Comparing Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8: What’s new?

Sep 16, 2023, 3:00 PM UTC
5 mins read
Comparing Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8: What's new?
Apple Watch Series 9 (left) and Watch Series 8 (right), both in Aluminum case. (Illustration/GadgetBond)

Apple just dropped some big news at their iPhone 15 event, and one of the exciting reveals was the Apple Watch Series 9. But how does it stack up against its predecessor, the Series 8? Is it worth the upgrade for current Series 8 owners? And if you’re new to the Apple Watch scene, which one should you go for? Let’s break it down.

Specs Bump

Before we dive into the details, let’s quickly compare the key specs of these two watches:

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 8
Stainless steel
Stainless steel
ColorsAluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Pink, PRODUCT(RED)
Stainless steel: Graphite (PVD), Silver Gold (PVD)
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, PRODUCT(RED)
Stainless steel: Graphite (PVD), Silver Gold (PVD)
DisplayAlways-On Retina display
Up to 2000 nits brightness
Always-On Retina display
Up to 1000 nits brightness
ProcessorS9 SiPS8 SiP
Double-tap gestureYesAccessibility only
Battery lifeUp to 18 hours
Up to 36 hours in Low Power Mode
Fast charging
Up to 18 hours
Fast charging
Ultra WidebandSecond-generation Ultra Wideband chipU1 chip
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 4
Bluetooth 5.3
PriceFrom $399 (GPS)
From $499 (GPS + Cellular)
From $399 (GPS)
From $499 (GPS + Cellular)

Design and Display

First things first, in terms of looks, not much has changed. Both the Series 8 and Series 9 sport that classic square design with curved edges. You can choose between aluminum or stainless steel cases and pick the size that suits your wrist — 41mm or 45mm.

Score the new Apple Watch Series 8 as low as $224 (Reg.$399) with qualified trade-in
Apple Watch Series 8 in Aluminum case. (Image: Apple)

For colors, Series 8 comes in Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Product Red for aluminum version and Gold, Silver, and Graphite for stainless steel. Series 9 keeps those and adds a lovely Pink option. It’s a subtle pink, more like rose gold than a hot pink.

Now, the display. Both have an always-on Retina LTPO OLED display. Aluminum models have Ion-X glass, while stainless steel has a sapphire crystal. Series 9, however, shines brighter with a peak brightness of 2000 nits, which is excellent for sunny days. It can also dim down to just 1 nit in the dark, so you won’t be blinded.

Long story short, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, the Series 9’s brighter screen is a winner.

The Chip and Software

Now, here’s where things get interesting. The Series 8 has the S8 chip, which is similar to what we had in the Series 7 and Series 6 — it’s like the family recipe that keeps getting better.

But Series 9 introduces the new S9 chip, a game-changer. It’s got more transistors, a 30% faster GPU, and a four-core Neural Engine that’s twice as fast. The cool part? Siri requests are now processed right on the watch, with no need for Wi-Fi or cellular data. Plus, there’s a nifty Double Tap gesture that lets you control the watch without touching the screen — very futuristic.

Series 9 also boasts a second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip. This makes it easier to find your lost iPhone 15, similar to AirTags, and improves integration with HomePod.

The Bottom line, the S9 chip is a big deal and makes Series 9 a tempting choice.

Battery and Charging

Sadly, the battery life and charging haven’t really changed. Both Series 8 and Series 9 offer about 18 hours of juice on a full charge. But here’s the good news — they both support fast charging, so you can get to 80% in just 45 minutes.

The new Apple Watch Series 9 brings touchless control with double-tap
Apple Watch Series 8 in Aluminum (left) and Stainless steel (right) case. (Image credit: Apple)

Fitness and Health Tracking

No big surprises here. Apple hasn’t added any new health sensors to Series 9. You still get SpO2 monitoring, ECG, heart rate tracking, fall detection, and more. Both watches can run watchOS 10, which brings some neat updates for cyclists and hikers, along with mood tracking and daylight monitoring.


The Series 9 starts at $399 for the aluminum version and $749 for stainless steel. You can order one now, and they’ll hit the stores on September 22. As for the Series 8, it’s been discontinued, but you might still find some on sale at certain retailers.


So, should you upgrade to the Series 9? It depends. If you’re rocking a Series 8, the S9 chip is impressive, but if you’re satisfied with your watch’s performance, you might want to hold off and see what the Series 10 brings. The displays, battery life, and health tracking are pretty similar.

But for newcomers, the Series 9 is a fantastic choice, offering cutting-edge tech and that elegant new Pink color.

The Apple Watch Series 9 is a solid upgrade if you’re due for one. But if you’re happy with your Series 8, you won’t miss out on too much if you decide to wait for the Series 10.

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