In the ever-evolving world of technology, the question isn’t just about what’s new, but also about whether the new is worth the upgrade. As such, if you own an older Series 7 or 8 Apple Watch, does the new S9 chip alongside other incremental upgrades warrant spending cash on the latest? I will try to answer just that in this review of the Apple Watch Series 9.
But before I begin, let’s take a look at its specifications in brief.
Apple Watch Series 9 Specifications:
|Ion-X glass (Aluminum) / Sapphire crystal (Stainless steel)
|Rubber, Textile, and Stainless Steel
|Starlight, Midnight, Silver, (PRODUCT) RED, and a new Pink for the aluminum case
|Retina LTPO OLED panel, Always on Display (AoD), Up to 2000 nits brightness
|Apple S9 SiP with 64-bit dual-core), 4-core Apple Neural Engine
|64GB internal storage
|308mAh (Up to 18 hours*)
|USB-C Magnetic wireless charging
|Ambient light, Always-on altimeter, Compass, Blood oxygen (SpO2), Electrical heart sensor, Third-generation optical heart sensor, High-g accelerometer
|Bluetooth 5.3, WiFi 4 (802.11n), LTE, UMTS, Second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, Apple Pay, GymKit
|L5, GNSS, Galileo, BeiDou
|Yes (built-in three-microphone array, dual speakers)
|IP6X dust resistant, WR50
|iOS 17 or later
|Price in Nepal
Apple Watch Series 9 Review:
Just like the Watch Ultra 2, Apple didn’t feel the urge to make any big changes with the Series 9. We’ve got a brighter display, a faster S9 chip, and a few other small improvements for a better user experience, which perfectly fits the definition of an “incremental upgrade.”
These are basically what both the Watch Series 9 has to offer.
Faster S9 Chip
Something that is new in the Series 9 is the double-tap gesture that lets you control various shortcuts with a double-tap between your thumb and index finger, no need for both hands. It obviously has some usefulness, but the responsiveness depends on how vigorously you double-tap, and it doesn’t play nice with all apps.
Despite its potential, Apple needs to put in some work to make this feature a real hit. Oh, and a heads up – this double-tap magic doesn’t work on older models. Apple credits the faster neural engine on the new S9 chip for making it happen (among other things), though I can still manage some gestures on older Apple Watches using “Assistive Touch.”
To my surprise, this chipset upgrade turned out to be quite interesting. While things like getting by the UI or launching an app aren’t drastically faster here compared to Watch Series 8 and Series 7 with the S8 chip, I can definitely say that Apple’s latest smartwatch feels more responsive in general.
More Storage and Better Siri
Now, the new Apple Watch Series 9 packs a whopping 64 gigs of storage – that’s double what the old ones had. So, more room for all your apps, music, and whatnot. And if you’re a fan of chit-chatting with Siri, Watch Series 9 is your new bestie.
Thanks to the S9 chip, this smartwatch can handle Siri requests all by itself. Internet-reliant requests are out of the question but now you don’t have to wait for Wi-Fi or cell signal when you want Siri to send a message, start a workout, or set a timer.
Apple also says it has improved dictation by as much as 25% although that was pretty much a hit-or-miss in my experience. I guess it depends on things like your accent and enunciation as well but Series 8 and Series 7 weren’t that far behind either when I tried dictating a tongue twister or sending a casual message to my sister.
Design and Build
In terms of design and build quality, Apple literally has not made any changes to the Series 9 over last year’s models. That means the Series 9 bears the same elegant, “classic” Apple Watch look.
Apple lets you pick between either 41 or 45mm case for the best fit and there’s even a new “pink” color option if you get it with an aluminum case.
But display protection is the same as always. I almost have this sense of anxiety with the Watch Series 9 that I’m going to bump into things and scratch it, or worse. And it doesn’t help that its display is also curved around the edges making it even more prone to accidental damage which is why I’ve had to be extra careful by applying a screen protector on my Series 9.
Wait, I’m not done yet! You can, however, upgrade the Series 9 with a stronger stainless steel case which has a sapphire crystal glass as well but guess what? That upgrade alone is almost 70% more expensive. Some of my colleagues are also fond of putting on a case on their smartwatch but that’s never really been my thing.
Display and Software
The display side things need no complaint at all. The Series 8 already had some of the best screens on any smartwatch but Apple has done this time is bump the max brightness by exactly 1,000 nits on this model. So that means the Series 9 can now hit 2,000 nits at best which is awesome for sunny days. Apart from getting ridiculously bright, it can now get as dim as 1 nit for easier visibility during the night as well.
I really like how Apple maximized the edge-to-edge display in watchOS 10. Now, almost every app fills up the screen, giving me loads of info at a quick glance. It’s like getting more bang for your buck in terms of screen space.
Health and Fitness Tracking
The Series 9 is great at keeping an eye on your health. I tried it alongside the Watch Ultra 2 (review), and they’re pretty similar with heart rate, ECG, and blood oxygen stuff. But the Ultra 2 sometimes thinks I’m sleeping more than I really am.
But when it comes to workouts, these Apple watches are awesome. Both of them have loads of options, and you can tweak them to fit your fitness goals. Perfect for all you fitness freaks!
Compass waypoints and backtrack
I really love the Apple Watch feature that lets me add compass waypoints. It’s like sticking a virtual pin on important spots, say, where I start a hike. The watch then guides me back there if I get a bit lost. Another cool thing in watchOS 10 is the “Elevation View” – a fancy way to see a 3D view of all those waypoints with a double tap.
There’s also this handy “Backtrack” feature, kind of like pinning waypoints but cooler. It keeps track of your steps so you can follow them back to where you started if you wander off. Super useful, especially for someone like me who tends to take wrong turns!
The battery life depends on how you use the watch and your settings, but according to Apple’s official claims, the Series 9 lasts 18 hours on a single charge. In real-world use, the Series 9 typically ends a day with about 50% battery after normal use and a 30-minute workout with GPS.
If you wear it overnight, it drops by 15-20%, often requiring a recharge before the next day ends or first thing in the morning. Apple mentions that the Series 9 can last up to 36 hours in Low Power Mode.
Apple Watch Series 9 Review: The Conclusion
Okay, let me wrap things up now. And I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed what I am going to say here. If you already have the Series 6, 7, or 8, then there’s really no reason to upgrade yet. Besides the new chip, and some quality-of-life features, there aren’t many compelling features to suggest otherwise.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy your very first Apple Watch or own a much older model (Series 5 or before), the Series 9 is much of a treat.
Apple Watch Series 9 Review: Pros and Cons
- Smooth performance
- The display gets really bright
- Improved dictation, on-device Siri
- Reliable health tracking
- Comfortable to wear
- Very iterative upgrade
- No L5 GPS
- Costs extra for better display protection
- Battery life could’ve been better