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The Apple Watch Series 9 is here, and it’s hiding a big upgrade

Apple Watch Series 9.

Apple’s September 2023 event is proving to be a packed show, and among the announcements has been the Apple Watch Series 9.

The Apple Watch Series 9 might seem like an iterative upgrade compared to the Apple Watch Series 8, and in many regards, it is. We’re looking at a very familiar design, similar health-tracking features, etc. But there is one big upgrade that makes the Apple Watch Series 9 more exciting than you might initially realize, even beside the much flashier Apple Watch Ultra 2.

There’s a new S9 chip — and it’s a big deal

Apple Watch series 9 announcement.

The Apple Watch Series 9 features a new S9 chip that consists of 5.6 billion transistors and a GPU that is 30% faster than the previous-gen processor. It is clearly “Apple’s most powerful watch chip yet.” It is said to offer systemwide improvements and brand-new features.

The system in a package (SiP) is paired with a new 4-core Neural Engine that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as fast when compared to the predecessor.

Apple is focusing on making the Apple Watch Series 9 work better with its other devices, including the HomePod. The screen now goes down to 1 nit in brightness to save battery, so the Apple Watch Series 9 doesn’t shine on you like a torch in lowlight settings. It can also go up to 2,000 nits to offer an even better legibility outdoors.

The Apple Watch Series 9 includes a second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip to enable Precision Finding for the iPhone 15 series. It will help you find a misplaced iPhone with visual, haptic, and audio guidance. It also allows for deeper integration between the Apple Watch and HomePod, so when you are within four meters of a HomePod playing audio, the new Apple Watch Series 9 will launch Now Playing to control the media.

The new Apple Watch runs watchOS 10, which was announced earlier this year at the WWDC event. It includes my favorite Snoopy watch face, an updated look for apps and widgets, new sports modes (including cycling, golf, and tennis), and better mental health tracking with the Mindfulness app.

New double-tap gesture and improved Siri

New double tap gesture for Apple Watch Series 9.

You can control the Apple Watch Series 9 without touching the display. Thanks to a new double-tap gesture, you can tap your index finger and thumb of your watch hand together twice to quickly and conveniently perform many of the most common actions on the Apple Watch Series 9.

You can use it to stop a timer, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, answer and end a phone call, or click a photo with the camera on your iPhone. The gesture can also open the Smart Stack from the watch face, and another double-tap will scroll through widgets in the stack.

Thanks to the new chipset, Siri is finally usable on the Apple Watch. All the Siri requests are now processed on the Watch itself. It does not rely on Wi-Fi or cellular networks for requests like starting a workout or setting a timer. You also get better dictation and Health app access from Siri to answer your health- and fitness-related queries.

The display gets a big boost

Apple Watch Series 9 on a person's wrist.

The Apple Watch Series 9 features a new display that goes up to 2,000 nits, which is double that of the Apple Watch Series 8. It will come in handy for better legibility in bright sunlight. It can aslo go down to just 1 nit, so you aren’t uncomfortable looking at the watch in lowlight environments.

The Apple Watch Series 9 is rated to last up to 18 hours, which is similar to the Series 8. Disappointingly, the new chip doesn’t seem to offer better battery life. It comes in a new pink color option, though. Plus, it’s Apple’s first carbon-neutral product.

A bunch of new bands

Apple Watch Series 9 new bands.
Apple / Apple

Apple has also announced a bunch of new bands and watch faces. The former includes the FineWoven band that features 68% post-consumer content. According to the company, FineWoven has a suede-like feel. It is available in the Magnetic Link and Modern Buckle bands. You no longer get leather options for bands from Apple.

The company has also redesigned the Sport Loop band, which includes 82% recycled yarn. Apple has also worked with Nike and Hermès to offer more environmentally friendly band options.

The Nike Sport Band comes with 32% or more recycled fluoroelastomer alongside colorful flakes made from excess bands that create a randomized pattern — so each band is unique. On the other hand, the Hermès collection gets two new woven bands: Toile H and Twill Jump.

There’s a first-ever knitted band for Apple Watch called Bridon that is hand-braided with a bold chevron pattern, while Kilim is made of sporty, waterproof molded rubber and has a deployment buckle. You also get a new Hermès Radial watch face.

Apple Watch Series 9 price and availability

Apple Watch Series 9 bands and new Nike watch face.
Apple / Apple

The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399. It will go on sale starting September 22, but you can already preorder the device right now on Apple’s website.

It is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes in starlight, midnight, silver, Product Red, and a new pink aluminum case. There are three options for stainless steel in gold, silver, and graphite cases.

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Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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