In case you missed it, one of the highlights of Apple’s most recent September Keynote was the Apple Watch 6.
The smartwatch comes with a bunch of new features — but, given Apple’s healthcare ambitions (and our newfound sensitivity to personal well-being), the health and wellness technology is what it’s all about. That said, most of the health-focused augmentations are part of the latest watchOS7, which is also compatible with iPhone 6s or later, iOS14 or later and Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5 and SE. So the question remains: should you make the switch?
First, the Apple Watch 6 is definitely more of an evolution than a revolution. It’s equipped with the S6 System in Package (SiP), a new dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic chip in iPhone 11, which is Apple’s fastest and most efficient to date. This means that the watch runs up to 20 percent faster than previous models, while maintaining an all-day 18-hour battery life. How long your fully-charged Watch 6 lasts depends on individual use, but on my test-drive, it powered through a full day (I clock 30 minutes of workout everyday). It also charges faster — going from zero to 100 in under 1.5 hours — and is 2.5 times brighter than the Watch 5 for better visibility on sunny days.
Another feature exclusive to the Watch 6 is the Blood Oxygen sensor and app. It measures the oxygen saturation, or SpO2, in your blood, so you can better understand your overall fitness and wellness. The sensor uses green, red, and infrared LEDs, along with the light-sensitive photodiodes on the back crystal of the watch, to measure the percentage of oxygen your red blood cells carry from your lungs to the rest of the body. Why is that important? Low SpO2 may be indicative of respiratory, cardiac and blood issues.
Apple reported that it’s joining forces with researchers to explore how blood oxygen levels can be used in future health applications. These collaborations will look at how Apple Watch’s metrics can help doctors and patients manage asthma and heart failure, as well as serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and Covid-19.
This latest Watch release is also Apple’s most colourful yet, with a palette of new case finishes and bands. In addition to the existing silver, space grey and gold aluminium cases, Watch 6 comes in blue and red. The latter is part of Apple’s (PRODUCT)RED Series, where 100 percent of eligible proceeds have been redirected to the Global Fund’s Covid-19 Response from now till December 31, 2020.
Even if you’re content with sitting this year out, there’s a number of handy and welcome improvements for existing Apple Watch wearers to be pleased about — including the industry-first Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands. These are single-piece, highly stretchable, and absolutely comfortable bands with no buckles of clasps. Because they are not adjustable, Apple offers each one in nine different sizes to ensure a snug fit. We recommend heading to the store for a fitting, but if you prefer to do it from home, a printable measuring cutout is available on Apple’s website, or you can use a measuring tape and plug in your digits in the online store to find your size.
Circling back to the watchOS7, the latest update allows for more personalisation with seven new watch face options that sport on-trend illustrations and well-designed numerals. With Apple going hard on health, more wellness features are to be expected. There’s a sleep tracker, automatic hand washing detection (no more humming “Happy Birthday”!), new workout types, cycling directions on Maps and language translations with Siri.
After wearing the 6 with a Solo Loop over the past week, I’d say that the watch is an even better version of an already high-calibre investment, one that lets you field texts, schedule meetings, scroll through inboxes, track your overall health, and then some. It’s a productivity machine, and the best option for Apple hardware users. Plus, the revolutionary band is smooth, feels barely-there, and is amazingly unobtrusive with all of my daily activities.
(All images: Apple)
The Apple Watch 6 available online and at Apple stores from $599.