Apple Watch Series 9 assessment: why you should purchase it proper now

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9, showing the Snoopy watch face
Apple Watch Series 9
MSRP $399.00

“The Apple Watch Series 9’s 24/7 comfort, extensive features, fast performance, and seamless integration with the iPhone make it a must-buy.”

  • Supreme 24/7 consolation
  • Choice of dimension, coloration, and bands
  • Extensive well being, health, and security options
  • Fast, clean, and usable efficiency
  • Total, simple integration with the iPhone
  • Less than two days battery life with reasonable use
  • Almost no cause to improve from earlier model

The Apple Watch Series 9 is the proper introduction to the world of Apple’s excellent smartwatches, as not solely does it comply with the profitable system of earlier fashions however it additionally introduces a enjoyable new gesture management with plenty of potential for the long run.

If this seems very fastidiously worded, then well-spotted. Some key phrases trace at a number of crucial issues to know concerning the Apple Watch Series 9 before you purchase it. Here’s what you have to know.

About our Apple Watch Series 9 assessment

The Apple Watch Series 9 with the Snoopy watch face.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Digital Trends printed its assessment of the Apple Watch Series 9 on September 29, 2023, after which I (Andy Boxall) up to date it in the beginning of November after returning to the smartwatch, this time with watchOS 10.1 put in and the Double Tap characteristic out there.

At that point, the rating was raised from an 8/10 to a 9/10, as Double Tap’s arrival eliminated one of many downsides, and it’s a dependable, enjoyable characteristic to make use of. You will discover a new part on the Double Tap gesture characteristic has been added under. Throughout April 2024, I returned to the Apple Watch Series 9 to see if it’s nonetheless the smartwatch to purchase to your iPhone, and a brand new part, “Apple Watch Series 9: eight months later,” has been added proper under.

Apple Watch Series 9: eight months later

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

We’re eight months into the Apple Watch Series 9’s life, and having used it once more for the final a number of weeks, it’s nonetheless sensible. I can solely reiterate that it’s not solely a wonderful buy but in addition nonetheless among the finest smartwatches made. Apple has refined the software program and possession expertise to the purpose the place all of it feels easy, and in comparison with many different smartwatches, it not often frustrates and by no means forces you to suppose round annoying default setting choices made solely to increase battery life.

This relaxed perspective to most issues does imply I forget about Double Tap, although, because it by no means prompts you to make use of the characteristic at opportune moments. I’m so used to tapping the display screen or turning the Digital Crown that the very existence of Double Tap slips my thoughts, and I’ve needed to intentionally reacquaint myself with the characteristic so I keep in mind the place it may be used. This brings up the opposite downside with Double Tap, in that it feels underutilized. This will hopefully change sooner or later, as in any other case, the gesture risks being forgotten entirely.

Apps on the Apple Watch Series 9's screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Although you should purchase different smartwatches that work with the Apple iPhone, whether or not it’s an off-brand oddity from Amazon, a Fitbit Charge 6, or a reliable new mannequin just like the Xiaomi Watch S3, you’re lacking out on the very best, most full wearable expertise on the market. I’ve arrange and used plenty of smartwatches over the previous yr, and the Apple Watch is by far the best, from the second you flip it on to the second you replace the software program or observe a exercise.

The remaining factor I’ll say is how I wrestle to discover a watch face I like on so many smartwatches, however I by no means have that downside with the Apple Watch. The choice is so good — nicely designed, mature, watch-like, and practical — I normally have a alternative, however I haven’t switched from the pleasant, ever-changing, unbelievable Snoopy watch face. I really feel foolish saying it’s as a lot of a cause to purchase as Double Tap, so I gained’t, however should you determine to take it that means, I gained’t attempt to persuade you in any other case.

Apple Watch Series 9: acquainted sensible design

The Palette watch face on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Palette watch face Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Stop me should you’ve heard this earlier than: the Apple Watch Series 9 is available in 45mm or 41mm case sizes, and there’s a alternative of aluminum or chrome steel. It is 10.7mm thick and has an IP6X mud resistance ranking plus 50 meters water resistance, weighs someplace round 32 and 39 grams relying on the mannequin, and is suitable with a bunch of various bands. That’s proper, it appears to be like and feels virtually precisely the identical because the Apple Watch Series 8.

This isn’t horrible, because the Series 8 is among the most snug, best-designed, and most recognizable smartwatches ever made, so the very fact the sequel is identical isn’t against the law. Some will bemoan the “lack of innovation,” however typically what they actually imply is, “Why doesn’t it look different?” Thankfully, Apple understands the worth of staying with a design that works so nicely as an alternative of adopting a change-for-change’s-sake.

The curved screen on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The truth the Apple Watch Series 9 repeats the Series 8 and Apple Watch Series 7’s system means two issues: should you preferred both of these smartwatches, you’ll just like the Series 9. If you hate both of these smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 gained’t change your thoughts. But to hate it primarily based on appears to be like is to be willfully opposite, because the Apple Watch is sort of good in its match, form, and weight. It’s essentially the most wearable smartwatch there’s, and it’s additionally a complete lot extra snug for lengthy durations of time than many conventional non-smartwatches.

The rectangular form gained’t be for everybody, however it’s unimaginable to disclaim that it hasn’t risen to iconic standing. Brands identified for inventive designs (including Casio, which makes watches for everybody, to H.Moser & Cie, which doesn’t) have emulated the Apple Watch’s look. Apple isn’t breaking new floor with the Series 9’s design as a result of it doesn’t need to. If you need a smartwatch you’ll be able to put on all day and evening with out it changing into bothersome but nonetheless acceptable in type no matter what you’re sporting, then the Apple Watch is for you. The Apple Watch Series 9 can be notable for being Apple’s first carbon-neutral product, supplied you purchase the aluminum model with a Sport Loop band.

The side of the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There is a wider alternative of colours for the Apple Watch Series 9, beginning with the Midnight model in our photographs and transferring on to the brighter Starlight, silver, gold, Graphite, Product Red, or pink model. Apple has binned its leather-based bands in favor of its new FineWoven materials, which is discovered on the Modern Buckle and Magnetic Link bands. I’ve been sporting the Series 9 with the brand new Nike Sport Band in Desert Stone, and it’s splendidly gentle and versatile. It’s preferrred for all-day, on a regular basis put on and suitably jazzes up the easy Midnight case coloration.

I believe that is the most important factor to know concerning the Apple Watch Series 9 should you’ve by no means worn one earlier than. When you set it on, there’ll by no means be a cause to take it off as a result of consolation points, and contemplating all the advantages that come from sporting it, this can be a very huge deal. The truth it is available in two sizes, varied colours and finishes, and a wealth of bands to really customise it to your individual liking means you need to put on it too. The Apple Watch’s all-around glorious design, from each a consolation and magnificence viewpoint, is what actually units it other than so lots of its rivals.

Apple Watch Series 9: what about Double Tap?

A person making the Double Tap gesture on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple talked extensively about Double Tap when it first confirmed the Series 9 to the general public, however the characteristic solely grew to become out there on the smartwatch when watchOS 10.1 arrived on the finish of October 2023. Was it well worth the wait? Well, it definitely works rather well, however don’t anticipate it to be one thing you employ on a regular basis or a sole cause to purchase the Apple Watch Series 9.

Double Tap is among the prime differences between the Series 8 and Series 9 and is expounded to an established and effective accessibility feature known as AssistiveTouch that has been out there for some time. The excellent news is that Double Tap is shockingly correct, completely dependable, and actually fairly good enjoyable to make use of. It requires fairly a outstanding double-tap of your thumb and forefinger to activate, however for me, it has labored each time with out fail. I like that it doesn’t want any configuration and works instantly too.

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

However, functionally, it’s fairly restricted. There are solely a handful of operations — from answering calls and dismissing notifications to scrolling via the Smart Stack widgets and enjoying or pausing music. A cute Double Tap icon seems on the high of the display screen to inform you it’s working, and its actions are accompanied by noticeable haptics. But it’s not a major management technique and is designed as a hands-free different when you’ll be able to’t bodily faucet the display screen.

It means you gained’t be utilizing it on a regular basis, regardless of it being enjoyable and completely different sufficient that you just’ll need to, not less than through the preliminary interval of fascination. It’s technically spectacular, too, because it makes use of the sensor array and software program algorithms to acknowledge the gesture, which it manages to do virtually with out fail. It’s a cultured, useful characteristic that may undoubtedly turn out to be useful in the correct circumstances. Don’t go and purchase the Apple Watch Series 9 due to Double Tap, as weeks might cross with out you utilizing it in any respect. But if you do use it, anticipate it to make you smile.

Apple Watch Series 9: software program

Smart Stack on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Out of the field, the Apple Watch Series 9 runs watchOS 10, which can be out there for the Apple Watch Series 8, Series 7, and various other Apple Watch models. It consists of essentially the most significant design and operational change we’ve seen for some time, as twisting the Digital Crown and urgent the button do various things than earlier than, and even swiping up on the display screen does one thing new too. It means anybody conversant in watchOS will virtually definitely discover controls have moved, and muscle reminiscence will want retraining.

It has taken me some time to regulate to the brand new system, and I’m undecided it’s higher than earlier than, simply completely different. The cause for the alteration appears to primarily be to make means for the Smart Stack, which repeats the multi-widget choice of the identical title in iOS, and varied considerably informative playing cards seem if you twist the Digital Crown. To swap between open apps now wants a double press of the Digital Crown, which is a little bit of a ache because it typically prioritizes exhibiting the app menu, because the Control Center is now behind a single press of the decrease button.

Control Center on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

These adjustments, together with alterations just like the apps being scrolled via vertically as an alternative of a 360-degree view, all make watchOS 10 really feel fairly completely different from earlier than. At the second, I can’t say I’ve discovered a lot use for the Smart Stack characteristic, which instigated this new means of navigating and controlling the Apple Watch. However, the good pace and fluidity of watchOS stay, and that makes it so nice to make use of. It’s additionally completely tailor-made to make use of in your wrist, as all of the buttons are simple to work together with or faucet, directions are clear, and fonts and icons are at all times sensibly designed and sized.

One characteristic that has taken me unexpectedly is Siri. I’ve largely forgotten about Apple’s digital assistant over time, prompted by Apple’s ambivalence in direction of it, however now that it processes plenty of its instructions on the Apple Watch itself (aided by the brand new S9 chip and its quicker Neural Engine), Siri responds and acts virtually instantaneously. My digital assistant necessities are primary, however I’ve discovered Siri quicker and extra dependable than Google Assistant on my Google Pixel Tablet for duties like setting timers and turning on lights. It hasn’t failed to acknowledge what I’ve mentioned but, both.  If, like me, you’ve ignored Siri for some time, it’s time to get reacquainted with it on the Apple Watch Series 9.

One different factor to notice is I’ve felt a difference between the haptic alerts on the Series 9 and the Series 8, with a extra “clicky” and fewer “full” sensation than the soft-yet-deep alerts I used to be used to. I’ve discovered it mandatory to extend the alert depth to “prominent” from the default to higher replicate the Series 8’s splendidly tactile haptics. It’s not a damaging change, however I observed the moment I put the Apple Watch Series 9 on. Apple has not talked about any {hardware} adjustments that might carry this about, so it might be watchOS 10-related. Don’t let it put you off, although.

Apple Watch Series 9: display screen and Snoopy

Snoopy watch face on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The dimension of the Apple Watch Series 9’s OLED display screen is identical because the Series 8, however it has a most brightness of two,000 nits and the power to drop to 1 nit on the always-on show. In the principally overcast U.Ok., the place I’ve been testing the Series 9, the display screen has not felt it mandatory to spice up the brightness outdoors, however I’ve had no downside seeing the display screen always, regardless.

Apple’s Snoopy watch faces are joyous creations.

Now, let’s speak about Snoopy. You might have handed Snoopy on the Apple Watch by, considering it’s simply one other primary cute watch face just like the Toy Story or Mickey Mouse ones. But it’s far more than that. The watch face isn’t only one watch face; it’s dozens, because the animation dramatically adjustments each time you increase your wrist. Each has been lovingly created and matches the Peanuts theme, proper right down to the names given to the watch face colours, which embody Blanket Blue, Woodstock Yellow, and Doghouse Red.

The Apple Watch Series 9 with the Snoopy watch face.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

So typically smartwatches aren’t a lot enjoyable, and the watch faces disappointing, however Apple’s Snoopy watch faces are joyous creations, and what’s extra, the character (together with many others from the world of Peanuts) have an extended horological historical past, with Timex, Seiko, Swatch, Bamford, and Omega all adopting the well-known beagle to be used on a watch. Apple’s nod to this, the timeless nature of the characters, and the way the enjoyable animations handle to make me smile even on a dreary day means Snoopy is an excellent addition to the Apple Watch.

The Snoopy watch face is a part of watchOS 10, so it’s out there on any Apple Watch that runs the software program, not simply the Series 9. The truth I’ve written two paragraphs about Snoopy ought to inform you what to anticipate from the brand new Apple Watch’s display screen: it’s mainly the identical because the final one, and the facet that received me most excited is a watch face out there on just about any current Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 9: well being and health monitoring

Post-walk fitness data on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The sensor array on the again of the Apple Watch Series 9 is identical one discovered on the Series 8, so it would nonetheless measure your coronary heart price and blood oxygen ranges, take an electrocardiogram, and measure pores and skin temperature for sleep and cycle monitoring. There are dozens of exercises to trace utilizing the Apple Watch, and information seems on the display screen. And with some exercises, corresponding to biking, you additionally see a Live Activity in your iPhone.

New options include watchOS 10 slightly than the Apple Watch Series 9 itself, with Apple enhancing its biking mode with Power Zones and compatibility with Bluetooth equipment. Hikers can use the Compass app to see elevation adjustments, and sure areas now have topographic maps. WatchOS 10 and the Apple Watch Series 9 even have an unimaginable suite of well being and security options — together with crash and fall detection, listening to safety, info on the period of time you spend outdoors within the solar, and emergency SOS calls, together with remedy reminders and new mindfulness classes. I don’t need to make use of any of them, however I like that they’re there.

The Apple Watch Series 9 showing the sleep tracking data.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Wear the Apple Watch Series 9 in a single day (which is not any downside to do in any respect), and it’ll observe your sleep. Data-wise, it’s pretty near the outcomes I get from the Oura Ring, however it doesn’t go into a lot element concerning the state of your sleep or enhance it. I’ll speak about battery life shortly, however the trade-off of monitoring sleep and its affect on battery life is probably not price it. Siri can relay well being information if you ask for it, an motion carried out on the watch and never within the cloud to ease privateness considerations.

All this implies monitoring your well being and health with the Apple Watch Series 9 may be very very like doing so on the Series 8 and the Series 7. Apple is working to make the platform extra highly effective, beginning with its biking updates, however the Apple Watch stays ideally suited to the common exerciser considering health slightly than the hardcore fanatic. It’s additionally sensible for the informal exerciser, the camp into which I fall.

Why? It’s all really easy. It takes moments to begin monitoring, auto-tracking is dependable, the structure is informative and logical, so that you’re by no means searching for controls or information, and I discover the easy, enticing, and enjoyable “Rings” system for every day objectives motivational. Data is break up between the Health and Fitness apps in your iPhone, which is irritating, and the Health app, specifically, may be very dense and worsening to sift via. But if you wish to observe just a few walks, runs, HIIT classes, or a spherical of golf, it’s all very simple to do, and the clear Rings show makes positive you’re at all times conscious of your progress.

There’s a bit of extra depth to the Apple Watch Series 9’s health system if you’d like it, however don’t anticipate it to advise a lot on enhance outdoors of suggesting you subscribe to Apple’s Fitness+. If the Series 9 isn’t fairly sufficient for you, the Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the battery life, activity-specific options, and added sturdiness you could require. If critical operating, biking, swimming, or something like a triathlon is your factor, then Garmin’s vary of smartwatches (such because the Garmin Forerunner 265 or Garmin Epix Pro Gen 2) needs to be thought of as an alternative.

Apple Watch Series 9: efficiency and battery life

The Apple Watch Series 9 on charge.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Apple Watch Series 9 makes use of Apple’s new S9 dual-core System-in-Package (SiP), which is predicated on the A16 Bionic processor after which optimized for the Apple Watch. The new Neural Engine permits Siri’s on-device processing and, when it arrives, Double Tap. Apple’s declare of the Series 9 being 30% quicker than the Series 8 appears correct, as after I wore them back-to-back, it was simply that bit snappier and quicker to react. However, the Apple Watch Series 8 isn’t sluggish by any means, so in the true world, I can’t think about this altering your use in any significant means.

Inside the Apple Watch Series 9 is the brand new U2 Ultra Wideband chip, which brings good, location-based HomePod management, and the Precision Finding characteristic so you’ll be able to precisely find a misplaced iPhone 15 mannequin. Bizarrely, Precision Finding isn’t a part of the Find My app on the Apple Watch and is as an alternative discovered within the Control Panel if you pressure the Apple Watch to ring your misplaced telephone. It’s very simple to make use of after getting found out the place to search out it, and it has at all times positioned my iPhone reliably.

The Apple Watch Series 9’s battery life is akin to the Series 8. Two full days is feasible (however solely simply) should you don’t observe any exercises or sleep. Add these, or should you use energy-intensive apps like Maps, and the Apple Watch will likely be out of energy by late afternoon or early night of the second day.

A primary day of use sporting the Apple Watch Series 9, together with a single 30-minute exercise with GPS (which takes about 5% battery life by itself), means the battery is at round 50% by the point I’m going to mattress. Wear the Apple Watch in a single day, and it depletes by between 15% and 20%, leaving you with little alternative however to recharge it earlier than the tip of the subsequent work day or very first thing within the morning. Apple states the Series 9’s battery will final for 36 hours utilizing Low Power Mode.

The Apple Watch Series 9's case back and sensors.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Apple Watch is recharged by inserting it on a particular magnetic puck, however it isn’t suitable with a MagSafe puck used to recharge your iPhone. It takes round 45 minutes to achieve 80%, and it’s totally charged in lower than an hour too. If you do determine to put on and use the Series 9 24/7, then the quick charging does decrease the affect this has on battery life. You might simply high it up every morning — in an identical strategy to how I take advantage of the Oura Ring — and infrequently discover it essential to make time to completely cost it.

Apple Watch Series 9: worth and availability

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9, using the Digital Crown.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The 41mm Apple Watch Series 9 with Wi-Fi and GPS begins at $399 or $429 for the 45mm mannequin, and the value will increase by $100 if you wish to embody a mobile connection. Prices additionally fluctuate relying on the band you specify, with something aside from the Sport Band or Sport Loop costing additional. The chrome steel mannequin, which is in any other case an identical to the aluminum model, begins at $699.

In the U.Ok., the Apple Watch Series 9 begins at 399 British factors for the 41mm Wi-Fi and GPS model and 429 kilos for the 45mm Wi-Fi/GPS mannequin. If you require a mobile connection, add 100 kilos to those costs. The chrome steel Apple Watch Series 9 begins at 699 kilos.

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9, showing the side of the watch.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If, for some cause, you don’t need to use an Apple Watch along with your iPhone, what different selections are there? Samsung’s Galaxy smartwatches don’t work with iOS, however another Wear OS smartwatches do — together with the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4 vary, however you’ll be paying round $2,000 for one in every of these. Huawei’s smartwatches, such because the current Watch GT 4, are cheaper at lower than $300 and a surprisingly good pairing with iOS, however you have to to simply accept many options — together with Message assist and interactive notifications — gained’t work.

Alternatively, devoted health watches just like the Garmin Forerunner 265 and Garmin Vivomove Trend will go well with these extra targeted on well being and exercises. The Withings ScanWatch 2’s hybrid design goes in a unique route and can attraction to anybody who doesn’t need to be overwhelmed with notifications or cope with a full touchscreen. We’d additionally recommend taking a look at a Casio G-Shock GBD-200, DW-H5600, or GBD-H2000 if a extra conventional watch with linked options appeals.

Apple Watch Series 9: verdict

The Nike Globe watch face on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Nike Globe watch face Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve the sensation I’ve mentioned this just a few instances earlier than, however should you personal an iPhone and need a smartwatch, purchase the Apple Watch. It’s by far the very best smartwatch to your telephone. If it’s your first Apple Watch, you’re going to adore the Series 9. However, as of this second, you possibly can purchase an Apple Watch Series 8 and have an virtually an identical expertise to the Series 9, outdoors of Double Tap.

Double Tap, as cool as it’s, hasn’t received what it takes to remodel the Apple Watch Series 9 into essential improve from the Series 8. If you already personal final yr’s Apple Watch or the Series 7, maintain maintain it it for now. The Apple Watch Series 9 is an excellent smartwatch, however it’s vital to know plenty of its brilliance comes from watchOS 10, and you may get that on all Apple Watch fashions after the Apple Watch Series 4.

A person wearing the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Perhaps greater than ever earlier than, the Apple Watch Series 9 is finest suited to newcomers to Apple’s smartwatches slightly than a necessary improve for anybody who has already purchased one within the final three or 4 years. I need to restate how glorious the Apple Watch is, how seamlessly it suits into my life, and the way a lot I like to recommend you purchase one. But I additionally need to make it clear how I felt exactly the same about the Series 8 after I wore it once more forward of the Series 9’s launch.

Here’s my conclusion: purchase the Apple Watch Series 9 proper now, supplied you haven’t put an Apple Watch in your wrist earlier than. Just suppose very fastidiously earlier than doing so should you already personal an Apple Watch Series 5 or later.

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