In our hands-on work with the Apple Watch 6, we enjoyed the promised new features like the new S6 chipset and the SpO2 blood oxygen sensor, but didn’t discover any others head Progress or improved battery performance compared to the Apple Watch 5. Fortunately, iFixit’s demolition of the new Apple Watch 6 showed what has changed in the new smartwatch.
The site took the new watch apart and compared it to its predecessor to see how the two compare from a hardware standpoint. Aside from the new SpO2 sensor, the improvements are minor: slightly larger battery, larger taptic motor, and an overall thinner case.
Given that other smartwatches are eager to compete with Apple̵
While demolishing the Series 6, we spotted some major changes to the tried and true Apple Watch design formula that are exciting for wearers and repairers alike: https://t.co/5DvTUa7nLy pic.twitter.com/FpcAikwwYL September 21, 2020
Minimal battery changes
After iFixit demolished both the 44-meter and 40-meter Apple Watch 6 models, iFixit found that both batteries were gradually improving over their predecessors.
In the 44-meter Apple Watch 6, the battery is rated at 1.17 Wh compared to 1.129 Wh in the Series 5 – an increase of 3.6%. In the 40-meter model, the new battery measures 1.024 Wh compared to 0.944 Wh, which corresponds to a growth of 8.5%.
The new S6 chipset is said to be more energy efficient than the 5, and when combined with the minor battery changes, the durability of the 6 can stay on par with the previous model. Apple hasn’t promised any improvement in battery life, so we’ll have to see how they stack up for ourselves in our next test.
Tiny differences in size
Between the 5 and 6, Apple also increased the size of the Taptic Engine, which Apple uses to provide haptic feedback to mark the time of day. Hopefully the larger engine makes your hourly Taptic Time notifications even clearer than before.
iFixit also noted that the motor is made from “100% Recycled Rare Earth Elements and Tungsten” which is a nice surprise for any tech manufacturer.
Despite the larger motor and battery, the breakdown revealed that the overall thickness of the Apple Watch 6 is 10.4mm, which is slightly thinner than last year’s 10.74mm model. While the difference is too small to really be noticed, it’s good for consumers that Apple found a way to indent larger components while reducing the overall size of the watch.
Enlighten your health
With a fused display on top and a fused sensor array on the bottom, the blood oxygen sensor couldn’t be ripped off without damaging it. So iFixit focused on what could be seen on the surface.
The sensor shines red and infrared light on your wrist, calculates the color of your blood via a photodiode and then determines how much oxygen is in your blood.
We know from our hands-on review that the oxygen sensor is good at monitoring our O2 levels at different altitudes. So it’s cool to see how it works for us here. We also now know that if it stops working, it likely can’t be fixed. Apple needs to fully install a new sensor.
Finally, for those who are interested in the essentials of the construction of the Apple Watch – the new Apple Watch 6 is in some ways more difficult to repair than its predecessor.
Previous Apple Watch series had a Force Touch seal, but that feature has been removed from watchOS7. So it’s not surprising that iFixit didn’t find a touch mechanism under the Watch 6 touchscreen.
The side effect of this is that the Apple Watch 6 can be opened without damaging the seal – which made it difficult to repair the Apple Watch 5.
iFixit also found that the Apple Watch 6 has “fewer display ports” blocking the components inside. For example, the NFC cable is redirected through the side of the display. This will make it easier for you to access the battery or remove the screen without damaging the internal parts.
On the flip side, iFixit found the “tiny three-point screws” that hold the watch together are difficult to remove or reinsert. Also, some cables are mounted “directly” on the S6 chip, which makes them easy to tear. Because of this, they gave the Apple Watch 6 out of 10 for repairability, which is equivalent to the Apple Watch 5.
We do not recommend carelessly following in iFixit’s footsteps and disassembling the watch yourself unless you follow a repair guide to the letter. However, if you step lightly and don’t get close to the S6 chip, it might not be impossible to fix a cracked screen or replace a battery yourself.