Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

The Watch Series 6 has more battery and, in addition, it takes less time to charge, which allows you to use its sensors also at night

Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

Six years after the initial announcement, it can be said that the Apple Watch has found its purpose. It is not a communication tool, although it allows messages to be sent, nor is it a conventional clock, even if it tells the time. It is, above all, a device focused on health and a complement (although increasingly independent) of the smartphone.

In 2015 I defined it as “a lubricant for mobile life” and in a way, five years later, this idea is still very much present, although it is fitness and health functions that are now driving the evolution of the device.

The Apple Watch Series 6, the new version presented last week, can be summarized like many other Apple products: It is an improvement of the previous generation with small, although important, modifications but a huge leap for those who come (as is my case) versions with more than two years of life. Bottom line: it's faster (and takes less time to charge), includes a new sensor for measuring blood oxygen saturation, has a brighter display, an ultra-wideband chip (more on this in a few moments), and comes in quite a few more colors.

Faster

The Apple Watch Series 6 debuts a new processor, the S6, which is 20% faster than the previous version and finally includes support for 5Ghz WiFi networks, along with an ultra-wideband radio chip.

For all practical purposes the watch feels very similar in performance to the Series 5, perhaps a little lighter when jumping between applications. The ultra-wideband chip is not very useful yet, but Apple is implementing it in many of its products because it will be key to some future interactions, such as the ability to use the Watch (or iPhone) as a car key, or the ability to find a device that has been lost more reliably.

Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

The Series 6 also has a much brighter display that's easy to read outdoors and, like the Series 5, it can always be kept on, although this feature has an impact on the battery.

A day and a half

Speaking of battery, the autonomy of the Apple Watch remains approximately the same for all practical purposes. Hold about a day and a half of regular use with the screen always on and doing one or two training sessions. Apple figures the autonomy in 11 hours of continuous sports monitoring (7 hours outdoors due to the greater consumption of GPS) or 11 hours of continuous music playback.

The advantage is that this Series 6 charges much faster than previous watches. In less than 45 minutes it is possible to go from having the half-worn clock battery to 100% charge. In one hour you can go from a completely discharged watch to one with 80% battery power.

That means it is much easier to establish an effective loading routine. By leaving the watch charging while we shower in the morning or before going to sleep, you can guarantee that it will always be available when needed.

Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

This is now more important because with the arrival of watchOS 7, the new version of the operating system, the Apple Watch (not only this latest model but also the previous ones), is able to measure the quantity and quality of sleep. Before it was usual to leave the watch charging at night, now it is worth leaving it on your wrist.

Blood oxygen

The star of the Series 6, however, is a new sensor package that includes a pulse oximeter. This sensor measures the oxygen saturation in the blood, which is important because low saturation can be indicative of breathing problems, even during sleep.

Although Apple has been careful to say this openly for legal reasons, low oxygenation in the blood is also one of the common symptoms of Covid-19. It is important to note, in any case, that the Apple Watch is not a medical diagnostic device nor should it be used as such.

In my tests, the pulse oximeter has performed as reliably as a commercial fingertip clamp model. The readings have been similar in both (between 98% and 100% saturation, thanks for asking) in all the tests carried out.

To take the measurement, the Apple Watch requires the arm to be at rest (ideally resting on a surface) for 15 seconds. It also takes measurements in the background, such as with the heart rate monitor, even during sleep.

Apple Watch Series 6: more sensors, same autonomy

Like the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5, the Series 6 includes a sensor to perform electrocardiograms and can detect falls and automatically call emergency services if the user does not respond after one. It also adds a new sensor: a barometer that is capable of recording the altitude at which the user is continuously, something that was previously calculated indirectly.

More colors

There are several more novelties, but most are associated with the new version of the watchOS 7 operating system, such as new digital spheres to personalize the device and the possibility of configuring an Apple Watch of a relative associated with our phone. This is useful if we want to give an Apple Watch to a child or a dependent person for security reasons, but they do not have an iPhone. It is important to note that this is only compatible with Apple Watch models equipped with connection to mobile phone networks.

Apple has also launched new colors this year. The Apple Watch Series 6 with an aluminum case is available in space gray, silver, gold, blue and red – part of the solidarityProduct (RED) initiative and the model that I have tested these days. In steel it is available in graphite, silver and gold. Finally, in titanium it is available in black or silver.

This year there is no ceramic version of the box but as usual Apple has launched special editions together with Nike and Herm├Ęs. It has also launched new elastic straps without buckle, the Solo Loop, but the model I tested used a conventional rubber sports strap and therefore I don't know how they feel. Since they do not have a buckle, Apple offers a multitude of sizes and you should make sure which is the right one before buying (there are two methods to do this on the company's website).

The Apple Watch Series 6 is now available at a price that starts at 429 euros for the model with a 40mm case. And 459 euros for the 44mm model. The version with mobile connection adds 100 euros to the price.

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