New Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 land – but it’s a quiet year for features

Gesture controls land – and Siri might actually be good now
Apple Series 9
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Apple has taken the wrappers off the Apple Watch Series 9 and the new Ultra 2 at its Cupertino event – but it’s certainly a gradual iteration of the line this year out.

Green credentials took center stage, as Apple moved to make its smartwatch range its first carbon-neutral product – with a focus on recycled materials, an end to leather accessories, and offsetting of electricity.

> Apple Watch Series 9: All the new features revealed

> Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Watch Ultra

> Apple Watch Series 9 vs Series 8

But in terms of the devices themselves, there are a handful of new features to shout about.

Both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are underpinned by the new S9 chip, and its four-core neural engine that’s charged with taking tasks out of the cloud, and delivering gesture controls.

Apple has introduced a new double-tap gesture, which takes control of the main button control of every app and feature. Users tap their thumb and forefinger together to do anything from taking/canceling calls, dismissing timers, or pausing workouts.

It will also enable the SmartStack in watchOS 10, and you can keep double-tapping to cycle through suggested apps.

It’s clever tech that involves using machine learning to analyze heart rate, blood flow, and gyroscope data to detect the gesture.

Wearables have flirted with gesture control for many years, and have made an appearance as accessibility tools – but the simple nature of the double tap gesture could make this a watershed moment of gesture control coming to the mainstream.

Could Siri be good?

The neural engine is also tasked with taking many Siri commands out of the cloud, and there’s a huge boost in the responsiveness of tasks. 

Apple says Siri dictation is now 25% more accurate on Series 9 and Ultra 2.

It might even just make Siri usable on the wrist, and Apple has integrated Apple Health with Siri, so you can check in on your metrics, but also log things like medication.

Both the Ultra 2 and Series 9 also get an Ultra-Wideband chip, for precision finding of your iPhone – just as we’ve seen integrated into AirPods Pro 2.

And your Apple Watch will also be able to detect the presence of a HomePod, and present music suggestions, or Now Playing control.

There have also been a handful of design changes.

Both smartwatches have got a display boost with Series 9 now able to punch out at 2000nit – and dim as low as 1nit during sleep.

AppleUltra 2

The Ultra 2 has also got nits – 3000nits to be precise – the brightest screen Apple has ever made.

All the new Apple Watch models are available to pre-order now. 

The Series 9 starts at $399, and there's a new pink aluminum colorway, which joins the standard  starlight, midnight, silver and (PRODUCT)RED. There are also three stainless steel options.

The Ultra 2 retails for $799. They will ship on September 22.

And watchOS 10 will be available for Apple Watch Series 4 and later on Monday, September 18

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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