Apple Watch Series 9 vs. 8 Review: Should You Upgrade?


Apple Watch Series 9 vs 8 Review
Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch 8 don’t have a lot of differences.

Wondering whether or not you should upgrade to the Apple Watch Series 9? In this Apple Watch Series 9 vs. 8 Review, I break down the differences between the bestselling smartwatch series and whether or not it’s worth getting the Watch Series 9. Plus, get a side-by-side comparison of the Watch Series 9 and Watch Series 8.

Apple just launched its 2023 flagship smartwatch last September 12, the Watch Series 9. Let’s be honest, it does not really have any significant upgrades other than some minor improvements and features from the Watch Series 8. So is it really worth the upgrade?

The short answer is no, but…there’s a reason for you to reconsider. Read on to find out why you should and you should not upgrade. Before diving deeper, here’s a quick summary comparing the two smartwatches:

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8 Comparison Summary

Display1.9” Retina OLED up to 1ooo nits1.9” Retina OLED up to 2ooo nits (2 times brighter)
Resolution484 x 396 pixels484 x 396 pixels
ChipS8S9 (60% more transistor/30% faster)
Storage32 GB64 GB
BatteryLi-Ion 308 mAh (up to 18 hours of regular use)Li-Ion 308 mAh (up to 18 hours of regular use)
ProtectionIP6x water-resistant up to 50 metersIP6x water-resistant up to 50 meters
Pricing$309 (aluminum) / $679 (stainless steel)$399 (aluminum)/$699 (stainless steel)
Case FinishesAluminum (starlight, midnight, silver, and (PRODUCT)RED) / Stainless steel (silver, gold, graphite)Aluminum (starlight, midnight, silver, (PRODUCT)RED, and pink) / Stainless steel models (silver, gold, graphite)
Band StylesRubber, textile, stainless steelRubber, textile, stainless steel

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. 8: Specs

The first upgrade is the addition of the S9 SiP (system in package), Apple’s most powerful watch chip to date. Based on Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, the S9 chip has 60% more than the Apple Watch Series 8’s S8 chip (which is based on the Apple A13 Bionic chip design), making the new device 30% faster. The new chip also helps in power efficiency, allowing the smartwatch to survive up to 18 hours of regular use.

In terms of the screen display, both devices have the same 1.9-inch Retina OLED touchscreen display with 484 x 396 resolution. The difference lies in the brightness with the Watch Series 9 twice brighter at 2000 nits.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs 8
Apple Watch Series 9

In terms of battery life, the Watch Series 9 and Watch Series 8 are pretty much the same with up to 18 hours of regular use per charge, except for the new smartwatch to be more power-efficient because of the new S9 chip.

Also Read: Best Apple Watch: Which Apple Smartwatch Has the Right Health and Fitness Features for You?

With regards to water protection, both devices are certified to IP6x standards, meaning they are dustproof and water-resistant up to 50 meters.

Both the Watch Series 8 and Watch Series 8 have the same accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, blood oxygen level sensor, VO2 max sensor, and body temperature sensor. If you are using the smartwatch based solely on health and fitness, both devices function identically.

Overall, there are no major changes in the specs aside from the new S9 chip and 2000 nits screen.

Also Read: 5 Best Smartwatches for Sleep Tracking

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. 8: Features

Apple Watch Series 9 vs 8 Review
Apple Watch Series 8

You might have expected Apple to introduce a laundry list of new features for the Apple Watch Series 9. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Apple introduced a double tap gesture, a “flagship” feature that is not compelling enough. Basically, it works by tapping the index finger and thumb together twice to trigger a specific action. This action could be to start/stop a timer, snooze an alarm, play/pause music, accept/end a phone call, or even take a photo with the Camera Remote. Is it useful? Yes. But this type of feature is usually found in software updates.

Also Read: Garmin Venu 3 Review: Is It a Good Fitness and Health Wearable?

Another feature that feels like it should have been delivered through a software update is the on-device Siri dictation. Basically, you can now ask Siri to do some basic tasks without being connected to the internet, whether you want to begin a workout session or set an alarm. The change to a 4-core Neural Engine also makes Siri dictation 25% more accurate. In addition, you can now ask Siri to do more advanced tasks like logging in your health data.

Also Read: 5 Best Garmin Smartwatches

And lastly, the precision finding feature is applicable to people who are using the iPhone 15 family, allowing them to locate a misplaced phone exactly. This is thanks to the S9 chip’s second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip, which is also responsible for controlling your HomePod. If your watch gets within 4 meters of your playing HomePod, it will launch Now Playing to enable you to control it. If nothing is played, your watch will pull up media suggestions right at the top of the Smart Stack.

Also Read: Oura Ring 3 vs. Garmin Fenix 7 Review: Which Device Fits You Best?

Overall, these features are not game-changing. They are not necessarily exciting enough too to inspire me to upgrade from the Watch Series 8. Ultimately, these new features are just like a bunch of software updates that will soon be available to older Apple Watches, including the Watch Series 8.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. 8: Pricing

When the Series 8 came out, the 41mm aluminum model cost $399. The price is the same as the release price of the 41mm Watch Series 9. However, the latter has 64GB of base model compared to the Watch Series 8’s 32GB. Here’s a detailed breakdown of their pricing:

Apple Watch Series 8Apple Watch Series 9
Aluminum 41mm GPS$309$399
Aluminum 45mm GPS$329$429
Aluminum 41mm GPS + Cellular$429$499
Aluminum 45mm GPS + Cellular$459$529
Stainless Steel 41mm GPS$679$699
Stainless Steel 45mm GPS$729$749

Get the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Series 8!

Is It Worth Upgrading to Apple Watch Series 9?

In summary, the upgrade we are getting with the Apple Watch Series 9 specs-wise is the S9 chip (which is 30% faster than the predecessor), the internal storage from 32GB to 64GB, and the display brightness of up to 2000 nits (twice brighter). We are also getting new features like double tap control gesture, on-device Siri, and precision finding and HomePod integration. Other than that, you get the same display and resolution, the same battery, and the same level of water resistance.

Is the Apple Watch Series 9 worth buying? For me, no. The improvements and new features mentioned are great but not compelling enough to merit an upgrade. If you are currently an Apple Watch Series 8 user, I personally think these things are not worth the upgrade. But, if it’s your first time to switch to or get an Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 9 is definitely not a bad option at all.

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