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Best Apple Watch 2024: Which Apple wearables are worth buying?

Apple Watches are easily the best option for any iPhone users out there, but if you’re not sure which one to get then we’ve got you covered.

With the latest Wear OS watches no longer compatible with iOS, Apple Watches really are the way to go if you want to pair a smartwatch with your iPhone. Even though this limits consumer choice somewhat, it’s hardly a setback thanks to how competent the most recent line-up of Apple Watches are against the rest of the wearable market.

Apple has been perfecting its watchOS UI over time and with the mainline Apple Watch now in its ninth iteration, these devices have never felt more competent, and even though competition from the likes of TicWatch and Google are now more closely felt than ever, these companies are still playing catch up to what Apple has been able to achieve.

From the abundance of customisable watch faces to tons of third-party app support and even on-wrist Siri requests, the Apple Watch is a great accessory that can help iPhone users to make the most out of their handset. Of course, there’s no longer just one Apple Watch to go for however, so if you’re not sure which model is right for then you’re in the right place.

If you’re looking for more devices to pair with your handset then you can also check out our rundown of the best iPhone accessories. Alternatively, if you’re looking to upgrade wholesale then our guide to the best iPhones of 2024 is just the one to check out.

Which is the best Apple Watch 2024?

How we test

Find out how we test Apple Watches

Every smartwatch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week, or longer if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features.

During testing we will check it for key metrics including app support, usability and battery life. If the device offers fitness, location or health tracking features we will also test these for accuracy and reliability. 

For distance tracking we record how accurately the device recorded runs on tracks we know the length of. We also record how much battery is lost using things like in-built or connected GPS per hour. To check heart rate accuracy we compare the results recorded on the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.

After recording the data we then pair it with our general experience using the wearable day-to-day, letting you know if it’s comfortable to wear or if we encountered unexpected bugs during use over the review period.

Apple Watch Series 9

The best option for most people
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Pros

  • Certain models made from recycled aluminium
  • Faster Siri
  • Accurate tracking
  • Very bright screen

Cons

  • Design remains the same
  • Health data needs to be shown better

From a glance, it can be difficult to see the obvious upgrades in the Apple Watch Series 9 over its predecessor but if you’re moving up from an older device or even looking to buy your first smartwatch then you can’t go wrong with this smartwatch.

The biggest upgrade is in screen brightness which might not sound too exciting at first but proves to be incredibly helpful during everyday use. Now with a peak brightness of 1000 nits (the same as the original Apple Watch Ultra), it’s now much easier to see information in broad daylight, and the torch is now more potent, making it far more useful when trying to navigate your way to a lightswitch in the dark.

Inspired by one of the Apple Watch’s accessibility modes, the new ‘Double Tap’ feature brings the idea of hands-free interaction to the mainstream. By simply double tapping your thumb and forefinger, it’s now possible to scroll through the Watch 9’s smart stack of widgets, answer/reject calls or even stop a timer, all without having to touch the screen.

This feature is powered by the new S9 chipset which marks the first major performance boost that Apple Watches have seen in quite a while and it also allows for on-device Siri responses that don’t require the internet connection on your phone to operate. It all adds up to a seamless experience in what is easily the best Apple Watch yet.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch Series 9 Review

Apple Watch SE 2

The best affordable option
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Pros

  • Plenty of the best Apple Watch features in a cheaper package
  • Excellent software
  • Wide customisation options
  • Accurate tracking

Cons

  • Slow charging
  • No always-on display

Though the SE 2 is hardly cheap, especially compared to some of the dedicated fitness trackers and WearOS watches we recommend, it’s still very good value.

During testing, we found the watch offers equivalent fitness tracking to the 8, near identical battery life and access to the same portfolio of apps. The performance also proved to be on par with our tester never noticing any lag or slow down using the device.

There are a few compromises. The SE 2 doesn’t have an always on display option, which means you have to turn the screen on when fully whenever you want to check the time and that its charge speeds are much lower. It took well over an hour for us to get a full charge.

We found the compromises are worth making if you can live without these small luxuries which is why we actually recommend the SE 2 over the 8 for most buyers.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch SE 2 Review

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best option for serious athletes
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Pros

  • Top screen
  • Excellent sports tracking
  • The best Apple Watch

Cons

  • Fitness tracking feels dated
  • Lack of performance analysis
  • Mapping rolling out slowly

After giving up plenty of ground to the likes of Garmin and Coros, Apple finally struck gold with the release of the original Apple Watch Ultra. That premium wearable featured the type of sturdy design that is essential for serious athletes, and paired it with the excellent software experience that we’ve come to expect from an Apple Watch. It served as a solid foundation for sure, but the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has somehow managed to raise the bar even higher.

One of the best features of the original Ultra was its screen, which is not only larger than the standard Apple Watch at 1.93-inches, but also impressively bright, making it easier for divers to view when swimming in the darkest depths. The original had a peak brightness of 1000 nits but the Ultra 2 more than doubles that cap with 3000 nits of peak brightness, making it the easiest Apple Watch to view in direct sunlight, which is also handy for marathon runners.

Under the hood there’s a massive change with the introduction of the new S9 chipset. This far more powerful processor allows the Watch to process some Siri demands on-device, so you don’t have to deal with the delay that typically pops up when requests are sent to your iPhone and back again. The expanded chipset also enables Apple’s new ‘Double Tap’ feature.

Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this feature lets you interact with the Ultra 2 simply by double tapping your thumb and index finger together – no screen touch necessary. The input is contextual, so it’ll let you answer a call or disable a timer, depending on what’s happening. Even though a variation of this feature has existed for some time in the accessibility settings, Double Tap is still an ingenious means of controlling the watch, and a welcome addition for when you’re out on a run and you don’t want to smudge the screen with sweat.

Admittedly, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 arguably doesn’t do enough to warrant a full-on upgrade for those who bought its predecessor, but if you’re looking to buy your first Apple Watch Ultra then this is an easy one to recommend.

Reviewer: James Stables
Full review: Apple Watch Ultra 2 Review

We also considered…

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FAQs

Do Apple Watches work with Android

Apple Watches are not fully compatible with Android devices. To make the most of them they need to be paired with an iPhone or iPad.

Do all Apple Watches have LTE?

Only a select number of newer Apple Watches feature LTE connectivity. You should check their spec sheet before purchasing one if you need the added connectivity.

Do Apple Watches have NFC?

All modern Apple Watches support NFC and Apple Pay, meaning you can use them to make contactless payments in most regions and stores.

Comparison specs

You can see the specs breakdown of our chosen Apple Watches in the table below.

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
IP rating
Waterproof
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Colours
GPS

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