As can be seen on our title photo above with a 2015 Apple Watch for comparison, the Watch’s form factor remained unchanged and current sizes are identical to last year’s model. The new eye-catching features are new colors, in particular the new blue and red aluminum case, and the new solo loop bands.
As before the aluminum models feature Ion-X glass while the stainless steel and titanium models come with Sapphire glass instead. The LPTO OLED that was first introduced with the Watch Series 4 remains well usable in sunlight. According to Apple, its Always-On Display’s maximum brightness has been improved by 2.5x over the Watch Series 5, which is supposed to be beneficial mostly to those who cannot raise their arm during their workout for whatever reason. We were particularly impressed by how fast the new device switched between the two modes. Even with Always-On Display enabled activating the full display when lifting your arm takes a split second.
The rear side has been updated to include the new sensor. The new sensor array is comprised of a crystal with four photo diodes and four green/red/infrared LED clusters. This array now allows for estimating your blood oxygen level as well as measuring and recording your heart rate, your heart rhythm, and recognize when you’re asleep. The latter does not require the new sensor and is thus available on all models that can be updated to watchOS 7, namely Series 3 and newer.
However, updating to watchOS on previous Apple Watch models comes at a price. The latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system no longer supports Force Touch, which in previous versions was used to access context menus or customize the currently installed watch faces. Instead, this way of input was now partly replaced with a long touch without applying extra force. The Apple Watch Series 6 lacks the Force Touch gasket that was still present on previous models, and on all older devices its readings are simply ignored.
The Apple Watch Series 6 supports GPS and is ISO 22810:2010 certified against ingress of water up to 50 m. The new Wi-Fi chip now also supports 5 GHz bands. Furthermore, the watch comes with NFC for Apple Pay as well as a speaker and microphone for Siri and phone calls. As before, an LTE model with eSIM support is available optionally at a premium.
What it is capable of recording is the time you fell asleep, the time you woke up, and how often and when you awoke at night. This data can be graphed and analyzed long-term over the last few days or weeks and will inform you whether or not you reached your self-defined sleep goal for weekdays and weekends. Despite the fact that heartrate and oxygen saturation data is available for that same time period a sleep diagram overlay is not available. In addition, unlike Fitbit’s algorithms Apple’s infrequent readings will be barely able to reliably detect sleep apnea.
We suspect that more frequent readings would decrease the Apple Watch’s battery life even further. At the time of writing the minimum charge required for a night’s worth of sleep tracking is 30 %. Charge levels below 30 % will result in a warning. How and why the Apple Watch Series 6 managed to record more time asleep than time spent in bed (see last screenshot) remains a mystery to us. We can positively assure you with absolute certainty that the number of power naps taken during the review period was unfortunately exactly zero.
Another Apple Watch feature is its ability to motivate users to spend less time sitting and more time moving with its Activity app. The goal is to close all three rings every single day: stand, move, and exercise. Standing is primarily aimed at avoiding long-term sitting and requires you to get up at least once every hour and move around for at least one minute. It will also count towards your move goal, as will taking a letter to the mailbox on foot instead of by car.
The exercise goal can best be reached through workouts that can be recorded with the preinstalled Workout app. If you’re not a big fan of gyms or indoor sports facilities, you can alternatively also reach your daily exercise goal and close the ring with a 30-minute long brisk walk. Basically, anything you can record with the Workout app or any other Apple Health-compatible fitness app will count towards your exercise goal. The app will also calculate your daily calories by adding up all exercises, steps taken, etc. The app store contains numerous apps that allow you to record your calorie intake as well and use that data fed into the Health app to record and monitor your weight.
Making and taking phone calls, paying, listening to music, downloading popular apps from the app store – the Apple Watch has many benefits indeed. However, is switching to the new Series 6 justifiable if you already own an older model?
This content was originally published here.