Apple Watch 9 review: Answer a call with the tap of your finger

Our thoughts on Apple Watch 9’s latest upgrades

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Last year, I started wearing the Apple Watch for the first time — this year, I have a very clear Apple Watch-shape tan line on my left wrist. 

I’m now a huge fan of the Apple Watch because it tracks my physical activity, provides notifications from my favourite apps and tells the time — I use it for time telling much more than anticipated. I’m often conflicted about whether or not I should upgrade to the newest iPhone (read our review), and here I am, having the same internal dialogue about the Apple Watch. 

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This year, Apple released the Apple Watch 9 and the most exciting upgrade is the double tap gesture feature. Starting in October, an Apple Watch 9 user will be able to perform “double tap” commands by double tapping their Peter Pointer and hitchhiker’s digit (more formally the index finger and thumb) — like answering calls, playing/pausing music and even snoozing the alarm. 

The Apple Watch 9 boasts other upgrades from the Apple Watch 8, including the new S9 SiP (the computer that runs the watch), Precision Finding (an easy way to find your phone — only compatible with the iPhone 15 series) and watch options that are carbon neutral.

What: Apple Watch Series 9
Cost: Starting from $549 ($20 more than the Apple Watch Series 8)
Where to buy: Apple | Amazon | Best Buy
Date available: Sept. 22, 2023

Who should consider the Apple Watch 9:
1) You want the newest watch
2) Your current device isn’t working optimally
3) You love the double-tap gesture or other new features

Apple Watch 9.
Apple Watch 9. Photo by Apple

Specs

Size: Available in 45mm or 41mm
Display: Ion-X glass (aluminum) | sapphire crystal (stainless steel)
Processor: S9 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor
Battery: Up to 18 hours, fast charging allows you to charge up to 80 per cent in around 45 minutes
Finishes: Aluminum cases (100 per cent recycled) — pink, midnight (metallic black), starlight (light gold), silver, (PRODUCT)RED
Stainless steel cases — graphite, silver, gold, Space Black (Hermès only)
Sensors: Blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart sensor (ECG app), third-generation optical heart sensor, temperature sensor, Crash Detection, GPS, compass, ambient light sensor and more

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Summary

The Apple Watch Series 9’s main differentiators from previous models include the double tap feature, a more powerful chip and Precision Finding. Apple has also prioritized its environmental impact and has carbon-neutral watch combinations.

New and noteworthy: Double tap gesture, S9 SiP and Precision Finding

The Apple Watch 9 is more powerful than its predecessor and comes with new features — but also, four new faces, including a Snoopy animation that was created in Canada.

Double tap gesture: I feel like this is the beginning of something big. Starting sometime in October, Apple Watch 9 users will be able to use the double-tap gesture feature. When you double-tap your index finger and your thumb, you’ll be able to control certain watch functions.

S9 SiP: The S9 SiP refers to the computer chip that powers the watch and it received an upgrade. The upgraded chip provides a smoother watch experience, a brighter screen that’s more visible in the sun and supports even more functions without compromising the battery life. (Note: I’ve used the Apple Watch 8 every day for a year and the battery health is still at 100 per cent — meaning it’s as good as new.)

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Apple Watch 9 has a brighter screen, especially when in the sun (8 on the left, 9 on the right).
Apple Watch 9 has a brighter screen, especially when in the sun (8 on the left, 9 on the right). Photo by Postmedia/Randi Mann

Precision Finding: You may want to misplace your phone to use this new feature. Right now, there’s a little “Find My Phone” icon on the Apple Watch that signals your phone to beep — the Apple Watch 9 offers a way more precise version of this feature. Now, it will guide you to the phone using directional and distance prompts. (Note: You can only use this feature if you have an iPhone 15 or 15 Pro.)

Favourite features: International emergency calling, carbon-neutral options, double-tap gesture

International emergency calling: Now you can use Emergency SOS when travelling abroad — it will automatically call the local emergency services in over 120 countries.

Carbon-neutral options: When selecting your new watch you can choose which case and bands you prefer, there is a little green-flower-like icon next to carbon-neutral options. However, I’m not a complete fan of the carbon-neutral band (see below).

Double-tap gesture: I think this will come in handy (acknowledgment of the pun) when I’m carrying a bunch of stuff, my hands are dirty or I’m in the shower. 

Least favourite feature: The carbon-neutral Sport Loop textile band

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In order to keep the Watch carbon-neutral, you must select the textile Sport Loop. I prefer the silicone Sport Band because it’s unfazed by water and sweat, it doesn’t get dirty and it’s clasped with notches. The Sport Loop is more difficult to wash, it feels like it will get dirty and it closes using velcro. I don’t like the velcro because there isn’t a clear “notch” that I know fits my wrist (on the Sport Band, I know the watch fits best when I select the second hole) — every day it’ll take some trial and error to get it on comfy. However, the textile Sport Loop band is very comfortable for all-day wear.

Overall recommendation

I love the Apple Watch and value its insight into my health and wellness while keeping me accountable to my movement goals. I also appreciate receiving app notifications so I can stay on top of things without having to look at my phone — the same goes for checking the time. In general, I’d recommend the Apple Watch to iPhone users.

If you currently have one and it’s working optimally, it may be hard to justify the 9 — if you’re new to the device, you should consider treating yourself or putting it on some sort of gift wish list. (Though this review only focused on the Apple Watch 9 two other devices are available, the Ultra 2 [made for high-calibre athletes] and the SE version, which starts at $329.)

What: Apple Watch Series 9
Cost: Starting from $549 ($20 more than the Apple Watch Series 8)
Where to buy: Apple | Amazon | Best Buy

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rmann@postmedia.com

instagram.com/randimann

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Originally posted 2023-09-22 21:03:13.


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