The Apple Watch Series 6 is slicker, quicker and more functional than ever. This year’s model builds on the success of the Series 5 (which took the radical step of incorporating an always-on display) by including a more efficient S6 processor and adding Blood Oxygen monitoring. The Apple Watch Series 6 is also available in a range of new colours, including (Product) Red.
Prices start at $399 / £379 for the 40mm aluminium Watch and $429 / £409 for the 44mm model. You can opt for Stainless Steel or Titanium cases, plus there are a range of strap options, topping out with the Hermès at $1,399 / 1,349. If you are on the lookout for a bargain, you can always check our Apple Watch deals page.
Apple Watch Series 6: Design
Whichever style of Apple Watch Series 6 you buy, its form and function remain the same. You get a rounded rectangle with a smooth glass top that gently curves into its case. On the right are the colour-ringed Digital Crown and side button; at the back, you'll find a completely redesigned crystal containing four LED clusters and four photodiodes. These enable the Watch to monitor your blood oxygen levels. This in addition to Apple Watch’s ability to monitor your heart rate.
While all this doubles-down on its emphasis on health and fitness features, Apple’s keen to stress that the Watch is not a medical device. Going hand-in-wrist with this new functionality is a Blood Oxygen app, and there’s an ECG app too. To use the latter, you simply touch the Digital Crown with your finger for 30 seconds at any time and the electrodes within it will measure your electrocardiogram (ECG) activity and warn you if there’s anything amiss. Again, while this can be useful, it’s no substitute for proper tests carried out by a qualified physician.
Apple Watch Series 6: Battery life
Those goodies aside, the Apple Watch Series 6 promises 18 hours of battery life, although in reality it can often last longer. However, that qualification comes with a caveat – watchOS 7 finally has a Sleep mode that’s been designed to measure how long you sleep at night and so help you create better sleep routines.
The problem is that if the Watch can’t last a full day, and you're now supposed to wear it all night to monitor your sleep, when are you supposed to charge it? Luckily doing so only takes around 90 minutes, but it reminds us that the Apple Watch’s Achilles heel remains its battery life – while an always-on display and health and fitness features are great to have, we'd happily settle for a more basic Watch whose battery lasts days, weeks or even months.
Apple Watch Series 6: Features
Elsewhere the usual Apple Watch superlatives apply – we still get a thrill every time we use our Watch in shops to buy things using Apple Pay or to talk to friends and relatives Dick Tracy-style using the Phone app rather than having to fetch our iPhones from our pockets. Buy an add-on eSIM for your Apple Watch and you won't even need to take your iPhone out with you.
In operation, the Apple Watch Series 6 is as easy to use and as customisable as ever. That S6 processor ensures that your apps open quickly and run smoothly, while we love being able to tweak the growing numbers of Watch faces and share them with friends. We’re not entirely convinced that having an entire App Store on our wrists is a good thing – for a start, there doesn't seem to be an awful lot on it; and for another it doesn’t really add anything to the experience of installing Apple Watch apps that you couldn’t achieve already by using it with its partner iPhone.
So, should you buy the Apple Watch Series 6? Yes and no. If you want the best and nice-to-haves like Blood Oxygen monitoring on your wrist, then it’s a solid upgrade. Otherwise, the Apple Watch SE, may serve you just as well (see our Apple Watch SE deals page to grab a bargain).
This review originally appeared in MacFormat; subscribe to MacFormat here.
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