Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Which should you get?

There’s no doubt that Apple makes the world’s best smartwatches, but if you’re in the market for one, you’ve got to make some tough choices. When it comes down to the Apple Watch 8 vs 9, there’s not much in it, as both are excellent devices that are ideally suited to creatives. Add the upcoming Black Friday sale (24-27 November), which will no doubt bring the prices of both down, and now is a good time to be making your final buying decision. 

If you’re a creative, an Apple Watch can be a great addition to your life. Not only do they look great and feel comfortable on your wrist, but they can help you manage your workload by sending your notifications when you receive important emails and messages, ensuring you never miss another meeting with a client.

If you’re not sure which product wins when it comes to the Apple Watch 8 vs 9, our guide will explain the ins and outs of this smartwatch showdown. 

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Design and display

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Apple Watch Series 9

(Image credit: Apple)

When the Apple Watch Series 9 launched, it was widely described as a minor update over the Series 8. Look at the design of these two models and you’ll see what people were talking about. From the outside they’re almost indistinguishable, with a virtual identical case shared between both models.

Pretty much the only visual difference – aside from the straps that go with the watches – can be found in the colours on offer. In the aluminium version, both models come in Midnight, Starlight, Silver and Product Red colours; the Series 9 has all of those options, but also has a Pink option. As for the stainless steel editions, they come in the same three colours: Gold, Silver and Graphite.

What about the displays? Well, you get the same 41mm and 45mm screen sizes whether you pick the Series 9 or Series 8. However, there’s a key point to know: the latest Apple Watch goes up to 2,000 nits in brightness. That’s double the 1,000 nits you’ll find in the Series 8, and is ideal for brightly lit rooms or outside usage.

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Battery life

A person trying on an Apple Watch Series 8 in an Apple Store.

(Image credit: Apple)

Finding a smartwatch that comes with good battery life is one of the key decisions you’ll make when choosing which Apple Watch to buy. The good news is both versions offer what Apple calls “all-day battery life”, or 18 hours of juice. The bad news is there are other smartwatches that last longer (although they’re often less capable).

Once the battery life of the Apple Watch 8 and 9 gets low, they enter Low Power Mode. In both cases, this lasts for up to 36 hours, Apple says.

As for fast charging, you’ll get that with both models. Apple says this will charge up your Apple Watch from 0% to 80% in about 45 minutes.

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Features

An Apple Watch Series 9 against a black background.

(Image credit: Apple)

Despite being a minor upgrade over the Series 8, the Apple Watch Series 9 does have a few new features that are worth considering. That includes a new double tap gesture that can perform certain actions without you having to touch the display, and improved precision finding for when you lose your iPhone. There’s also faster on-device Siri that doesn’t always require an internet connection.

As well as that, Apple has touted the fact that the Apple Watch Series 9 is carbon neutral if you buy an aluminium model with a textile strap. Note that the rubber and stainless steel straps are not carbon neutral, nor are the versions that use a stainless steel chassis.

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Performance

Apple Watch Series 9

(Image credit: Apple)

Still, Apple has been rather quiet on performance differences between the two chips, suggesting there isn’t much in it. The exception is the new four-core Neural Engine in the S9, which Apple says helps machine learning tasks run twice as fast on its latest smartwatch compared to the Series 8.

While the Apple Watch Series 8 has an S8 system-in-package (SiP) chip, the Series 9 replaces that with an S9 SiP. Apple has touted the improvements this brings, including the double tap gesture and on-device Siri processing.

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Price

When the Apple Watch Series 8 launched, Apple priced it at $399/£419 for the aluminium model and $699/£729 if you wanted a stainless steel case. With the Series 9, Apple kept the prices the same in the US, but dropped the prices in the UK to £399 and £699 for the aluminium and stainless steel models respectively.

That’s a welcome price cut for UK users. Even if you’re in the US, the extra features and price parity means the Series 9 has an edge unless you can find a serious discount on the Series 8.

Apple Watch 8 vs 9: Which should you choose?

An Apple Watch Series 9 against a black background.

(Image credit: Apple)

When it comes to choosing between the Apple Watch 8 vs 9, the Series 9 is the clear winner. Not only does it have newer features and a better display, but its launch price is actually a little cheaper than the Series 8. If you can’t find the older watch at a large discount, the Series 9 is the Apple Watch to go for.

That said, now that the Series 8 is a year old, plenty of retailers are reducing its price, so be sure to look around for bargains (we’ll add any we find to our Apple Black Friday deals page). Because there’s not much separating the two devices, it’s still an excellent smartwatch to buy.

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Alex Blake

Alex Blake is a freelance tech journalist who writes for Creative Bloq, TechRadar, Digital Trends, and others. Before going freelance he was commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine, focusing on the world of Apple products. His interests include web design, typography, and video games.