Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: All The Differences

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Series 8: All The Differences

By Luca Fanicchia

Apple recently unveiled the Apple Watch Series 9, sparking discussions and comparisons with its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 8. While both watches share many similarities, there are three distinct differences that set the Series 9 apart.

Design & Display Brightness

The Apple Watch Series 9, while bearing a strong resemblance to its predecessor, the Series 8, has introduced subtle yet impactful changes in its design and display. Let’s delve deeper into these aspects:

Design Aesthetics

  • Visual Similarities: Both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8 have a sleek design that is visually similar. They are available in two sizes: 41mm and 45mm. The sharp Retina display screens of both watches have the same resolution, ensuring crisp visuals.
  • New Color Introduction: One of the standout design changes in the Series 9 is the introduction of a new color. If you come across a pink Apple Watch, you can be certain it’s a Series 9. This fresh shade is exclusive to this generation, adding a touch of vibrancy to the lineup.

Display Enhancements

  • Brightness Levels: The Apple Watch Series 9 takes a significant leap in terms of display brightness. It boasts a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, which is double the 1,000 nits offered by the Series 8. This ensures that the display remains clear and readable even under bright sunlight.
  • Adaptive Brightness: Not only can the Series 9 shine brighter, but it also has the capability to dim down further than the Series 8. Apple has mentioned that the Series 9 can go as low as 1 nit. This feature is particularly useful in darker environments, such as movie theaters or bedrooms, ensuring the display isn’t too glaring in low-light conditions.

Incorporating both design aesthetics and advanced display technology, the Apple Watch Series 9 offers users a blend of style and functionality. While it retains the classic Apple Watch look, the subtle design tweaks and significant display enhancements make it stand out in the lineup.

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Storage & On-Device Siri

The Apple Watch Series 9 has made notable advancements in terms of storage capacity and its interaction with Siri. These enhancements not only provide users with more space but also a more seamless and independent user experience. Let’s explore these features in detail:

Enhanced Storage Capacity

  • Doubling the Space: One of the significant upgrades in the Apple Watch Series 9 is its storage capacity. With a whopping 64GB, it offers double the storage of the Series 8, which comes with 32GB. This expanded storage is a boon for users who like to store more songs, apps, and other data directly on their watch.
  • Future-Proofing: The increased storage also indicates Apple’s vision for the future. As watchOS becomes more complex and feature-rich, having more storage ensures that the device can handle future updates and apps without running out of space.

On-Device Siri Capabilities

  • Internet-Free Interactions: The Apple Watch Series 9 introduces a significant enhancement in its interaction with Siri. Unlike previous models, users can now communicate with Siri without needing an internet connection or a paired iPhone. This is made possible due to the watch’s advanced machine-learning capabilities, allowing it to process certain voice recognition tasks directly on the device.
  • Practical Applications: This on-device Siri feature is particularly useful for tasks that users might want to perform without their phone nearby. For instance, they can ask Siri to initiate a tracked exercise, log health data such as weight or medications taken, or even inquire about health metrics like sleep duration from the previous night.

With these advancements, the Apple Watch Series 9 not only offers more storage space but also a more independent and efficient user experience. The ability to interact with Siri without external dependencies marks a significant step towards making the device more autonomous.

New Gesture Control

The Apple Watch Series 9 introduces an innovative gesture control mechanism, allowing users to interact with the watch in a more intuitive and hands-free manner. This feature not only enhances the user experience but also showcases Apple’s commitment to accessibility and convenience. Let’s delve deeper into this new addition:

Introduction of the Double-Tap Gesture

  • Gesture Mechanics: The Series 9 has incorporated a unique gesture where users can double-tap their thumb and index finger together to execute various actions on the watch. This gesture is detected using a combination of signals from the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and even the optical heart rate reader, which senses the change in blood flow during the gesture.
  • Contextual Actions: The actions resulting from this gesture vary based on the context. For instance, users can accept or end calls, play or pause music, and navigate through certain parts of the watchOS interface using this double-tap gesture.

Applications & Benefits

  • Enhanced Accessibility: This gesture control is particularly beneficial for users with certain disabilities or when one hand is occupied, making it challenging to interact with the watch traditionally. It offers an alternative and more accessible way to control the watch.
  • Seamless User Experience: Beyond accessibility, the gesture ensures a smoother user experience. Whether you’re working out, cooking, or carrying groceries, the ability to control your watch without physically touching it or using voice commands can be incredibly convenient.

Incorporating gesture control, the Apple Watch Series 9 takes a leap forward in redefining how users interact with their devices. It’s not just about touch or voice anymore; it’s about making technology adapt to natural human movements.

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Double Tap Gesture on Apple Watch Series 9

The Apple Watch has always been known for its intuitive user interface, and the Double Tap Gesture is a new addition to this legacy. This feature allows users to control the Apple Watch Series 9 using just one hand, without even touching the display. Here’s how it works and what it offers:


  • By tapping the index finger and thumb of their watch hand together twice, users can perform many of the most common actions on the Apple Watch Series 9.
  • The Double Tap controls the primary button in an app. For instance, it can be used to stop a timer, play and pause music, or snooze an alarm.
  • This gesture can also be used to answer and end phone calls, and even to take a photo with the Camera Remote on the Apple Watch.
  • Additionally, a Double Tap will open the Smart Stack from the watch face, and another Double Tap will scroll through widgets in the stack.

Technology Behind the Gesture

The Double Tap Gesture is made possible by the faster Neural Engine in the Apple Watch Series 9. This engine processes data from the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor using a new machine-learning algorithm. The algorithm is designed to detect the unique signature of tiny wrist movements and changes in blood flow when the index finger and thumb perform a double tap. This new Double Tap Gesture will be enabled by a software update scheduled for release in the following month.

Powerful New S9 SiP Chip

The Apple Watch Series 9 is driven by Apple’s custom silicon, the all-new S9 SiP (System in Package). This chip showcases Apple’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in a smartwatch. Here’s what sets the S9 SiP apart

Performance & Capabilities

The S9 SiP is Apple’s most potent watch chip to date. It brings about systemwide improvements, enabling new features such as the double tap gesture and on-device Siri. With the S9 SiP, Siri can now access and log health data directly on the device, ensuring user data remains private and secure.

  • Neural Engine: The chip boasts a new 4-core Neural Engine, which is capable of processing machine learning tasks up to twice as fast compared to the Apple Watch Series 8. This enhancement is particularly evident in the new double tap gesture feature, which relies on the Neural Engine to process data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor using a new machine learning algorithm.
  • Battery Life: Despite its increased power and capabilities, the S9 SiP is designed with efficiency in mind. The Apple Watch Series 9 retains the all-day 18-hour battery life, a testament to the chip’s power efficiency.
  • On-Device Siri: For the first time on an Apple Watch, Siri requests can be processed directly on the device. This on-device processing means that for tasks that don’t require internet data, such as starting a workout or setting a timer, Siri can operate without relying on Wi-Fi or cellular networks. This results in faster and more reliable responses. Additionally, the powerful Neural Engine has improved dictation accuracy by up to 25% compared to the Apple Watch Series 8.

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While the Apple Watch Series 9 introduces some enhancements over its predecessor, the differences might not be groundbreaking for every user. Those seeking a brighter display, enhanced Siri interactions, and the new gesture control might find the Series 9 appealing. However, if these features aren’t crucial for you, the Series 8 remains a formidable contender in the smartwatch arena.