Apple Watch Series 6 is faster, more power-efficient, and can track blood oxygen levels

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,523   +574
Staff member
What just happened? Tim Cook and friends just announced the Apple Watch Series 6 at the company's "Time Flies" keynote event today. The wearable has a few new features that distinguish it from the previous generation, including faster silicon, an altimeter, and a blood oxygen sensor.

Apple Watch Series 6 uses Cupertino's new S6 chip. The "system-in-package" (SiP) is based on the dual-core A13 Bionic that powers the iPhone 11, so it should have better performance than the Series 5 watches. Apple claims it is 20-percent faster.

The silicon is also more power-efficient. Even with the boost in processing speed, battery life will see virtually no loss to the normal 18-hours of run time seen in earlier iterations. It will charge faster as well. Apple says the Series 6 can fully charge in an hour and a half.

Apple Watch Series 6 sports a U1 chip and "Ultra Wideband" antennas. Although Apple did not mention having anything lined up at the moment, it claims that these innovations will allow support for short-range communication applications like digital car keys.

Innovations in the always-on Retina display make it 2.5 times brighter when outdoors. So even in direct sunlight, the screen will be visible with the wrist down. Apple also added touch support when in the down position to give access to complications, notification, or even swipe gestures to change faces without waking the screen.

Series 6 now has an always-on altimeter that uses a combination of barometric pressure, GPS, and nearby WiFi networks to provide real-time ground elevation data. It is vertically accurate to one foot—a handy tool for hikers or others who might want to know their elevation at a glance.

The feature that Apple seems most proud of in Series 6 is its new blood oxygen sensors and accompanying app. On the watch's back are four new clusters of red and infrared LEDs. The light emitted is reflected and read by photodiodes. The diodes hand this data off to the Blood Oxygen app, which measures oxygen saturation (SpO2) in the blood based on color variations.

The sensors detect levels between 70-100 percent. Users can check SpO2 levels on-demand and have a reading in 15 seconds. The sensors will also work in the background when the user is inactive, including while asleep. The Health app records readings for easy tracking of blood oxygen levels over time.

The GPS-only Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399, while the cellular + GPS version is $499. Apple is currently taking orders for both models, and units will begin shipping this Friday, September 18. Nike and Hermès models are also available as usual. Additionally, Apple introduced a budget model called Apple Watch SE. Check out our separate coverage for more information on that.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,332   +3,159
I definitely want one.

Maybe a special black metal band this time.

not sure if I’ll bother to get the cellular version.
 
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brucek

Posts: 498   +574
TechSpot Elite
Anyone know what the BOM cost for the cellular modem is? Is it it really so significant that the cellular modem version needs to cost $100 more? I'd have thought this would come way down in price over time but I guess something is holding up?
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,332   +3,159
Anyone know what the BOM cost for the cellular modem is? Is it it really so significant that the cellular modem version needs to cost $100 more? I'd have thought this would come way down in price over time but I guess something is holding up?
My problem isn’t the premium for the cellular watch.
My problem is the extra fee for it.
I should only have to pay ONCE for my cellular number. I shouldn’t need to pay more for tethering or answering a call on my watch.
 
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brucek

Posts: 498   +574
TechSpot Elite
Indeed. And the prospect of that extra fee is why I'd have expected the up front cost to be lower. My guess is if they could, they would, so it really must be truly expensive in some way?
 

ColdSoup

Posts: 78   +165
Anyone know what the BOM cost for the cellular modem is? Is it it really so significant that the cellular modem version needs to cost $100 more? I'd have thought this would come way down in price over time but I guess something is holding up?
Given Apple's high volume, probably around $10-15 or so for the physical chip. I'd guess in total it's $20-$25 more in build cost.
 
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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,064   +1,386
Id also expect the added costs related to getting the right govt approvals in different countries and logistics with carriers to be factored in to the cellular models.

Either way, worth it for me. $10 a month to be able to leave my phone at home when I run or do a quick errand is nice. Any more than that a month and id definitely be hesitant though.

Upgrading from 38mm series 3 to 44mm series 6 here. Fairly excited.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,396   +5,836
And still, with over two years of testing Apple still won't field the watch that tracks your H1AC. Can't say it doesn't exist since their fearless President has one he has been using all that time ......
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,332   +3,159
And still, with over two years of testing Apple still won't field the watch that tracks your H1AC. Can't say it doesn't exist since their fearless President has one he has been using all that time ......
The only logical progression is an implant that communicates with the watches
 

mctommy

Posts: 347   +82
And still, with over two years of testing Apple still won't field the watch that tracks your H1AC. Can't say it doesn't exist since their fearless President has one he has been using all that time ......
It doesn't make sense to track your H1ac on a daily basis as it won't change in between readings. I think you meant tracking your glucose levels on the fly or Continuous Glucose Monitoring. If that's the case, you still would need to have a sensor poking your belly or arm so that the watch can communicate and get the readings.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,396   +5,836
The only logical progression is an implant that communicates with the watches
The existing systems advertised as "no stick" are able to accomplish this, their only drawback is the companies limit the sensor to 2 or 4 weeks when independent tests have shown they can effectively work for beyond 6 months. The Apple watch that is being tested is similar, requires an independent "monitor" that adhere's to the skin. The problem with internal units is limited lifespan and expense to change them out ......

And the other comment was correct, it's not monitoring A1c, it is actually monitoring glucose but with the internal database in phone or monitor, it can calculate an average and give a pretty good estimate on what the reading would be.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,282   +606
I wish they had a normal wrist watch type design. I find their design very ugly looking on women and especially on men. but spec and feature wise I dont doubt it ll be amazing.
 

mbk34

Posts: 75   +28
I'm trying hard but I can't think why I'd need to know my blood oxygen level. Real time blood glucose would be useful to me but, as previously mentioned, H1ac wouldn't be that useful. My biggest problem with these things though is that I'm getting on a bit and I find I can barely read what's on these ting screens.

Anyway, I just bought myself a ttgo t-watch 2020 watch for £21 so what do I care. It doesn't have quite the same designer flair but for the price I won't complain. What's got me excited about this one is it's an Arduino with all the sensors, a vibration motor and obviously a screen. There's also a full development environment so my aim is to get it to talk with my electric unicycle so I can see speed etc on the go. If that fails maybe I'll have a go at the world's first AI driven vibrator.
 

brucek

Posts: 498   +574
TechSpot Elite
There have been some covid cases where a blood oxygen monitor would start showing the impact to the body before the person felt the symptoms. Having that extra time to start getting treatment earlier could be important. Anyway, that's what got me and all my friends to buy pulseox units, they aren't expensive, but now we already have them so having it on the watch wouldn't be a new benefit for me. Still, maybe it'll end up doing some people some good.
 

Mugsy

Posts: 662   +114
Until the Apple Watch allows you to do Video Calls (ala "D-ick Tracy"), it'll never be more than a novelty (had to edit the name to prevent it from being censored.) :confused:
 

netman

Posts: 559   +194
Reviving the old technology already available in cheaper watches elsewhere...very innovative...!
 

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