Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Series 9 Buyer's Guide: 10+ Upgrades Compared

The Apple Watch Series 9 replaces the Apple Watch Series 8 in Apple's smartwatch lineup, so how different are the two successive smartwatch generations?

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Series 9 Buyers Guide
In 2022, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 8, introducing features like body temperature sensing and Crash Detection. The Apple Watch Series 8 has now been discontinued by Apple, and as year-old models, prices at third-party resellers are falling. As such, some customers may be weighing up whether to upgrade to a discounted Series 8‌ or the latest Series 9‌.

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 9 share the overwhelming majority of their features, so should you consider buying or sticking with the Series 8 to save money? This breakdown also serves as a way to see all the differences that the new Apple Watch brings to the table.

Apple Watch Series 8 ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌
Retina display with up to 1,000 nits of brightness Retina display with up to 2,000 nits of brightness
Display can get dimmer in dark rooms and at night (down to 1 nit of brightness)
Double Tap gesture to stop a timer, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, answer and end a phone call, take a photo with the Camera Remote, open the Smart Stack, and scroll through widgets in the stack, all without touching the display
S8 chip (based on A13 Bionic chip) S9 chip (based on A15 Bionic chip: 60% more transistors, 30% faster)
Neural Engine 4-core Neural Engine (up to twice as fast)
Siri processed in the cloud via internet connection ‌Siri‌ processed on-device for requests that do not need information from the internet, resulting in quicker and more reliable responses
‌Siri‌ can access health and fitness data
Dictation 25% more accurate dictation
First-generation Ultra Wideband chip Second-generation Ultra Wideband chip
Precision Finding for iPhone 15 models, providing distance and direction, as well as visual, haptic, and audio guidance to a misplaced iPhone
HomePod integration: When a user gets within four meters of a playing ‌HomePod‌, the Apple Watch launches Now Playing to control playback. If nothing is playing, media suggestions appear at the top of the Smart Stack.
32GB storage 64GB storage
Aluminum models available in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and (PRODUCT)RED Aluminum models available in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, (PRODUCT)RED, and Pink

Overall, the ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ is a very minor upgrade over the Series 8, with the S9 chip, Double Tap, and Precision Finding for ‌iPhone 15‌ models being the most significant changes. As a result, it is very difficult to recommend upgrading.

Most Apple Watch Series 8 users will not be able to justify upgrading to the Series 9, but some customers coming from an older device could still have good reason to preference the latest model, namely those who heavily use a ‌HomePod‌, plan to buy an ‌iPhone 15‌ model and can take advantage of Precision Finding, need additional storage for downloaded media, or think one-handed use with the Double Tap gesture would be useful.

The ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ is very similar to the Series 8, so most customers who have an older Apple Watch model and are looking for an upgrade may prefer to look for a discounted Apple Watch Series 8. If the Series 8 can be found for a substantially lower price, it remains a solid buy for most users with an older model. To understand how the Series 8 stacks up against its predecessor, see our other buyer's guide from last year.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

vegetassj4 Avatar
24 weeks ago
I think I'll wait because Tim Apple didn't say the Apple Watch Ultra was the most Ultra Watch they've ever created, like he did with the iPhone 15 pro ('//'). I want more ultra in my Ultra.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
orev Avatar
24 weeks ago
Double tap has been available as an accessibility feature for a long time, however it maybe operates a little differently than the newly announced feature. It would be nice if someone could explain how Double Tap is different from the accessibility feature.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NeekonMike Avatar
24 weeks ago

Well, Always On starting at S5 is a pretty significant feature to me. I have an S5 and I'm tempted to go to S9. Or I might just replace my battery. Haven't decided yet.
Another update that I found very impactful is the display size - now the smaller case has a larger resolution/area than the original larger model! Each step made a very noticeable difference.

Attachment Image
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
satchmo Avatar
24 weeks ago

The S9’s CPU is not 30 percent faster than S8’s CPU. The GPU in it is 30 percent faster.
I‘d rather have the S9 the same GPU speed as the S8 but 30% longer battery life.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spazzcat Avatar
24 weeks ago

I am on a Series 3, is it worth the upgrade?
Yes, it's going to be day and night. The longer battery and faster charging battery are two big things you gain as well as a much better screen and always on display.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
surfzen21 Avatar
24 weeks ago

The double tap gesture is definitely a feature I'd upgrade for... something that would be incredibly useful in day to day life

Double tap has been available as an accessibility feature for a long time, however it maybe operates a little differently than the newly announced feature. It would be nice if someone could explain how Double Tap is different from the accessibility feature.
This is the comparison video I am waiting for.

A comparison between the new system wide double tap gesture and the previously available accessibility gestures.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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