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Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: Which is the better buy?

Should you upgrade, or keep those coins for 2024's Apple Watch?
By
February 12, 2024
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
Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)
MSRP: $399.00
Check price
Positives
Excellent Retina display
Premium design and build
Crash detection
Improved sleep tracking
Plenty of watchOS 9 upgrades
Negatives
Battery life still has not improved
No third-party watch faces

With a bag of new tricks, the Apple Watch Series 9 is clamoring for a place on your wrist. But does it do enough to persuade owners of recent Apple Watches to upgrade? If you own a Series 8, it’s likely a question you’re grappling with. We’re here to answer it in our Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9 comparison.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: At a glance

Choosing between two of the best smartwatches on the market is no easy task, so here are the key differences between Apple's newest models.

  • The Apple Watch Series 9 packs a swifter S9 chipset than the Series 8's S8 silicon.
  • The S9 chipset also includes a neural engine that powers several smart features of the Series 9. The Series 8 does not have this feature.
  • Apple also brings a new pink color to the Watch Series 9.
  • Both smartwatches feature the same fitness and health tracking loadout.
  • The Series 9's SpO2 sensor on new models is disabled, while the Series 8's sensor remains fully functional.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 has a brighter display, peaking at 2,000 nits.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9 specs

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 8
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 nits brightness
1 nit minimum brightness
Apple Watch Series 8
LTPO OLED Retina
484 x 396 pixels (45mm)

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

Up to 1000 nits 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 8
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
Durability
Apple Watch Series 9
WR50
IP6X-certified
Apple Watch Series 8
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 8
Apple S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U1 chip (Ultra-wideband)
RAM
Apple Watch Series 9
1GB
Apple Watch Series 8
1GB
Storage
Apple Watch Series 9
32GB
Apple Watch Series 8
32GB
Battery
Apple Watch Series 9
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Apple Watch Series 8
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Software
Apple Watch Series 9
WatchOS 10
Apple Watch Series 8
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 8
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
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 8
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
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 8
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Compatibility
Apple Watch Series 9
iOS 17 or later
Apple Watch Series 8
iOS 15 or later

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: Features

Apple Watch Series 9 Pink Face
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9 battle is remarkably close on paper, but their feature kits have a few differences. The Series 9 introduces a few features primarily powered by the new neural engine on the S9 chipset.

For many, onboard Siri processing is the most intriguing addition to the Series 9. No longer will the watch need to send Siri commands into the digital ether to process your demands. Instead, all voice prompts will be deciphered and actioned on-device. This gives the Series 9 an advantage over the Series 8 when an internet connection is unavailable. Users can also use Siri to pull up or log health data using their voice.

The neural engine also introduces a new gesture control mechanism. Dubbed Double Tap, users can “click” their watch hand’s index finger and thumb twice to interact with apps on the Series 9. The gesture controls the main button within any given app, so users can play or pause music, disable alarms, or even answer calls. It can also flick through widgets on the Series 9 interface.

For many, onboard Siri processing is the most intriguing addition to the Series 9.

While the Series 8 does feature an ultra-wideband chip, the Series 9’s U2 chipset allows for more precision when searching for a companion iPhone 15. The watch will guide users to the exact whereabouts of the smartphone when it’s within 20 feet of your location. It’s a nice quality-of-life improvement for those who frequently forget where they put their hardware.

Beyond these additions, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8 are essentially similar. You’ll find the same fitness tracking features, including the temperature sensor and ECG. Apple’s third-generation heart rate sensor still features across both models. While both watches also sport an SpO2 sensor to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels, the Series 9’s is disabled on new models sold in the US due to an ongoing legal dispute.

While the Series 9 is gaining watchOS 10 out of the box, it won’t be exclusive to the new smartwatch. The Series 8 also stands to gain the OS’s new features, from the new widgets to offline mapping support.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: Design

It really is a game of spotting the difference between the Series 8 and Series 9. The most notable tweak is the new pink colorway that gives the Series 9 a bit more personality than its predecessor. Beyond this, you’ll still find the minimal bezels, the digital crown at the top-right flank, and similar watch band support across the two devices.

Apple is taking a more serious approach to ethically sourced material for its new watch, though. It uses more recycled content in the Series 9 than the Series 8, extending to the new bands.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: Price and colors

A user accesses the App Store on their Apple Watch Series 9.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch Series 8 debuted in 2022, starting at $399. Now that the Series 9 is available, you can likely find it at a much lower price point. Colors on offer include Starlight, Midnight, Product Red, silver, graphite, and gold. The latter two options are limited to the stainless steel body, while silver is shared with aluminum.

Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)
Excellent Retina display • Premium design and build • Advanced health tracking sensors
MSRP: $399.00
A very powerful device for anyone inside Apple's walled garden
The Apple Watch Series 8 with Wi-Fi connectivity features advanced fitness and health tracking tools, including a temperature sensor to monitor body variations and better insights into women's cycles. The device also features a thick front crystal over its display for improved durability. Additional highlights include Crash Detection, Low Power Mode, and extensive third-party app support.
See price at Amazon
Save $470.00
Apple Watch Series 8 (LTE 45mm)

The Apple Watch Series 9 went on sale from September 22, 2023, keeping its predecessor’s price of $399. You’ll need $499 for the cheapest LTE model and $699 for the stainless steel alternative.

Colors on offer include the new pink colorway, joining the returning cast of Starlight, Midnight, Product Red, and silver. The stainless steel model is available in gold, graphite, and silver.

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 9
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful new processor • Upgraded display with 2000 nit brightness • New 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.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Watch Series 9: Should you upgrade?

Apple Watch Series 8 Contour Face
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Nips and tucks are the order of the day for new Apple Watches, and the Series 9 is no exception. This makes choosing the right time to upgrade an absolute nightmare. So, should you upgrade from the Series 8 to the Series 9?

Well, the new watch introduces virtually no design changes or fitness tracking enhancements over its predecessor, but its new neural engine powers useful onboard Siri computations and the double tap gesture. If you purchase an iPhone 15, the U2 chip will also be helpful if you ever lose your smartphone. But overall, we don’t think Apple brings enough to the Series 9 to warrant the upgrade, especially if you only lean on the Apple Watch’s fitness features and rely on the SpO2 monitor.

For new users, the Series 9 is the natural place to start your Apple Watch journey, but existing users looking for a real killer addition may have to wait for the Apple Watch X, or stretch their budget to the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Do you agree? Which Apple Watch do you think is the better buy? Let us know in the poll below.

Do you prefer the Apple Watch Series 9 or the Series 8?

24 votes

FAQs

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 9 are both water resistant. This also means that you can shower while wearing either, or enjoy a swim workout without issue.

Apple claims that the Series 9 battery life lasts 18 hours per charge, which is the same as the Series 8.

The Apple Watch Series 9 comes with a charging cradle, but you have to supply your own charging brick.

No, the Apple Watch Series 9 does not have a built-in blood pressure monitor.

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 9 tracks all the standard sleep metrics, including sleep stages, time asleep, and blood saturation levels.