventure or hurtle down a BMX track at high speed, this is the Apple Watch for you. Check out our best Apple Watch Ultra deals today!

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 launched in 2021 but is still one of the best Apple Watch models on the market.

It delivers pretty much everything you could ask for from an Apple Watch in 2023, with a multitude of fitness tracking options, sleep analysis, call/message management, Apple Pay, blood oxygen/ECG monitoring, Siri integration and a wealth of GPS sensors included as standard. It's pretty durable as well, with increased glass thickness and an IP6X-rating for dust and water resistance.

Like the rest of the Apple Watch range, you get a lot of customisation options too. The basic aluminium casing (with 41mm and 44mm variants) is available in Midnight, Starlight, green, blue and (PRODUCT)RED finishes, and there are a huge range of straps and watch faces to choose from too. You really can make the Series 7 your own, but be aware that the price can tick up quite quickly depending on the strap you choose!

Performance-wise, the Series 7 still stands up to the Series 8. Unlike smartphones, most smartwatch processor updates focus on optimisations for new hardware features rather than performance boosts, so most people won't notice a great deal of difference between the two speed-wise. It obviously won't get support for quite as long as the Series 8, but we're talking a difference of maybe a year or so (by which point you may have upgraded anyway).

Most importantly, the Apple Watch Series 7 is cheaper than the Series 8 – especially if you buy one second hand. With that in mind, why not take a look at our refurbished Apple Watch Series 7 range and see how much you could save?

Apple Watch SE

Like its phone namesake, the Apple Watch SE is a cheaper alternative to Apple's flagship smartwatches. Don't let the lower price tag fool you, though; the Watch SE still boasts a fantastic array of features, including the same S8 chipset as the Series 8, and does the basics extremely well. You can answer calls, send and receive messages, track a massive range of exercises and access most of the apps available on the Series 8 too.

It even retains a few of the key features of the Series 8, like watchOS 9 compatibility, car crash detection and water resistance. There are some inevitable compromises though: you won't get ECG tracking or the always-on display, and the screen bezel is slightly wider than the edge-to-edge Series 8. These are pretty minor omissions if you're just planning to track a few exercises, but hardcore fitness enthusiasts may find it a little lacking.

The Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm aluminium casing options, with a choice of colours including Starlight, Midnight and silver. You also have the choice between GPS and cellular models.

In summary, the Watch SE is a fantastic entry level smartwatch and ideal if you're on a tighter budget. In fact, it's arguably the best value Apple Watch around! Take a look at some of our best Apple Watch SE 2022 deals today or, if you want to save even more money, have a look at our refurbished Apple Watch SE smartwatches.

Apple Watch Series 6

Although it was first released in 2020, the Apple Watch Series 6 still supports the latest version of watchOS (at the time of writing) and holds up pretty well against subsequent releases.

We'll be honest: the Apple Watch Series 6 isn't the best Apple smartwatch you can buy. The Series 7 and Series 8, while not that dissimilar in appearance and features, perform better and will likely receive support and updates for longer. That said, if you're working with a tight budget or you're just looking for a smartwatch rental for the year, the Series 6 is well worth a look. While it's older, it still offers a lot for the price.

Although it is a little older, the Series 6 shares many of its features with its successors. It has an always-on display, pulse oxygen and ECG monitoring, fall detection, GPS, an altimeter, compass and waterproofing up to 50m. It can do pretty much everything you'd want from a smartwatch too: track exercise, screen calls, answer messages, set up alerts via Siri, download apps and so on.

The Series 6 boasts a lot of customisation options as well. There are two casing options, 40mm or 44mm, available in two materials: basic aluminium and premium stainless steel. You're spoilt for choice when it comes to colours, straps and watch faces too, although it's worth bearing in mind that straps, in particular, can run up the price depending on what you go for (especially if you want one of the fancy Hermès straps).

The Series 6 may be getting on a bit (in smartwatch terms, at least) but don't rule it out: it offers a lot of the same features as newer models at a lower price, and still holds its own performance-wise in 2023. Check out our best Apple Watch Series 6 offers or, if you're looking for a shorter term commitment, take a look at our Apple Watch Series 6 rental deals!

Apple Watch Series 5

When thinking "which Apple Watch should I buy?", most people's first thought won't be the Apple Watch Series 5. It was first released in 2019 AKA pre-pandemic (which feels like an age ago) and five subsequent models have been released since. Like we said: not the obvious option.

The Series 5 does have a few things going for it though. One: it's cheap. If you're after a fitness tracker without breaking the bank, it's a strong option. Two: Apple still supports it at the time of writing, so you can enjoy almost all of the features of watchOS 9. They obviously won't support it forever, but it does make the Series 5 a viable short-term purchase or rental.

Three: it does the basic smartwatch stuff very well. You can track exercise, take calls, send messages and generally do everything you'd expect from an entry-level smartwatch. If you're in the Apple ecosystem already (i.e. you have an iPhone) then you can sync up and enjoy all of the productivity benefits that brings.

It's not as new or flashy as its successors, but if you're on a budget or you're looking at entry-level models for the odd bit of fitness tracking, consider a refurbished Apple Watch Series 5 (we have loads of great Apple Watch Series 5 rentals available too!).

Are there other Apple Watches?

Yes, there are a few alternative options we haven't covered above – although they're mainly older and no longer support the latest version of watchOS. That means you'll miss out on the latest features released by Apple or, in some instances, miss some security patches (although Apple have pushed updates to older devices in some instances). The Apple Watch Series 3, 2 and 1 all fall into this category, so it's a case of weighing up whether or not you can live without certain features vs. the savings offered by going for an older model.

Apple has also collaborated with Nike on a series of sport-focused watches, and Hermès on some high-end fashion collections. The Nike Series is worth a look if sport is your main focus and you're already tied in with Nike somehow (like using the Nike+ app) but you can still enjoy a huge range of exercise tracking options with a standard Apple Watch. The Hermès range is aimed firmly at the fashion conscious and has the price tag you'd expect from such a product – while we're not quite talking Rolex prices, they are significantly more expensive than your standard Apple Watch!

Should you get an Apple Watch with LTE?

The main benefit of an LTE (or cellular) Apple Watch is that you can use it without having your iPhone nearby. It's useful if you lose your phone or run out of battery, or if you have a hobby where you don't necessarily want to have your phone nearby but do need some form of connectivity. That extra functionality comes at a cost though, usually £100 or so more. That isn't insignificant and, considering most people will take their phone with them absolutely everywhere, LTE isn't really an essential feature unless you have a specific use case in mind.

What iPhone do you need to use an Apple Watch?

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: you can only use an Apple Watch with an iPhone. If you own an Android and want to buy a smartwatch, look elsewhere – there are loads of good Samsung smartwatches, and a whole host of fitness trackers to choose from as well. You might have heard about a workaround to get an Apple Watch working with an Android but, honestly, they probably won't work and, even if they do, you won't have a good experience. Save yourself the hassle!

Now for the good news: the Apple Watch works with the iPhone 6s and newer, which means the vast majority of iPhone owners can buy and use an Apple Watch without any issues whatsoever. If you have an older iPhone than the 6s, well… it might be time for an upgrade. Here are some great value refurbished iPhone models and refurbished phones to consider!

Need some extra cash for your Apple Watch upgrade? Sell your phone for cash with us! Head over to our sell mobile phone or iPhone trade in pages to get started.