First Looks: Apple Watch Series 9

Now there’s no denying that every year Apple launches a new watch and it’s pretty much given that this year’s Apple Watch Series 9 is almost the same version as the previous year’s, with a few tweaks thrown into the mix.

There might be those who change phones every year, but only a small handful opt to do the same for a digital watch, unless you count last year’s Apple Watch Ultra, which redefined the watch experience for a select group of athletes looking for a more powerful tracking device to suit their more aggressive needs.

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Apple Watch Series 9

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 8 added a new temperature sensor, more precise accelerometers and gyroscopes, such that the device can now be used to detect if a user has been part of a car crash, and prompt a signal to a contact. Design-wise, little has changed or looks to change as you get this square-looking watch face that has been a signature of the Apple Watch Series since it was first launched in 2015. Over the years, there might have been a few improvements in making the bezel slimmer, which provides a slightly bigger screen that users still have the option of two primary sizes, currently in 40mm and 44mm.

With the Watch 9, the looks and feel have remained, but everything is now powered by a new S9 SiP (System in Package) integrated processor. The difference here against the annual new S variant chip announced with every Apple Watch series before, is that the last major chip upgrade was with the Apple Watch Series 6, which powered the new sensor that monitored blood oxygen levels on users.

The S9 is now capable of on-device processing, which will be a boon for those who depend so much on Siri. Apple users would realize that any request submitted through Siri via the watch takes a little longer to process, compared to if the same request was placed on an iPhone or iPad. This has to do with the way the data is processed via the cloud, before it’s sent to your watch. Now, requests can be processed on the watch itself, providing a faster response. 

Another useful feature is for those who have ever misplaced their phone, compared to their Apple Watch that is attached to your wrist. Now, you can use the Watch to locate your connected phone, and your watch will ping when you get closer, and even provide a directional compass to steer you in the right direction until you are right on top of your iPhone. 

If you’ve used an Apple AirTag to track your misplaced keys, luggage, or handbag, the experience is not entirely new, except that instead of using your phone as the primary locator device, you’re now using your watch. This precision and use might appeal to a small group of users, but it’s great to see this connectivity feature between two devices so that you’re never frantically searching for your phone just as you’re about to leave the house. 

The most impressive feature, which to be fair, is not available until an update in October, is Double Tap, which will change the way you interact with your Watch 9, as you can now interact with it, without even touching the screen.

Apple Watch Series 9

After strapping your watch on the wrist of choice, simply tap your index finger and thumb by tapping both together twice quickly, to interface with your watch.

Say you’re driving and there’s an incoming call. Instead of tapping your watch screen to answer it, double-tap both fingers to answer the call. The action of double-tapping is incredibly simple yet effective. Maybe you set a timer to cook, and when it rings, double tap to silence the alarm. Doing a workout and you don’t want to even pause to shut off the timer? Double tap. 

Now Apple says that you should do this with your index finger and your thumb, but using the middle finger and thumb combo works as well.

It’s quite amazing how intuitive it almost feels. If someone texts you and you don’t want to type a reply, double tap to turn on voice memo and you can send a voice message as a response. 

Double Tap is unique to the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 because of the S9 SiP chip, which detects movements of the wrist and changes in blood flow when you move your fingers to tap twice. 

Apple Watch Series 9

Another boost is with the brighter screen, of 2,000 nits, doubling that of the Watch 8, while still offering the same 18 to 36-hour battery life, depending on individual use case scenarios. You’ll find water resistance feature of up to 50 meters, the standard optical heart rate, and EKG sensors, which have been working fine for the past few generations of watches.

And for those who love pink, that’s the new shade available for those who want to bring out the Barbie in us.