Apple Watch users are familiar with the “nose.” For me, this happens when I wheel my grocery cart in one hand and hold a bag full of food in the other. With both hands full, my Apple Watch asks me if I want to start an outdoor walk when I get home. Being a statistics enthusiast, my answer is always yes. So, raising my arm that is holding the grocery bag, I try to press the “start” button with my nose. Yes, it takes several tries. Yes, it’s deeply embarrassing. Yes, it’s harder than stopping and freeing one hand and pressing the button normally.
The Apple Watch Series 9 addresses this issue in depth, making it a notable upgrade over its predecessors. Its new hands-free gesture, along with a suite of software improvements, make it my favorite smartwatch to date.
GO AHEAD How I tried the Apple Watch Series 9 | Why I like the Apple Watch Series 9 | What I don’t like about the Apple Watch Series 9 | What is Apple’s return policy?
What we like
- Bright screen
- Double-click gesture
- Improved Siri
Something to note
- It’s time to customize the settings
Display size(s): 41mm, 45mm | Display type: Always-on touchscreen | Weight: 31.9g (41mm), 38.7g (45mm) | Battery life: Up to 18 hours, fast charging | Integrated GPS: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, with ECG | Water resistance: Yes, up to 50 meters | Compatible with: Apple iPhone
What you need to know about the Apple Watch Series 9
The Apple Watch Series 9 replaces last year’s Series 8 model, one of our favorite smartwatches and fitness trackers.
From the outside, the new 9 Series looks virtually unchanged from last year’s model. It starts at the same price of $399, comes in the same two screen sizes (41mm and 45mm), and has all the features of the Series 8. It comes in five colors, with the new addition being pink, and dozens of watch straps. choice.
The most important changes are internal. The 9 series features a new chip (the S9 SiP) that has 60% more transistors than the S8 chip, allowing for faster overall performance, according to the brand. Also inside is a new “neutral engine” that enables new gestures and speeds up machine learning tasks like Siri, according to Apple.
One of these new gestures is called Double Tap. With your wrist raised, you can answer calls, open an incoming notification, play and pause music, stop timers and much more by pinching your index finger and thumb twice. The gesture can only be used on Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models.
The Series 9’s screen is also much brighter, with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, compared to 1,000 in the Series 8.
How I tried the Apple Watch Series 9
I tried the Apple Watch Series 9 with a sports band for a little over three weeks. Previously, I wore the Series 8 for over a month and the Watch SE for over two years. I’ve also tried smartwatches and fitness trackers from Garmin, Samsung, Google, Fitbit, and Whoop.
I carried the Series 9 everywhere, only taking it off in the morning to charge it while I got ready for the day. I used it to track my sleep and fitness activities, including outdoor runs, indoor weight training, and outdoor cycling. I used the on-screen keyboard and Siri to respond to text messages. I wore the Series 9 alongside a few other smartwatches to compare comfort, battery life, software, and fitness data.
What I like about the Apple Watch Series 9
Like its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 9 is very easy to use. I find the layout, settings and interface very familiar and intuitive for an iPhone user like me. The always-on display and narrow bezel make it easy to read information and scan notifications, even while running or with gloved hands. It easily syncs with Apple’s Health and Fitness apps to provide useful data that keeps me better informed about my workouts and sleep quality.
But all of this can also be said about the previous Series 8. The new features of the Series 9 make it my new go-to smartwatch.
Double Tap is incredibly useful
As previously described, Double Tap proved incredibly useful for starting and stopping workouts without having to tap anything on the watch screen. I use Double Tap to start and stop my outdoor runs in cold weather, which has been much easier than taking off my gloves and removing my long-sleeve layers to physically touch the screen.
You can also use Double Tap to answer calls, start and stop music, and more, but interacting with workout notifications is where I noticed the most difference.
Siri is more functional than ever
I use Siri to text when my hands are full, especially when I’m running, biking, or shopping (which I do often). One of the main reasons I wear an Apple Watch over something like a Garmin Forerunner is that text-to-speech feature.
With the new internals, I find Siri to be more functional than ever. It’s faster: The Series 9 processes long voice-to-text messages 2-3 seconds faster than my Apple Watch SE. Siri is also up to 25% more accurate in her dictation, according to Apple. By sending a variety of long mumbling or singing texts to my partner, I also saw about a 25% improvement in accuracy compared to an older watch model like the SE.
Finding precision with iPhone 15
The Series 9 can use Apple’s Precision Finder to tell you the exact direction of your iPhone 15, similar to using an iPhone to find an AirTag. As someone who constantly forgets their phone at home, this feature has been a huge time saver for them.
Precision Finding only works with the iPhone 15 paired with an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 – these devices all feature the brand’s second-generation internal ultra-wideband chip.
Apple’s latest software update, watchOS 10, launched in September on all Apple Watch Series 4 and later. It’s a complete update to almost everything about the Apple Watch experience. The apps are different, Cycling Workouts creates a pseudo bike computer from your iPhone, the Compass app displays 3D elevation views and trail information, Apple Maps can be downloaded for off-road use. line and the list of changes goes on and on.
WatchOS 10 isn’t specific to the Apple Watch Series 9, but the software changes have improved usability on the Series 9 and even my old SE.
What I don’t like about the Apple Watch Series 9
Right out of the box, the Apple Watch has always been smart, telling me about everything — My Group text messages, multiple inboxes, wake-up reminders and more. If you’re not intentional with your settings, the Apple Watch can quickly become too usefulan annoying square screen that won’t stop buzzing trying to make sure I’m on top of all my stuff.
This problem isn’t unique to the Apple Watch, and it’s easily fixed by going to the settings menu and customizing your notifications (and everything else) to your liking. For me, turning off email alerts and a few other reminders makes my Apple Watch feel more like a watch and less like a second phone buzzing incessantly on my wrist.
What is Apple’s return policy?
Apple offers a standard 14-day return policy on all of its products. Only products purchased directly from Apple, online or in an Apple Store, can be returned to Apple: an Apple Watch purchased through Amazon follows Amazon’s return policy.
Why trust Select?
Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at NBC Select covering technology and fitness, including fitness trackers, running shoes, headphones and new product launches. For this piece, he wore the Apple Watch Series 9 for three weeks after the brand sent him one to try out.
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