I had just under 24 hours with the new Apple Watch Series 6, which is just enough time to collect a handful of impressions. My main impression is this: It’s sure to be an iterative update over Series 5. The upgrades are real, but also subtle.
One thing that isn’t subtle at all is the color of the test device sent by Apple: red. It’s very pretty, and the finish to the paint has a depth and complexity. I don’t know that I’m a red watch guy, but I like that it’s not shy. It also comes in these shy colors (gray and silver) plus another bold color (blue).
Here you will find the usual selection of metals. Prices start at $ 399 and can go up to a configuration of $ 1
The most important feature of the 6 series is the blood oxygen meter. All I can tell you about it now is that I pressed the button, dutifully put my wrist on a table for 15 seconds, and got readings between 94 and 97 percent back. I also got a handful of failed readings, which we also experienced while testing the blood oxygen monitoring on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
You can set the watch to check your surrounding levels during the day or night. The lights used are apparently so bright that by default they don’t check that the clock is in theater mode.
As my colleague Nicole Wetsman notes, this is not a medical device, and the readings this new sensor provides should not be used as a diagnostic tool in any way.
The Series 6 also has a permanently on altimeter. I’m writing this at 44 feet above sea level, although in the details of the compass app (where elevation data lives) there is a little indicator that says “+/- 20ft” so it’s probably better as a relative tool than as a precise one .
My new favorite feature to try out might just be the always-on screen. Apple claims that in its standard always-on mode, it’s 2.5 times brighter than the Series 5 screen, and I think I’m looking at them side by side. Its very bright.
Overall, what I expect to be my new favorite feature is the loading speed, although I haven’t tested that yet. Apple claims it’s much faster now – up to 40 percent faster than the Series 5 – which makes it easier to quickly top up in the morning or evening. You should be able to go from 0 to 80 percent in about an hour. The whole way to 100 takes an hour and a half. That makes the Apple Watch more convenient for sleep tracking. For me, the Apple Watch is a much nicer and less annoying alarm than my phone.
Inside the box is a USB-A cable with Apple’s proprietary charger on the other end, but no power adapter. I believe this is the right environmental decision, but I can’t help but notice that the price of these new watches hasn’t come down. It was probably too much to hope for, but I was hoping.
The speed is fast. But the Series 5 felt fast too. I think the main benefit most people get from the S6 system is that it has enough processing headroom to keep it quick with future updates. Apple’s silicon is so ridiculously ahead of Qualcomm’s on smartwatches that Apple could have kept the Series 5 internals, and I doubt anyone would have minded.
I’ll go into more detail on watchOS 7 in the full review, but like the Series 6 itself, I see it as an iterative update. Apple has found a basic framework for the Apple Watch and is sticking with it. The new watch faces are nice too, but despite all of these many options and this amount of customization, I still sometimes find that I can’t get one that I really like.
However, I have one very strong recommendation for you: don’t make a watch face out of your own Memoji. They jump around and seem almost to respond to your movements – they respond to your punches – so that’s fun. What’s less fun is that the terms Apple chose for them are kind of like unbearable. Every time I look at my wrist now, I feel like this chic brother is looking back, and this guy is me.
I mean look at this sucker:
Stay with the giraffe. It’s a good giraffe.