Apple has announced a new sixth-generation Watch, with blood O2 monitoring and enhanced performance over the Series 5.
Called the Watch Series 6, the new model replaces the year-old Series 5 and seeks to stretch Apple's lead over the competition in the smartwatch and fitness wearable market.
Apple traditionally reveals the new Watch alongside a new family of iPhones, but for 2020 the new handsets have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and are expected to be announced in a few weeks' time. We also still expect to see AppleTags and a new smaller, cheaper HomePod speaker from Apple before the end of the year.
The main new feature of the Watch Series 6 is blood oxygenation monitoring, which is possible thanks to a set of new red and infrared sensors on the back of the case. Set alongside the heart rate monitor, the new sensors determine your blood oxygenation level.
The reading takes around 15 seconds and is presented as a percentage, with 95-plus considered healthy. Apple says it is partnering with a range of health networks and college research departments to begin large-scale studies into the use of blood oxygen measurements. These studies will include looking into how blood oxygenation can potentially detect a patient infected with Covid-19.
Apple says an alert for low blood oxygenation will be "coming later in the year," suggesting that specific feature is pending FDA validation.
Blood oxygenation is a hot topic among wearables at the moment, and is also a headline feature of the new Withings ScanWatch, but that is pending validation before it can go on sale in the US.
Also new for the Watch 6 is an always-on altimeter that Apple says provides real-time elevation information and is accurate to 12 inches of elevation.
The new Series 6 has the same movement sensors as the Series 5, as well as the same heart rate monitor, ECG app, and features like Fall Detection and automatic emergency calling. Both models, plus older Apple Watches too, will run the company's new watchOS 7 software, which includes a range of new faces and sleep tracking for the first time. The Series 6 has the same quoted battery life of around 18 hours as the Series 5, and the same 50 meters of water resistance.
The Watch Series 5 was announced alongside the new Watch SEApple
The Series 6 also shares the same 40mm and 44mm case options as the Series 5, plus the same Digital Crown and touch screen display.
New for the Series 6 is Apple's U1 ultra-wideband chip, which also features in the iPhone 11 and we expect to see used to help locational data with Apple's upcoming AirTags, which are Tile-like possession trackers.
Also new for the Watch Series 6 are its colors, which include gold, graphite, blue and red, thanks to the first (Product RED) version of Apple Watch. This compares to rose gold, gold, silver, space gray and space black for the outgoing Series 5. Apple is still selling luxury Hermes versions of the Watch, plus the Watcher Series 6 Edition with a titanium case, but the ceramic case option offered with the Series 5 Edition is no longer available.
Today Apple also revealed a range of new watch straps, including one called the Solo Loop that is made from silicon and is available in a broad range of sizes to ensure a good fit without a buckle or any form of adjustment at all. Given these straps use the same connection as the Watch Series 4 and Series 5, these should work just fine with older models of Watch, as well as the new Series 6.
The Watch Series 6 is powered by a new and more powerful S6 processor, which Apple claims is up to 20 percent faster than the Series 5 and Series 4, which both used the same S4 processor.
Features of the Watch Series 6Apple
Apple says the Series 6 has a display that is 2.5 times brighter in standby mode (when the watch is displaying the time, but you aren't interacting with it). This is a nice efficiency bump over the Series 5, but little else was said on performance gains over the older model, other than its battery charging 20 percent faster.
Interestingly, the new Apple Watch will not include a power adapter in the box. Instead, it will contain only the USB cable, as the assumption is buyers will already have a USB adapter at home. It has been widely reported that Apple will take the same approach with the new iPhone 12, due later in 2020. The reason is to help cut down on CO2 emissions from the production and recycling of unneeded power adapters.
The Watch Series 6 is priced from $399 (just like the Series 5 was when it launched). It can be pre-ordered now and sales begin this Friday, September 18. The Series 6 will be sold alongside the three-year-old Series 3, which starts at $199, and a new model called the Watch SE, which uses the processor of the Series 5 but lacks features like the ECG and blood oxygen apps, and starts at $179.
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Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS, 38mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band