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Apple Watch Series 9 review

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9.5Expert Score
Apple Watch Series 9 review: Still the best

The Apple Watch Series 9 may not look too different from previous models, but there are significant improvements under the screen.

Design
9.5
Performance
9.5
Pros
  • Double Tap is cool
  • Screen is super bright and clear
  • On-device Siri works really well
  • Carbon-neutral options
Cons
  • Battery life can still be better
  • Design hasn't changed

The Apple Watch Series 9 is an iterative improvement on a family of products that have been leading the market since they first went on sale. 

It is ideal as an upgrade path for older Apple Watch users, though the more adventurous will probably prefer the new Apple Watch Ultra 2. 

While there is little to visually differentiate, the Apple Watch Series 9 from the Apple Watch Series 8, there are some big improvements under the hood, which help make this the best Apple Watch to date. 

Apple Watch Series 9 on a concrete table

Apple Watch Series 9 review: Design

There’s no mistaking this for anything besides yet another Apple Watch. While Apple has refined the material selection and production of Apple watches to make them more eco-friendly, the Apple Watch Series 9 is still unmistakably an Apple Watch.

This rounded square shape with the digital crown is the biggest giveaway.

The Series 9 is available in two different materials and two different sizes: aluminium and stainless steel in 41 mm and 45 mm. 

The OLED screen is brighter than ever, making it easy to read in any lighting condition, too.

Apple has gone a long way in improving the manufacturing process to improve its eco-friendly credentials.

The aluminium version of the series 9 is Apple’s first 100% carbon-neutral product, provided you select a carbon-neutral band to accompany the watch. 

Looking at the side of the watch

Under the hood

While there’s not a lot of difference visually to tell this model apart from its predecessor, under the hood there have been some big improvements.

The new S9 chip that powers the Apple Watch Series 9 has 5.6 billion transistors, which is more than 60% more than the previous S8 chip. 

While more transistors sound great on a marketing slide, what that actually means is that the watch can now handle all the processing of Siri commands on the device itself.

It also enables the shiniest new feature of the Series 9 watch, which is “Double Tap”.

Double Tap enables you to control the primary function of an app by quickly tapping your thumb and forefinger together twice.

It works by detecting minor motion in your wrist, as well as changes to blood flow when you tap your fingers together.

The Double Tap icon on the watch's screen

And I have to say that it is impressive to use. I would say it is accurate about 90% of the time, but that last 10% just requiring another attempt to make it work.

The catch is that it’s not always obvious when you should use this. Sure, answering a call on your watch is easy by double tapping your fingers, or pausing music when the music app is open.

But to get the music app open, you still need to use your other hand, At which pint you might as well just press the screen.

I’m excited to see this control develop. Surely, an enhancement to the machine learning would be able to pick up that sliding my thumb and forefinger together means I want to scroll through options? Or triple tapping to go back, perhaps?

I feel this is the start of a new form of hands-free control, and I’m here for it.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: Performance

The Apple Watch Series 9 is undoubtedly the best smartwatch for most people on the market today.

It does everything you need to do quickly and efficiently. From recording your workouts to monitoring your sleep to tracking your monthly cycle to watching notifications without pulling out your phone, the Apple Watch Series 9 does it all quickly and efficiently.

I found Siri voice recognition to be significantly more accurate with the Apple Watch Series 9. 

I could add items to my shopping list effortlessly, without having to go into Reminders to edit the listing afterwards. Setting a timer always worked. Even dictating text messages was seamless.

I also appreciated the improvements from the second generation Ultra-Wideband chip, which allows you to locate your phone or other item with precision tracking, directing you to the precise location when you get close enough to the missing device. 

I had my kids hide the iPhone 15 Pro to test it out, and they couldn’t stop me from finding the phone. 

Fitness performance

Look, I am not the most active person. I spend way too long at my desk typing away.

But I do like to go for the occasional walk, and the Apple Watch does an impressive job of tracking that information. 

At the end of the workout, I’ll get a summary of how long I walked for, how far I walked, the number of active and total calories burnt, altitude gain, average pace and average heart rate.

Some of that info is displayed in tables, or graphs, and the route is shown on a map as well.

I still wish Apple would add auto-start and stop for walks, like it has for running workouts and cycling workouts. 

But otherwise, tracking your activity is quick and easy. 

A lot of the other health features available, like the ECG and Blood Oxygen reading, are undoubtedly useful for people who need to monitor those data points on the go. But the reality for most users is that you might try it once, but then you’ll probably never look at them again.

Double tapping the Apple Watch Series 9

Battery life

The Apple Watch Series 91 still has a way to go with battery life, though coming from an Apple Watch Series 5 it’s a clear step up.

You will get about a day and a half between charges if you’re fairly lazy and don’t do too much.

If you’re a lot more active, you may need to charge it every day. That said, you will likely end up sticking it on the charger every day anyway.

Compared to the Series 5, the charger is significantly faster. While this may not be a new feature for the Series 9, it is definitely worth noting for potential upgraders from older Apple Watches. .

Apple Watch Series 9 review: Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 9 is an exceptional product. Apple has dominated the smartwatch market since the first Apple Watch, and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon.

With the improvements to the S9 processor allowing for gesture controls like Double Tap and on-device Siri processing, Apple seems to be pulling away from other smartwatch competitors.

That said, battery life is still a daily challenge, and you need to be using an iPhone to even consider getting an Apple Watch.

But that’s nothing new. If you’re in the market for a smartwatch, and you use an iPhone, then this is the best smartwatch you can buy right now.

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Product disclosure

Apple supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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