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Apple Watch Series 7 vs Watch Series 9: Should you upgrade?

Break down the key differences to see if the Series 9 is worthy of your wallet.
By
January 12, 2024
Apple Watch Series 7
MSRP: $499.00
Check price
Positives
Bigger Retina display
Durable, premium design
Accurate GPS tracking
Great software and app support
Negatives
Battery life isn’t great
Slightly below average sleep tracking
Finicky heart rate tracking
Apple Watch Series 9
MSRP: $399.00
Check price
Positives
Powerful new S9 chipset
Brighter AMOLED display
Expanded Find My Phone feature
Onboard Siri query processing
Excellent WatchOS 10 updates
Negatives
Key new features not available at launch
Battery life still unimproved

The newest Apple Watch Series 9 is officially vying for shoppers’ attention. While the smartwatch packs a few key upgrades under its hood, it should look very familiar at first glance. Apple’s design has remained largely unchanged since the Series 7 landed in 2021. Yet, a closer look shows important improvements and significant new features. To determine how far Apple’s come in the last two years, we compare the Apple Watch Series 9 vs Series 7.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Apple Watch Series 9: At a glance

Below is a quick summary of the biggest differences between the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 9.

  • The Apple Watch Series 9 packs a much more powerful S9 chipset. The S9's neural engine powers several new features unique to the newest lineup.
  • The Series 9 packs a new Apple U2 ultra-wideband chip.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 display offers up to 2000 nits brightness and a minimum brightness of 1 nit.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 adds Pink to the list of available colors while the Series 7 offers discontinued Green and Blue.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 features a temperature sensor not found on the Series 7.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Apple Watch 9 specs

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 7
Display
Apple Watch Series 9
LTPO OLED Retina
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)

352 x 430 pixels (41 mm)
Always-on display

Up to 2000 nit brightness
1 nit minimum brightness
Apple Watch Series 7
LTPO OLED Retina
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)

352 x 430 pixels (41mm)
Always-on display

Up to 1000 nit brightness
Dimensions and weight
Apple Watch Series 9
45mm:
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 38.8g
Stainless steel: 51.5g

41mm:
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 32g
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Apple Watch Series 7
45mm:
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 38.8g
Stainless steel: 51.5g
Titanium: 45.1g

41mm:
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 32g
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Titanium: 37g
Durability
Apple Watch Series 9
WR50
IP6X-certified
Apple Watch Series 7
WR50
IP6X-certified
SoC
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple S9 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U2 chip (Ultra-wideband)
4-core Neural Engine
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple S7 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U1 chip (Ultra-wideband)
RAM
Apple Watch Series 9
1GB
Apple Watch Series 7
1GB
Storage
Apple Watch Series 9
32GB
Apple Watch Series 7
32GB
Battery
Apple Watch Series 9
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Apple Watch Series 7
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Software
Apple Watch Series 9
WatchOS 10
Apple Watch Series 7
WatchOS 9
Case materials and colors
Apple Watch Series 9
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red, and Pink

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Apple Watch Series 7
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, Product Red

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Titanium: Space black, Titanium
Connectivity
Apple Watch Series 9
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2475 (41mm)
Model A2477 (45mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Apple Watch Series 7
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Sensors
Apple Watch Series 9
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Apple Watch Series 7
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Compatibility
Apple Watch Series 9
iOS 17 or later
Apple Watch Series 7
iOS 17 or later

New features in the Apple Watch Series 9

A user reviews her Smart Stack on her Apple Watch Series 9.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

For the past few years, Apple has made small changes to each new generation rather than unveil complete overhauls. In 2021, the Series 7 landed with a bumped-up display and shrunken bezels. It offered users more display space than ever and a useful Qwerty keyboard. Then, in 2022, the Series 8 added an innovative temperature sensor. This year, the Series 9 may look much like the Series 7 and function like the Series 8, but it’s packing a much more powerful engine.

The newest generation’s S9 chipset and neural engine offer a faster and smoother user experience. The tune-up also allows for a handful of new features users may find worth an upgrade. First, the Apple Watch Series 9 offers onboard processing of Siri queries. Siri can now complete on-device actions such as pulling up personal health data or starting a workout.

Thanks to its powerful new neural engine, the Series 9 is the most accessible Apple Watch yet with onboard Siri processing and a new Double Tap gesture control.

Meanwhile, when a user has only one hand free, they can use Double Tap. I’ve tested the new gesture control, which allows you to “click” your watch hand’s index finger and thumb twice to complete basic actions. I found Double Tap useful for actions like starting music, ending a call, and scrolling through my Smart Stack. Additionally, the Series 9’s new U2 chipset facilitates more precision for Apple’s Find My Phone feature. The Series 9 will guide you to the exact location of your paired smartphone as long as it is within 20 feet of the watch.

The Apple Watch Series 7 does not feature the temperature sensor found on the Series 9, which can be used for sleep tracking as well as women's health tracking.

An Apple Watch Series 9 vs Series 7 comparison shows another more major difference on the health and fitness tracking front. Apple did not add temperature sensors to its devices until the Apple Watch Series 8. Without this sensor, the Series 7 does not offer the same sleep-tracking accuracy as the Series 9. It also cannot be used as effectively for women’s health tracking purposes. This is a valuable tool worth considering when choosing which watch is best for you.

Beyond the temperature sensor, the two devices feature the same ECG and heart rate sensors and the same workout suite. Our original review found the Series 7’s heart rate monitoring finicky. In contrast, the Series 9 proved virtually flawless during our testings.

The Series 9 arrives with watchOS 10 out of the box, but anyone with a Series 7 can download the update as well, so the software is not a factor when comparing the two devices.

How does the design compare?

The Apple Watch Series 7 and 9 share nearly identical design specs, from dimensions to weights to display sizes. Unlike the Series 7, the new model is not available in titanium, as Apple now saves that premium material for its Ultra lineup. The two generations still use the same interchangeable bands, mirror each other’s durability certifications, and come in many of the same colors. In Stainless steel, the devices share available colors. The Series 7 comes in Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, and Product Red in aluminum. The Series 9 drops the Green and Blue and adds a pink option.

In addition to its trendy new colorway, the Series 9 offers a second new bright spot. The latest model doubles display brightness compared to the Series 7, offering a maximum brightness of 2000 nits. The display also drops to a single nit to make readability possible in all situations. This upgrade isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but it it is certainly noticeable when holding the devices side by side.

Finally, Apple has significantly emphasized sustainability in this year’s product launches. The Series 9 is a more eco-friendly device built with sustainable practices and recycled materials.

Colors, price, and availability

  • Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS): Starts at $399
  • Apple Watch Series 7 (LTE): Starts at $499
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (GPS): Launched at $399
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (LTE): Launched at $499

The Apple Watch Series 9 launched on September 12, 2023, with a starting price of $399. From there, prices vary depending on the case size and material shoppers select. An LTE model Series 9 starts at $499. The device is available with an aluminum case in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, Product Red, and Pink, or with a stainless steel case in Silver, Graphite, and Gold.

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 9
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful processor • Upgraded display with 2000 nit brightness • Gesture controls and Siri features
MSRP: $399.00
Apple's most convenient smartwatch
The new S9 chip makes the Apple Watch Series 9 the most capable, and battery friendly Apple watch to date. Enjoy improved security, improved functionality in low-connectivity situations, and improved health tracking. Introducing new Double-Tap gesture.

The Apple Watch Series 7 debuted in September 2021 with identical starting prices to the newer model. However, now that it is two generations old, the Series 7 can be found for much cheaper. As mentioned, it is available in the same colors as the newer in titanium but doesn’t feature a Pink option in aluminum. Instead, the older line features a Blue and Green aluminum case in addition to Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and Product Red.

Apple Watch Series 7Apple Watch Series 7
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 7
Large Retina display • Durable, premium design • Great software and app support
MSRP: $499.00
All the favorites from Apple's platform on a large, durable display
In addition to Apple's reliable software, seamless integration, and third-party app support, the Apple Watch Series 7 boasts an edge-to-edge display, impressive durability specs, and fast charging capabilities. It's one of the most well-rounded smartwatches available and a solid fitness tracking option for anyone in Apple's ecosystem.
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Apple Watch 7 SE
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45mm, GPS & Cellular
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45mm, GPS & Cellular
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45mm, GPS & Cellular
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Save $210.00
41mm, GPS & Cellular

Which Apple Watch should you buy?

Apple Watch Series 9 Pink Face
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Slow and steady is the best way to describe Apple’s growth pattern regarding the Apple Watch. Each generation adds just enough to warrant interest but not enough to make older models obsolete. Sure, there is plenty on the Apple Watch Series 9 to get excited about this year. It’s poised to provide a robust experience with exciting convenience features. It’s powerful processor also leaves room for future development.

If you want the absolute best Apple has to offer, the Series 9 is it, but that doesn't mean it's necessary for everyone.

If you already own a Series 7, there likely isn’t enough newness on the Series 9 to drop ~$400. The Series 9’s fitness suite and general smartwatch experience are largely unchanged. Its design is the same as the Series 7 beyond available colors. Even battery life is identical after two full years. For those who menstruate, the Series 9’s temperature sensor is a valuable feature worth considering, but only if you feel it may significantly impact your cycle-tracking methods.

For those shopping for their very first Apple Watch, the Series 9 is a great entry point to the watchOS ecosystem. We have no doubt the processing power will translate to a fantastic user experience and that it will play an important roll in future feature releases as well. If you’re an adventurer with a loose budget, it may also be worth checking out the Apple Watch Ultra 2.


That’s it for our Apple Watch Series 9 vs Series 7 comparison. Which do you think is the better buy? Let us know in the poll below.

Would you consider upgrading from the Apple Watch Series 7 to the Series 9?

318 votes

FAQs

The Apple Watch Series 9 features a water resistance rating of 50 ATM. This means it is safe for swimming with up to depths of 50 meters and you can shower with it. However, extended exposure to steam can damage the device.

The Apple Watch Series 9 features an 18-hour battery life claim which is not longer than the Series 7. We often find Apple Watches outlast these claims, however, especially in light of Low Power Mode.

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 9 comes with a charging cable, but shoppers need to purchase a power adapter.

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Series 9 cannot measure blood pressure.

The Apple Watch Series 9 offers basic sleep tracking as well as advanced overnight details such as skin temperature and SpO2.