Apple Watch Series 9 Review: Why It Wins


This is the Apple Watch Series 9, what Apple calls as smarter, brighter, mightier, and what I’m going to call probably one of my favorite smartwatches in a bit, even if for reasons that are not necessarily conventional to my taste. I mean sure, this might look like Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 7, but let’s just say this could just be the culmination of what this watch should’ve been since Series 1. I’m Jaime Rivera with Pocketnow and let me explain to you why the Apple Watch Series 9 wins in our full review.


Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9 is the latest smartwatch from the Cupertino giant. It offers a whole day of battery life, a faster processor, and fresh ways to use the smartwatch with gestures.

Brand
Apple

Battery Life
Up to 18 hours

Operating System
watchOS 10

Case Material
Aluminum or Stainless Steel

Display
Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display

CPU
Apple S9 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor

Storage
64GB

Connectivity
GPS-only and GPS + Cellular models

Health sensors
ECG, Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen, Temperature, Irregular rhythm notifications

Weight
31.9g (41mm), 38.8g (45mm)

Color options
Aluminum: Starlight, Midnight, Silver, (PRODUCT)RED, Pink; Stainless Steel: Gold, Silver, Graphite

Brightness
2000 nits

GPS
L1 GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou

Fast charging
Yes

IP Rating
IP6X

Pros

  • Enhanced speed and efficiency with S9 chip
  • Brighter display
  • Double Tap control feature is useful
  • Improved battery life
  • On-device Siri functionality comes in handy
Cons

  • Lacks detailed fitness goal customization
  • GPS not as precise as some competitors
  • Design is same as the previous gen

You must admire Apple’s boldness in how it approached the smartwatch since day one. At a time when most competitors are still trying to make watches that look like regular timepiece, Apple instead decided to challenge that premise. I mean, why should a watch be round or square? Seriously, why should the watch face be skeuomorphic just to look like a regular watch instead of being modular to your needs? You could assume the company risked a lot by trying to defy a very picky market, and yet, this is the most popular smartwatch by far, even nine years later.

Sure, visually, it hasn’t really changed much since Series 7 from 2021 became more curvy around the edges. I’ve always been more of a fan of silver since it blends best with the watch bands I own, but I don’t think I was prepared for how this Midnight brings the right amount of contrast to Apple’s classic Milanese Loop.

Apple Watch Series 9 review image 3

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

This is one example of how retaining the design language benefits the user, as I’ve had this band for years, and my Galaxy Watch 4 bands don’t all work on the 6. That said, the retail combination of this Aluminum variant with Apple’s latest bands makes this the company’s first fully sustainable product.

Not going to lie, I really like these new Nike Sport Bands, as their recycled material combinations make each item unique. I also praise the Apple Watch for being one of the lightest offerings left. I think it wasn’t until I unboxed an old Casio that I realized just how massive smartwatches have become for the sake of bigger batteries, while Apple provides a large screen experience on a surreal footprint.

It’s not until you start using it that you’ll notice the differences. Apple’s new S9 System-In-A-Package, now based on the 4-nanometer node, is 30% faster and 25% more efficient than what you had on Series 8. This is also the first smartwatch I know to offer an insane 64 Gigs of Storage, meaning you can load it up with as much music, podcasts and other media as you’d like. The display also got two times brighter, topping at 2000 nits, and yet it can go as low as 1 nit for dim environments.

Series 9 review 7

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

All this matters because it enables features that really no other smartwatch can do. My favorite is Double Tap, which I’ve been using in beta for the last couple of days. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve wished my right hand was free to address something on my watch as I carry gear. Now, you can simply double-tap two fingers for that to mimic a quick action. Yes, we did see something similar in accessibility before, but the S9 SiP has made it as reliable as it should be. I do wish there were more gestures, but for now, it does offer some customization within settings.

The other is Siri on-device. I run in pretty remote areas where the signal can be spotty, and it’s refreshing not to depend on data for basic commands. I’ll also agree with the 25% faster claims. It’s only made me use Siri more now that it responds far quicker. Then there’s finding your iPhone with precision, which is a far better solution than having to just guess where the sound is coming from. I’d even say these HomePod media controls have come in handy as the iPhone is not always with me to take over.

That said, what I’ve enjoyed the most is WatchOS 10. Smart Stack isn’t really a new concept, as you’ll see widgets on Garmin smartwatches and WearOS, and the Siri Watch face had some elements of it before. It shifts the jumping into apps paradigm to a “smart stack” of widgets that you can either define or let the watch modulate based on your day.

Apple Watch Series 9 review image 4

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

Each of these services also got a dramatic refresh in visuals, like in the case of Weather now providing tons more information or Activity now using the corners of the UI, just to name a few. I also like that this forced the move of the Control Center to the side key, as that means you can now access it from any app.

Other little things like the new layout for the apps is far easier to navigate than the old scroll-around anywhere approach or even the list. I also like the new watch faces that came with the update, though I do miss not being able to swipe between them from left to right quickly. I’d even say there’s a missed opportunity here in having an additional command on the sides of the watch face.

When it comes to Fitness, the Apple Watch continues to be the companion I recommend for most people. That said, since I came from using an Ultra last year, let’s just say there were a few things I missed. I’ve always praised Apple’s GPS tracking, which continues to be just as reliable this year, though yeah, if you need full precision, then the Apple Watch Ultra, with its dual-band GPS, is the way to go.

Apple Watch Series 9 review image 2

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

I found it either on point or slightly behind my Garmin Epix Gen 2, though still in acceptable differences, even under dense foliage. I sadly don’t cycle on the road, so I can’t get you data on those improvements Apple brought, but my usage of Peloton is just another indication of why this ecosystem matters. Set it up once, and then just start your ride, whether on the bike or anywhere really, and the watch will automatically switch to track your calorie burn and does so at an accuracy that nearly matches Peloton’s trashy chest strap.

Related: 12 Apple Watch tips and tricks you should know

Calorie calculations and even treadmill runs are things I’ll trust an Apple Watch more than my $1,000 Garmin. Heck, even services like Beach Body and Tempo rely on the Apple Watch for these calculations, and of course, you have Apple’s own Fitness+, which I use for walks all the time, while my kids track their workouts between the Apple TV and their Apple Watch SE. I’ll also say I do notice the improvements in battery life now lasting more than a full day for me, even through workouts, though, of course, anyone doing hours of work should probably go Ultra.

If there were one thing I’d change, it is really not from the watch itself, but from the Activity and Health Apps. I love being able to track my daily progress, but I wish this could be tailored to specific goals. For example, as a runner, recovery days are important after speed work or long runs, but for the Watch, it’s either you close the circle, or you don’t. For the average consumer, that’s perfect, but for anyone training for a Marathon, not so much.

Apple Watch Series 9 review image 2

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

I’d even say Apple’s Health app collects far more useful information than Garmin or Fitbit do, but they simply present their back to you in a more useful dashboard that lets you know if you’re improving your physical condition or not. WatchOS 9 and 10 have made huge leaps to improve that, particularly with heart rate zones that automatically change based on your performance and workout planning for runs.

In Apple’s defense, I’ll even be honest that I’ve switched back to the Apple Watch away from using my Garmin daily because I’m actually overwhelmed by things like Body Battery metrics being inaccurate and psychologically making me feel like I need more rest. The point is, if Apple would do that extra push in data insights to make this more of the fitness computer that it pretty much already is, but in a smarter way, or give us those Pro features for an extra cost, I feel this watch would be invaluable for all crowds, not just the average user.

Related: Best cases for Apple Watch Series 9

To conclude, I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture of what this product represents. The Apple Watch began as a companion to your iPhone, but it’s grown up in such a way that if you had the LTE variant, you don’t really need to carry the phone anymore. This watch will take your calls, respond to your messages, play your favorite media, and then offer the same Crash Detection and Emergency SOS functionality as if your phone were in your pocket.

Try to think of what other smartwatch does all that, especially at that price. Keep in mind that even my fitness comparisons were made with a Garmin that costs more than double. This is why the Apple Watch wins.

Apple Watch Series 9 review image 1

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

Sure, different designs are nice to have, but I believe a smartwatch itself should focus more on being convenient to the user and not just another screen for notifications. I’d say the Apple Watch Series 9 nails that premise better than others, and little things like Double Tap just emphasize this even further.

Sure, it’s not perfect. Not even a Rolex is. But if I had to recommend the best smartwatch for most people, Series 9 it is. Anyone on Series 7 or 8 could be ok another year, but that S9 SiP makes this the upgrade I’d recommend most, and those trade-in deals look pretty enticing right now.

Let me know if you agree with my assessment in the comments down below and while you’re at it follow us on social media and subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one. You can also follow me on my personal handles to see me start eyeing that Ultra 2 even more. Please give this video a thumbs up if you like what you saw, I’m Jaime Rivera thanks so much for watching, we’ll see you on the next one.

Apple Watch Series 9 Graphite PBI

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9 is the latest smartwatch from the Cupertino giant. It offers a whole day of battery life, a faster processor, and fresh ways to use the smartwatch with gestures.



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