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Apple Watch Series 9
What we like
What we don't like
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple Watch Series 9 review: At a glance
- What is it? The latest addition to Apple's mainstream lineup, the Apple Watch Series 9 features a more powerful processor and a handful of software improvements. It offers fantastic iPhone integration, unrivaled third-party app support, and valuable health and fitness tools.
- What is the price? In the US, pricing for the Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399. LTE models of the new series start at $499.
- Where can you buy it? Shoppers can purchase the Apple Watch Series 9 from Apple.com or from third-party retailers such as Amazon.
- How did we test it? I tested the Apple Watch Series 9 for four days. The review unit was purchased by Android Authority.
- Is it worth it? The Apple Watch Series 9 is easily the best smartwatch option for iOS users. It features a powerful new S9 chipset that powers new tools like Double Tap gesture controls. It also boasts brighter display specs than last year's model. However, many of the best updates arrive via watchOS 10 and roll back to older devices as well. Given Apple's pattern of incremental improvement, it's rarely necessary for users to upgrade from one year to the next. The biggest reason to invest in a Series 9 is to future-proof your wristwear as we anticipate more features leveraging the device's updated processor going forward.
Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 9?
The Apple Watch lineup is nothing if not consistent. The Series 9 features the same rounded rectangle case, rotating Digital Crown, and single push button we’ve come to know. The watch’s touchscreen mirrors the dimensions of the Series 8’s, with thin bezels and sapphire glass protection. Once tapped to wake, however, the display is twice as bright, maxing out at 2,000 nits, and, to save battery when not in use, drops to 1 nit. Unfortunately, Apple did not upgrade the line’s battery this generation, so users are still left with the same 18-hour promise. In my experience, the watch outlasts this claim just like last year’s model.
To the excitement of everyone aboard Greta Gerwig’s Barbie train, the Series 9 also now comes in a pink case. In person, the finish isn’t exactly Dreamhouse vibrant, but it’s elegantly feminine and pairs well with a variety of bands. I enjoyed building watch faces that highlighted the case even after opting for a blue band, originally to tone down the pink.
An elegant pink case joins the Apple Watch Series 9 lineup, along with eco-friendly bands and builds.
Notably, the Series 9 ships with more eco-friendly bands, including sport loops made from 82% recycled yarn. The company dropped leather straps altogether in favor of its carbon-neutral initiative. Likewise, base model Series 9 cases feature 100% recycled aluminum, so shoppers can go green while shopping pink.
The Apple Watch Series 9 claims an 18-hour battery life between charges. However, I found these claims underestimate the device. The Series 9 lasted close to 26 hours between charges.
While the cosmetic updates may seem minimal, internally the iterative improvements of the Series 9 add up. The new Silicone Apple S9 chipset and 4-core neural engine translate to a faster user experience with the potential for powerful new features.
I found the speed improvements largely unnoticeable, but I am very excited about one feature made possible by the upgrade: Double Tap gesture control. By simply tapping their index finger and thumb twice, users can complete a wide range of basic actions, like ending a call or scrolling through widgets. Unfortunately, the tool won’t roll out until sometime in October.
A powerful new S9 chipset positions the Apple Watch Series 9 for some impressive new features like Double Tap gesture controls.
The Apple Watch Series 9 also offers onboard processing of Siri queries without a phone nearby. Later this year, Siri will also be able to process requests for personal health data. Meanwhile, the Series 9’s new ultrawideband chip lends itself to more precision within the device’s Find My Phone feature. The watch can now guide users to the exact location of their lost iPhone, rather than just obnoxiously pinging it. Unfortunately, only users with an iPhone 15 or newer can capitalize on this upgrade.
It’s always disappointing to see device highlights unavailable at launch or relegated to specific users (in this case iPhone 15 users). Yet, there is no doubt the 9’s upgraded hardware is a sign of things to come. The internals are the biggest differentiator when comparing the Series 9 vs Series 8. Double Tap and wrist-based Siri interactions are just the beginning of what Apple has in store for the series.
In the meantime, a parade of watchOS 10 software updates enhance the device out of the box. Subtle design cues align the wearable with the software experience of the iPhone. Blurred backgrounds and full-screen data pages make for a more attractive aesthetic while redesigned and added shortcuts simplify navigation. Even the buttons take on new roles, with the control panel now accessible via the back button rather than a swipe.
The most noticeable change is the arrival of widgets accessible from the watch face with a spin of the Digital Crown. A Smart Stack allows users to add favorite apps, personalize a triple complication widget, and pin priorities for quicker access. Personally, I found pinning the complication widget with my three go-to apps set as shortcuts made the most sense. Meanwhile, the app screen is now confined horizontally rather than arranged in a hexagon floating in boundless space.
WatchOS 10 brings a slew of updates to the Apple Watch line including wellness tools, added support for cyclists, and the return of widgets.
For cyclists, watchOS 10 adds support for power meters, speed, and cadence sensors. During a workout, users can also now push live cycling activity data to a paired iPhone. These may seem like niche updates, but they’re big steps for the lineup. Apple continues to prove it can compete with fitness-tracking brands like Garmin.
Two underrated watchOS 10 features are the new State of Mind log within the mindfulness app and the ability to track time spent outdoors. Both of these tools can significantly impact users’ mental health. For children, spending time outdoors can even help prevent near-sightedness. Between my iPhone’s screen time updates and the watch’s time outdoors stats, I find myself more acutely aware of how I use my free time and more conscious of making intentional choices.
Speaking of time, as always, watchOS 10 also introduced two new watch faces. Palette emphasizes color tones, with a hue-focused design and room for four complications. Snoopy features the beloved Peanuts character in animated scenarios. I may be biased by nostalgia, but I can (and I did) spend an inordinate amount of time waking my device over and over again just to see what Snoopy would do next. The real takeaway is probably that I need a dog.
WatchOS also brought minor updates to how users build and change watch faces, including featured complication suggestions. Unfortunately, the update also removed the ability to swap between watch faces with a quick swipe.
The Series 9 features the same heart rate and GPS sensors found on the Series 8 and the device’s accuracy is as good as last year’s. On my neighborhood and park runs the watch recorded clean GPS data, keeping up with my Garmin Venu 3. Visiting my childhood home this week, I was able to pound familiar pavement and the device had no trouble accurately recording the routes of my high school training years. The map above represents one specific run during which I compared the Series 9 to Garmin’s even pricier device, the Fenix 7 Pro. The Apple Watch kept up well with Garmin’s typically excellent GPS data, deviating only slightly on a couple of streets.
I also compared the Series 9’s heart rate sensor to my Polar H10 chest strap as well as to Garmin’s newest Gen 5 Elevate heart rate sensor. Here again, Apple performed admirably. During the interval workout charted above, all three devices provided consistent peaks, valleys, and average heart rates. Apple’s ability to keep up with a dedicated fitness brand is significant and a major comfort to dedicated users who are particularly active.
The Apple Watch Series 9 is water-resistant to depths up to 50 meters. It is safe to shower in, however, soapy water and steam can weaken that water resistance. Apple also advises against exposing the device to high-velocity water sports.
While out on the road or trail, the Series 9 also offers additional tools for navigation. WatchOS 10 adds topographic map views and allows users to view offline maps as well as nearby trails and trailheads. The watch also sends elevation alerts, shows waypoints with relative elevation, and automatically creates waypoints for nearby cellular locations and emergency cellular locations (as in towers for other carriers). These additions won’t quite turn your Series 9 into an Apple Watch Ultra, but they do upgrade the device in the right direction (pun intended).
What are the best Apple Watch Series 9 alternatives?
Apple may be the most recognizable smartwatch in the game, but it’s not the only option. For Android phone users, it’s not an option at all. The devices below represent the best Apple Watch Series 9 alternatives.
- Apple Watch Ultra 2 ($779.99 at Amazon): Before shopping beyond the Apple garden, the best Series 9 alternative is the company’s pricier offering, the Ultra 2. The device features all the best of Apple’s ecosystem plus a more durable build, added battery life, and niche features for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ($299.99 at Samsung): The best Wear OS alternative to the Apple Watch Series 9 is a device from the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series. Both models offer nearly identical features, but the Classic’s rotating bezel provides easier on-device navigation.
- Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 ($349 at Amazon): Another option from the Wear OS family, the TicWatch Pro 5 utilizes a rotating Digital Crown similar to the Apple Watch. It’s a fully loaded device with plenty of smarts and a unique, battery-saving dual display we love.
- Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon): The new Venu 3 is the best smartwatch Garmin has to offer. It’s loaded with health and fitness tools plus highly accurate sensors, key smartwatch features, impressive battery life, and brand-new automatic nap detection.
- Withings ScanWatch 2 ($349.95 at Amazon): For an attractive, health-focused hybrid experience, Withings’ latest ScanWatch 2 offers FDA-approved sensors and advanced sleep tracking on an elegant, traditional build.
Apple Watch Series 9 specs
|Apple Watch Series 9|
LTPO OLED Retina
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)
352 x 430 pixels (41 mm)
Up to 2000 nit brightness
1 nit minimum brightness
Dimensions and weight
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 51.5g
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Apple S9 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple U2 chip (Ultra-wideband)
4-core Neural Engine
45 min to 80% charge
USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Case materials and colors
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Pink, and (Product) Red
GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
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
Blood oxygen sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Ambient light sensor
iOS 16 or later
Apple Watch Series 9 review: FAQ
The Apple Watch Series 9 does not have a camera but it can be used to control the camera on a paired iPhone.
The Apple Watch does not offer a built-in blood glucose monitor. It can, however, be used to track data recorded with a connected monitor.