The Apple Watch Series 8 was a bit of a boring release for Apple’s wearable, as it wasn’t a huge upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 7; Apple seemed to spend more energy focusing on the Apple Watch Ultra instead. The only real upgrades for the Series 8 were the newer-generation S8 chip and a new body temperature sensor, though the use cases for that are pretty limited. But if you didn’t have a Series 7, then the Apple Watch Series 8 was still a great upgrade for those coming from older models.
We’re still a few months away from Apple revealing the next generation of Apple Watch with a Series 9 model, which is most likely coming sometime in the fall, along with the iPhone 15. But until then, here’s what we know so far, as well as what we’re hoping to see in the Apple Watch Series 9.
What to expect from the Apple Watch Series 9
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For the past few years, Apple has been rather iterative with the upgrades for the Apple Watch. Ever since the Series 6 added blood oxygen monitoring, there haven’t been any other big additions for health sensors besides temperature with the Series 8.
A lot of people, including myself, are hoping for Apple to add nonintrusive blood glucose monitoring, but the technology for that may still be years away. For the Series 9, we may not be getting any major new health sensors, as it looks more and more like an iterative upgrade.
However, we might see an improvement with the processor used in the Apple Watch Series 9. Previously, Apple Watches used the S-series chip in the wearable, with the Series 8 using the latest S8 chip, though it’s pretty much the same as the S7 from the Apple Watch Series 7, which is not a big upgrade from the Series 6’s S6 chip.
But according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple may be introducing new chip technology with the S9, which is rumored to be built with the same technology as the A15 chip currently in the iPhone 14. With these improvements, we could see faster performance, better efficiency, and improved battery life and load times.
With the Apple Watch Ultra that was introduced in 2022, Apple added Bluetooth 5.3. We should expect that with the Apple Watch Series 9 as well, as it is the current Bluetooth standard.
Aside from the improved chip technology, there may not be any other major changes with the Apple Watch Series 9. Again, things can change, but from the little bits of information out there so far, the Apple Watch Series 9 could once again be very iterative in terms of upgrades from its predecessors.
How much will the Apple Watch Series 9 cost?
At the moment, the Apple Watch Series 8 retails for $399 for the 41mm GPS-only model and $429 for the 45mm GPS-only model. We should expect the Apple Watch Series 9 to fall in a similar range, with the cellular models and other case materials (i.e. stainless steel) costing more.
It’s always possible that Apple could increase the price this year, but this early on in the rumor cycle, we can’t so for sure how likely that may be for the Series 9.
When will the Apple Watch Series 9 be released?
Typically, the Apple Watch is released alongside the new iPhone model. This year, that means that the Apple Watch Series 9 should release alongside the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro lineup, which is usually announced in the fall, around September.
Once announced, preorders open up around Friday the week of the announcement, with a general release the following Friday. We obviously can’t guarantee the Apple Watch Series 9’s release, but if previous launches are anything to go by, that’s what we’re expecting.
What we want to see in the Apple Watch Series 9
Nonintrusive blood glucose monitoring
I’m not sure if this would even be possible this year, but it’s something that will continue to remain at the top of my wish list until it comes to fruition. Plus, a recent report makes it look like Apple has reached a significant milestone that may make this a reality sooner rather than later.
According to a report from Bloomberg in February 2023, Apple engineers have a functioning proof of concept for noninvasive blood glucose monitoring technology that uses “silicone photonics” combined with “optical absorption spectroscopy” measurements. This tech utilizes “lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin where there is interstitial fluid — substances that leak out of capillaries — that can be absorbed by glucose.” Then this light gets reflected back to the sensor, which would be on a wearable like the Apple Watch, to indicate the concentration of glucose. Through an algorithm, the user’s blood glucose level can then be determined.
Apple is said to be working with TSMC (the company that also manufactures the A-series chips in recent iPhone models) to create its own silicon photonic chips.
Again, this is only a proof of concept, so it’s almost certainly not coming to the Apple Watch Series 9 this year. But there’s been definite progress in this area, and I’m being optimistic when I say I hope to see it in the Series 9.
After all, I’m still using an Apple Watch Series 5 right now because a better way to monitor my blood glucose levels (multiple finger pricks every day suck) is literally the one thing I’ve been holding out for.
Longer battery life
The main Apple Watch lineup has always been a one-day smartwatch, and that’s fine. But when you have the Apple Watch Ultra getting about double the battery life, don’t you think Apple could do a little better?
In our Apple Watch Series 8 review, Mobile Editor Joe Maring typically ended the day with about 30% to 40% battery remaining, and after tracking sleep, there would be about 23% battery left. Of course, the Series 8 has fast charging speeds that let you go from zero to 80% in about 45 minutes, so if you’re low on juice, it doesn’t take too long to get it back to full.
Still, I would love to see Apple make the battery life a little bit longer with the Series 9. I’m not talking about making it last an impressive 36-plus hours like the Apple Watch Ultra, but maybe somewhere in the 20-plus-hours range. At least make it so that you don’t need to worry about charging it by the end of the day.
A focus on scratch-resistant glass
Typically with Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch devices, the brand focuses on how crack-resistant the device is — such as with the iPhone’s Ceramic Shield and the Ion-X or sapphire crystal displays on the aluminum or stainless steel Apple Watches, respectively.
But what about scratch resistance? While Apple claims that its Ceramic Shield is crack- and scratch-resistant, I actually seemed to have gotten more scratches on my iPhone 12 Pro back in the day, which eventually bugged the hell out of me and thus led me to actually use screen protectors. I still have a titanium Apple Watch Series 5, which has been surprisingly scratch-free after all this time, but I fear that recent aluminum Apple Watch models may not be so scratch-resistant.
I would love to see more scratch resistance on the Apple Watch Series 9, as well as tougher durability against cracking. It just seems that the focus on durability definitely went more into the Apple Watch Ultra compared to the mainline Apple Watch model, so hopefully that changes with the Series 9.
Improved security with biometrics
Currently, the Apple Watch can only be secured by a passcode, whether it’s simple or a longer passcode. You can also unlock the Apple Watch with your iPhone if it’s nearby, and the Wrist Detection feature makes sure that it stays locked when you’re not wearing it if a passcode was enabled.
All of these things work, but Apple could do something better. I’m always hoping to see more methods of security, so I think it would be great if Apple could strengthen Apple Watch security by adding biometrics. Perhaps a Touch ID sensor in the Digital Crown or side button? Passcodes aren’t the most secure method, and iPhones still have either Touch ID or Face ID as an extra layer of security. Of course, it would be optional to use, but I always think extra peace of mind is worth it.
Better body temperature sensors
Apple added body temperature sensors in the Apple Watch Series 8, but they’re pretty limited in scope. While temperature sensors can be used by anyone, the main purpose is to help people track ovulation, which is useful for family planning. However, this is only useful for about half of the population. Beyond cycle tracking, anyone can track their body temperature with the Series 8 by wearing it for at least five days to establish a baseline. You can then get a Wrist Temperature section in the Health app.
Still, as we stated in our review, the metrics for temperature are neat, but Apple doesn’t offer any guidance about what your temperature means. The numbers we get just tell us how many degrees higher or lower our temperature was compared to the established baseline. For the average person, it’s hard to determine what you should do with that information. I hope that Apple adds better temperature sensors in the Series 9, perhaps by giving us the actual temperature in numbers or even helping us determine if changes in temperature are because of illness.
A brighter display
The Apple Watch Series 8 can go up to 1,000 nits brightness on the always-on Retina display. That’s pretty bright, but the Apple Watch Ultra has 2,000 nits brightness. When you compare those two, it’s a pretty stark difference. Now, I don’t have the Series 8 right now, but my Series 5 also has 1,000 nits brightness, and honestly, when I’m out in bright sunlight, it can be difficult to see what’s on the display.
It would be nice to see Apple increase the brightness even more on the Apple Watch Series 9. I don’t think it needs to be double like on the Apple Watch Ultra (they still need reasons to sell that thing), but even getting to 1,500 nits would be an improvement.