Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8: Should You Upgrade?

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The Apple Watch Series 9, announced at Apple’s Wonderlust event and released on September 22, 2023, isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s a subtle upgrade from the Apple Watch Series 8, which graced our wrists in September 2022. But with the two models being so similar, is it worth upgrading or even buying the Apple Watch Series 9 over a discounted or refurbished Apple Watch Series 8? Let’s dive in.

Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple 8: Price, Specs, and Availability

Price-wise, the Apple Watch Series 9 starts at A$649. With the Series 8 discontinued by Apple, you may find discounted or top-quality refurbished Series 8 Apple Watches available at different retailers. Both watches come in various finishes, but if you’re after that exclusive Pink, you must opt for the Series 9. And if you’re in Australia, keep an eye out for the Watch Series 8 price drops, as they might be more significant than in other regions.

Apple Watch Series 8Apple Watch Series 9
MaterialsAluminum Stainless SteelAluminum Stainless Steel
Sizes41mm 45mm41mm 45mm
ColorsAluminum: Midnight, Silver, Starlight, Red
Stainless Steel: Gold, Silver, Graphite
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Pink Red
Stainless Steel: Gold, Graphite, Silver,
DisplayAlways-on Retina LTPO OLED 1,000 nits peak brightnessAlways-on Retina LTPO OLED 2,000 nits peak brightness, 1 nit lowlight
Storage32 GB64 GB
Double-tap gestureAccessibility onlyYes
SiriWi-Fi or cellular data requiredOn-device
SensorsTemperature sensor, blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart sensor, and third-generation optical heart sensorTemperature sensor, blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart sensor, and third-generation optical heart sensor
ConnectivityWi-Fi 4 (11n), Bluetooth 5.3, W3 wireless chip, LTE optionalWi-Fi 4 (11n), Bluetooth 5.3, W3 wireless chip, LTE optional

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: Design, Build, and Display

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for confusing the two. Both watches are almost identical in design and build. Both come in 41mm and 45mm sizes, with the same band compatibility. The Series 9 does introduce a pink color, but that’s about it for external differences.

However, the Series 9 has a brighter display than the Series 8, with up to 2,000 nits of brightness compared to the Series 8’s 1,000 nits. This is a game-changer for those who spend a lot of time outdoors and makes the Series 9’s screen easier to read in bright sunlight.

If a brighter display is an essential feature, the Apple Watch Series 9 may be your better choice. However, if you are happy with the design and features of the Series 8, upgrading to the Series 9 may be optional.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: Performance and Battery Life

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8, while similar in many respects, have distinct differences in performance. The Apple Watch Series 9 is equipped with the new S9 chip, closely related to the A15 Bionic found in the iPhone 14. This upgrade results in a 30% performance enhancement compared to the S8 chip in the Apple Watch Series 8. Such an improvement translates to faster application launches, enhanced animations, and a more efficient Siri. Notably, the S9 chip allows Siri to operate offline, providing immediate responses without needing Wi-Fi.

Another significant feature introduced with the Series 9 is the innovative gesture control. Users can now interact with the watch using a pinch gesture, eliminating the need to touch the screen directly.

Regarding battery life, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Series 8 offer approximately 18 hours of usage. The Series 8 introduced a fast-charging capability, allowing it to charge from zero to 80% in roughly 45 minutes. The Apple Watch Series 9 maintains this charging speed, ensuring consistent and efficient power restoration.

Notably, the Apple Watch Series 9 ships with the latest watchOS 10 pre-installed. This provides immediate access to all the newest features and optimizations.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: Ultra Wideband

The Apple Watch Series 9 introduces the second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, a game-changer for device tracking. Imagine losing your friend in a bustling crowd; with this chip, your watch becomes a compass, guiding you directly to them. The Apple Watch Series 8, while efficient with its S8 chip, lacks this advanced feature. The Apple Watch Series 9 also boasts the next-generation U2 ultra-wideband chip, enhancing the ‘ping’ feature for lost iPhones. With Precision Finding, navigating rooms to locate your misplaced phone becomes a breeze.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: Fitness and Health Tracking

Both Series 8 and 9 prioritize health and fitness. The Apple Watch Series 8 made waves with its temperature-sensing capabilities and insights into AFib history. The Apple Watch Series 9, however, takes a holistic approach by integrating mental health tools, such as state of mind logging in the Mindfulness app. Siri’s enhanced capabilities on the Series 9 allow users to access health data directly, ensuring faster and more reliable responses.

The Apple Watch Series 7, the predecessor to the Series 8, introduced features like a QWERTY keyboard and was already a significant step up in health tracking. However, both Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch 9 offer similar health tracking tools, making them equally competent in this domain, with Series 8 and 9 further refining and expanding on the foundation laid by Apple Watch Series 7.

Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8: Double Tap Gesture

The Series 9’s Double Tap gesture is a noteworthy addition. By tapping your index finger and thumb together twice, users can manage notifications, control music, and even send text messages hands-free. This feature, powered by the Series 9’s advanced Neural Engine, offers a unique interaction method, although it might require some getting used to.

Which Latest Flagship Apple Watch Is Better?

The Apple Watch Series 8, being an older model; its performance, display, and health-tracking tools are commendable, making it a worthy contender. However, the Apple Watch Series 9, with its advanced chip, new gestures, and enhanced Siri capabilities, offers a more futuristic experience.

Is it worth the upgrade if you have the Apple Watch Series 8? If you’re someone who always wants the latest tech, the Series 9 might appeal to you. However, if you’re content with your Series 8’s performance, wait and see what future models bring.

For those considering their first Apple Watch, the decision becomes a balance between cost and features. With its advanced features, the Apple Watch Series 9 is a tempting choice, but the Series 8 offers a nearly identical experience at a potentially lower price.

In conclusion, while the Apple Watch Series 9 introduces some exciting features, the Apple Watch Series 8 remains a robust and reliable choice. Your decision ultimately hinges on your preferences, needs, and budget.

About the author


Olivia Grace

Olivia bridges the gap between technology and its enthusiasts. By day, she crafts compelling narratives about the latest in tech; by night, she immerses herself in the world of literature. With particular expertise in the latest smartphones, refurbished smartwatches, and laptops, Olivia's reviews often spotlight the advantages of refurbished models, guiding readers toward savvy purchases and unbeatable deals.