Comparing Health Features: Apple Watch 9 vs 8

A major selling point for the Apple Watch is its comprehensive health features. If you’re curious about the changes between the latest release and its predecessors, here’s a detailed comparison of the health and fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 9 versus the Series 8 and earlier models.

Key Upgrades in Series 9

The Apple Watch Series 9 brings several new features that distinguish it from the Series 8 and older models. The most significant addition is on-device Siri with Health access, enabling users to interact directly with Siri to manage health data. This feature allows users to ask Siri for updates or log new health information such as weight and medication intake via voice commands.

Health Features Comparison

To understand the benefits of upgrading, here’s a comparison of the health features across different Apple Watch models:

FeatureSeries 9Series 8Series 7Series 6SE 2
On-device Siri with Health accessYesNoNoNoNo
ECG appYesYesYesYesNo
Blood Oxygen appYes/No*YesYesYesNo
Optical heart sensor (3rd gen)YesYesYesYesNo
High/low heart rate notificationsYesYesYesYesYes
Irregular rhythm notificationsYesYesYesYesYes
Low cardio fitness notificationsYesYesYesYesYes
Water resistance (50m)YesYesYesYesYes
Sleep tracking with stagesYesYesYesYesYes
Mental wellbeing trackingYesYesYesYesYes
Crash detectionYesYesNoNoYes
Fall detectionYesYesYesYesYes
Advanced cycle tracking with temp sensingYesYesNoNoNo
Cycle tracking without temp sensingYesYesYesYesYes
Emergency SOSYesYesYesYesYes
International emergency callingYesYesYesYesYes

*Note: Blood Oxygen app not included with new US purchases of Series 9 and Ultra 2 after January 18, 2024.


  • Apple Watch Series 9: Starts at $399/$429 (available from Apple, Amazon, etc.).
  • Apple Watch Series 8 and Older: Available at discounts from retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, though Apple has stopped selling the Series 8 directly.
  • Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen: Starts at $249 (available from Apple, Amazon, etc.).

New Features with watchOS 10

All Apple Watches compatible with watchOS 10 benefit from new health and fitness features, including:

  • Mood tracking for better mental health management.
  • Enhanced Heart Rate app with more detailed insights.
  • Live cycling metrics displayed on iPhone with iOS 17, enhancing the cycling experience.

MacReview’s Take

The Apple Watch Series 9 introduces valuable upgrades such as on-device Siri with Health access, a brighter display, double tap gesture control, and more storage. While these enhancements may attract some users, those with a Series 8 might find fewer compelling reasons to upgrade. The Series 9 is particularly advantageous for users needing advanced health monitoring and voice-activated health data management.

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