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Apple A-Z » Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9
 

Apple Watch Series 9 represents the peak of Apple's mature wearable platform. Performance increases and a new Double Tap gesture were introduced thanks to the S9 SiP. The overall design hasn't changed and all previous bands remain compatible.

● Faster S9 SiP chipset
● Double Tap
● Brighter 2,000-nit display
● Return of heart rate, blood oxygen, ECG, and temperature sensors
● Second-generation Ultra Wideband chip
Starting at $399

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Apple Watch Series 9 was introduced during the Wonderlust event on September 12, 2023. It isn't a significant departure from the Apple Watch Series 8 but has some new features and improvements thanks to the S9 SiP.

Besides display size increases and a shrinking bezel, the Apple Watch's external design hasn't changed much from the original model. The edge-to-edge display and casing used today are nearly identical to the Apple Watch Series 7.

Rumors continue to suggest Apple could depart from the original design and watch band connector in the 10th-generation model for 2024. This "X" model would finally force customers to buy new bands for the first time in the device's history.

The Apple Watch import ban

The United States International Trade Comission recommended that Apple Watch products with blood oxygen detection be banned from import based on a judge's decision in a patent lawsuit. Masimo, a medical technology company, claims Apple violated its patents to create the Apple Watch Series 6 and newer's ability to measure blood oxygen.

The ban is in place from December 25 with no options for Apple other than to stop sale of the offending products immediately. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are the only models that are currently sold with the feature, so those were pulled from sale. The Apple Watch SE is unaffected.

Apple sought multiple avenues for getting the import ban lifted or going around it. Either the White House could have intervened and gave the ruling a stay until all appeals were processed, or Apple could update the Apple Watch software to satisfy customs in the meantime.

Option number two ended up happening. New Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 models sold in the Untied States after January 17 have blood oxygen detection disabled. Devices already purchased are unaffected.

Apple Watch Series 9 Features

Apple Watch Series 9 is indistinguishable from other devices, though there are a few tells. Besides the etched text on the back cover, customers will notice the brighter 2,000-nit display in the 2023 model.

Apple Watch Series 9 features Apple Watch Series 9 features

Internally, there are several important upgrades. The System in Package (SiP) has a faster CPU for the first time since the Apple Watch Series 6, which means more advanced features.

The improved SiP includes a faster processor, faster GPU, and improved Neural Engine. These add up to new features like Double Tap and on-device Siri.

However, these new features didn't debut with the watch. They arrived later with watchOS 10.1.

Double Tap

Apple introduced a new gesture for controlling the Apple Watch called Double Tap. It is an evolution of the existing accessibility feature that has a bit more accuracy and requires less dramatic motion.

Double Tap to control the Apple Watch with one hand Double Tap to control the Apple Watch with one hand

When the user double taps their thumb and another finger, the Apple Watch sensors determine the gesture has occurred using advanced algorithms and detected changes in blood flow. Whatever interaction paradigm is active on the display will be activated by the gesture, like accepting a call, pausing music, stopping a timer, or snoozing an alarm.

The gesture requires some practice to get right. Plus, Apple requires the Apple Watch to be raised and active for a Double Tap gesture to work — so no controlling the watch while not looking at it.

Third party apps don't have access to the Double Tap gesture either. Apple will have to release an API for detecting when the gesture has occurred.

Ultra Wideband generation 2

The Apple Watch Series 9 also has the second-generation Ultra Wideband chip. This enables more accurate device finding over longer distances, plus advanced Handoff features for HomePod.

New HomePod interactions are possible thanks to the new Ultra Wideband chip New HomePod interactions are possible thanks to the new Ultra Wideband chip

Like on iPhone, the Apple Watch can now use precision finding to locate devices like an AirTag or the user's iPhone. An arrow with numbers appear when the user is close enough to the device.

The new Ultra Wideband chip also introduces NFC Handoff capabilities with HomePod. Bringing Apple Watch close to a HomePod will bring up its Now Playing controls on the watch face.

Apple Watch Series 9 Review

Apple Watch has become an increasingly difficult product to refresh for Apple. It is incredibly mature as a device, and its small size prevents many additions.

Apple Watch Series 9 review Apple Watch Series 9 review

The Apple Watch Series 9 stands apart as a useful upgrade because it introduces a new interaction paradigm and has a faster processor for the first time in three generations. Customers seeking a new wearable won't have difficulty choosing the 2023 update.

The biggest issue we encountered in the review was that several new features weren't available at launch. Double Tap is a great reason to upgrade to Apple Watch Series 9, but it wasn't activated until watchOS 10.1.

Highlights from this review

  • Upgraded display with brighter 2,000 nit max, 1 nit minimum
  • S9 SiP is faster, enables new features
  • Double Tap introduces new interaction standpoint, though wasn't available at launch
  • Identical design means all previous bands still fit
  • Apple Watch experience is otherwise unchanged — no new health sensors and identical battery life

Read the full Apple Watch Series 9 review for a detailed evaluation and photos, or keep reading ahead for the summary. AppleInsider scored the Apple Watch Series 9 4 out of 5.

Review: Design

Apple Watch Series 9 kept an identical external design to Apple Watch Series 8. It has a display that wraps over the edge and a ceramic rear cover for the sensor housing.

The overall design hasn't changed The overall design hasn't changed

Customers can choose from aluminum or stainless steel options sized at 41 mm or 45 mm. Aluminum cases are available in pink, midnight, starlight, silver, and red, while stainless steel cases are available in gold, silver, or graphite.

No new buttons or health sensors were added for the 2023 update. There's a faster processor and new features because of it, but that's the biggest update beyond the display.

Review: Display

Like previous models, Apple Watch Series 9 has an always-on Retina LTPO OLED display. However, it has inherited some display perks from the Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple doubled the max display brightness Apple doubled the max display brightness

The display has a new peak brightness of 2,000 nits in direct sunlight. That's double the previous generation's rating.

The brightness was upgraded in the other direction as well. The display can get as dim as 1 nit in dark environments.

Review: Processor

The processor within the Apple Watch system-in-package, or SiP, hadn't been upgraded since Apple Watch Series 6. That changed with the S9 SiP, finally providing some performance boost.

S9 SiP S9 SiP

The dual-core CPU has 60% more transistors, and the GPU is 30% faster. It isn't clear what this means for real-world performance, but developers may be able to take advantage.

The four-core Neural Engine also got an upgrade. It can now process data at twice the rate of previous models.

Internal storage increased to 64GB, which is good news for users with a lot of offline music or podcasts on their Apple Watch. It also means there will be more space for bigger watchOS updates.

Apple also introduced a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip to Apple Watch Series 9. It enables a new proximity interaction with HomePod, plus improved device finding when searching for an iPhone or AirTag.

Review: Late features

The crux of this review was the lack of new features to test. Because Double Tap and offline Siri were unavailable at launch, our review lacks two of the Apple Watch Series 9's biggest reasons to upgrade.

Offline Siri is faster and more private Offline Siri is faster and more private

On-device Siri will enable users to perform simple requests without the Apple Watch needing to ping the iPhone or internet. The request takes place entirely on the device and is executed quickly because of it.

Double Tap is the most interesting feature of Apple Watch Series 9. Users can activate whatever the main button is on the Apple Watch display by tapping their thumb and another finger twice.

The main button is defined by the active app itself. For example, the main button might be the play/pause button, end call button, or camera shutter. If a list is being displayed, a Double Tap will scroll the list.

Apple Watch Series 9 price and release date

Pre-orders began immediately after the event on September 12, 2023. Initial deliveries and in-store availability began on September 22.

Apple didn't increase the price of the Apple Watch Series 9 nor did it introduce new materials. Customers can choose from pink, midnight, starlight, silver, and Product(Red) for the aluminum finish, or gold, silver, and graphite for the stainless steel finish.


The Apple Watch Series 9 rumor cycle

Everything below this point was written before Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 9. This information will remain as a record of what was rumored so it can be compared to what has been released.


Apple is expected to announce the Apple Watch Series 9 during an Apple Event in mid-September. It will be revealed alongside the iPhone 15 lineup, but there haven't been many rumors about the likely iterative device.

Apple Watch launched in 2015 with a focus on fashion, health, and social but with a UI and implementation that didn't capture the device's use case. Since then, Apple has refined the device's overall vision and functionality to line up with how people actually use the device.

The device and its core functionality rely primarily on what hardware is available. While watchOS has gone through a few redesigns, with yet another redesign in watchOS 10, Apple Watch functionality has largely remained the same.

The lack of substantial rumors surrounding Apple Watch Series 9 seems to suggest it will be a minor update. A new, faster processor is likely, while a new health sensor and Action Button could be enough to set this generation apart.

A faster S9 SiP

The Apple Watch doesn't need to be a processing powerhouse, but the processor should provide a balance of speed and efficiency. The previous three generations of System-in-Package (SiP) chipsets for Apple Watch have used the same base processing cores, meaning there hasn't been a speed bump since Apple Watch Series 6.

S9 SiP S9 SiP

The S6, S7, and S8 SiP core processors are built based on the A13 Bionic, which is the chipset that shipped in the iPhone 11. So, it is understandably time to move to a newer, faster core processor.

Rumors suggest the S9 SiP will be based on the A15 Bionic processor, which is a significant jump in processing power and efficiency. The A13 was built on the 7nm process, while the A15 was built on the 5nm process.

While users may not be clamoring for more speed on Apple Watch, more processing power could mean more complex apps. Plus, improved power efficiency will undoubtedly translate to a longer battery life.

New health sensor and tracking improvements

Apple doesn't always introduce a new health sensor with an updated Apple Watch. Since there was a temperature sensor in the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch Series 9 may not get a new sensor.

Apple could add a new health sensor to Series 9 Apple could add a new health sensor to Series 9

The long-rumored blood glucose monitor isn't ready, and features offered by other smartwatches, like blood pressure, might not be accurate enough for Apple's needs. Instead, Apple could focus on improving the metrics it already collects.

The watchOS 10 update focused on implementing widgets and redesigning apps, but there wasn't any mention of more intensive programs or functionality. The rumored S9 SiP could lead to more powerful apps, better tracking, and more third-party integrations.

Action button

One of Apple Watch Ultra's tentpole features is the Action Button, which by all accounts, is an excellent addition to Apple Watch. Apple could bring this feature down to standard models to provide more control and customization options for those not seeking the high-end product.

Action Button could come to non-ultra watches Action Button could come to non-ultra watches

The Action Button was so well-received that it seems Apple will implement it on the iPhone 15 Pro. Users will be able to assign actions or Shortcuts to the button, and it takes the place of the physical mute switch.

Since the Apple Watch Series 9 is expected to be more of an iterative spec bump, an Action Button would provide an excellent incentive to undecided upgraders.

Everything else

There haven't been many rumors around the Apple Watch Series 9. One suggests a new color could be added to the aluminum models — pink.

Existing sensors will carry over from Apple Watch Series 8, so expect heart rate, blood oxygen, ECG, and temperature tracking to be part of the hardware package. It will likely retain the same design and work with existing bands.

New features could be introduced at the event New features could be introduced at the event

Apple Watch Ultra could get a second-generation model too, but we're not expecting much to change. The overall design and functionality would remain identical, but it would get the S9 SiP and possibly a black color option.

Apple Watch Series 9 price and release date

Apple is expected to announce the Apple Watch Series 9 during an event in mid-September. It will follow the same configuration options as the Apple Watch Series 8 with aluminum or stainless steel options.

The price should remain identical, so expect the base non-cellular aluminum model to start at $399. Stainless steel models come with cellular by default and start at $699, while a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra would start at $799.