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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.

Very little else has been rumored about the upcoming Apple Watch Series X. It could utilize a magnetic connector for watch bands and introduce a new health sensor for blood pressure.

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 will be able to reenable the feature once the ban has been lifted. It isn't clear which will happen first — Apple winning its appeals or Masimo's patents expiring in 2028.

Apple Watch Series 9 Cellular with Midnight Aluminum Case and Midnight Sport Band

Apple Watch Series 9

The Apple Watch Series 9 is powered by Apple's S9 SiP.

Apple Watch Series 9 Design

This model is available in two materials — aluminum and stainless steel. The aluminum cases are available in Pink, Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and (PRODUCT)RED. The Stainless steel cases are available in Gold, Silver, and Graphite. Both are available in a 41mm or 45mm size.

A smartwatch with a blue display showing time and date on a wooden surface with a pixel-patterned strap. Sapphire glass is used for the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9 models

The edge-to-edge display now boasts a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits and a minimum brightness of 1 nit, allowing the watch screen to be viewed in a wide variety of environments. Aluminum cases feature Ion-X front glass, while stainless steel cases feature a front made of sapphire crystal. 

Digital Crown and Side Button

Like its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 9 features a Digital Crown and a Side button. The Digital Crown is primarily used to navigate the interface. 

Pressing the Digital Crown allows users to access the home screen, while a double click allows users to access the App Switcher. Pressing and holding will summon Siri for voice commands. 

The Side Button can be pressed to show or hide the control center. Pressing and holding it will allow the wearer to use Emergency SOS or to turn off the Apple Watch. Double-clicking the side button allows users to use Apple Pay.

Carbon-neutral Options

The Apple Watch is Apple's first carbon-neutral product, and the company is aiming to make all its products carbon-neutral by 2030.

The Apple Watch Series 9 is now available with carbon-neutral options, joining the ranks of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch SE. Users must choose the Aluminum case and a select Sport Loop if they wish their device to be carbon neutral.

Apple Watch Series 9 Features

Internally, there are several important upgrades. The S9 System in Package (SiP) has a faster CPU for the first time since the Apple Watch Series 6, which means more advanced features.

Apple Watch Series 9 features Apple Watch Series 9 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

This watch 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.

Returning Features

The Apple Watch Series 9 sees many returning features from previous models. 

It has the ability to automatically detect severe car crashes using Crash Detection. When a crash has been detected, the Apple Watch will connect users with emergency services, providing dispatchers with their location and notifying their emergency contacts.

A smartwatch with a pink strap displays a fall detection alert offering SOS and 'I'm OK' options. Fall Detection is automatically enabled for users ages 55 or older, or anyone 18 and older during workouts

Fall Detection also returns, allowing the Apple Watch to contact emergency services if a user takes a hard fall. While Fall Detection is automatically enabled for wearers aged 55 and older, Fall Detection during Workouts is enabled for any user aged 18 or older.

Like previous Apple Watch models, the it comes with sensors capable of relaying health data to the wearer. The Apple Watch can monitor a user's heart rate and generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. It will also alert users to high and low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms.

watchOS 11

Announced at WWDC 2024, watchOS 11 is set to be released in the fall of the same year. While it didn't get much screen time during the keynote, Apple did mention several features that users can look forward to when it officially releases.

Health and fitness features

Like most major watchOS updates, Apple has introduced plenty of new health and fitness-related features with iOS 18. 

New pregnancy-tracking features have been added to the Cycle tracker of Apple Health. It now shows the gestational age and tracks the pregnancy across health charts. It provides recommendations and notifications for health during pregnancy, such as reviewing the high heart rate threshold and receiving alerts for increased fall risk in the third trimester.

Vitals is a new feature that uses data collected while a wearer sleeps to establish a typical range for health metrics like heart rate, respiratory rate, wrist temperature, blood oxygen, and sleep duration.

If any of these metrics are outside the typical range, the Apple Watch will send a notification with contextual information about possible factors, such as medications, elevation, alcohol, or illness. This can help users understand that paying closer attention to their bodies is a good idea.

The new Training Load feature helps users understand how workouts impact their bodies over time. It compares the intensity and duration of workouts over the last seven days to the previous 28 days, classifying the current training load to help users gauge the strain on their body and make informed decisions about their exercise regimen.

Overview of watchOS features including Check In, Live Activities, redesigned Photos face, ticketing, training load, vitals, double tap API, interactive widgets, pool workouts, navigation, and translate. watchOS features

Similar to Training Load, a new effort rating has been added to the Workout app. The metric will gauge a user's exercise intensity, pace, elevation, heart rate, and personal data factor into each rating.

Users can now pause their Activity Rings for a day, week, month, or more and maintain their award streak. 

User interface and user experience upgrades 

New interactive widgets are displayed based on time, location, and more. New widgets include severe weather alerts, Training Load, Photos, Distance, and Shazam.

The Smart Stack feature has also been upgraded to automatically display relevant Widgets based on time, location, and other factors. Live activities are also included in the Smart Stack, providing important information such as the arrival time of an Uber or the likelihood of rain.

A redesigned Photos face uses machine learning to search a user's photo library, select the best images, and create watch faces featuring their favorite people, pets, and places.

Other watchOS 11 features

The Apple Watch Maps app will feature topographic maps with detailed trail networks and hikes, including all 63 U.S. national parks. Users can save maps to their Apple Watch to access them offline with turn-by-turn voice guidance.

The Translate app supports 20 languages, allowing users to see translations by typing or dictating a phrase. Users can also play the translation aloud and slow it down if needed. Languages can easily be downloaded to the Apple Watch, too.

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, though 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, this one 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 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.

Prices start at $399 for aluminum models and $699 for stainless steel models. Cellular is optional for aluminum while it is included automatically for stainless steel. Apple Watch discounts are regularly available, dropping prices on the S9 to as low as $299 periodically.

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