Apple on Tuesday unveiled the latest update to its Apple Watch lineup. The new watches become available to order today and will start shipping and become available in Apple Stores on September 22. Here is a look at the new features for both the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
The main processor in the Series 9 and Ultra 2 is the S9, which replaces the S8. The S9 provides a speed boost and better power efficiency that improves battery life. The S9 has 5.6 billion transistors, which is 60 percent more than the S8, and a 30 percent faster GPU. The S9 also has a four-core Neural Engine that’s twice as fast as the S8.
New double-tap gesture
The new Neural Engine allows for Apple to implement a new gesture called “double tap.” On your watch hand, if you perform a double tap between your thumb and index finger, you can activate an action on the Apple Watch, such as answering or ending a phone call or opening a Smart Stack on the watch. Double tap activates the primary button in watch apps.
Apple’s UWB chips are for ultra-wideband, the technology that precisely tracks an object’s location when it is within close proximity. If you’ve used AirDrop, you’re using ultra-wideband. The same goes for Apple’s AirTags.
The new Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches sport a second-generation UWB chip, which replaces the U1 used in older watches. The new chip is better at location tracking and provides more precise tracking in the Find My app. It can now find an iPhone 15 (which has the same U2 chip) if it’s in a different room.
The new chip also allows better interactivity between the watch and Apple’s HomePod. When a HomePod is within four meters of a HomePod playing audio, Now Playing automatically launches to control the HomePod. If the HomePod is not playing anything, media suggestions appear in the Smart Stack.
Both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 have brighter displays. The Series 9 supports a maximum of 2,000 nits, while the Ultra 2 goes up to 3,000 nits. The always-on display dims the brightness down to 1 nit when the always-on display is active.
Siri no longer needs a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. All of Siri’s requests are done on the new watches.
New Apple Ultra 2 features
In addition to the features above, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has:
Modular Ultra watch face to display as much information as possible.
Bluetooth connectivity for cyclist’s equipment.
Depth apps save session logs for dives.
Colors and bands
The Series 9 external design is the same as the Series 8, which was the same as the Series 7: A rounded square with smooth, rounded corners, a Digital Crown, and a button underneath it. The Series 9 is available in aluminium (Midnight, Pink Starlight, Silver, or Product (Red) or stainless steel (Gold, Graphite, or Silver) in either 41mm or 45mm sizes.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available in a 49mm size in titanium–the dark titanium colour that was rumoured before the event was not announced.
The Sport Loop band is now made with 82 percent recycled yarn, and Nike watch bands use recycled materials. Apple announced that it is no longer using leather in any product, including bands. Apple is now using a synthetic material it calls FineWoven, which is a faux leather/suede.
Price and availability
Prices for the Apple Watch Series 9 start at $399, and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 starts at $799, with various options for the size, band, and colours. Preorders are available today with availability beginning September 22.