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Apple Watch Series 9 review

Snappy specs and a snazzy design make the Apple Watch Series 9 an easy recommendation.

Apple Watch Series 9
Apple Watch Series 9
4 out of 5 stars
4
Case size
41mm or 45mm
Case materials
Aluminium (also available in Stainless Steel)
Battery life
18 hours (regular usage)
Hannah Geremia
Oct 26, 2023
Icon Time To Read6 min read
Quick verdict: Apple Watch Series 9

The Apple Watch Series 9 is a perfect fit for those wanting to dip their toes in the smartwatch pool. It's not vastly different from the Series 8, but it does boast faster performance, a brighter display, and the new double-tap feature that allows you to decline unwanted calls in one gesture. 

pro
Pros
pro Faster performance
pro Brighter display
pro Double-tap gesture
pro Precision Finding
pro Comes in pink
con
Cons
con No improvements to battery life and charging speed
con Same health and fitness features as Series 8
con Band can be irritating for a first-time user

I’m not a smartwatch person. The only watch-adjacent piece of technology I’ve owned is a Fitbit, and the only features it had were heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking. Up until now, I haven't been interested in what the Apple Watch has to offer. If I have a phone, why would I need one on my wrist?

But the Series 9 changed my mind. Rather than being an extension of your phone that you toss aside after the newness wears off, the Series 9 delivers contextual alerts, insightful health metrics, and a fun new gesture that makes dealing with everyday tasks easier. Oh, and it tells the time too. 

If you’re looking to upgrade from an older model or you have an iPhone and want a smartwatch, the Series 9’s bright design, outstanding features, and solid performance make it a worthy purchase for newcomers to the smartwatch game. 

Apple Watch Series 9 header

How much does the Apple Watch Series 9 cost in Australia?

Starts at $649

Pricing for the Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $649. That gets you the 41-mm model with an aluminium case and GPS. For $160 more, you can make calls and texts directly from the watch with cellular connectivity. For the slightly heavier and larger 45-mm model, you’re looking at $699.

If you have some extra cash to burn, $1,199 will get you a luxurious sapphire crystal display, stainless steel case, GPS and cellular connectivity. 

Store
Price
More info
Amazon
From
$649

Apple Watch Series 9 - Design and features

Classic looks with fewer bells and whistles.

The fitness and health tracking features are intuitive and reliable. They play a major part in the way I interact with the watch, as I’m constantly reminded to get up and move around, take my medication, or stop stressing out because my heart rate is higher than it should be. The Series 9 uses the same sensor array as the Series 8, meaning it accurately tracks your steps, blood oxygen levels, and uses an electrocardiogram sensor to monitor the timing and strength of your heart rate. 

Gym sessions are easy to track and monitor with heart rate zones, customised intervals and your live activity displayed on the watch face. Your workouts are logged towards your end-of-day goals, which can be ambitiously set to 30 minutes of exercise a day, or standing up from your seat once every hour. Aside from just being pretty to look at, closing the colourful ‘Move, Exercise, and Stand’ Rings on the watch face is a mission you can quickly get consumed by. 

While this might seem familiar for somebody who already owns the Series 7 or Series 8, it's part of why I love the Apple Watch as a new user. You can better understand your physical health data, and use it to measure how far you are from realistically reaching your goals. You can also generate data to form insights about your sleep cycle, track your menstrual cycle, and log when you’ve taken any daily medications. 

The Series 9’s newest and most distinguishable feature is the double-tap gesture. With WatchOS10.1 you can tap your index finger and thumb together to open the smart stack. It can be used to automatically end or answer calls, stop or start music in between sets at the gym, or start or stop timers when cooking. While it's more of a hard, intentional pinch rather than a gentle tap, it's still a useful way to control your watch without touching it, especially if you have your hands full. 

While it does resemble the Quick Action accessibility feature that's available on older models, it has some minor differences. With Double Tap you can reply to incoming messages through voice to text, but with the Quick Action feature, your options are limited to dismissing the message. Likewise, using the Quick Action gesture means you can stop and start your music, but you can’t change the song.

There’s so much to love about the Series 9 – but it's worth mentioning that as a first-time smartwatch user, I found wearing the watch for more than a few hours to be irritating. If you’re somebody who has sensory issues or has never used a smartwatch, you might find the band takes some time to get used to. I found myself constantly adjusting the tightness of the band through the day and needing breaks from the watch. After 3-4 days, it was less noticeable, but it's something to take into account if you’re sensitive to certain materials or fixtures on your wrist. 

Like all new Apple products the Apple Watch Series 9 charges using a USB-C cord. A charging adaptor is not included in the box, so ensure you have an adaptor that can charge USB-C products before you purchase your watch. You could be someone who has a tangled drawer full of them, or you’re like me, who’s gotten the watch and realised that for some reason you do not own a single USB-C wall adaptor. 

Not only is the Series 9 available in a blushing millennial pink, but the Series 9 makes its debut as Apple’s first fully carbon-neutral product. The popular Sport Loop band is now made of 82% recycled yarn and is colour-matched to the watch’s aluminium finish – A win for the environment and my Barbie dreams! Apple has also worked with Nike to create a design made of repurposed Apple Watch bands. The result is a unique, speckled band that's breathable and much easier to clean than the Sport Loop.

Apple Watch Series 9 - Performance and battery life

The same silicon with a single shortcoming
Apple Watch Series 9 header

The Apple Watch Series 9 is powered by an S9 SiP processor with a dual-core GPU for faster performance and a gleaming 2,000-nit display that’s twice as bright as its predecessor. 

The S9 SiP is the most powerful chip to date, according to Apple, meaning it processes your tasks twice as fast, and on the watch itself, rather than on your iPhone first. Each time I consulted Siri, no matter what question I plagued her with, not once did I feel like I was waiting on the processor. The Series 6, 7, and 8 all use the same processor, one that was made based on the A13 chip that powers the iPhone 11. The Series 9 is based on the iPhone 13’s A15 chip, meaning Siri responds quicker, your apps launch faster, and your health and workout metrics are measured more accurately. 

While the battery life does vary depending on your settings and which apps you’re using, it does drain quite quickly. Though they don't have nearly the same level of features as the Apple Watch, most Fitbits can last from five to seven days on a single charge. While I’d love to go a day (or even two) without thinking about when I need to recharge, that's not feasible, especially with all it can do. Despite this, the charging is FAST. With the USB-C cable, the Series 9 goes from dead to 80% in about 45 minutes and 100% in just over an hour. Apple says the Series 9 lasts about 36 hours on low power mode and 18 hours without it, which is pretty accurate. I found charging it while at work when I’m sedentary is the best way to maximise its charging time, especially when it's always on my wrist. While its battery is not the industry’s best, it's not the worst either. 

If you’re like me and are constantly losing your phone, you can now find it easier using Precision Finding, which pings your phone and points you toward its direction on the watch face. The new U2 Ultra Wideband chip is the one to thank for this new feature, the same technology that’s used on Apple’s AirTags. Unsurprisingly, this feature only works with one of the new iPhone 15 models. 

The Series 9 ships with WatchOS10, is IP6X dustproof and WR50 water resistant, meaning you can use it in the shower and swim in shallow water. If you’re looking for a watch that can withstand water sports, scuba diving, and extreme temperatures, check out the rugged Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Is the Apple Watch 9 worth buying?

A dated design doesn't diminish the staying power of this affordable smartwatch

The Apple Watch Series 9's sleek design, outstanding features, and snappy performance make it a worthy purchase. It's a reliable piece of tech if you want to dip your toes into the smartwatch pool, especially if you have an iPhone. While the battery life is the same and it's not as easy on the wallet as the Apple Watch SE, if you’re craving more health and fitness metrics, a faster processor, and the ability to control your watch without touching it, opt for the Series 9.

It's worth checking out, especially if you’re thinking of upgrading from an older model (like the Series 4 or 5). If you like the idea of being able to decline calls with a tap of your fingers and having someone routinely yell at you to stand up, you’ll like the Series 9.

How does Apple Watch Series 9 compare?

Device
Price
Availability
Battery
Water-resistance
Star rating
Fitbit Charge 6 Product comparisonFitbit Charge 6
From
$249
Up to 7 days battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
Apple Watch Ultra 2 product comparisonApple Watch Ultra 2
From
$1399
Up to 36 hours battery lifeUp to 100m water resistance
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic product comparisonSamsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
From
$699
Up to 40 hours battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
From
$549
24 hour battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$649
18 hour battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
4 out of 5 stars
4
Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has over six years of experience researching, writing, and editing quality content. She’s passionate about all things tabletop and video games and can typically be found under a blanket with a cup of coffee.

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