Apple Watch Series 6: Initial review

To understand where you are now, you’ve got understand where you come from. I’ve previously tested the Apple Watch Series 3,4 and 5 editions.

This is a high-level overview, of how the previous models have led to this current model, the Apple Watch Series 6.

I’m not going to focus too much on the changes of hardware, processing power et cetera. But I wanted to look at how Apple is placing importance in creating technology that allows the users to monitor their health and well-being.

Apple Watch Series 3

◦ Mindfulness, stopping to pause breathe and be present was encouraged through the Breathe app.

◦ The heart rate monitoring app, bar just counting your beats per minute, it also recorded your daily resting heart rate. And your workout heart rate ranges.

Apple Watch Series 4

◦ Activity competitions allowed users to challenge other Apple Watch wearers, the idea is to create community, accountability and some good humoured rivalry to finish top of your groups leader board.

◦ It allows you to take an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) right from your wrist. I go more in depth in previous article, which you can read if you click this link.

◦ Fall detection utilises an accelerometer and gyroscope, which measures up to 32 g-forces, along with custom algorithms to identify when hard falls occur.

◦ The running feature in the activities captured, cadence for indoor and outdoor runs, pace alerts for outdoor runs and is something I’ve not seen in other running watches, was the rolling mile pace, which shows pace for the immediately preceding mile.

◦ Automatic workout detection: It happens, you start running and a couple minutes into it you’ve forgotten to start your tracking the run! Especially on early morning runs.

◦ You can also call the emergency services using the Emergency SOS feature from the side button, which sends your location to your emergency contact.

Apple Watch Series 5

◦ Monitoring of noise levels. If you’re in an environment that exceeds 90 decibels, you’ll get a notification warning of that fact. I think this is really useful feature and I’ve kept this complication on the Series 6 also.

◦ There is a menstruation cycle tracking app, which also allows for fertility tracking.

◦ I know I wasn’t going to mention technology but this was the first Apple Watch that has always on display, that subtle change makes the previous versions feel outdated.

◦ It includes warnings about irregular heart rhythm taken from the optical heart rate sensor. This means you don’t need an ECG to detect it any more.

◦ Similar to Series 4 there is still fall detection and the ability to call the emergency services using the Emergency SOS feature. However the new feature is that the Series 5 (cellular models) can contact the emergency services internationally.

Apple Watch Series 6

◦ A headline feature is the Blood Oxygen Sensor and App. It measures the oxygen saturation of the user’s blood, so they can better understand their overall fitness and wellness. Oxygen saturation, or SpO2, represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body. A good rating seems to be around 90-100%. However, Apple is clear that it’s not a medical tool, and should only be used for monitoring general fitness or wellness. My initial use of this has been varied, as it intermittently works for me during the 15 second test, so I’ll reserve my final judgement until I use it longer term.

◦ Swimming: It is 5ATM certified, you can go down to depth of 50m for 10 minutes if you so wish. But in everyday use that’s fairly uncommon, but the Series 6 is fully protected against regular swimming.

◦ Always-On Altimeter: The always-on altimeter provides real-time elevation all day long by using a new, more power-efficient barometric altimeter, along with GPS and nearby Wi-Fi networks. This feature allows for the detection of small elevation changes above ground.

◦ Sleep monitoring: There are third party apps you could use in previous models prior to this new first party app. You can set a sleep goal (ie 8 hours) and have a wind down time where it cancels notifications on your watch and phone, which I like. You can view the data on the watch and your health app on the iPhone. However I’d like to have seen more data in addition to average time asleep, there’s not yet any captured data on stages of spent time in deep sleep, light sleep or REM.

◦ As an health and fitness tracker, the Apple Watch Series 6 definitely improves year on year, with the items noted previously. However I feel there could be an upgrade to the running and workout elements. Since the Apple Watch Series 3, interval segments are recorded by touching the screen at the moment. This feature still needs to be revised, to set either time or distance goals before, but not during the workout. Apple could develop this area further.

◦ In reference to sustainability, there’s recycled content in Apple Watch Series 6, from nearly 100 percent recycled tungsten throughout the product, and a 100 percent recycled case on aluminium models. Apple is also helping the environment by removing the AC adapter that could become electronic waste from Apple Watch Series 6 packaging. I think many already have adaptors so the charging lead only is probably only what is needed. As it’s likely many will have plug or USB charging points. So this is a good feature environmentally.

A longer term and more in-depth review will be published in the future. But initially, some of the technology features that I do like includes how you speak to Siri. You just raise the watch to your face and speak rather saying hey Siri.

As I said at the start to know where you are now, you’ve got understand your past. And what is clear is that health and well-being has developed and is a key feature of the Apple Watch DNA upto the current version of the Apple Watch Series 6.

However please note that the health and wellbeing features of Apple Watch, in terms of the software features are available across multiple Apple Watches, not just Series 6. But this overview just gives an idea of the progress.

Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) starts at £379 and Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) starts at £479

1 comment

  1. It’s great that Apple have included these extra health features, but it seems as if a small subset of consumers use these features 3+ months after purchasing. Maybe one of these days, I’ll finally bite the bullet and upgrade from my Apple Watch 3.


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