Skip to main content

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Apple Watch Series 8: Should you upgrade?

The Newest Apple Watch Comes with Siri Built In

Apple Watch S9 with Nike bands
Apple / Apple

Apple has debuted its next generation of smart watch, promising more power, increased functionality, and an all round upgrade on previous generations. But if you dropped around $400 on an Apple Watch less than a year ago, is it really worth opening your wallet again?

There are several arguments against buying new tech every time it comes out. There may not be that big a performance leap between one or two generations of a device, or in the case of an iPhone changes may actually be minimal from year to year. Then there’s cost to consider. A device like a smartwatch is a significant purchase, so why buy another if you really don’t have to?

We’re going to directly compare the Apple Watch 9 to its predecessor, and work out if it’s worth Apple Watch 8 owners cracking open their collective wallets again. Here is why you should maybe consider upgrading to Apple’s latest smartwatch, along with a reason why you shouldn’t

Apple Watch S9 display
Apple / Apple

The Apple Watch 9 has far better specs

We’re going to begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Head to head, in terms of raw specs, the Apple Watch 9 blows its predecessor out of the water. The company’s in house S9 chip offers a 30% overall performance increase when compared to its predecessor.

It also removes some potential bottlenecks from the equation, thanks to things like a built-in version of Siri. According to Apple, common requests will no longer be met with a loading wheel when your internet connection is bad. Instead, the built-in assistant will just answer straight away.

As for  specs you can see, the Retina display is a lot brighter on the Series 9, coming in at 2000 nits. So if you’re often squinting to read your watch in bright conditions, then this could be the upgrade you’re looking for. The only area that hasn’t seen a vast improvement is battery life, which remains the same. So if you were hoping for an extra day, or at least the ability to get 24 hours of “regular use” from a single charge, then you’re out of luck.

An Apple Watch Series 8
Apple / Apple

The Apple Watch 8 is still a solid piece of kit

While things may look impressive on paper for the Apple Watch 9, let’s give the Apple Watch Series 8 its due. The watch was a cutting edge piece of kit on launch, and is still one of the best smartwatches you can purchase.

As far as raw hardware goes, the watch is in no way sluggish and the “30% performance boost” may not be something you’ll notice during regular use. In terms of appearance, the Series 8 and Series 9 look pretty much identical, from what we’ve seen so far anyway. And you still have plenty of fancy features to impress your friends with.

In addition to the boosted ECG functionality, and other health-focused tweaks to the Series 8 — you have cutting-edge features like crash and fall detection. So while Apple’s latest watch boasts a couple of new toys, its predecessor could still save your life. If, for some reason, you’re reading this and you don’t own an Apple Watch 8 — it may be worth considering one if the new release pushes the older tech’s price down.

Apple Watch S9 Double Tap

The increased functionality really seals it

Moore’s Law, a long standing idea that hardware doubles in power and drops in price every couple of years, has pretty much held true for decades. So if a 30% to 50% performance boost alone could justify an upgrade, we’d be doing so every year without question. But the watch’s new chip, and the software it is capable of powering, offer more than a simple performance boost.

The newest Apple watch comes with a bundle of new features you’ll probably find yourself using in daily life. The “double tap” feature means navigating your smart watch when your other hand is occupied is likely to get easier. Built in Siri looks great for avoiding irritation. And health functionality, which has been a major selling point for smart watches since they first hit the market, has also received a huge boost. On top of everything else, the ultra-wideband chip powered “find my iPhone” feature doesn’t only look immensely useful, it also looks a little fun. Yes, misplacing your phone can be frustrating, but the thrill of pulling out the wrist radar might make up for it.

Apple Watch Double Tap

“Double Tap” is a new gesture that is made possible due to the increased sensory capability of the S9 chip. Users can navigate the watch by “double tapping” the thumb of their watch hand into their index finger. This allows for one handed operation of the watch, and can be used to scroll menus, answer calls, and play media — amongst other things. It joins a range of gestures that were present on the Apple Watch 8 and older devices, but is exclusive to the Apple Watch 9, Ultra 2, and beyond.

Apple Watch power users may have already experienced something similar to Double Tap. A function called “Assistive Touch” was added to the accessibility menu as far back as the Apple Watch Series 4. But the new gesture seems to be far more streamlined, and is enabled fresh out of the box.

It’s this functionality that may swing it for many potential buyers. No one has a stopwatch out, nobody actually cares if a screen pops up an almost immeasurable fraction of a second earlier. But people do notice the actions they perform, and see other people perform, daily. If you’re sitting there surrounded by people double tapping away on their watch hand while holding a coffee in the other, you could start to feel a little left out.

To make things clear, as big a leap as the Apple Watch 9 is — hanging on to the Series 8 for another year probably won’t ruin your life. But if an upgrade is in the budget, then you can enjoy what is a significant single-generation leap forward.

Editors' Recommendations

Dave McQuilling
Dave has spent pretty much his entire career as a journalist; this has included jobs at newspapers, TV stations, on the…
Fortis Watches reboots its iconic Novonaut Chronograph, the cosmonaut’s answer to the Omega Speedmaster
The original Fortis Novonaut was designed for cosmonauts
Fortis Novonaut black wrist

In the grand universe of men's watches, there's a niche that belongs to the brave, the bold, and the cosmic adventurers among us. These timepieces are more than mere fashion statements; they're works of mechanical artistry, precision instruments, and often, historical relics. After all, who doesn't want to own a watch that's good enough for space?

You likely know the story of the Omega Speedmaster. Known as the "moon watch," this classic timepiece has a storied history with NASA astronauts (and the organization itself). The Omega Speedmaster Professional is one of several watches that NASA has deemed qualified for spaceflight and is the only one qualified to go outside of the spacecraft.

Read more
Rolex and Smiths: The 2 watches that made it to the top of Mount Everest first
The Rolex Explorer's Rugged Origins
Rolex Explorer 40

The Rolex Explorer is one of the most iconic watches that the Swiss company has ever produced. It’s so successful that numerous imitators have surfaced over the years. In addition to the out-and-out fakes, you’ll spot elements snatched straight from the Explorer in numerous timepieces produced by Rolex’s high, and lower-end, competitors. Fittingly, the iconic wristwatch has an equally ironic, exploration-related, origin story.

A Rolex Explorer prototype was strapped to the wrist of Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first man to summit Mount Everest in 1953. The prototype survived the journey, and went into production shortly afterwards.

Read more
Seiko watches news: Seiko adds a GMT function to its Prospex Alpinist
These are the first non-limited edition Seiko Alpinist GMT watches
Seiko Prospex Alipinist GMT blue

When it comes to watches for men, Seiko has long been a name that resonates with both enthusiasts and the uninitiated. The brand's rich history and commitment to quality timepieces have solidified its place in the world of horology.

In the realm of Seiko watches, the Prospex collection stands out as a symbol of adventure, durability, and precision. And now, Seiko has added a new twist to its iconic Prospex Alpinist series, introducing the Seiko Prospex Alpinist GMT. But it's not just any GMT watch; it's a timepiece that takes you on a journey, even if you're just sitting at your desk.
The Prospex Alpinist GMT unveiled
The Seiko Prospex Alpinist collection has always been about rugged elegance and the spirit of exploration. The addition of a GMT function to the Prospex Alpinist takes that spirit to new heights. GMT watches have long been favored by travelers and globetrotters for their ability to track multiple time zones. Seiko has embraced this feature, and the result is a timepiece that appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and people who value aesthetics, as well as functionality.

Read more