Apple Watch Series 9 Unboxing & Hands-on: Smarter, Brighter, Greener
October 18, 2023 Andrew Cheng

The Apple Watch Series 9 is finally available in Malaysia after its debut back at Apple’s September event last month. While the design of the smartwatch doesn’t see any changes from the Series 8, the new Series 9 does have some noteworthy upgrades under the hood.

Not only does it have a brighter display, the Apple Watch Series 9 also features the new double tap gesture. On top of that, it is also greener now, with certain configuration of the wearable being touted as Apple’s first-ever carbon-neutral product. The best part is? It retains the same RM1,899 starting price.

At least, that’s the case for the smaller 41mm model of the Apple Watch Series 9. The larger 45mm model – the one you see here – now starts at RM2,049; that’s RM50 more than the 45mm Series 8. Nonetheless, you do get more smartwatch for the money now.

Once you unbox the white packaging of the Series 9, you’ll see two boxes: one for the smartwatch case itself, as well as a strap of your choice. My particular configuration comes with the Sport Loop strap, and in this Midnight colourway, it’s touted as a carbon-neutral option.

It’s worth noting that with the Series 9, the wireless charger now features a braided cable for added durability; very nice.

As mentioned, there are no design changes between the Series 9 and last year’s Series 8; they are basically identical to each other. The changes under the hood, however, are quite major. The display is now brighter than ever with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, which is doubled from the Series 8.

Personally, I never had any issue with the brightness level of the Series 8, but a brighter screen is always a good thing in my books. It’s also still an LTPO OLED panel, which enables the always-on display of the smartwatch.

And then there’s the new double tap gesture, which is offered by both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. Basically, the gesture allows users to control the primary button in any given app with just a double tap of the index finger and thumb.

While double tap is not released yet to the public, I tested out the new gesture on the Series 9 with the public beta release of watchOS 10.1. From what I can tell so far, the smartwatch can recognise the double tap quite well, and it’s not even limited to a double tap of the thumb and index fingers. I can tap my thumb and pinky fingers together too, though this doesn’t feel particularly intuitive.

The double tap gesture is enabled with the Series 9’s new S9 SiP chip, sporting a 64-bit dual-core processor and a four-core Apple Neural Engine. Unfortunately, this means the feature will not be coming to older Apple Watch models.

Even though the Apple Watch Series 9 sees no drastic design changes, the upgrades under the hood do make for a better smartwatch as a whole. Sure, there’s a slight price hike, but you are getting a smarter, greener wearable with a twice as bright display now.

If you’re keen to get the new Series 9, you can do so now over at Apple’s Malaysian online store. To recap, the 41mm model still retains the same RM1,899 starting price, though the larger 45mm model now retails from RM2,049; RM50 more than last year’s Series 8.