Apple Watch Series 9 review

In our Apple Watch Series 9 review, we put Apple's current smartwatch through its paces - with surprising results.
Apple Watch Series 9

In September, Apple introduced its latest innovation, the Watch Series 9, which surprisingly turned out to be one of the most insignificant upgrades in the company’s history. It is clear that Apple does not provide annual watch upgrades for its customers. But the focus on the carbon neutrality of the smartwatch and an improved double-tap gesture almost gives the impression that little else has been done. We’re doing the Apple Watch Series 9 review.

Design

Apple’s reputation for exemplary hardware design is well-deserved, and the Watch Series 9 is no exception. Available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, with options for aluminum or stainless steel cases and different straps, the device offers a premium feel even in its most basic configuration. I chose the 45mm aluminum model with a sport loop band, and despite the relatively lower cost, the watch retains a luxurious look.

When I first saw the Apple Watch Series 9, I was truly impressed by its aesthetic appeal, interface, and features, almost to the point of being overwhelmed. The device exuded typical Apple appeal – elegant, vibrant and seemingly magical.

However, as the initial amazement wore off, I began to notice the device’s shortcomings, particularly in terms of user experience. The distribution of functions across numerous apps, coupled with a lack of intuitive feature integration and occasionally illogical behavior of supposedly smart functions, quickly became clear. The frustratingly short battery life doesn’t even play a role.

The almost edge-to-edge display, the sharp Retina resolution and the durable workmanship are outstanding. Despite some initial skepticism, I was impressed by the durability of the Sport Loop band, which maintained a pristine appearance even after extensive use. The watch is water and dust resistant, which underlines its high quality craftsmanship.

Display

The Apple Watch Series 9 display comes in 41mm or a larger 45mm option and is made of tempered, slightly curved glass. It gently hugs the edge of the case, reducing the visibility of the frame. The 1.9-inch Retina display has a resolution of 484 x 396 pixels, which results in 326 pixels per inch. As a result, texts, symbols and images appear on the panel with high clarity and liveliness. An always-on display function is of course also on board to reduce the strain on the battery.

However, the resolution and pixel density have only improved slightly compared to previous generations. For the average user, the difference in sharpness and clarity compared to previous versions is barely noticeable. When it comes to display brightness and outdoor visibility, the Series 9 performed excellently in most conditions in the review. Problems can also arise under direct sunlight, but Apple is still far ahead of the competition here.

Performance/CPU

Apple Watch Series 9 introduces the S9 chip and boosts performance with a faster GPU and a new neural processing unit. This upgrade promises smoother operation and longer battery life, although the actual impact on daily usage is questionable. Noteworthy are the integration of an on-device Siri interface for faster responses and a new double-tap gesture function. Each prospective buyer must decide for themselves whether these additions are worth an upgrade.

Software

Despite the hardware improvements, software and battery performance left a lot to be desired in our Apple Watch Series 9 review. The Apple smartwatch also struggles with a fragmented user experience, where accessing basic information like step count is unnecessarily complicated. Sleep tracking requires manual scheduling, which negates the convenience expected from a smartwatch. Additionally, the workout and health monitoring features lack a bit of integration into the Apple ecosystem. Some cheaper competitors can do this much better.

Communication and notifications

While notifications and Bluetooth call quality were satisfactory in our Apple Watch Series 9 review, the keyboard’s limited language support and cumbersome text entry detract from the overall experience. Why Apple skimped on such basic functions remains a mystery.

Battery

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect is the battery life, which falls well short of expectations. Despite the claimed 18-hour battery life, it’s a challenge to get a full day of use out of the battery without sacrificing smart features. This limitation significantly impacts the watch’s usefulness for sleep tracking and intensive usage scenarios.

Verdict

8Expert Score
Apple Watch Series 9 review

In our review, the Apple Watch Series 9 scored with a first-class design, lots of computing power and various health functions.

Design
9
Display
9
CPU / Benchmarks
9
Battery
5
Pros
  • premium design and build quality while maintaining Apple's high standards
  • fast S9 chipset with improved GPU and NPU
  • Redesigned Siri features with faster on-device responses
  • new double tap gesture feature
  • Water and dust resistance
  • Fast charging function
  • various health and fitness sensors
Cons
  • short battery life
  • expensive

The Apple Watch Series 9 showed some technological advances in our review, but does not offer a convincing upgrade. Its strengths in design and build quality are overshadowed by limitations in user experience, battery life and software integration. In our opinion, there are too many compromises on board for a wearable for everyday life. Especially for the high price.

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