Apple Watch 9 review 

With numerous significant new features, improved performance and even a price reduction, this superb carbon-neutral device sets the standard for smartwatches.

Editors Choice
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The Apple Watch Series 9 hardly needs an introduction: the Apple Watch is the world’s most popular smartwatch and has consistently set the standard for rival smartwatch manufacturers to try and emulate.

In recent years, Apple has subdivided its watches into three distinct categories – the ultra-premium Apple Watch Ultra, the premium Apple Watch Series 9, and the slightly more budget-friendly Apple Watch SE. While the Apple Watch 9 sits in the middle of these tiers, it remains a premium product, with a premium price tag to match. 

Apple has introduced a range of new features for the Series 9, including a brighter screen, more accurate Find my iPhone capability, Double Tap gesture control (due out via a software update in October), on-device Siri, and, arguably most importantly, it is the first carbon-neutral product from Apple.  

Typically, new Apple Watches tend to feature small, iterative improvements over their earlier models. This year however, there seem to be some genuinely useful changes that, while they might not be enough to persuade owners of the Series 8 to upgrade, will ensure the Series 9 is the best Apple Watch for most users.  

Apple Watch Series 9Credit: Saga Exceptional
Editors Choice

Apple Watch series 9


The Apple Watch 9 isn’t a revolutionary device. But it continues to set the standard for everyone else to aspire to. With a faster processor, brighter display and several other new features, it is the best smartwatch for iPhone users. 





Who’s this for?

The Apple Watch 9 is probably the best Apple Watch for most iPhone users, especially if they’ve never had an Apple Watch before.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Faster, more powerful S9 processor
  • A beautiful, even brighter display
  • It’s the first carbon-neutral Apple device
  • Changes are relatively small
  • Battery life is still disappointing
  • Improved Find my iPhone feature only works with iPhone 15

Expect to pay

RRP: £399 Apple Watch 9 starts from £399, but depending on what options you choose (such as watch size materials, strap etc), can be as costly as £1,099.

Apple Watch series 9 Review method

How we test

We tested the Apple Watch Series 9 for a week, wearing it continuously and using it as our primary smartwatch. This allowed us to test its battery life, apps, notifications, and other everyday functions. We also tested it during a variety of exercise types, including yoga, strength training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and on several walks. Finally, we also used the Watch 9 while we were sleeping, to see how well it tracks sleep depth and duration. 

Alongside the Apple Watch Series 9, we used a Withings ScanWatch and a Garmin Forerunner 955. These devices provided us with a reference point to help us assess the accuracy and consistency of the Apple Watch.  

Notifications were turned on, so the Apple Watch Series 9 alerted us to incoming calls, texts and social-media messages. We also used the Apple Health app and the Apple Fitness app, to see how clearly the data from the watch was presented, how quickly it synchronised, and what added insights were on offer from the apps. 


Apple Watch series 9 Setup

As easy as it gets

Upon opening the box, you have the watch, a wristband and a charger. Setting up the Apple Watch Series 9 is about as user-friendly as it gets: turn on the Apple Watch and bring it close to your iPhone. The iPhone automatically detects the Apple Watch and then prompts you to choose to set it up for yourself, or for a family member (if applicable).  

An animation will appear on the watch screen – use the camera on the phone to centre this on your phone’s screen and follow the steps to pair and then set up the Apple Watch. It’s simply a case of working through each screen until you reach the end.

This includes screens asking you to choose which wrist you’ll be wearing the watch on, terms and conditions, and even choosing the size of text. The watch takes a few minutes to sync with your phone, then it’s ready to use. 

Apple is well known for making its devices as simple to use as possible. This is just the latest in a long line of excellent setup processes.  

Apple Watch series 9 Design

Still one of the best looking smartwatches available

The Apple Watch Series 9 is undoubtedly one of the best-looking smartwatches on the market. It doesn’t look particularly different compared with the Series 8, but then again, why should it? The slightly rounded square has become an iconic design language, and the Series 9 is a continuation of this.  

As is usual with Apple, there are plenty of choices for customising your device. You can have an aluminium finish, or stainless steel (this is more expensive). There is either a 41mm (1.61-inch) or a 45mm (1.77-inch) case size, depending on whether you prefer a larger or smaller device on your wrist. And there are plenty of colours to choose from, including red, silver, Midnight (black), Starlight (gold) and pink.  

The Series 9 Watch not only looks lovely, but also it’s extremely comfortable to wear. Apple offers a plethora of different watch bands to choose from, made from a variety of materials (such as rubber, textile or metal). Straps are simple to change as well – simply press the release button on the underside of the watch and slide out one band, then slide in the new one. Many of these are now carbon neutral, which is an added feather in Apple’s cap. 

Environmentally friendly

Speaking of carbon neutrality, this iteration of the Apple Watch is the first Apple product that Apple claims is carbon neutral (depending on which watch strap you select). Reduced packaging, more recycled materials (including 100% recycled cobalt in the battery) and renewable electricity during the manufacturing process all contribute to this. While it doesn’t change the functionality of the device, a carbon-neutral product is a major statement by Apple. 

One noticeable difference between the Series 8 and the Series 9 watches comes in the brightness of the display. And what a display it is: incredibly bright, clear and easy to read.  

The Apple Watch Series 9 goes up to 2,000 nits of brightness, double that of the Series 8, and the same as the original Apple Watch Ultra (although less than the 3,000 nits on the Apple Watch Ultra 2). This means that even in extremely bright sunlight, you should be able to easily see the display on this watch. And at bedtime, the screen can go as dim as 1 nit, to stop you from being disturbed in the middle of the night.  

Apple Watch series 9 Features

As comprehensive as it gets

As you’d probably expect, the Apple Watch Series 9 comes with all the features we’ve seen on earlier generations of the device – workout and step tracking, heart and sleep monitoring, the ability to make and receive calls, send texts, and a multitude of apps to choose from. There’s also blood-oxygen monitoring, ECG (electrocardiogram), noise tracking, fall detection, medication reminders, and much, much more.  

If you’ve ever used an Apple Watch before, you’ll know exactly what to expect. But for anyone who is new to these devices, these features work as well as on almost any other device we’ve tested, and usually better. The integration between an Apple Watch and an iPhone is tough for rivals to match. 

But the Series 9 Apple Watch also brings several new tricks to the party: chief among these are Double Tap gesture control, an improved Find my iPhone feature and on-device Siri. All of this is made possible thanks to the new S9 chip, which is more powerful than ever. 


Double Tap

Gesture control is a new way of using your Apple Watch, without physically touching the phone screen. If, for example, you have your other hand full because you’re carrying some shopping or cooking, you can answer your phone call simply by tapping your index finger and thumb together twice.

There are plenty of other uses for this feature, which is due to arrive in a software update in October 2023. We weren’t able to test this in depth, and simply had a brief opportunity to see it in action at Apple’s London HQ. But from what we’ve seen, we were encouraged. 

Find my iPhone

Misplacing your phone is a problem we’ve probably all faced at some stage. The upgraded Find my iPhone feature makes it even easier to find – your watch can now tell you which direction, and how far away your phone is from you. As you get closer, you’ll get more feedback to guide you to its location. 

This is a great new feature that we can see helping a lot of people. Unfortunately, it’s only compatible with iPhone 15. 

On-device Siri

Thanks to that upgraded S9 chip, Siri now works directly on the Apple Watch 9. Any requests that don’t require an internet connection (for example, setting a timer or starting a workout) happen more quickly than before. You’ll still need your phone and an internet connection for some queries, however.  

There are plenty of apps already installed on the Apple Watch 9, including weather, photos, health, mindfulness, and many more. And if there’s something you want that isn’t on there, it will almost certainly be available via the App Store.  

Overall, the Apple Watch 9 is one of the most feature-packed devices on the market. Very few (if any) rivals can match the variety of features on offer here, including smartwatches that are considerably more expensive. 

Apple Watch series 9 Performance

Everything you’d expect from an Apple device

The Apple Watch Series 9 is an impressive device, and its overall performance was very good. Apps were quick to open, everything is very responsive, and notifications came through quickly and consistently. 

General Activity

In general, everyday tracking, step counts were consistent from one day to the next, with broadly similar amounts of movement on each day. They weren’t in agreement with the numbers we had from the Withings ScanWatch, however. The ScanWatch was typically 10-20% lower in terms of overall steps per day compared to the Apple Watch. 

Calorie counts were similarly variable, with the Apple Watch Series 9 routinely estimating a total calorie burn about 20% higher than that estimated by the ScanWatch.  

It’s hard to say for certain why the calculations are so different, other than that each company uses its own algorithms, and the Apple Watch may be more sensitive to movement than the ScanWatch. Arguably more important was the fact that the Apple Watch is consistent with itself, so we can be reasonably confident that your movements will be measured the same way each day. Over time, the trends you see will be an accurate reflection of what’s happening. 


It’s a similar story with exercise tracking. While the ScanWatch, Garmin Forerunner and Apple Watch Series 9 were broadly in agreement when it came to maximum heart rate during exercise (typically within one or two beats of one another) average heart rates were more varied. So too, was the estimated calorie burn, with the Apple Watch consistently higher than the ScanWatch.  

Encouragingly, it was much more closely aligned with the Garmin device in both calorie-burn estimates and average heart rates during exercise. We’ve found other Garmin devices such as the Venu 2 and Vivosmart 5 to be accurate heart-rate trackers during exercise, which suggests the Apple Watch is similarly good at this task. 

The Apple and Garmin devices, which both have built-in GPS, were in complete agreement over the distance we covered when out walking or running, which suggests a high degree of accuracy in this respect. 


Sleep tracking is notoriously unreliable, and studies have shown that these devices aren’t hugely accurate. With that in mind, we didn’t feel the Apple Watch was particularly better or worse than any of the other devices we’ve tested.  

We did find that in terms of overall sleep duration, the Apple Watch tracked slightly more sleep overall than the ScanWatch, but beyond this, there was little consistency. On some nights, the Watch 9 detected more deep sleep, and less time awake. On other nights, it was the opposite.  

So, while the data is easy enough to read and interpret, we aren’t overly convinced by its accuracy. But, as we’ve said before, this isn’t an issue exclusive to Apple.  


Apple apps are generally excellent, and it’s no exception here. Slightly unusually, there are two different apps to draw your information from – the Health app and the Fitness app. Given that most smartwatches and fitness trackers tend to collate all their information into one app, we found this slightly jarring. But it’s still relatively simple to get used to.  

The Fitness app is where you’ll get a snapshot of your daily movement, exercise and standing goals, as well as your workout history and trends around your activity levels and general fitness. It’s all very clearly presented, and plenty of extra details are available by tapping on specific metrics. 

The Health App is slightly broader and gives you insights into metrics such as your step count, walking asymmetry and speed, calorie consumption at rest and during activity, as well as showing you how you slept, your heart rate, and breathing rate. As with the Fitness app, everything is clearly laid out and easy to understand. 

Metrics are arguably a little less comprehensive than you might find on a more dedicated fitness-tracking device such as a Garmin smartwatch, for example. But, for most people, there is more than enough data to keep track of your essential health information.  

Apple Watch series 9 Battery life

The Achilles’ heel

Battery life on the Apple watch Series 9 is undoubtedly its Achilles’ heel. Apple claims that the Series 9 will give you up to 18 hours of battery life, or 36 in Low Power mode. We managed to eke out slightly longer than this between charges, but it’s still uninspiring.

Given that rival devices such as the Garmin Venu 3 can last closer to two weeks, going less than a day without needing charging is almost inexcusable at this point. It would, perhaps, be more forgivable if this was Apple’s first watch. But after so many years, it starts to feel like a conscious choice by Apple. 

The frustration is that you’ll always have to remember to charge your device at some point in the day. For some people, this may be fine, but if you’re wanting to track all your movement, exercise and sleep, then forgetting becomes perilous. A quick 15-minute charge at some point in the day may see you through the night, for example, but it’s frustrating that the onus is on the user to be hypervigilant around battery life.  

The charger itself is a magnetic disc, so it’s very easy to connect. When we did need to charge the Watch 9, we went from flat to full in under an hour-and-a-half. A 30-minute HIIT workout reduced the battery by around 2% and a one-hour walk with GPS tracking reduced battery by around 7%.

Apple Watch series 9 Value

A premium product with a price to match

With an RRP of £399, the Series 9 Apple Watch isn’t a cheap device. Apple is a premium brand, and its products attract a price tag to match. This watch isn’t terrible value and is priced slightly cheaper than the Garmin Venu 3 (RRP £449.99).  

But there are also plenty of devices from rivals that are considerably cheaper, and offer most, if not all, of the same features. On the other hand, none of those devices is built to integrate so seamlessly with the rest of the Apple ecosystem. If it’s ease of use you’re looking for, and you already own an iPhone, this is still one of the best overall user experiences you will find.  

You also can’t use an Apple Watch with an Android phone, so if you aren’t an iPhone user, there’s no point going for an Apple Watch. And if you want a device to track your running, alternatives from the likes of Garmin or Coros may provide a more comprehensive experience. If you aren’t sure, our Garmin watch vs Apple Watch guide goes into more detail. And if you just want basic activity tracking, one of the best budget fitness trackers will do a decent job for a far lower price. 

Overall, though, you’ll struggle to find this level of polish and performance elsewhere for much less. 

Apple Watch series 9 Competition

You might also like…

If you want to consider some alternative options, here are a couple that we feel are worth looking at.

Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)

If you still want a flavour of the Apple Watch without spending quite so much, then the Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) is a good alternative. It offers the same seamless integration with the rest of the Apple ecosystem, and many of the core features of the pricier models – most notably in terms of health and fitness monitoring, and safety features such as fall detection. 

It doesn’t have all the new features of the Series 9 and comes in slightly smaller dimensions (40mm and 44mm). But it is also considerably cheaper, with an RRP from £219, which undercuts an awful lot of rival devices as well. If you’re just starting out with Apple Watch, then this is a smart choice.  

Featured product

Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)

RRP: £219

Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)

Garmin Venu 3

For a non-Apple alternative, the Garmin Venu 3 is a compelling choice. Priced slightly higher than the Apple Watch 9, the £449 RRP brings with it a superb health and fitnesstracking device, with plenty of insights and data provided via the outstanding Garmin Connect app. It also benefits from a beautiful LED display, and battery life of around two weeks, which blows the Watch 9 out of the water. And while the Apple Watch will only work with iPhone, the Venu 3 is also compatible with Android devices. 

Featured product

Garmin Venu 3

RRP: £449.99

Garmin Venu 3

Apple Watch series 9 Final verdict

Still the smartwatch to beat

While the changes to the Apple Watch Series 9 aren’t revolutionary, it still becomes the best Apple Watch for most people. There are enough new features to make this a genuine improvement over the Apple Watch Series 8, and as we’ve come to expect from Apple, it’s a beautiful device that works seamlessly with your iPhone. Apple fans won’t be disappointed by it. It’s also fantastic to see Apple creating a carbon-neutral device. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect for everyone. If you already have an Apple Watch Series 8, or potentially even a Series 7, we don’t necessarily feel there’s enough in here to automatically justify upgrading. The changes, such as Double Tap gesture control, a brighter screen and a faster chip, are “nice-to-haves”, rather than “must-haves”. 

And there’s the battery. We really would love to see an Apple Watch that lasts a week, instead of having to be vigilant about remembering to charge it almost daily. A light user may manage to eke out a couple of days from it, but if you use it more regularly, or do a lot of exercise, you’ll need to schedule a quick charge most days. 

Overall, though, this is still one of, if not the, best smartwatches on the market.  

Buy this if:

  • You have an older Apple Watch such as a Series 5 or Series 6. The upgrade here is worth it. 
  • You would benefit from Double Tap gesture control.
  • You’re looking for an environmentally friendly smartwatch. 

Don’t buy this if:

  • You don’t want to charge your smartwatch daily.
  • You’d prefer to see all your metrics in one app, rather than two.
  • You own an Android phone. This watch won’t work with it, so you’re just wasting money.
Editors Choice

Apple Watch series 9


The Apple Watch 9 isn’t a revolutionary device. But it continues to set the standard for everyone else to aspire to. With a faster processor, brighter display and several other new features, it is the best smartwatch for iPhone users. 


The Apple Watch 9 is one of the best-looking devices on the market, and its environmentally friendly credentials are a bonus.


The Watch 9 is one of the most feature-packed devices on the market, with thousands of apps for just about any need.


The Watch 9 is extremely user-friendly, intuitive and responsive. However, its battery life is disappointing.


Priced from £399, this is a premium device, but you get one of the best user experiences out there.

Who’s this for?

The Apple Watch 9 is probably the best Apple Watch for most iPhone users, especially if they’ve never had an Apple Watch before.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Faster, more powerful S9 processor
  • A beautiful, even brighter display
  • It’s the first carbon-neutral Apple device
  • Changes are relatively small
  • Battery life is still disappointing
  • Improved Find my iPhone feature only works with iPhone 15

Expect to pay

RRP: £399 Apple Watch 9 starts from £399, but depending on what options you choose (such as watch size materials, strap etc), can be as costly as £1,099.

Apple Watch series 9 Specs

Weight 32.1-51.5g
Dimensions 41x35x10.7/45x38x10.7 mm
Screen size 1.61/1.77in
Screen resolution 352×430/396×484 pixels
Removable strap? Yes
Operating system WatchOS
Compatibility iPhone only
Workouts tracked 20 different workout types tracked
Wi-Fi Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Cellular Yes (optional)
Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him


Steven Shaw has been a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar. His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.