At $349 for the base model, we’ll find out if the Apple Watch Series 6 deserves your hard-earned money. Here’s a quick review:
Apple Watch Series 6 at glance:
- Width: 34mm, 38mm
- Depth: 10.4mm
- Case Weight: 30.5g, 36.5g
- Display: Always-on Retina display
- Processor: 64-bit dual-core S6 processor
- Capacity: 32GB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0
- Power: Up to 18 hours of battery life
The first Apple Watch was released more than five years ago. Since then, we’ve been seeing a new model with incremental improvements come out each year. Each generation banners a new technology that distinguishes it from the previous one. In 2019, the Series 5 had an ‘always on’ display that sets it apart from Series 4.
For the latest Apple Watch Series 6, the company has included a new sensor that measures your blood oxygen levels or SpO2. According to Apple, the new sensors can offer insights into your health and even diagnose sleep apnea. With the sensor, your sleep tracking data now includes your blood-oxygen levels that are measured periodically.
Although the device does not have official medical certification, Apple is banking on its proven track record as a manufacturer of dependable consumer-grade health trackers.
Aside from the new sensor the Series 6 sports a faster S6 processor, brighter OLED display, and an always-on altimeter. Apple claims that the new processor performs 20% better than the Series 5 and we find that the Series 6 is indeed snappier.
Apple claims a battery life of up to 18 hours. This might be lacking especially if you’re planning to use the sleep tracking feature each night. Charging your device in the middle of the day can be inconvenient if you’re always on-the-go. Fortunately, in our experience, the Apple Watch Series 6 lasted between 24 and 30 hours with a single charge. With LTE-enabled, you can expect battery life to go down. You’ll be notified when your battery is running out and the device can be fully charged in about 1.5 hours.
Placed side-by-side with an Apple Watch 5, you might not notice any difference and that’s not a bad thing. We’ve always admired the Apple Watch’s built and design aesthetics. Available in 40 and 40 mm face sizes with a stunning retina display, a black and sapphire crystal back, and that reliable digital crown with haptic feedback.
The screen is 2.5x brighter outdoors this time around making it easier to view even during sunny days. At the same time, viewing angles are also improved. It’s waterproof up to 5 ATM or about 50 meters. But I would think twice before bringing it to the ocean for a dive.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is now available in blue and red aluminum models. You can also opt for the stainless steel silver or graphite case. For the extra wow factor, the titanium case is available in silver and black.
Aside from the SpO2 monitor, the Series 6 offers several health-tracking features including ECG, heart rate sensor, and sleep tracking.
The SpO2 sensor works by shining a red LED light to the blood vessels on your wrist and measuring the amount of light reflected. This process can be done automatically or on-demand. Accuracy is not guaranteed and incorrect watch placement is often the culprit. Although the Watch Series 6 cannot replace a proper medical diagnostic device, some users will find the extra information useful.
The ECG can be done by placing your finger on the crown. Electrical signals from your heart are measured and you’ll be alerted to any signs of atrial fibrillation. Sleep tracking is finally available. It offers insights into your sleep patterns and quality. You’ll find out exactly when your heart rate falls or rises as the watch continues to monitor you as you slumber.
Other tracking features are available as well – activity tracker, calories burned, fall detection, menstrual tracking, and loud noise monitoring. With WatchOS 7, you’ll also get the hand-washing countdown to protect yourself and others against viruses.
GPS tracking works well enough, giving you directions from Google Maps which is amazing joggers, hikers, and cyclists. However, automatic exercise detection is not available. The always-on altimeter shows real-time elevation which can be handy for climbers. VO2 Max is also available but does not offer much detail compared to other trackers like Garmin.
While the Apple Watch Series 6 is a great smartwatch and provides useful fitness features, the price point might not be for everybody. For $100 less, Apple’s very own Watch Series SE offers a better deal for those looking for their very first Apple Smartwatch. Still, if you absolutely need the new SpO2 sensor, fancy the colors available, or want the latest tech from Apple, then the Series 6 is a worthy choice.
For more info, see our recommended smartwatches for 2021.