3 smartwatches that are a better value than the Apple Watch Series 8

Fitbit Sense, Garmin Venu S2, Apple Watch Series 8
3 smartwatches that are a better value than the Apple Watch Series 8 (Image credit: Fitbit/Garmin/Apple)

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 8 has attractive selling points, after all, it's our pick for the best smartwatch. It's got a beloved sleek, curvy design that remains unchanged from its predecessor (the Series 7); it adds two new sensors that inform sleep and menstrual-cycle tracking; plus, it updated the gyroscope and accelerometer for crash detection.

Still, the Watch Series 8 starts at $399 — ouch, my wallet hurts! Plus, the battery life isn't all that great. Apple claims that you can squeeze out between 15 to 18 hours from it, but most users eke out less than that. Who wants to charge their watch every single night? Not I!

Apple Watch Series 8

Apple Watch Series 8 (Image credit: Future)

That said, it's important to take a look at other Watch Series 8 alternatives for your iPhone to see which smartwatches can give you more value (and juice) for your hard-earned buck.

For reference, take a look at the Watch Series 8's specs below and compare them to the smartwatches featured in this roundup.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Apple Watch Series 8
Starting price$399
Sizes41mm, 45mm
Display size/resolution1.9 inches, 484 x 396 pixels (45mm)
WaterproofUp to 50 meters
Always-on displayYes
Voice assistantsSiri
Battery life18 hours
Special featuresECG, SpO2, heart rate alerts, crash detection, compass, always-on altimeter, skin temperature reader

1. Garmin Venu 2S

Garmin Venu 2S

Garmin Venu 2S (Image credit: Garmin)

How is it better than the Apple Watch Series 8?

  • The Garmin Venu 2S has a claimed battery life of up to 10 days, which is much better than Apple's 18-hour battery runtime.
  • Sleep tracking, thanks to the Garmin Connect App, is slightly more advanced on the Garmin Venu 2S (but there are third-party apps on the Watch Series 8 that can offer more than Apple Health app).
  • Both the Garmin Venu 2S and Apple Watch Series 8 monitor your heart rate, but the latter takes samples on a more periodic basis (e.g. sitting, walking, and working out) while the former doles out heart-rate information on a more constant basis.

Garmin Venu 2S specs

Starting price: $399

Size: 40 mm

OS support: Android and iOS

Display: 1.1-inch, 360 x 360 pixels

Waterproof: Up to 50 meters

Always-on display: Yes

Voice assistants: No (must upgrade to the Venu 2 Plus)

Special features: SpO2, heart-rate alerts, incident detection during outdoor activities, compass, always-on altimeter

Battery life: 10 days

The Garmin Venu 2S, at $399, is listed at the same price as the cheapest Apple Watch Series 8 you can get.

Put your charger away because you do not have to worry about the Garmin Venu 2S draining out of juice in less than two days. The battery runtime delta between the two smartwatches is drastic. Garmin claims that the Venu 2S can last up to 10 days on a single charge. Even if the Venu 2S lives up to half of that battery life claim, it can still last much longer than the Apple Watch Series 8, which has an 18-hour runtime.

Similar to the Apple Watch Series 8, the Garmin Venu 2S has GPS, tracks blood oxygen levels, features a heart-rate monitor, offers a compass, and packs a gyroscope. However, unlike the Series 8, Garmin Venu 2S does not have a temperature sensor to track menstruation and ovulation. It also cannot take an ECG.

Sadly, Apple makes certain functions exclusive to its own smartwatches. For example, you to reply to texts with the on-screen keyboard (or even via voice dictation) with the Apple Watch Series 8. Although you can see your texts on the Garmin Venu 2S, you can't reply to them.

Still, if you place a lot of weight on battery life because you can't bear the thought of charging your smartwatch every night, the Garmin Venu 2S is a great choice.

2. Fitbit Sense 2

2. Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit Sense 2 (Image credit: Fitbit)

How is it better than the Apple Watch Series 8?

  • The Fitbit Sense 2 has better battery life, boasting up to 6 days. Apple claims the Watch Series 8 can only last 18 hours on a single charge.
  • The Fitbit Sense 2 is $100 cheaper than the Apple Watch Series 8

Fitbit Sense 2 specs

Starting price: $299

Size: 40.5mm

OS support: Android and iOS

Display: 1.58-inch, 336 x 336 pixels, AMOLED

Waterproof: Up to 50 meters

Always-on display: Yes

Voice assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant

Special features: ECG, SpO2, cEDA, skin temperature sensor, altimeter, heart-rate alerts

Battery life: Six days

If you love the Apple Watch Series 8's sleek, squircle design language (as opposed to the rounded watchfaces of the Google Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5), the Fitbit Sense 2 is your best bet.

Plus, with a price of $299, you'll be saving yourself 100 smackaroos with the Fitbit Sense 2. Similar to the Apple Watch Series 8, the Fitbit Sense 2 has on-board GPS (great for tracking your outdoor adventures), an accelerometer to track your steps, an oxygen saturation (SpO2) reader, an FDA-approved ECG sensor for checking atrial fibrillation, a heart-rate sensor, and sleep tracking.

Both watches have skin temperature sensors, but they're used differently. The Apple Watch uses it to keep an eye on the wearer's ovulation and menstrual cycles. The Fitbit Sense 2, on the other hand, uses it to track electrodermal activity.

However, keep in mind that, if you have an iPhone, there are several things that the Apple Watch can do that the Fitbit Sense 2 can't, including crash detection, accessing the iOS Photos app, replying to texts (Fitbit Sense 2 has limited functionality in this area), and more.

However, if the aforementioned missing features don't faze you, the Fitbit Sense, starting at $299, is an excellent buy over the Apple Watch, especially if long battery life is important to you.

3. Apple Watch SE 2022

Apple Watch SE 2022

Apple Watch SE (Image credit: Apple)

How is it better than the Apple Watch Series 8?

  • The Apple Watch SE is the cheapest Apple Watch you can get with a much more palatable starting price tag of $249.
  • It has the same 18-hour battery life as the Apple Watch Series 8, so don't think you're sacrificing much when it comes to power efficiency. It also shares the same chipset as the Watch Series 8.
  • The smallest Apple Watch SE (40mm) weighs 0.9 ounces while the smallest Apple Watch Series 8 (41mm) weighs 1.5 ounces, making it lighter option for those seeking a featherweight wearable.

Apple Watch SE 2022 specs

Starting price: $249

Size: 44mm or 40mm

OS support: iOS only

Display: 1.7-inch, 448 x 368 pixels (44mm)

Waterproof: Up to 50 meters

Always-on display: No

Voice assistants: Siri

Special features: heart-rate tracking, fall detection, crash detection, cycle tracking

Battery life: 18 hours

If you want to keep up with the Joneses by sporting a sleek Apple Watch on your wrist without spending a fortune, the Apple Watch SE should be on your shortlist. With $249 price tag, it's the best way to spend the least amount of money while still securing one of the coolest smartwatches on the market.

No, you won't get the ECG, SpO2 reader, nor the skin temperature sensor, but you can still use the Apple Watch SE for tracking your fitness activities and heart rate (e.g., you can still close those Apple Watch rings before the end of the day). It also comes with fall and crash detection, as well as Emergency SOS via satellite.

Plus, you can still do all the "smartwatchy" things the Apple Watch Series 8 can do, including texting, making calls, and listening to music. And with a double click of a side button, you can use your Watch SE to make swift, easy purchases with Apple Pay. Plus, you'll have access to a rich library of apps, thanks to the App Store.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!