Apple updated its wearables line at its “Wonderlust” event, with the Apple Watch Series 9 and (somewhat surprisingly) the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Here’s the local pricing, availability and my thoughts on the new Apple Watches.
While the Apple iPhone 15 and Apple iPhone 15 Pro were clearly the stars of the show, Apple also used its “Wonderlust” launch event to show off new models of its Apple Watch and, slightly surprisingly, the Apple Watch Ultra as well.
When can I buy the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in Australia?
While Australians will have to wait until September 15 to pre-order the new iPhone 15 models, Apple’s opened up pre-orders for the new Apple Watch models from today.
Like the new iPhones, they won’t actually reach store shelves or buyer’s hands until the 22nd of September 2023, however. Once again, the international dateline works to the benefit of impatient Australians, as we’ll (technically) be the first market to have the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 on sale.
How much does the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 cost in Australia?
As always with Apple Watches there’s a bit of variance depending on your choice of casing and bands for the Apple Watch Series 9, though the Apple Watch Ultra has a rather fixed price.
|Apple Watch Series 9 Aluminium
|Apple Watch Series 9 Stainless Steel
|Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Ultra’s price has jumped up $100 overnight — and the older Apple Watch Ultra is no longer on sale — leaving the only other Apple Watch option as the Apple Watch SE at $399.
Apple Watch Series 9/Ultra 2 Specifications
|Apple Watch Series 9
|Apple Watch Ultra 2
|Aluminium or Stainless Steel
|Battery life (stated)
What’s new with the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2?
The Apple Watch Series 9 runs on a new Apple processor, dubbed the S9. As per Apple, it’s 30% faster than the Apple Watch Series 8 processor, though I strongly suspect that’s just a straight line processing number, not really a figure you’d notice in day to day use. The Apple Watch Series 8 isn’t noticeably “slow” in that sense, really.
One area where you may “feel” faster performance is if you’re a heavy Siri user on your Apple Watch, with Apple switching Siri processing over to the watch only. It’s also claiming more accurate dictation thanks to that S9 chip.
Display sizes are at 41mm and 45mm, with Apple claiming that the display has twice the overall brightness of the Series 8 Apple Watch at 2000 nits. It can apparently dip down to as low as 1 nit, so you don’t get people in a cinema wanting to thump you if a stray notification flashes up and blinds everyone, though.
The Apple Watch Series 9 will also support a screen-free “double tap” gesture. Tapping your index finger and thumb together twice will engage the Apple Watch to run tasks like call answering, timers, music play/pause and other contextual actions.
Neat technology — it’s apparently looking for movement and blood flow changes via the accelerometer and blood oxygen sensors — but I do wonder how it’ll handle folks with weaker blood pressure, or those of us who fidget from time to time.
Also, I’m not the only one reminded of a certain Australian speed safety ad, right?
Then there’s the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which is… essentially the Apple Watch Ultra, but more.
Like the Apple Watch Series 9 you get the S9 chip, brighter display (3000 nits), on-device Siri and Double Tap gesture support. The larger face on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 also allows for a new modular ultra watch face with even more user configurable “complications” on it.
Battery life across both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 hasn’t changed (as per Apple’s specs) with a claimed 18 hours for the Series 9 and 36 hours for Ultra 2.
It’s a little surprising to see the Apple Watch Ultra get cut quite so quickly from the Apple lineup. Given when it was released, it didn’t even manage a year on store shelves, which might be a record for Apple.
Still, even mores than with iPhones, it makes little sense to upgrade your smartwatch every single year, so the appeal for both Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 has to be for longer term upgraders or folks coming to the Apple Watch for the first time.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 still has the action button on the side, and that’s something I would have liked to see come to the Apple Watch Series 9. Maybe next year, Apple?
I am going to be interested to see just how touch sensitive that “Double Tap” gesture is, because I’m one of nature’s fidgeters, and I’m somewhat concerned that I might inadvertently make phone calls or similar just because I’m walking down the street tapping my fingers as I go. Hopefully there’s an option to disable Double Tap somewhere in WatchOS 10.