Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
It sure is trendy, but is it worth buying the Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch Series 9 is by no means the cheapest smartwatch you can buy. Compared to its contemporaries, it’ll cost iPhone users a few hundred dollars more than several smartwatches today. But it is among the most feature-packed devices you can place on your wrist. So, when considering its strengths, weaknesses, and rivals, is the Apple Watch worth buying?
Is the Apple Watch Series 9 worth its price?
The Apple Watch Series 9 launched at $399 for the GPS variant and $449 for the LTE option. The device features a wealth of health and fitness tracking smarts, from an ECG to monitor heart health to an SpO2 sensor to keep tabs on blood oxygen (although the latter is no longer available on brand new models sold starting January 18, 2024, due to a patent dispute). It also features Apple’s skin temperature sensor for improved menstrual cycle and fertility tracking. Meanwhile, the device leverages its health and activity sensors to offer greater accessibility, including a new double-tap gesture control. Beyond its sensors, the Apple Watch does an excellent job of gamifying health through its activity ring system.
That said, the Series 9 isn’t without its faults. Compared to other smartwatches, its battery life remains a sore point, even with the Low-power mode introduced with watchOS 9. It’s also not Apple’s premier smartwatch, as the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 have the Series 9 beat on feature set, size, and battery endurance.
What about the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2?
As mentioned above, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is now the priciest Apple Watch you can buy. Launched at $799, both Ultra generations pack larger displays, more rugged bodies, programmable Action buttons, depth sensors, and emergency sirens as exclusive features. The Ultra and Ultra 2 are designed for outdoor use and are geared toward those who lead an active lifestyle. We believe the devices serves these users well.
However, there’s no denying that the Ultra is an eye-wateringly expensive smartwatch. It’s double the price of its Series 9 sibling. It’s also a massive device with its 49mm dial. This might dissuade those with smaller wrists from considering one. Those looking for a smartwatch and nothing more likely won’t need the Ultra lineup or have any need for its unique features.
Importantly, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also affected by Apple’s SpO2 patent dispute, although the original Ultra is unaffected.
The Apple Watch vs other smartwatches
How does it compare to other smartwatches? Well, it’s tough to compare apples with oranges. The Apple Watch is easily the best smartwatch for iPhone users, thanks to its seamless integration with iOS. This alone makes the Apple Watch worth owning. But which other smartwatches come close to troubling the Apple Watch?
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ($299.99 at Samsung) and 6 Classic ($429 at Amazon) mirrors the Apple Watch’s fitness features, offering ECG, heart rate monitors, and SpO2 sensors. They also pack body composition sensors, calculating muscle mass, skeletal mass, and other related metrics. The series is very similar to the previous generation with its skin temperature sensor for improved menstrual cycle tracking, and build quality improvements. However, this year brings back the fan-favorite rotating bezel on the 6 Classic model. While the Galaxy Watch 6 series is incompatible with iPhones, it’s an excellent Apple Watch alternative for Android users.
Garmin Venu 3
Meanwhile, the Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon) is compatible with an iPhone. It’s arguably the most feature-packed and health-focused smartwatch available on the market. It includes Garmin features we’ve grown to love, including Body Battery and solid and reliable fitness tracking. Garmin has also introduced voice assistant smarts and on-wrist call support to the Plus’s already stellar Venu 2 package. It’s currently the only Garmin smartwatch with ECG smarts, too.
Finally, the best Fitbit is also worth a shout. The Fitbit Sense ($168 at Amazon) packs the broadest feature set of any Fitbit smartwatch. It has an EDA sensor to monitor stress, a skin temperature monitor, and an ECG sensor. Sleep tracking remains Fitbit’s strong point, though Apple has also made notable progress in this area. Launched at $299, it was the most expensive Fitbit on the market, but you can now find it much cheaper owing to its age. We’d also recommend it over the Sense 2, which lacks several smart features we take for granted on modern smartwatches.
Are the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 worth buying?
The short answer is yes. The Apple Watch Series 9 offers iPhone users an unrivaled experience, especially considering the seamless integration between watchOS and iOS. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 also fills that niche but adds unique features and lengthy battery life for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
Realistically, the Apple Watch Series 8 will still serve you well if you don’t need the latest and greatest, don’t require a rugged outdoor watch, or are content with its battery life. Its blood oxygen tracking features will remain online, unlike its newer siblings. Of course, you must be an iPhone user to take advantage of the Apple Watch models’ features. If you’re not an iPhone user, the answer to this question gets a little more complicated.
The best Apple Watch alternatives for Android users are the Galaxy Watch 6 series, at least based on our experience. Samsung’s long-term update commitment makes its watches the best future-proof devices available, while they’re arguably the most balanced smartwatch and health watch combo available for Android users. Falling well under the Ultra’s price, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro provides all the creature comforts of its standard sibling with better battery life and excellent features for hikers.
If you’re using an iPhone, the Garmin Venu 3 is tough to beat. If you’re an Android user, going with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series or Watch 5 Pro are good bets. Alternatively, the Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense are dark horses if you value deeper sleep insights on a slightly lower budget.
No, you can’t pair an Apple Watch with an Android smartphone. You’ll need an iPhone for this. However, if you have both an iPhone and an Android device, there’s no reason why you can’t use the three simultaneously.
The Apple Watch’s brief battery life and lack of third-party watch face customizations are among its biggest issues.