Executive Editor, MacworldAUG 25, 2023 3:30 am PDT
With the news that Apple is planning to launch a major Apple Watch overhaul next year to celebrate the device’s 10th anniversary, you’re probably thinking the Apple Watch Series 9 isn’t worth your money. After all, rumors paint a picture of a very minor update with no notable new features beyond a new chip. However, there are several reasons why you might want to spring for an upgrade when the Series 9 launches next month, especially if you have an older model.
When watchOS 10 lands this fall, it’ll be compatible with the Apple Watch Series 4 and later, so if you have a Series 3, you should definitely consider upgrading. But even if you have a compatible watch, you might want to give the Series 9 a look. WatchOS 10 is Apple’s biggest upgrade in years, changing all aspects of the experience to make your interactions faster and more intuitive. Apple’s stock apps all have a new look, Smart Stack gives you relevant info you need at a glance, and the side button is now used to activate Control Center. The new interface is designed to take advantage of the larger 41mm and 45mm Apple Watch screens that were introduced with the Series 7 with additional health metrics and immersive images that will all look fantastic on the bigger screens.
A just-right screen
Speaking of screens, the Apple Watch has had many of them over the years—38mm, 40mm, 41mm, 42mm, 45mm, and 49mm—but it’s hard to argue that the Apple Watch Series 8 isn’t the perfect size. Older watches feel too small and the Apple Watch Ultra is just too big for many wrists. We don’t know whether Apple will introduce an even larger screen with the Apple Watch X, but in case it does, the Series 9’s 41mm and 45mm screens will be about as perfect as it gets.
A new chip
The Apple Watch Series 8 may have an S8 chip, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the exact same chip as the S6 from 2020. The nature of the Apple Watch is such that year-over-year chip improvements don’t really matter as much as new sensors and such—but after three years, we’re very interested in what the S9 will bring. Reports say it will bring “a fairly sizable performance bump,” but we’re hoping for some extra battery life too. And based on the past several years, we might not get another truly new chip until the Apple Watch 12.
10 years of bands
Ever since the Apple Watch launched in 2015, Apple has done an admirable job of making sure new bands are compatible with old watches—with the exception of the Solo Loop, all 41mm bands work with 38mm and 40mm watches, and 45mm bands work with 42mm, 44mm, and 49mm cases. However, if reports of the Apple Watch X getting a new strap mechanism (perhaps magnetic) are accurate, this could be the last year of band compatibility. So if you want to get the most out of your bands, you’ll want to make sure you have the last model that supports them.
A classic design
We’re not sure what the Apple Watch X will look like, but rumors have been swirling for years about a massive redesign with a flat display and sides that are similar to the iPhone 13. We’re sure it’ll look great, but if it veers closer to the Apple Watch Ultra, we’re going to miss the sleek curves of the original. But if you buy a Series 9, you’ll be able to hold onto the classic Apple Watch aesthetic for a few more years.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.