The Apple Watch will get its smallest upgrade to date this year with the Series 6. Sooner or later that had to happen: the Apple Watch has finally matured. And there is nothing wrong with that.
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Apple Watch Series 6 review
With a new design in 2018 and the always on screen a year later, the Apple Watch Series 4 in Series 5 enough visible improvements in the house. Now that we’re at the Series 6 have arrived, Apple puts on the brakes. The Apple Watch seems to have reached its ultimate shape for now and will now have to make do with smaller adjustments.
This means that the smartwatch is going through the same development as the iPhone and iPad. This also went fast in the first years: the two devices were soon given a new design and made major technological improvements with the Retina display, among other things.
We are now used to the iPhone and iPad taking smaller steps every year and getting a ‘major’ upgrade every few years. Think of the iPhone X or when the iPad Pro in 2018 got a new design and Face ID. It seems that we also have to get used to this pace with the Apple Watch.
Fortunately, that does not mean that we have nothing to say about the Series 6. On the contrary: although a major new function is missing, the smart watch is once again improving.
Quickly finished about the design
We quickly finished talking about the design this year. The Series 6 looks exactly the same as its predecessor. The only difference is the color of the housing, which is now also available in red and blue.
Personally, we would opt for a more neutral color and change the color by changing straps, but that obviously differs from person to person. The rest is the same: the Apple Watch still has a (very nice) front-filling square screen, a Digital Crown as a dial on the side above a normal side button.
According to Apple, the always-on screen would have become a lot brighter, but even if we keep the Series 6 next to the Series 5, we hardly see any difference. That’s not necessarily a disaster: we already found the Series 5’s screen excellent and the Series 6 still is.
Oximeter goes wrong very often
If we turn the Watch over, we see something new: the sensors on the bottom have been changed so that they can measure your blood oxygen level for the first time. That is also the biggest new function, but opinions are divided about its usefulness.
First of all, it is a lot less concrete than measuring your heart rate. In general, a measurement between 95 and 100 percent is good. It says something about your overall health and could also detect flu symptoms early.
Usually, your blood oxygen levels drop before you get sick. That is why such a meter is only useful if you use it for a long time: if you suddenly see that your values are diving below your average, it is smart to take better care of yourself.
That is why the Saturation app would only really work if the Apple Watch Series 6 independently took these measurements: a few times a day without you even realizing it. The problem is that the measurements cause error messages so often that all attempts the Watch makes to measure independently will result in an error message.
As a result, you now always have to perform a measurement manually. And even then the measurements go very wrong. You have to put your wrist on a table and keep it still, and it still regularly goes wrong. That’s because a professional blood oxygen meter is usually placed on the tip of your finger and not on your wrist. The reason why is obvious: if you put the Apple Watch on your fingertip and then take the measurement, you get much more accurate results.
Although we are less satisfied with the Saturation app, there are a number of nice improvements in the Watch. The first is the improved charging speed. The Series 6 is charged a lot more smoothly, which is no superfluous luxury.
Thanks to the Sleep app from watchOS 7 we now also have the smartwatch on at night and only charge it in the morning when we just get out of bed. That’s enough to keep the battery filled for 24 hours. Until the Apple Watch gets a battery that lasts for several days, this is a great alternative.
Two other minor improvements that Apple hasn’t talked about are the harder speaker and improved Taptic Engine. The Series 6 is noticeably louder when playing an alarm and the taps on your wrist during a notification or alarm are also more noticeable than before. That’s good, especially now that the Sleep app is ticking us up every morning.
The Watch also runs on the new S6 chip, which makes the watch a bit faster, although we don’t notice much of this compared to the Series 5. The Watch is still fast enough: animations are smooth and we have not encountered any hiccups in apps even after days of testing.
Upgrading? Only with a Series 3 or older
All this makes the Apple Watch Series 6 the best Apple Watch to date, but the distance with the Series 5 is also closer than ever. We can therefore hardly imagine for whom upgrading to the Series 6 from the Series 5 or even Series 4 is worthwhile.
That’s not surprising: the vast majority of people will buy an Apple Watch to last for years. For owners of the Series 3 enough changes have been made to warrant an upgrade.
With a Series 3 or older you get a Watch with the Series 6 that also has the innovations of the Series 4 and 5 baked into it. You suddenly improve with a front-filling screen, much faster processor, always on display and all improved health sensors.
What about the Apple Watch SE?
But we are not quite there yet: at the same time as the Series 6, Apple has the Apple Watch SE released. This new entry-level model has the same modern design and is more than a hundred euros cheaper, without sacrificing much.
For the extra money, with the Series 6 you get an always-on screen, the blood oxygen meter, better battery, faster processor and the ability to make heart movies. So determine for yourself whether those extras are worth that extra money for you.
Conclusion Apple Watch Series 6 review
Because the Saturation app of the Series 6 does not add much in our opinion, and that at the same time is the big improvement of this year, there is surprisingly little to say about the Series 6. Therefore our advice is easier than ever: do you have a Series 4 or Series 5, there is simply too little to justify an upgrade.
If you have a Series 3 or older, the Series 6 (and also the SE) is a nice sum of improvements that the Watch has received in recent years. At the end of the story, the Apple Watch is still by far the very best smartwatch that you can buy as an iPhone user.
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