Every September since it debuted the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 in 2016, Apple has announced a new model of its signature smartwatch. And, just like clockwork, it returned this month with the latest version: the Apple Watch 6. So what’s new, what’s stayed the same and, most importantly, should you buy one? Here’s everything you need to know…
When will the Apple Watch 6 be released?
The official released date for the Apple Watch 6 is 18 September although pre-orders are now open if you’re set on being one of the first to get your hands on it.
How much will the Apple Watch 6 cost?
As with all Apple Watches there are various models at different price points. The basic GPS-only version costs £379 for the 40mm model and £409 for the 44mm. If you want the cellular/LTE-version it’s going to set you back £470 for the 40mm and £509 for the 44mm.
Does it look any different?
In a word, no. The Apple Watch 6 looks virtually the same as the Series 5 save for new red and blue aluminium case options. That said, there are few smartwatches on the market that rival the Apple Watch for svelte design. There’s also a new Solo Loop – a seamless stretchable band that has no buckle and comes in two materials (woven recycled polyester and silicone rubber) and nine sizes. The former titanium, stainless steel and recycled aluminium cases are still available, as are the range of straps seen on the Series 5.
So what is new?
Here comes the techie part. Regarded by many as an incremental improvement rather than a big step up, the main selling point of the Apple Watch 6 is its new S6 chipset. More powerful than those in prior models, it should allow for a longer battery life (although early reviews suggest it still stands at around 18 hours) and, according to Apple, powers an always-on display that is twice as bright as that seen on the Series 5.
As the Apple Watch moves further into the health market, there are also a few new features which may interest fitness fans. The biggest addition is the integration of blood oxygen sensors that offer users data on their blood oxygen concentration via on-demand readings and regular background checks. Knowing this may not be of great use to you unless you happen to be an elite athlete or suffer from silent hypoxia or sleep apnea, of which low blood oxygen is a symptom, but it’s an interesting feature nonetheless.
There’s also a new always-on altimeter to track elevation changes to the nearest foot in real time. It works both inside and outdoors and for a huge variety of sports including running, hiking and skiing. Again, unless you’re training for an off-road marathon, this may not be vital information but it will make you feel good after a long hilly hike.
Should you buy an Apple Watch 6?
Before you rush out to get your pre-order in, download the new WatchOS 7 first. It boasts a host of new features, including an ECG monitor, sleep tracking app and new watch faces that can be used on earlier Apple Watch models as well as the Series 6. Apple’s new subscription-based Fitness+ service will also be open to all Apple Watch users and you may just find that sates your appetite for new tech until the Apple Watch gets its next big update.
However as Apple no longer sells the Series 5, which is the only other model to support the undeniably useful always-on mode, if you’re looking to buy your first Apple Watch or are currently sporting a Series 4 or earlier, it may well be worth investing. As with previous models, the Series 6 is also available in Apple Watch Nike (exclusive watch faces and extra complications courtesy of the Nike Run Club app) and Apple Watch Hermès (exclusive faces and a choice of luxurious leather straps in a variety of colours) versions so, if the basic hasn’t won you over, these might be the perfect alternatives.
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