Apple Watch Series 9 Review – 6 Months Later

What we’ve liked about the Apple Watch Series 9 after 6 Months, what sets it apart from previous Apple Watch models, plus the downside we encountered.

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Video transcript:

It’s been 6 months since I bought an Apple Watch Series 9, and I’m going to take you through my favorite things about this watch, what makes getting an Apple Watch worth it, and who should upgrade to this version first.

Let’s talk about battery life. It’s been excellent on this watch, though I should clarify, it’s been excellent for a smartwatch, a device where you should plan on charging it about once per day. Now, I wear my watch for sleep tracking, so I actually end up charging mine in the morning when I take a shower, and then maybe again at night if I shower after a workout. With that schedule, I’ve never once run into an issue with it running low on battery over the past 6 months, thanks to its fast charging capabilities. Note: the Apple Watch SE models don’t support fast charging.

The next thing I’ve really liked about the Series 9 is Siri. Now, I know just hearing the name likely brought up some feelings you have towards Siri, which you can let me know what those are in the comments. But specifically, the thing I’ve liked about Siri on the Series 9 is it’s much faster at responding and getting things done for you, like setting timers. This is due to the new S9 SIP that powers the Series 9, which has a dedicated neural engine for machine learning tasks that are up to two times faster than the previous generation. Plus, the S9 SIP also allows Siri to process a lot more requests on the watch itself locally, which is the thing that I think has really helped improve its performance.

The next feature I’ve enjoyed using that’s new on the Series 9 is the brighter display. It can go up to 2,000 nits, which is double what the previous Series 8 watch had, making it easier to see in daylight conditions and especially when you have sunglasses on.

So, those are the new features of the Series 9 that I’ve really enjoyed using. Now, 6 months later, are there features that are new to this watch that I found myself not utilizing all that much? Yes, the first of which is the double feature, otherwise known as Pinchy Pinch. This feature allows you to do things like answer a call, stop a timer, play/pause music, but I’ve struggled with this feature in two areas. One, just remembering it’s a thing you can do, which over 6 months has been harder for me to do, in part because this feature just isn’t as responsive as I initially expected it to be. I find I have to do the gesture at least like two times to get it to work, and it takes a second or two longer than ideal before it actually triggers the action. Also, it’s not universally supported on the Apple Watch, so an app like Pocket Casts, which I use all of the time to control a podcast playing on my iPhone, double-tap won’t play or pause the podcast on that app. The other feature I haven’t used all that much is HomePod control. You’re supposed to be able to bring the new Apple Watch over to a HomePod and take control of the music playing on a HomePod, but I’ve just never been able to get this feature to actually work correctly. The reason this is a feature at all is the Series 9 gained an ultra-wideband chip, similar to the chip on the iPhone, which allows you to do other things with this watch, like get precise directions to your phone or AirTag’s location, which I have used a few times and it is really useful.

Now, let’s look at some other parts of the Apple Watch experience that have stood out. But just note, the things I’m about to talk about, they’re not exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 9.

The first one is watchOS 10, which is the OS that came with this watch. Its UI makes more use of the larger displays on current Apple Watch Generations, which you can see in many of Apple’s redesigned apps for the watch, and the Weather one in particular is a lot more useful with a way you can just tap the dial to cycle through different weather information for the day. Now, the biggest change to the overall user experience that watchOS 10 makes is a feature called Smart Stack. It creates a persistent area you can go to for apps running important things in the background, like a timer or music playing in the background, which are actually dynamically added to the Smart Stack list, but it’ll also give you information from certain apps that you pin in the Smart Stack as well. You can get to it from any watch face by swiping up from the bottom of the watch, which is how you used to get to Control Center, or by turning the Digital Crown. Apple has actually moved Control Center to the side button. Just a single press from wherever you are on the watch brings it up. And this took me the full 6 months to get used to. WatchOS 10 also brought a new Snoopy watch face, which I don’t use all that often because I love my Infograph watch face so much with all the complications that you can put on it. But when I want a bit of a change or just something that kind of cheers me up, the Snoopy watch face is definitely good at doing that.

Another thing I’ve used this Apple Watch for a lot is Fitness tracking. I love the automatic workout detection, so when I’m on a walk, it’ll just register that after about 10 to 12 minutes and it goes ahead and logs it. The compass feature is pretty useful if you’re on a hike and just want to make sure you don’t get lost. WatchOS 10 did add new hiking views, trail information, and typography in Maps as well. I’ve also utilized the Apple Fitness Plus integration with the watch a lot over the past 6 months. I love how well the watch integrates my workouts and I can see my progress up on the Apple TV. Another thing I’ve utilized the watch for is sleep tracking, which I know isn’t totally accurate on smartwatches, but I still wear mine when I go to sleep just to give me a general idea of how long I’m sleeping and how good my sleep is.

Now, another huge thing I use this watch for all the time is Media controls. You can now use the Now Playing app to control media playing on your other Apple devices or the watch, or dedicated media apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Pocket Casts, which is a great podcast app. And while I typically find playing media off my phone and then controlling it with my watch to be the easier experience, you can directly play media off the watch and listen to it on your headphones, though I found this works best in practice if you have AirPods because of their automatic switching feature.

Alright, a few more things I’ve used this watch for over the past six months are first directions with Apple Maps, where the watch will give you different haptic feedback patterns for when you’re supposed to turn right or left, which I really find useful and it makes it harder to miss a turn. I use this watch to set laundry and cook timers all of the time, which thanks to the faster Siri experience is actually a pretty good experience. I also use the watch to quickly respond to a text, and yes, the tiny keyboard is surprisingly somewhat usable. And the last main thing I use the watch for is simply glanceable information like weather conditions, temperature and range, the sunup and sunset time, any calendar events I may have, and the date. But importantly, these complications also act as shortcuts to get into my most used apps like Fitness and Pocket Casts.

Now, let’s talk downsides. And the biggest downside with using this and all Apple watches is you must have an iPhone in order to use one. It’s a bit of a bummer for those who really like their Android phones but prefer the look or just features with an Apple Watch. Another downside I’ve encountered over the past 6 months is software updates. Because I wear this watch to bed, automatic updates never install because they’re set to auto-install at like 2 a.m. when the watch is on the charger. But I’d still like Apple to give me the choice to be able to set when automatic updates should install. The last big downside I found with this watch, and this applies to all Apple watches, is repairability. I’d really like to see Apple work to make the Apple watch have a user-replaceable battery where you don’t need to take it to a repair shop or order a special repair kit and tools from Apple just to replace something like the battery.

Now, let’s talk recommendations. Do I recommend the Series 9 if you have an iPhone? Yes, it has a ton of great features and critical ones like finding your phone if you don’t know where it is, easy access to Media controls, Fitness tracking, and more. Now do keep in mind, now that it has been 6 months with the Series 9, that means we’re only 6 months away from the next version coming out this September. So for some, it’s going to be better just to wait for the newer version, while for others, if you need one now and you can find a good deal on the Series 9, I’d say go for it. And if you’re stuck choosing between the Series 9, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra, in general, the reason why I went with the Series 9 over something like the Apple Watch Ultra is I just really wanted that classic Apple Watch look, and the Ultra is just a little bit bigger and more chunky. I don’t care for the aesthetics as much, and I needed a watch that had fast charging capability as well as gave you the option of ordering it with a sapphire crystal display, which you cannot get with the SE. In general, I always think the sapphire crystal is worth it if you’re like me and you just can’t stand seeing micro scratches on your watch face. I’ve slammed this watch into so many things after 6 months, and there’s not a scratch to be found on its display. So those are my thoughts on the Apple Watch Series 9. Now, if you’re also looking at potentially getting a new iPhone and want to see my thoughts on this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max, you can click here to get to that review, or you can click here to get to all of my other reviews on Apple products like the HomePod Mini, AirPods Max, and more. If you like this video and you found it helpful, make sure you hit that thumbs up button below. It really helps us out, and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to see more of my thoughts on Apple products. For 6 months later, I’m Josh Tedar. Thanks for watching.

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