The Apple Watch was the first genuine smart watch and the market and with each subsequent year, Apple has continued to add features to keep it ahead of the pack, and it’s absolutely no different this year with the Apple Watch Series 9, which adds a number of really cool features to retain its position as market leader.
Whilst there aren’t any core changes to the design, the display is 2x brighter, which is definitely noticeable outdoors in sunny environments. I can’t recall too many times that I had struggled to see my Apple Watch before it, but it’s absolutely never an issue now. Similarly, on the other end of the scale, it now goes down to 1 nit in brightness which is great for situations in bed or at a cinema.
The Series 9 has a new S9 chip which is said to be 60 percent faster than the s8 chip, and I definitely noticed this whilst using the Series 9. Every action that I performed just felt faster and never slugging, and it also allows new features such as Double Tap which is now available in the latest update.
The new Double Tap feature has genuinely been a game-changer in how I use this watch. I have two crazy sausage dogs and am almost always carrying a coffee, so I rarely have a second hand to scroll through or tap on my screen and that’s where the new Double Tap feature is so helpful.
By clicking your index finger and thumb together, you can perform a range of actions without having to use your other hand. This includes scrolling through your smart stack to get useful information, answering a call, playing and pausing music or stopping a timer.
It feels a bit silly to perform at first, but once you get the action down and realise how well it works, it really clicks and allows you to get in the rhythm of doing it, rather than lifting the other hand to perform an action.
With the Apple Watch Series 9, Siri requests are now handled on the device which goes a long way. On earlier generations, I was often left frustrated when I had asked the watch to perform a simple action like starting a timer, only for it to either take a silly amount for it to action and not at all, but that’s no longer an issue with these requests handled on the device. Similarly, dictation is now a whole lot faster as well.
The Series 9 also has a second generation ultra wideband chip which brings a few cool features. The first is detection when you walk near an Apple HomePod to bring up suggestions to play music, or if something is playing, it’ll bring up the now playing section when you get close.
In an even more helpful nature, I have always used my Apple Watch to location my iPhone when I can’t find it, and previously it would play a sound on the iPhone but now the chip will actually detect you to your iPhone (just like how your iPhone would to an AirTag), giving your directions and telling you as you get closer with haptic feedback as well.
Whilst not exclusive to the Series 9, WatchOS 10 is a big part of what makes the Series 9 so great. As I mentioned earlier, Double Tap goes a long way when paired with the new OS.
The Smart Stack is a new set of widgets that you get to by turning the crown. It can automatically add the widgets that it think you needs or you’re able to add a set amount which is anything from the weather, to current activity metrics to the top news, and it’s just a really easy to get a quick glance of information without being overwhelmed.
The control center is now activated by pressing the side button, which I think is a really good move as well, and there’s a bunch of new mental health features for reflecting on how you’re feeling, which I’ve really been enjoying logging.
Aside from this, almost every app down from weather to activity has been redesigned and not only feels like it provides more glanceable information, but is also just visually appealing too.
Another thing worth mentioning is that just like with the iPhone, there’s no longer leather straps, with Apple moving to FineWoven for its premium watch bands, so if you’re somebody that is really into leather, you’ll need to look elsewhere. I’m still a big fan of the Sport Loops and also the new recycled Nike Sport bands as well.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, the Apple Watch Series 9 definitely isn’t a reinvention, and it didn’t need to be, but what it brings is a number of improvements that really keep it ahead of the game and the best smart watch in the market, and it’s not even close.
The Apple Watch Series 9 adds a bunch of great features including Double Tap to keep the Apple Watch ahead of the competition by a long stretch.