Review of the Apple Watch Series 9: improved but mostly unchanged

Design and display

You won’t be able to distinguish the Apple Watch Series 9 from the Series 8 or even the Series 7 before to that, no matter how closely you examine it. You get the same square-shaped aluminum or stainless steel frame in 41mm and 45mm diameters, with the design essentially remaining the same. The only method to distinguish a Series 9 from its predecessor is to use the new Pink colorway (available in aluminum). Additional color choices for the aluminum variant are Product (Red), Starlight, Midnight (the color of our review device), and Silver. The colors of the stainless steel variant include Graphite, Silver, and Gold.

The speaker cutout is located on the left side of the frame, while the well-known pill-shaped button and crown are located on the right side. By the way, the Sport Loop straps are carbon neutral and contain 45% recycled content, but the aluminum model is produced entirely of recycled aluminum.

Double-tap gesture

A significant new feature that is only available on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 is double-tap. It just came with watchOS 10.1. Fundamentally, double-tap is an accessibility feature that lets you use one hand to accomplish specific tasks. As the name implies, double-tap allows you to do specific tasks with just two taps of your thumb and index finger.

Since watchOS 8, there has been a version of Double-tap hidden under the Accessibility settings. With the previous gesture function, known as Assistive Touch, you could also use single, double, or clenching your fist to accomplish customized tasks including opening the notification center, dock, or control center; dismissing messages; waking Siri; or performing other shortcuts. Because Assistive Touch offers more mapping choices for gestures, I found it to be slightly more convenient than Double-tap.

Performance and software

According to Apple, the new S9 SiP (System in Package) would operate 30% faster than the S8 chip from the previous year. In addition, it has a four-core Neural Engine, which allows it to support the Double-tap gesture and on-device Siri processing, among other features. With the former, Siri is able to carry out a number of fundamental functions, such as creating alarms and reminders, without having an active internet connection.

You will notice an increase in speed during normal usage if you are switching from an Apple Watch Series 7 or older model. Applications operate with little to no lag, and transitions between apps and animations feel seamless. In the event that you are upgrading from Series 8, performance differences may not be noticeable.

Battery life

Not much has changed in terms of batteries. If you use the Apple Watch Series 9 lightly, it can still last two days on a single charge. You won’t get anything truly remarkable if you’re switching from an Apple Watch Series 7 or earlier, but you will notice an improvement in battery life. When charging the device with a 30W Apple charging brick, it takes around an hour to get 100% charge; when using a 20W adapter, it takes about an hour and twenty minutes.

Verdict

There is nothing innovative about the new design language of the Apple Watch Series 9. You know what to expect here because it looks just like its predecessor and its predecessor’s predecessor. The S9 SiP increases the smartwatch’s responsiveness and somewhat extends its battery life. The new double-tap feature is arguably the largest update, and it seems like this feature will only grow better in the future. Having said that, it might not be worthwhile to upgrade from a Series 8 or a Series 7 for just one function.

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