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Apple Watch Series 9 review: Baby steps

Published Oct 22nd, 2023 12:06PM EDT
Apple Watch Series 9 On Wrist
Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple Watch Series 9

Rating: 4 Stars

The Apple Watch Series 9 is here, bringing with it a few extra features. But how much better is it than the Series 8?


  • Good performance
  • Double Tap is cool
  • Bright display


  • Aging design
Buy FromList PriceSale Price
$389.99$389.99See It

The Apple Watch has long set the bar in the smartwatch world, offering a now-standardized design with excellent fitness-tracking features and great integration with Apple’s ecosystem of products and software. The latest and greatest is the Apple Watch Series 9 — boasting a few new improvements that genuinely help.

But how much better is the Series 9 compared to the Apple Watch Series 8? Is it worth upgrading? I’ve been using the Apple Watch Series 9 for a while now to find out.

Apple Watch Series 9 design

If you’ve seen the design of the Apple Watch Series 8, or anything past the Apple Watch Series 6 for that matter, you’ll recognize the Series 9. It looks more or less exactly the same as the Series 8.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. The Apple Watch Series 8 offered a sleek and stylish design with a good color selection. The same remains true this year — however, the aluminum device is now available in a new pink color.

Apple Watch Series 9 On TableImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

You’ll still get the digital crown and button on the right side of the device, with the selection of health-tracking sensors on the bottom of the watch. And, thankfully, the device is still available in two different sizes — unlike other new devices like the Google Pixel Watch.

Generally, I like the design of the Apple Watch Series 9, but it is starting to feel a little dated. Some rumors indicate that Apple will revamp the design of the Apple Watch for the 10th generation — however, we’ll have to see if that ends up happening or not.

Apple Watch Series 9 display

One of the big upgrades to the Apple Watch for the Series 9 comes in the form of a brighter display. While the screen on the Series 8 was also relatively high-end and got bright enough at a peak brightness of 1000 nits, the Series 9 doubles that to up to 2000 nits.

Holding Apple Watch Series 9Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

What does this mean in practical terms? Basically, I found that the Apple Watch Series 9 was easier to see outdoors or in brighter environments, including when the screen wasn’t fully illuminated.

It’s not a huge change, but it is a welcome one.

Apple Watch Series 9 performance

Another major change to the device comes from an improved processor, the S9 SiP. For the past few years, Apple has included renamed, but essentially recycled, versions of the same chip, with only minor improvements overall.

Generally, I found that Watch was quick and responsive, able to handle everything you’ll throw at it in 2023. Not only that, but the device should support more versions of WatchOS down the line too, which is always nice.

Apple Watch Series 9 features

The improved performance doesn’t just help with longevity — it enables a few extra features too. Namely, the device now has offline Siri support, which means it can handle some tasks — those that don’t require talking to the cloud — completely offline. So, it can start timers and access certain information totally offline. Indeed, the device did seem slightly quicker when it came to certain Siri requests.

Apple Watch Series 9 Health SensorsImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The other headline feature is the Double Tap gesture, which allows you to tap your thumb and pointer together to control certain aspects of the device’s software. This wasn’t available at launch, but it has since rolled out to the beta and will be launching publicly soon. In my experience the feature works well, and could come in handy for things like controlling your music when you’re holding something in your hand. I had to remember that it was even an option, but you’ll get used to it.

These are on top of all the features that the device already had. The device boasts excellent health tracking, and the feature integrates with other Apple services, like Reminders, Notes, Apple Music, and so on.


The Apple Watch Series 9 represents a relatively minor update over the Series 8. But it’s still an update. It’s not worth upgrading from the Series 8 or probably even the Series 7. But, if you have an older device, the Series 9 will add a ton of extra features to your Apple Watch experience.

The competition

If you’re considering an Apple Watch Series 9, you’re probably deciding between it and an older Apple Watch. I recommend going for the newer device, due to the better processor, which should allow for more software support later.

Should I buy the Apple Watch Series 9?

Yes. The Apple Watch Series 9 is the new best smartwatch out there.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper is based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. He has been expertly reviewing tech products for more than 8 years, and brings experience in deep technical analysis of consumer electronics devices to BGR's reviews channel.

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