Apple Watch S9 and Ultra 2: New chipset, Double Tap, brighter displays, and mother nature approved
Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2
Note: This article was first published on 13th September 2023.
Apple Watch Series 9
At Apple’s Wonderlust event last night, the new Apple Watch Series 9 was announced. Design-wise, it’s the same watch we’ve all come to know, but Apple finally upgraded the Watch’s processor with a new S9 SIP. Apple claims the S9 SIP has 5.6 billion transistors and an upgraded 4-core neural engine with double the performance of the previous generation.
@hwztech A quick look at the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9. #hwz #hwzsg #apple #wonderlust #applewatchseries9 #applewatchultra2 ♬ original sound - HardwareZone
With these new performance upgrades, the Watch Series 9 comes with some new tricks that were not possible in past Apple Watches. For one, Siri requests are now processed on-device without needing to be sent to the cloud so it’s not just faster, it’s more secure, dictation is 25% more accurate, and Apple will soon introduce (over OTA update) Siri integration with Health data so you can ask Siri everything about your health status via voice. Siri + Health will initially support English and Mandarin, with more languages to follow.
Besides the chipset upgrade, the Watch Series 9 will also feature an upgraded Retina Display with edge-to-edge always on functionality and a brightness bump to a maximum 2,000 nits (with a minimum of just 1 nit). This puts the Series 9 display brightness on par with last year’s Watch Ultra and Samsung’s recently launched Galaxy Watch 6 series.
The Watch Series 9 will also feature a brand new 2nd generation Ultra Wide Band (UWB) chipset, which improves precision and distance of features such as the ability to ping your iPhone from the watch with detailed directional guides.
With all these new hardware features, Apple claims the Watch Series 9 will still feature a 18-hour all day battery life.
A brand new feature introduced with the Watch Series 9 is Double Tap. This is a gesture feature that allows users to perform functions on the Apple Watch Series 9 with a single hand, by tapping your index and thumb twice. This can be used to start/stop calls, scroll through the Smart Stack, select apps and other shortcuts. Double Tap is made possible by processing the data of the accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate sensors for motion and electrical signals when you pinch you fingers together. The demo of this looked really cool, but we’d have to try it out ourselves to see just how effective and responsive it is.
As with most brands, environmental impact is a big topic and the Apple Watch Series 9 features much more recycled parts, including 100% recycled cobalt in the battery, 82% recycled yarn in the Sport Loop, and even 100% clean energy used in manufacturing. Apple claims that the Apple Watch Series 9 (Aluminium model) is their first Carbon Neutral product.
The Apple Watch Series 9 starts from S$599 (Aluminium) or S$1,049 (Stainless Steel). It can be ordered on the Apple Store online now, with availability on 22 September 2023.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 on the other hand, is less impressive compared to when the original Watch Ultra was launched last year. And that’s because all the new features on the Watch Ultra 2 is actually the same features found in the Watch Series 9. This means it has the new S9 SIP chipset, on-device Siri processing, 2nd Gen UWB chip, and Double Tap gesture.
From what we can tell, the only real new upgrade specific to the Watch Ultra 2 is its display, which bumps up max brightness to a blinding 3,000 nits. And with it comes a new Modular Ultra watch face with more usable space, even on the side rims for complications. Otherwise, the Apple Watch 2 still features a 49mm titanium chassis, and the design looks exactly the same as last year's model.
Other features such as cycling accessory support is more of a WatchOS 10 function rather than the Watch Ultra 2 itself. As with the Watch Series 9, the Watch Ultra 2 also retains its 36 hours of battery uptime - or up to 72 hours on low power mode. Made with 95% recycled titanium, the Watch Ultra 2 is also a carbon neutral device when paired with the Trail Loop and Alpine Loop.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 can be ordered now for S$1,199 on the Apple Store Online, with general availability starting on 22 September 2023.
Now that you know what both the new watches are about, what do we think about them? Here's our hands-on experience article for both Apple Watch Ultra 2 and the Apple Watch Series 9.