The Apple Watch is quietly getting its biggest upgrade in years, according to leaks

The Apple Watch Series 8 next to the Apple Watch Ultra on a grey background
The Apple Watch Series 8 (left) and the Apple Watch Ultra (right) could be significant upgrades this year. (Image credit: Apple)

The next iteration of the Apple Watch is expected to launch in September, alongside the iPhone 15 and other devices just like previous years. Often, the upgrades to the main Apple Watch series are very much incremental, but a new report claims a new processor will give this year’s watches a significant speed boost. 

The best Apple Watches have been running on similar speeds since the S6 chip launched in 2020 with the Apple Watch Series 6. The S6 chip, along with the subsequent S7 and S8 chipsets, have been based on Apple’s A13 Bionic chip originally created for the iPhone 11. This includes last year’s crop of watches comprising the Apple Watch 8, Apple Watch SE 2 and Apple Watch Ultra

However, a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that the Apple Watch Series 9’s new S9 processor will be a “significant improvement”, the first meaningful processor change for the Apple Watch since the S6. 

With a new processor for the Apple Watch Series 9 and, it’s rumored, the Apple Watch Ultra 2, this year’s slate of watches should make for an interesting reveal. It’s worth noting Gurman claims that despite the presence of an Ultra 2, there will be no SE 3 revealed this year, as the best cheap Apple Watch is renewed on a two-year update cycle rather than annually. 

The new operating system designed with Apple Watch Series 9 in mind, watchOS 10, was revealed during Apple’s WWDC keynote speech in June 2023. The new OS included updated cycling tools and metrics, a renewed emphasis on widgets and new watch faces, including an animated Snoopy one.  

 Analysis: A significant speed boost

The Apple Watch Ultra on a wrist

(Image credit: Apple)

During last year’s review of the Apple Watch Series 8, our reviewer praised the watch in general, awarding it four stars, while bemoaning the fact it was the smallest Apple Watch upgrade in years. Apple is known for making incremental changes year-on-year, rather than waiting several years to bring out drastically new products, and we assumed 2023 would be no different.

According to Gurman, we assumed wrong. Apple Watch Series 9 packing a more powerful processor is great news, as the Watch needs to be keeping up with its Android rivals. Samsung recently switched up the Snapdragon chipset in its Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 range, so it’s encouraging to see Apple keeping up with its rivals, rather than resting on its laurels. 

In the meantime, you can check out our comparison of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 8, to see how both companies' current-gen tech stacks up. 

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.