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Apple Watch 6 – First Thoughts
Apple’s online launch of the Watch 6 and Watch SE was a slick affair. Polished presentations have been a staple diet from Apple over the years and today was no exception. However, I suspect that if Garmin had shown so few headline improvements then they would have been slated rather than lauded.
That sounds a bit negative, compounded by Apple being 1-2 years behind the curve with this tech, however they tend to get the tech RIGHT. There were some interesting twists and turns in the presentation, so let’s go…I’m going to miss bits out like new bands and memoji watchfaces, mainly because I have a life.
New Apple Models
As expected there is a new, lower-priced Watch SE model which accompanies the Watch 6. However, the interesting twist here is that Apple intends to keep the Watch 3 selling, so here’s the full current range
- Watch 6 – $399
- Watch SE – $279
- Watch 3 – $199rrp.
Watch 6 is faster and comes with a new processor (S6), whereas the Watch SE keep the previous generation, S5/S4, processor. These all come with 44mm and 40mm case/screen options and both GPS+cellular and GPS-only options.
In terms of the hardware…that’s mostly it folks, despite what the presentation hyped. Nevertheless, there are some nuances
- new, faster 5GHz WiFi for Watch 6 (Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz & 5GHz)
- The screen has failed to improve, although 2.5x higher brightness levels were stated to be achieved in bright sunlight and the Watch SE loses the always-on display. (LTPO OLED Always-on Retina display – 1000 nits)
- The new S6 processor is 20% faster and, presumably more power-efficient. However, none of the internal RAM appears to have been updated.
- Battery performance was not clearly stated (it’s 18 hours), other than fast charging in 1.5 hours.
- A new blood O2 sensor which allows both ad-hoc and background SpO2 readings. I‘m deducing from this that the oHR unit is entirely new and we may see performance improvements with HR/HRV both during sleep, at rest and during sport.
- VO2max readings were claimed to be extended across a wider range of exertions and falling VO2max alerts will be introduced later in 2020.
- Always-on altimeter.
- Apple Watch SE does not have ECG/SpO2
- There was also talk of not shipping a USB adapter (plug) on the assumption you already have one
On the software side, we get all the goodies from Watch OS7 released earlier in the year. However, there are some significant new moves around the ability of kids to have their own watches without the need for a dedicated iPhone. There’s also a FITNESS+ subscription service which lets you broadcast workout stats to an Apple screen whilst following a pre-chosen, tailored workout covering 10 workout types. Finally, the FITNESS+ service is itself bundled into the wider Apple One offering that covers Apple’s other services like TV and Music.