Apple Watch Series 6 Review: Still the best smartwatch, but tracking is lacking

Apple Watch Series 6 on a reviewers wrist, showing the striped watch face

Corey Gaskin

Apple’s newest smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 6, offers us nearly each characteristic one may ask for in a health tracker whereas reasserting Apple Watch’s place as probably the most enjoyable, related, and full smartwatch expertise.

To be truthful, the Apple Watch Collection 5 additionally held these distinctions in its time. You might argue the identical going for annual releases farther again within the Apple Watch’s historical past. However with the Collection 6 addition of native sleep monitoring and blood oxygen measurements to enhance the already strong health basis, there is not rather more you may ask for in a health tracker, or smartwatch, at this level. So, to sweeten the deal, Apple lastly gave us some enjoyable colours to maintain our eyes from wandering. And on the firm’s current fall occasion, Apple additionally launched the less-expensive Apple Watch SE.

With the Collection 6 and SE sitting alongside the much more inexpensive and nonetheless obtainable Apple Watch Series 3, we now have a tough time telling anybody they need to purchase some other good watch as an alternative of one among Apple’s. As an alternative, the extra urgent query in 2020 is, “Which one?”

All-around improved efficiency and a few much-needed flare

Apple Watch Series 6 product image

Apple Watch Collection 6

(Ars Technica could earn compensation for gross sales from hyperlinks on this put up by way of affiliate applications.)

As Apple does yearly, it promised all-day battery life on the Collection 6, and, as all the time, even with the introduction of latest options, the corporate delivers. All day means about 18 hours to Apple, and in my expertise—with exercises, sleep monitoring, and average use—it may simply meet the 24-hour mark.

That is with the inclusion of two improved, always-on options, too—the altimeter and the now-brighter always-on show. The altimeter within the earlier technology was solely activated throughout particular actions or apps, however now it retains monitor within the background across the clock for “extra exact metrics,” Apple says. As for the always-on show, which was first launched within the Collection 5, the Collection 6’s outside brightness is bolstered to 2.5-times brighter when your wrist is down, which makes an considerable distinction for at-a-glance info, be it in exercises or simply to see the time, in comparison with the Collection 5.

Fortunately, Apple has achieved this whereas not solely sustaining all-day battery, but in addition slicing down cost time and gaining 20-percent quicker processing speeds over the Collection 5. That enchancment arrives thanks to higher effectivity on Apple’s newest S6 system-in-package (SiP). Quicker processing speeds aren’t going to be one thing you may doubtless discover, however you’ll recognize the faster charging instances of the Collection 6. Apple says the Collection 6 now takes 90 minutes to cost from zero to 100 and one hour to get from zero to 80 %, versus the two-hour zero-to-100 cost wanted for the Collection 5.

That is proper on par with our expertise, knocking off a bit over a half hour of charging time from the earlier technology. It could not sound like loads, however getting a near-full cost from useless to 80 % in an hour or leaving it 30 minutes extra to prime up absolutely is making me just like the Collection 6 much more. Dwindling battery shortly earlier than bedtime or a useless watch proper earlier than you should run out the door is not such a drag anymore.

Talking of charging, you will have heard that this 12 months Apple Watches will not include the 5-watt wall adapter. Since that is the case, you may have to seize your personal USB-A outfitted adapter to plug up the charging cable Apple does ship you. Apple’s pondering right here is, in fact, to create much less waste. So typically talking, we’re on board with this—it is extremely doubtless you’ve one (or many) of those mendacity round someplace, anyway.

We’re all for extra efficiency, improved battery life, and saving the world, however one of many first issues that may entice some folks to this watch are the brand new colours. Our navy-blue check unit has an off-the-cuff look that may turn into roughly subdued with completely different band pairings. The (PRODUCT) RED aluminum case pulls off a sexier, sportier aesthetic whereas nonetheless being decently versatile.

You additionally, in fact, have the traditional aluminum choices of area grey, silver, and [rose] gold (the latter is listed as gold, but it surely’s decidedly pink) as we have seen prior to now. Stainless-steel choices in graphite, silver, and gold, in addition to titanium choices in grey and silver are nonetheless obtainable. This brings the very best whole of coloration choices ever to the Apple Watch lineup, with 10 bespoke colorways.

Whereas these new colours do convey some much-needed pleasure to the Apple Watch aesthetics (particularly in pink), it nonetheless principally seems to be like the primary Apple Watch ever launched 5 years in the past, which, at this level, seems to be uninspiring in any case. Although this aesthetic has turn into synonymous with the model, it is nonetheless not prettier in your wrist than any of your favourite timepieces or hybrid smartwatches, due largely to the sq. form that has remained largely unchanged since 2015.


Customization by way of the wide-ranging band choices has all the time been the Apple Watch’s sturdy swimsuit, although, and the brand new Solo Loop bands add one more choice to the wardrobe. They arrive in both pure silicone or silicone wrapped in woven polyester, and these characteristic a single, steady band that merely stretches over your hand whenever you wish to put it on or take it off. I am somebody with comparatively massive palms however bone-thin wrists, and both materials Solo loop slips over my hand with relative ease whereas staying put reasonably comfortably on my wrist.

These bands are available whole-number sizes from one to 12, and Apple supplies a printout sizing device on its web site. The device simply barely recommends me a dimension 5 when pulled round my wrist as tight as will be, however, in fact, you do not need your watch to suit like that on you on a regular basis. Fortunately, Apple despatched me a dimension six, which is the right match for around-the-clock put on. I can transfer it up and down my wrist, between about two to 3 inches, but it surely stays put wherever I place it fairly comfortably.

I choose just about no motion when exercising, although, so that is the place the included Sport band we all know from earlier years turns out to be useful. In actual fact, I would suggest utilizing this strap or one other that matches only a smidge tighter than the Solo loop, if you need probably the most fixed blood oxygen monitoring. The sensor solely takes measurements when the watch matches correctly. For my wants, the sensor has given me sufficient readings all through the day, however know there are some gaps in passive measurement, doubtless attributable to less-than-ideal match.