Apple Watch Series 9: What the Biggest Rumors Are Saying
With the Apple event just weeks away, here's the latest buzz about the Watch Series 9, including its release date, price and new features.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
The iPhone 15 isn't the only new device we're expecting to see in a matter of weeks. Apple releases a new smartwatch every fall, and the Apple Watch Series 9 is all but confirmed to appear this fall, even if Watch series X hype is already stealing some of the thunder.
Over the years, Apple has made a steady stream of upgrades to the Apple Watch, adding an always-on display in 2019, blood oxygen monitoring in 2020, a bigger display in 2021 and temperature sensing in 2022. If Apple's next smartwatch follows the same pattern as its predecessors, an incremental upgrade is more likely to materialize, at least on the face of it. Last year, Apple shook up its smartwatch lineup with the introduction of the luxurious Apple Watch Ultra and the second-gen Apple Watch SE. Even though the event is scheduled for Sept. 12, there are still few rumors to run with for the Watch Series 9 (unlike for the iPhone 15 series), but we'll be sure to update this article as we get a whiff of any credible buzz.
The chipsets powering the Apple Watch of the last three or so years (Watch 6, Watch 7, Watch 8) are widely regarded to be similar. However, the Watch 9 series is reported to receive a processor based on the iPhone's A15 Bionic chipset, according to a report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. If that turns out to be true, this would not just mean faster performance, but it would presumably also give battery life a boost thanks to efficiency gains from chipset's 5 nanometer manufacturing process. That's an upgrade a lot of people could get behind considering battery life is one of the Apple Watch's biggest shortcomings.
Apple has been working for years on a noninvasive way to monitor glucose levels. A Bloomberg report published in February said Apple had made major strides on this project and the feature is now considered to be at a "proof of concept" stage. However, it's not expected to make its way to the Watch Series 9, and it could very well be several years away. (Even the Watch X isn't currently expected to be able to boast the feature).
However, if Apple succeeds in miniaturizing the technology to fit into a wearable device, it would make the Apple Watch essential in millions of diabetic households. Currently, testing for blood glucose requires pricking the skin for blood. To test glucose levels without blood, Apple is said to be investigating an approach that involves using a silicon photonics chip for a measurement process called optical absorption spectroscopy. This technique shines light from a laser under the skin to determine the amount of glucose in the body, the report says.
The Apple Watch received an OLED screen years before the iPhone, and now Apple Watch could adopt another display upgrade before Apple's smartphones. According to a Bloomberg report, MicroLED displays produced in-house are set to appear on the upcoming Apple Watch Ultra model, which could arrive in 2024 at the earliest. Previous rumors had pointed to 2023 as the year for a MicroLED Apple Watch. This represents yet another effort by Apple to reduce its reliance on external tech partners -- in this case Samsung and LG -- as it strives to build more components on its own.
Not to be confused with Mini-LED, MicroLED is touted as the next major leap forward for display tech from OLED. It gets its name from the millions of teeny tiny pixels that create the image directly. The main hurdle facing mass adoption is getting those pixels (and screens) small enough. MicroLED is brighter than OLED with similarly perfect black levels and no danger of burn-in.
What we expect
We expect the Apple Watch Series 9 to have everything the Watch Series 8 has. Those features include an always-on display and various size options and finishes. We also expect the Watch Series 9 to receive an upgraded processor (probably the S9) and support for the next software version, WatchOS 10. Hopefully, we'll see an improvement in battery life too, which the Watch 8 didn't receive. There's also buzz that a new pink color could be in the mix.