Apple Watch 9 could get this big performance boost

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch's S chips may get new numbers every year, going up, but its performance hasn't increased since the Series 6. That’s set to change with the Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, according to a couple of leakers.

In a post on Weibo, Instant Digital states that the Series 9 will mainly “improve the performance” of the device and that it’s otherwise “basically unchanged."

This echoes what the well-connected Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman wrote in his last Power On newsletter. Gurman stated that this year’s Apple Watches will receive a “fairly sizeable performance bump” with the S9 processor. 

He later elaborated to subscribers on his Discord channel that he believed that the S9 chip would be based on the iPhone 13’s A15 chipset. For comparison, the current Apple Watch chip comes with something based on the iPhone 11’s A13 Bionic chipset. 

That might not just be a boon to those hoping to load up on widgets with the release of watchOS 10. The efficiency jump from the 7nm manufacturing process to a 5nm one could also give us a boost to battery life. The regular watches currently go for 18 hours on a single charge, while the Ultra currently goes for 36 (though both go longer will a few tweaks), and any advance on those lifespans would be welcome.

While Gurman states that “all of this year’s models” will get the upgrade, those hoping for a low-cost speed boost will be disappointed. “There isn’t a new Apple Watch SE coming this year, which makes sense as that model is on a two-year upgrade cycle and was refreshed in 2022,” he wrote.

No matter how welcome in practice, a simple speed bump in itself isn’t necessarily a big sell — especially when recent Apple Watches don’t feel especially sluggish at the time of writing. That might be why we’re expecting some bold new color options for the Apple Watch Series 9 including a brand-new pink shade.  

Nothing was said about the Ultra 2’s colors in that leak, but Gurman has one hint — although it sounds far from a sure thing. “Before the release of last year’s Ultra model, Apple tested a dark titanium color option,” he wrote. “It ultimately canceled the option because designers didn’t like the appearance, but it could still theoretically arrive in 2023.”

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.