In the world of timepieces, design is a crucial factor influencing purchasing decisions. A visually appealing design often serves as the driving force behind investing in an expensive watch. However, Apple’s smartwatches, despite their popularity, have been facing challenges in recent years. Market reports indicate a gradual decline in Apple’s smartwatch market share, primarily attributed to the lack of significant design changes. The Apple Watch Series 9 continues this trend by maintaining its design consistency, a decision that seems to defy market expectations.
The Persistence of Design
Apple’s approach of tweaking and selling a similar-looking model each year has been successful, as consumers continue to invest in new Apple Watches despite the absence of major design overhauls. However, the Series 9’s identical design to its predecessor raises questions about the necessity of such incremental updates. Yet, Apple introduces a new double-tap gesture, promising users an innovative way to interact with their watches without physically touching the screen.
Exploring What’s New
While the Series 9 retains the familiar design, it brings something fresh in the form of a double-tap gesture. This feature allows users to perform various functions without direct physical interaction with the watch. The introduction of this gesture hints at Apple’s commitment to innovation, even if the overall design remains unchanged.
Design and Specifications
Visually, the Series 9 shows no cosmetic deviation from the Series 7 or Series 8. The bezels around the display remain consistent, and without close inspection, distinguishing between different models becomes challenging. Despite the lack of visible changes, Apple emphasizes the use of recycled materials in constructing the aluminum case, promoting environmental sustainability.
The Series 9 retains a 1.9-inch Retina LTPO OLED display with a resolution of 484 x 396 pixels. While the bezels remain unchanged, Apple claims that this year’s display can achieve higher brightness levels. The inclusion of a new S9 SiP (System in Package) promises a faster neural engine for quicker interactions with Siri and enhanced on-device task handling.
Performance and Features
The S9 SiP’s performance improvement is noticeable in terms of app responsiveness and overall snappiness. However, the enhancements may not be significant enough to justify an upgrade for Series 8 users. The watch’s display brightness, claimed to reach up to 2,000 nits, matches the previous year’s Watch Ultra 2, maintaining adequate outdoor visibility.
WatchOS 10 introduces four new watch faces, including a playful Snoopy face and customizable Solar Analogue and Palette faces. The new Nike Globe face caters to users of the Nike Run app. The operating system also shifts towards a more button-centric interface, reducing reliance on gestures. The introduction of a virtual back button and improvements in native app designs contribute to a more user-friendly experience.
The Double-Tap Gesture: A Mixed Bag
The highlight of the Series 9, the double-tap gesture, adds a layer of interaction convenience. However, its practicality may be limited, as it only works with specific single-button functions, such as accepting calls, starting/stopping a stopwatch, or managing music playback. The gesture requires the user to lift their wrist and glance at the watch, potentially creating a cumbersome experience in crowded or inconvenient settings.
Health and Fitness Tracking
The Series 9 continues Apple’s commitment to health and fitness tracking. Accurate results are observed in sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, SpO2 readings, and GPS tracking during walks. The watch’s ability to log moods contributes to the broader focus on mental health, although certain features like the Journal app are expected later.
Battery Life and Charging
Despite no increase in battery size, Apple claims improvements in battery life, attributed to the power-efficient S9 SiP. However, real-world usage shows a marginal difference compared to the Series 8. The always-on feature, with sleep tracking enabled, results in approximately 1.5 days of usage. Charging speeds remain consistent with the previous model.
The Apple Watch Series 9, while technically proficient and equipped with new features, falls short of being a revolutionary upgrade. Its identical design to the Series 8 and incremental improvements may leave existing users questioning the need for an immediate upgrade. The double-tap gesture, though promising, has limitations and may not serve as a compelling reason to invest in the Series 9 for current Series 7 or Series 8 owners.
In conclusion, the Series 9 caters to those upgrading from older models, providing them with the newer S9 SiP and increased onboard storage. However, for users with recent models, the decision to upgrade depends heavily on personal preferences and the perceived value of the new features introduced in this iteration.