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Boardroom is a sports, media and entertainment brand co-founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman and focused on the intersection of sports and entertainment. Boardroom’s flagship media arm features premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward. Boardroom’s ecosystem encompasses B2B events and experiences (such as its renowned NBA and WNBA All-Star events) as well as ticketed conferences such as Game Plan in partnership with CNBC. Our advisory arm serves to consult and connect athletes, brands and executives with our broader network and initiatives.

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Boardroom’s sister company, Boardroom Sports Holdings, features investments in emerging sports teams and leagues, including the Major League Pickleball team, the Brooklyn Aces, NWSL champions Gotham FC, and MLS’ Philadelphia Union.

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Tech Talk Reviews: Apple Watch Series 9

In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, Boardroom details all there is to know about one of Apple’s latest wearable devices, covering everything from new operating system updates to golfing with it and more.

This story is part of Tech Talk Reviews, a series highlighting tech reporter and digital creator Michelai Graham’s experience testing new tech gadgets, emerging platforms, apps, games, and more. Find more reviews here.

Since the first Apple Watch hit the market in 2015, Apple has released nearly a dozen iterations of the wearable across its standard, Watch SE, and Watch Ultra models.

The Big Tech giant consistently releases new versions of the Apple Watch every fall, and I’m sure this year will be no different. The latest class of Apple Watch devices has been on the market for nearly seven months, and the company is dubbing its latest models as the most powerful versions yet.

In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, I share my experience with one of Apple’s latest wearable devices, covering everything from new operating system updates to golf and more.

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The Specifics

The Apple Watch S9 hit the market in September 2023 after Apple first announced it at its annual fall product showcase. The watch is equipped with many technologies, new and old. Apple details everything about the newest watch model here, but I want to give you a few key details below.

The S9 is powered by watchOS10, and a new computing chip dubbed the S9 system-in-package (SiP), which enables specific on-device features like Raise to Speak to Siri and improves performance. The S9’s most notable new feature is the double-tap gesture, allowing users to tap their index finger and thumb together twice to perform most of the common Apple Watch actions, including answering calls, playing or pausing music, and snoozing alarms.

(Photo by Audrey Blackmore)

Aesthetically, the S9 looks just like its predecessor, but what makes this iteration most different aside from new features is that, according to Apple, it is carbon neutral. The watch also features a brighter display, upgraded precision finding tech that syncs with iPhone 15 products, and improved integration with HomePod.

As for watchOS 10 upgrades, the S9 comes equipped with redesigned apps, new watch faces, upgraded Maps capabilities, and other cool features like measuring time spent in daylight and accessing and logging health data. As for Siri, this most recent class of Apple Watch devices is the first to be able to process Siri requests on-device as long as the requests don’t require the internet. This includes tasks like starting workouts, setting timers, making calls, providing search results, and much more.

The Apple Watch S9 starts at $399 and is available in an array of colors and bands. The device comes in the classic 41-millimeter and 45-millimeter sizes.

Michelai’s Review

(Photo by Audrey Blackmore)

I’ve been reviewing the 41mm Apple Watch S9 with a light pink Sport Loop for a couple of months. I must admit, I’m one of those people who will ride whatever Apple Watch I currently have until the wheels fall off. The first Apple Watch I ever had, which was an Apple Watch S4, was with me for five solid years until it broke and became unrepairable. After that, I went on Amazon and bought a second-generation Apple Watch SE to get by.

When upgrading (or downgrading?), I was less worried about the cool new features and more concerned with simply tracking my workout metrics. I clearly didn’t know what I was missing out on, and testing the Apple Watch S9 made me realize that.

Let’s talk about comfortability first. The sports loop band is the most comfortable Apple Watch band I’ve ever worn. I’ve tried many bands over the years, and none feel quite like this one. The band is also easily cleanable, and I found it way easier to adjust sizing around my wrist than the classic Solo Loop band. With the easily adjustable band, I decided to wear my watch a tad bit higher on my wrist to avoid accidentally pressing the Digital Crown button often (this was my biggest problem wearing a classic band with my Apple Watch SE).

As for display brightness and battery life, I found both to be top-tier. I never reached a point where my S9 was operating below 20%, and that’s even after starting my day at 5 am with a full charge, working out, heading into the busy streets of NYC for work, socializing in the evening hours, and not reaching home until sun-down.

The New Features

I was most excited to try Double Tap, of course. Since I typically wear wireless headphones with a play/pause button, I switched my playback for the Double Tap gesture to skip in my Apple Watch settings. For the most part, the feature was cool to use, but I did notice a few things. Firstly, my S9 took some time to recognize that I was making the gesture. I noticed quickly that I could tap my thumb with either my index finger or my middle finger for it to register. Both work the same.

Secondly, for Double Tap to work, the app must be open on the Apple Watch. For example, when using it with the skip music gesture, I had to have Apple Music open on my Watch for it to register. Same case for using Double Tap with my iPhone camera. Sadly, though, I wasn’t able to use Double Tap as a remote to take photos on my iPhone, as I had read in other reviews. It just wasn’t working for me and I changed various settings to try to make it work.

Lastly, I noticed Double Tap wouldn’t work unless my S9 was awake and I was looking at it. I tried turning my watch face away from me and using the gesture, but it didn’t register. This is probably because my S9 couldn’t figure out what I wanted to use the gesture for. Even if I had an app open and then turned my watch face away from me, it still didn’t work. When I discovered this, I knew early on this feature wasn’t one I would keep up with. It’s cool, but honestly, it’s not as easily convenient to use as it’s meant to be.

The Siri upgrades, on the other hand, are so real!

I was impressed to see that there was a true separation between when I would activate Siri on my iPhone and my watch. For typical Siri requests, my iPhone would respond, but when I would direct my request to my S9 by looking at it, the wearable would respond. I found this feature to be most useful when my iPhone wasn’t readily in my hand with me, and I wanted to ask Siri a quick question. I definitely see myself continuing to use this feature more than Double Tap. While I expected Siri to respond out loud when I prompted it with queries on my watch, it would reply to me via text. At first, I thought this was a bit inconvenient, but then it grew on me.

(Photo by Audrey Blackmore)

Taking Swings and Tracking Health Data

I mostly use my Apple Watch to track my workout metrics and health data, and I have to say, the S9 didn’t disappoint in that arena. Before upgrading to the S9, I was having a lot of trouble tracking my workout metrics with my second-generation SE, even after I updated to watchOS 10.

There is just a more seamless and accurate experience with the S9 when it comes to tracking data. I know that has a lot to do with the sensors that touch my skin to do the tracking, but I was still surprised at how much more accurately metrics like my heart rate were detected with my S9, and I would often compare this with data I gathered from my blood pressure monitor.

Earlier in the week, I spent the morning with the Apple Watch and Golfshot teams at the Chelsea Piers Golf Club to test out Golfshot’s new Swing ID On-Range experience. Now, I’m not a golfer, but even I was impressed by how the Golfshot app leverages Apple Watch’s high-frequency motion API released in watchOS 10 and the device’s sensors to detect the precise moment a club strikes a golf ball. The new experience in the Golfshot app provides a comprehensive analysis of every swing, including metrics like tempo, speed, backswing angle, and rhythm. The experience synced with the golf course, so I could also see the range of every swing I took, and revisit my experience on the course in-app.

The most comforting thing about Apple products is that they are easy to adjust to quickly, even as I upgrade and try new things. I think that’s an important factor in how Apple continues to maintain a strong market share across all of its products and why people like myself continue to invest in them.

There is still much to explore with the S9, and while I continue to do that, I hope this review taught you something new today.

Until next time.

Want More Tech?

Michelai Graham

Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.

About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.