Apple Watch Series 6 review

By JohannHicell | October 16, 2020

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers blood oxygen monitoring, a brighter display and faster chip for the same price.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is the best smartwatch you can buy. Now in its sixth iteration, the wearable category king has spoiled users with buttery smooth performance, velvety haptics and trouble-free setup. Everything about the Apple Watch experience is almost obnoxiously seamless, and that’s a big reason why it owns nearly half the market.

So what’s new? The Apple Watch 6 offers blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring for the first time, a brighter always-on display, an always-on altimeter and a faster chip. Rival smartwatch manufacturers seem to be taking larger leaps forward with their products, while Apple sticks to its incremental process (and it’s 18-hour battery life).

Apple Watch 6 review: What I like

  • Blood Oxygen app: I’m happy to report both that I received 99% blood oxygen levels readings (above 95% is considered normal, although my father, a former EMT, says he wouldn’t want to see me below 98%), and that the Blood Oxygen app is pretty thorough. It offers a brief blood oxygen synopsis and walks users through taking on-demand readings.
  • Brighter always-on display: Indoors, it’s obvious that the Apple Watch 6’s display is brighter than the Apple Watch 5’s, as advertised. Outside, in direct sunlight, the difference is less noticeable. However, when I looked back at some side-by-side images it seemed the Apple Watch 6’s screen in fact shined brighter.
  • New watch faces and third-party complications: Apple launched all-new watch faces that will actually make you ditch Infographic. I’m a fan of the Typograph face’s bold design, although the Stripes, Memoji and Artist options are great for showing off your personality, too. The good ‘old modular faces are better than ever thanks to added support for third-party complications, though.

Apple Watch 6 review: What I don’t like 

  • Same battery life: The Apple Watch 6 is rated for 18 hours, just like the Apple Watch 5, and Apple Watch 4, and Apple Watch 3. Maybe we’ll get to ditch the daily charge on the Series 7?
  • Solo Loop band: The stretchy, clasp-less band sounded like a great replacement for the traditional sport band, but I ended up returning to the classic strap quickly. I think I might have the wrong Solo Loop size (you need a printable measuring tape to find yours), but I still don’t enjoy pulling it over my hand. And it seems like I’m not the only person having problems.

Apple Watch 6 review: Design and always-on display

The Apple Watch 6 looks like the last few Apple Watch models, squircle shape, Digital Crown and all. It looks as svelte as we’ve come to expect — there are still few competing smartwatches that sit as flush to your wrist as an Apple Watch. As for finishes, the Apple Watch 6 comes in exclusive blue and Product Red casings. I’m a big fan of the Apple Watch entering the colorful tech realm, although the silver, gold and space gray are still sleek.

Apple Watch 6 review: Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring

Blood oxygen sensors can measure the oxygen saturation level of your blood. As a form of pulse oximetry, SpO2 monitoring in the Apple Watch 6 will let users know their blood oxygen concentrations with 15-second on-demand readings, as well as periodic background checks.

Apple says a measurement of 95%-100% is considered ideal. Below-normal levels of blood oxygen concentrations are often indicative of underlying health issues such as sleep apnea. It can also be a symptom of silent hypoxia, a life-threatening condition that can escalate the effects of respiratory illness.

Apple Watch 6 review: Verdict

Yes, there’s not much different from the Apple Watch 5 to the Apple Watch 6, but the SpO2 monitor is a tool you might find worthwhile, especially with the growing emphasis on personal health.

Thanks to its clean software, slim design and seamless ecosystem integration, Apple continues to get away with gradual Apple Watch upgrades. Users don’t seem to care if Apple isn’t first to every feature, so long as the convenience is there.