Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (2024)

Jump to:

  • What’s new in the Apple Watch Series 9?
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Key specifications
  • Apple Watch Series 9: What’s stayed the same?
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Display
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Siri upgrades
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Double-tap
  • Apple Watch Series 9: WatchOS 10
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Price
  • Apple Watch Series 9: Verdict

Yes, the latest Apple Watch Series 9 is an iterative upgrade to the already-fantastic Apple Watch Series 8, but its improvements in speed and hands-free capabilities make it a worthwhile buy if you’re making the leap from a much older model or a more basic competitor.

It’s a brilliant smartwatch for its iPhone integration, high-end health tracking, and convenience. While research shows that users can get bored of dedicated fitness trackers, we’ve found that it becomes second nature to stick with a well-integrated watch, and we like getting our notifications sent straight to our wrist while also having a wide range of watch faces, watch straps, health and fitness integrations and smart features available to us.

What’s new in the Apple Watch Series 9?

At a glance, there’s not much of a change between the newest Apple Watch and its predecessor. It’s a similar story when you’re comparing the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 models and in general, we’re finding that the latest tech brings minor upgrades rather than setting out to reinvent existing products entirely. What this means is that we recommend this watch while still recommending the Apple Watch SE, Series 7 and Series 8, which you can find still in stock or refurbished.

The most significant change to the newest Apple Watch is on the inside, and that’s with its new processor, called the S9 SiP. It’s made to deliver an increased number of on-device capabilities, which makes both this and the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 the smartest watches ever made by the manufacturer, with the most noticeable upgrade being how much more you can do hands-free.

The chip enables faster processing for the Siri voice assistant, managing requests like starting workouts, beginning timers and adding reminders without needing to send them to the internet (which inevitably slows the operation). The S9 SiP is also what enables the handy “double-tap” gesture, a clever way to control your watch one-handed – and something that isn’t coming to older models.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (1)

There’s also a new “ultra-wideband” chip within the Series 9, and this enables far more precise iPhone finding features. If you misplace your phone, this watch won’t only make the handset emit a noise so you can locate it, but it’ll also give you specific guidance to lead you to your iPhone if it finds its way behind your bookcase. We know hunting down a lost phone is one of the key features of the watch for some people, and this is an appreciable upgrade.

The other noticeable change is an increase in screen brightness. The display on the Series 9 can get you up to twice the brightness, depending on the conditions. Its peak brightness in bright sunlight will mean it’s easier to read the time, glance at those incoming texts and see what’s coming up in your calendar without having to find a shaded area.

In the darkest conditions, the watch face is also legible at a new lower brightness level, meaning you can check the time while in the theatre without annoying everyone else around you. These are small quality-of-life improvements, but they’re enough to make this an overall better watch than the Series 8. However, beyond this, little has changed so we wouldn’t tell Series 7 or 8 owners to rush out and upgrade.

Lastly, there’s a slight change to the range of colours. In addition to the Midnight (dark navy), Starlight (champagne), silver, and red aluminium shades, you can now pick up the Apple Watch Series 9 in a fetching pastel pink aluminium shade. Opting for stainless steel? It comes in gold, silver, or graphite.

Apple Watch Series 9: Key specifications

  • Sizes: 41mm, 45mm
  • Operating system: WatchOS 10
  • Processor: Apple’s S9 SiP
  • Colours: Aluminium: Midnight (dark navy), Starlight (champagne), silver, red and pink; Stainless steel: Gold, silver, or graphite
  • Battery life: Up to 18 hours of normal use
  • Weight: 31.9g for 41mm size, 38.7g for 45mm size
  • Water resistance: Yes, IP6X and WR50 ratings for dust and water resistance up to 50 metres

Apple Watch Series 9: What’s stayed the same?

The design of the Apple Watch is the same, and it continues to offer the same excellent sensors that you’ll find in the prior Series 8 (the majority of which are also in the Series 7, too). That means it has a heart-rate monitor, sleep tracking, fall alerts, loud noise monitoring, blood oxygen detection, ECG readings, and a body temperature sensor. Its screen is still crack-resistant, and it has the same car crash detection feature that we hope you’ll never need to use. The stated battery life is also the same.

Apple Watch Series 9: Display

While it’s a subtle change, we have noticed the display improvement during our weeks of using the Apple Watch Series 9. In the brightest conditions, we’ve had no problem reading the screen and although that’s not a major issue compared to more recent Apple Watches, it’s the sort of thing that you’ll really notice if you’re upgrading from a much older model like the Apple Watch Series 4 or 5.

The low brightness capability is a feature we’ve found useful in real-world testing. As ever, a slight scroll of the digital crown awakens the screen, showing your screen at a low brightness that you can see without distracting anyone around you. We’ve found this handy for checking the time before our film started at the cinema or while reading on our Kindle in bed before going off to sleep. There are more situations than you might realise when you’d prefer your watch face to be at a lower brightness.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (8)

Apple Watch Series 9: Siri upgrades

We’ve got to admit that before using the Apple Watch Series 9, we didn’t get all that much use out of Siri on our watch. While it’s an appreciated addition, we used to find it took just a little too long to load and having to send queries to the cloud is significantly slower. We’d call the Series 9 the best hands-free Apple Watch due to just how much we’ve found ourselves talking to Siri for quick requests that it processes on the watch itself.

When dashing out the front door in the morning we now ask Siri to “start an outdoor walk” as we head to the train station, and we’ve asked it to add items to our shopping list, pause our music, start timers and more. Overall, the latest changes have got us using this existing feature of the Apple Watch that we’d previously found unreliable. So far, we’ve had zero issues with Siri understanding us or taking too long to react.

Of course, Siri won’t deal with every single request on the device but it is faster when tackling all queries. If you ask it to check the weather, fetch information from the web or identify the song currently playing in the coffee shop, it will still need to send the request to the internet to gather that data.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (9)

Apple Watch Series 9: Double-tap

The other main update that makes the Series 9 so convenient and hands-free is its “new” double-tap gesture, which is also available on the updated Apple Watch Ultra 2. Something similar to this was available as an accessibility feature in previous Apple Watches, but it’s now integrated seamlessly thanks to the S9 SiP available on the latest models. It allows you to control the watch with a simple double pinch of your thumb and forefinger (although it works with your thumb and other fingers too), offering you an easy way to dismiss a timer or alarm, cycle through the new widget stack in WatchOS 10 and start your workout when your watch prompts you by noticing you’re on a strenuous walk.

This makes it possible to control certain aspects of the watch with a single hand, something we’ve found useful when we’re holding a cup of coffee in our right hand, or a shopping bag. In our tests, the gesture is reliable and responds every time, but unlike the extra capabilities added to Siri, we don’t always find ourselves remembering to use it. For some Apple Watch wearers, it may become an essential way to interact with the watch, but others might end up forgetting about the feature.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (10)

Apple Watch Series 9: WatchOS 10

WatchOS 10 transforms the way that the Apple Watch works with the addition of glanceable widgets that are available when you scroll the digital crown, swipe on the display or use the double-tap gesture. Collectively, this widget display is called the “Smart Stack” and we think it’s great for seeing your progress on your daily activity goals, a currently playing track or podcast, whether you have any unread messages, the weather conditions and your upcoming calendar events. In the weeks since this software update launched, we’ve found the widget display invaluable.

This software upgrade also improves the design of several apps on the watch, making them more colourful and including more information. We especially like the designs of the weather app, the sleep app, the world clock and the main activity app interface. As with any Apple Watch update, there are a handful of new watch faces (we like the minimalist “Palette”, with colours that change throughout the day) and a few more features peppered throughout, including the ability to log how you’re feeling to track your state of mind in the Health app, upgrades to hiking and cycling, and integrations with offline maps that you can save for later from your iPhone.

It’s an excellent set of changes to the operating system, and because it’s available for every model from the Apple Watch Series 4 onwards, it will help you to feel like your older watch is new again.

Apple Watch Series 9: Price

The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at £399 for the 41mm model and from £429 for the 45mm model. The good news is that, just like with the recent iPhone updates, this is a slightly more affordable price than its predecessors launched in 2022. Upgraders picking the Series 9 will save £20 compared to the launch price of the Apple Watch Series 8.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 remains a much more expensive option, starting from £799. We’d only recommend this for adventurers and athletes who will make use of its extended battery life and powerful additional features for rugged outdoor use including exploration-ready operating temperatures, high-altitude performance and loud built-in siren.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (11)

Apple Watch Series 9: Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 9 is yet another fantastic Apple Watch model that offers minor upgrades over its predecessor while continuing to deliver the tight integration with the iPhone that the wearable is known for. We’ve found ourselves finally using more of the watch’s capabilities now that Siri is faster and more reliable, and the double-tap gesture is super handy when we remember about it. Some of the most significant upgrades come in the form of the software update to WatchOS 10, which is available to many of us with older Apple Watches.

We’d recommend this upgraded watch if you’re coming from an older Apple Watch SE, or a Series 5 or 6, and it’s also a great premium smartwatch if you’re after a change from your ageing activity tracker. However, if you’ve got an Apple Watch Series 7 or Series 8, stick with your current wearable until there are enough substantial upgrades to justify a new purchase.

If you’re looking at this as your first-ever Apple Watch, we’d recommend also considering lower-cost refurbished models or the savings possible by getting the 2022 edition of the Apple Watch SE, which is an affordable pick that lacks the always-on display and ECG, blood oxygen, or temperature sensors. It’s an otherwise terrific option where the display will wake when you raise your wrist, and it offers the same casing sizes, water resistance and 18-hour battery life.

  • Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (13)Brighter display
  • Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (14)On-device Siri
  • Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (15)Double-tap gesture
  • Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (16)Very similar to the previous version
  • Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (17)High price

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (18)

Simon co*cks

Technology Ecommerce Editor

Simon co*cks is Hearst UK’s Technology Ecommerce Editor, overseeing tech shopping content and strategy across a range of titles including Good Housekeeping UK, Esquire UK, Digital Spy, Men’s Health UK and Women’s Health UK.

Simon specialises in testing the latest smart gadgets, home entertainment gear, headphones, speakers, portable chargers, radios, ebook readers and smartphones. He's reviewed top tech products from brands including Google, Apple, Amazon, JBL and Bose.

A magazine journalism graduate from Kingston University in 2014, Simon also worked on the Discovery and Silkroad inflight magazines. He then gained experience writing about entertainment at SFX and Total Film. He also contributed reviews and interviews to TwitchFilm (later ScreenAnarchy), CultBox and Frame Rated.

He joined Good Housekeeping UK as the Editorial Assistant for Special Projects and was part of Good Housekeeping’s Consumer Affairs Team between 2014 and 2019. In this role, he conducted price comparison research, wrote detailed household and money-saving advice guides and edited thousands of in-depth reviews for the Good Housekeeping Institute.

He has focused on technology and gadgets since 2020, where he started by testing out power banks and instant cameras. He writes reviews, roundups, news articles and deals updates, and also covers top tech deals during sales like Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When not testing out the latest gizmos, you’ll find Simon either catching up with the newest releases at his local cinema or out shooting with his beloved compact camera.

You can follow Simon on Instagram at @simonrco*cks, on Threads at @simonrco*cks, and on Twitter/X at @simonco*cks.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: the best smartwatch for iPhone users (2024)


Is Apple Watch the best smartwatch for iPhone? ›

Best for iPhone Owners

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch money can buy. It has the best operating system, WatchOS, with plenty of apps to help reduce the number of times you need to pull out your phone.

Is the Apple Watch Series 9 worth buying? ›

We're eight months into the Apple Watch Series 9's life, and having used it again for the last several weeks, it's still brilliant. I can only reiterate that it's not only an excellent purchase but also still one of the best smartwatches made.

What smartwatch should I get for iPhone? ›

Best iPhone smartwatches: Our top choices
  • Apple Watch Series 9. Best smartwatch for iPhone overall. ...
  • Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) Best value iPhone smartwatch. ...
  • Apple Watch Ultra 2. Best premium iPhone smartwatch. ...
  • Garmin Forerunner 965. Best GPS iPhone smartwatch. ...
  • Withings ScanWatch Horizon. ...
  • Fitbit Inspire 3. ...
  • Apple Watch Series 9.
Feb 7, 2024

Which Apple Watch is compatible with iPhone? ›

Apple Watch and iPhone compatibility
Apple Watch ModelCompatible iPhoneCompatible iOS
Series 9iPhone XS or lateriOS 17 or later
UltraiPhone 8 or lateriOS 16 or later*
SE (2nd generation)iPhone 8 or lateriOS 16 or later*
Series 8iPhone 8 or lateriOS 16 or later*
11 more rows
Feb 28, 2024

Is Apple Watch good for iPhone? ›

Combining Apple Watch and iPhone opens up a world of features that make each device better. You can do things like get directions on iPhone and receive a tap on your wrist when it's time to turn. Or set up a group photo on iPhone, then use your watch to see and snap the shot.

Can I use an Apple Watch with my iPhone? ›

To set up and use a new Apple Watch, you need iPhone XS or later with iOS 17. Learn how to identify your iPhone model and how to update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS.

Can you text on the Apple Watch Series 9? ›

In the Messages app on your Apple Watch, you can compose and send messages that contain not only text, but also images, emoji, Memoji stickers, and audio clips. You can also send money through Apple Pay and let people know where you are by including your location in a message.

Will the Apple Watch 9 measure blood pressure? ›

The Apple Watch 9 does not currently have a built-in blood pressure monitor.

What happened to the Apple Watch Series 9? ›

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 were both banned in the US late last year as the result of a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo. The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the blood oxygen sensors in both devices infringed on patents from Masimo.

What smartwatch is better than Apple? ›

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

While it's not the newest Samsung wearable on the block anymore, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers many advanced health tracking features, such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, and sleep tracking, with longer battery life than the Apple Watch.

What is the most popular smart watch? ›

With 59 percent, Apple is the most popular brand for personal smart watches and eHealth or fitness trackers among U.S. consumers. In second place follows Fitbit with 26 percent of respondents. These results are based on a representative online survey conducted in 2024 among 3,206 consumers in the United States.

What can an Apple Watch Series 9 do? ›

Like its predecessor, the Series 9 excels in fitness tracking, with heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen detection, ECG readings, sleep tracking, fall detection, loud environment monitoring and temperature sensing.

Does the Apple Watch 9 work with the iPhone SE? ›

Learn how to identify your Apple Watch. Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple Watch Series 9, and Apple Watch SE require iPhone Xs or later with iOS 17 or later. Features are subject to change.

What is the difference between the Apple Watch SE and the 9? ›

Apple Watch SE owners will have a lot to gain from upgrading to the Series 9. Apple's newest watch has a larger screen, a processor that's brand new versus the 202 SE's 4-year-old chip, more health features like temperature sensing, blood oxygen measurements (for non-US users) and ECG, and an always-on display.

Is Apple Watch more accurate with iPhone? ›

The GPS in the iPhone is also a bit more accurate, especially with altitude data. Keeping your phone with you means you get the most accurate data. During testing, we found that keeping the iPhone nearby ensured accurate metrics, and also had an easier time keeping reliable data.

Is it worth buying an Apple Watch? ›

It's the most premium watch experience you can get right now, regardless of what your priority is. The watch holds equally well at the office during a usual work day as it does during an intense hike. Its impressive display, efficient performance, and extended battery life are the reasons why you should consider it.

Can a smart watch work with an iPhone? ›

If you're connecting over Bluetooth, you can pair the watch with iOS in the same manner you'd pair any Bluetooth device.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 6649

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-12-23

Address: 4653 O'Kon Hill, Lake Juanstad, AR 65469

Phone: +494124489301

Job: Marketing Representative

Hobby: Reading, Ice skating, Foraging, BASE jumping, Hiking, Skateboarding, Kayaking

Introduction: My name is Cheryll Lueilwitz, I am a sparkling, clean, super, lucky, joyous, outstanding, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.