Apple unveiled the latest in its line of popular smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 6. The Series 6 model retains the same overall design introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 and continued with Series 5, but it introduces a range of new sensors to allow things like measuring blood oxygen and better tracking of sleep.
Apple says Series 6 will measure blood oxygen levels with red and infrared light in 15 seconds. The company says starting large-scale studies using the new blood oxygen measurement feature is partnering with health networks, including testing to see if it can detect if a person gets COVID-19 infected.
It is based on the in-house A13 chip from Apple and brings the first significant upgrade to the performance of the Apple Watch since the Series 4, provided that last year’s Series 5 model used the same S4 Chipset (re-branded as the S5 with other improvements such as a compass and a new display controller). Apple claims it achieves this enhanced efficiency while retaining the previous model’s 18-hour battery life. However, the Series 6 will recharge relatively quickly, going from zero to full in about 1.5 hours.
The always-on display on series 6 is 2.5 times brighter than the one on Series 5, so it’s easier to read while your arm is on a desk or outdoors. It is now also possible to access alerts, Control Center, change watch faces or tap complications without waking the up the device. Another new sensor is the ever-on altimeter which provides information about the elevation in real time. Apple claims the calculation is accurate down to a foot. Finally, Apple says Series 6 has the same U1 ultra-wideband chip that first debuted on the iPhone 11 model, but it did not clarify about how the Apple Watch will use it other than to ‘help new experiences, such as digital car keys.
WatchOS 7 will debut with the Series 6, which Apple announced earlier this year at WWDC. The software update — available for all Series 3 models — adds support for native sleep monitoring, but with dedicated sensors the Series 6 will take that feature even further. Other big improvements that will arrive in watchOS 7 include a re-branded Fitness app with new workouts, a hand-washing feature geared to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, richer complexities, and the ability to swap watch faces with others.
Apple is also premiering a new feature called Family Setup which allows parents to set up controlled Apple Watches for their children who don’t have their own iPhones. Parents will be able to monitor how the child will receive a message or call from the phone, set up location notifications and add not to disturb school time modes. A new watch face will let teachers know from a glance that the watch is in DND mode. Family Configuration includes an Apple Watch cellular model, which will be available at launch via a handful of carriers.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is to be available for a 40 mm model starting at $399, the same price as the outgoing Series 5. Cellular versions start at $499. The Series 6 will be available for order starting today, 15 September, and will start shipping on Friday, 18 September. As part of its waste reduction efforts, Apple says that it will not provide a USB power adapter in the box with the Series 6 watch, only the charging cable.