Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8: Which Should You Buy?

Smartwatch Showdown: Unraveling the Differences Between Apple Watch Series 9 and Series 8. Make Your Choice Informed!

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Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8

Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8

The newly announced Apple Watch Series 9 faces stiff competition from last year's still-capable Series 8. With so many overlapping features between these two category-leading smartwatches, should you pay more for Apple's latest model? Or will the discounted Series 8 provide virtually the same experience for less? This thorough head-to-head analysis compares every key specification including display, battery life, health sensors, pricing, and more to help you determine the best Apple Watch for your needs and budget situation.

Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch 8: Key specs comparison

This succinct table summarizes the core stats of both models side-by-side. You can quickly see the differences in display brightness, chipset, storage capacity, sensors, and battery life claims. Having all the vital information in one place makes it simple to visualize which watch leads in each category. 


Apple Watch 9

Apple Watch 8


Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display with 2,000 nits brightness

Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display with 1,000 nits brightness


Apple S9 SiP with a second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip

Apple S8 SiP with a first-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip


Blood oxygen sensor, heart rate sensor, ECG sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, altitude sensor

Blood oxygen sensor, heart rate sensor, ECG sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, altitude sensor





GPS, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E

GPS, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6

Battery life

Up to 18 hours

Up to 18 hours

With Their Sleek Squared-Off Displays, the Designs Are Nearly Identical

Apple has stuck with the same overall aesthetic for both models featuring slim bezels, curved corners, and either 41mm or 45mm size options. Durable materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and sapphire crystal on the display offer protection against scratches and scuffs. Even the digital crown and side buttons are located in the same spots for a familiar user experience.

Of course, there are multiple case finishes and dozens of Apple Watch bands to customize the look. But the core design itself remains consistent between the Series 9 and last year's Series 8. Those with Series 6 or 7 may have a tough time telling the difference.

The Always-On Retina Display Gets a Major Boost with the Series 9

The all-important always-on Retina display on the Series 9 sets itself apart from previous models, ramping up brightness by a full 2x to a peak of 2000 nits. This makes a very noticeable difference in direct sunlight compared to the 1000-nit maximum on the Series 8. Yet the resolution sticks with a sharp 484x396 pixels on the 1.9-inch display size.

For those coming from older Apple Watches, the jump in display legibility with the Series 9 will feel like a huge upgrade and justify the higher price. However, Series 7 and 8 owners may not experience enough of a change to warrant an upgrade based just on the enhanced screen.

Performance and Battery Life Stay Steady Between Generations

Apple claims the same all-day 18-hour battery life for both the Series 9 and Series 8, even with always-on display enabled. Of course, real-world performance depends on usage, with the brighter screen draining more power on the Series 9. More advanced sensors and features also demand additional energy.

The Series 9 does utilize an upgraded S9 chip, noticeably speeding up Siri's response time. But otherwise, both watches feel snappy and responsive whether exercising, tracking health metrics, listening to music, or receiving notifications. Unless you constantly use voice commands, the performance gains may be marginal.

Key Health Sensors Now Standard as Apple Broadens Accessibility

You'll have access to the same comprehensive set of health and activity tracking sensors on the Series 8 and 9 including ECG, blood oxygen monitoring, heart rate tracking, and more. The Series 9 goes a step further by introducing a temperature sensor intended to help with women's health and family planning.

Fall detection, emergency SOS, and Medical ID are also standard across the board along with enhanced accessibility features. For those with impaired mobility, Apple has expanded gesture controls on the Series 9 as well allowing you to double tap to play music, for example.

More Precision Finding and Faster Charging Offer Small Improvements

A couple of other upgrades on the Series 9 worth mentioning include precision finding for pinpointing the location of a lost iPhone using haptic feedback. Faster charging can now reach 80% battery in about 45 minutes. Of course, all models still rely on wireless charging - no need for cumbersome cords.

Unless you frequently misplace your phone or need to optimize every minute of charging time, these aren't huge selling points. But they do add up to a slightly more advanced user experience.

Sustainability Credits: The Series 9's Carbon Neutral Models

For environmentally conscious consumers, the Apple Watch Series 9 pulls ahead due to its carbon-neutral certification. Select aluminum models avoid over half a ton of carbon emissions for every 100,000 units sold.

While the Series 8 utilizes recycled materials, it lacks this carbon-neutral designation. For buyers who prioritize sustainability, the Series 9's neutral carbon status gives it an edge.

However, keeping your current Apple Watch for as long as possible remains the greenest choice regardless of model. But if upgrading, the Series 9 stands out as the more eco-friendly option between the two watches. Its carbon-neutral models help reduce environmental impact in a measurable way that Series 8 cannot match.

At Nearly 10% Less, the Series 8 Delivers More Affordable Value

For budget-focused shoppers, the $100 price difference between the Series 9 and last year's 8 may be the deciding factor. The newer model starts at $799 while the Series 8 now sells for $699. That's a hard discount to ignore.

The Series 8 remains an excellent smartwatch that will satisfy most buyers. Sure, you don't get the brighter display or temperature sensor but you still have all of the must-have Apple Watch features at a more reasonable price point. For current owners of Series 5, 6, or even 7, jumping to the Series 8 may make more financial sense.

Bottom Line

The Apple Watch Series 9 does earn its spot as the best-in-class smartwatch with noticeably improved display visibility, the new temperature sensor, and faster speed. For those coming from much older models, it's likely worth the premium.

However, due to minimal design changes and just incremental performance gains, hanging onto the Series 8 or even Series 7 will still provide a fantastic experience and save you some money in the process. Take a hard look at what features matter most and buy accordingly between these two outstanding Apple Watch options.

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