The Apple Watch Series 6 is no exception to the rule for Apple watch launches and represents only a small increase over the previous generation. The new model features a blood oxygen sensor, a faster processor and updates to the screen and design. Is it enough to maintain Apple’s reign in the smartwatch market?
With prices starting at R $ 5,299, which can reach five digits in stainless steel or titanium models, the Apple Watch Series 6 remains a very expensive electronics, especially because you need an iPhone to use all the functions of the wearable. Worth it? I tested the new Apple Watch in the past few weeks and count my impressions in this review.
Apple Watch Series 6 video review
O Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that helps people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our reviews are not reviewed or approved by external agents. The Apple Watch Series 6 was provided by Apple on an indefinite loan. The product will be used in future content before being returned to the company.
Design and canvas
The format of the Apple Watch Series 6 is the same since the Series 4. Although it likes the round style of the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the square with rounded corners from Apple has its advantages: the use of the screen is greater and the housing can be more compact , without dispensable edges. The reversible design allows the watch to be worn on the right arm with the physical buttons facing the hand, facilitating access to the controls.
Not to say that the Series 6 is identical to the previous one, Apple launched the aluminum version in two new colors: red and blue. I liked the blue, but I feel that it is less versatile to combine bracelets: the silver one in Milanese style, which has a more serious and sophisticated face, unlike the watch case, more casual and stripped. But silicone bracelets with neutral tones, like gray, white or black, until they work well.
The 40 mm model OLED screen has excellent definition. Apple says that the brightness when the wrist is lowered was 2.5 times stronger than the Series 5. The difference really exists, but even the previous generation already had enough strength to allow viewing in sunlight when exercising . In addition, the algorithm that lights up the screen when you raise your arm has always been very good on the Apple Watch, so it’s not like it’s a change from water to wine.
Software and resources
Most software updates for watchOS 7 have been released for most previous versions of the Apple Watch. A unique feature of the Series 6 is the blood oxygen meter, which scared me the first time my wrist went red out of the blue while I was getting ready for sleep. This function arrives at an opportune (and sad) time, since hypoxia became better known this year for its relationship with COVID-19.
Apple offers a very compelling set of health-related functions. The electrocardiogram helps to detect possible cardiac arrhythmias and has already saved lives around the world. The noise exposure meter works well because it also considers what you hear through headphones on the iPhone. For women, Cycle Tracking sends forecasts of menstruation and fertile period, in addition to allowing the recording of behaviors and symptoms throughout the cycles.
Sleep monitoring, a new feature of watchOS 7, did not please me for two reasons. First, because the Apple Watch still doesn’t seem like a suitable device for measurements at night due to the limited battery life, which I will comment on below. Second, because the resource was very simple: it limits itself to recording the total hours slept, and the competition has long detailed the stages of sleep (light, deep and REM) and even shows scores, suggesting what you could improve on .
This tendency by Apple to oversimplify native features makes room for a strength of watchOS, which is the broad ecosystem of third-party applications. Sleep Cycle, for example, is a great smart alarm to wake you up when you are in a light sleep phase. There is also no shortage of applications for different sports. But I would love to see a more complete Apple Watch from the factory.
Is it good for running?
One of my hobbies is street racing and, every year, the Apple Watch is the only smartwatch that makes me balance between continuing with my Garmin or migrating once and for all to the apple side. Of course, specialized brands offer a wider range of features, but Apple has three important points in its favor: accurate sensors, expandability by third-party applications and features integrated into the iPhone that no brand has managed to get close to today.
For running, the Exercise app is as simple as possible: just select the desired mode, a countdown starts and, well, you start running. At most, you can set a time goal or pace alerts to help you keep pace. I miss interval or progressive training directly in the native app, or even training programs for specific distances, like 10K or half-marathon, another very common feature in the competition.
But those who are not as narrow-minded can perfectly use the Apple Watch Series 6. The least that is expected from a good sports smartwatch are good sensors (and Apple is great at that). The heart rate sensor is excellent, unlike the Galaxy Watch 3, which tends to make erroneous readings during intense activities. GPS is also reliable: I don’t see the Apple Watch getting lost easily on a sharp curve or in areas with tall buildings, which sometimes happens on the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, for example.
In addition, Apple makes it very practical to go for a run just with the watch and a pair of headphones. Syncing with Apple Music and Apple Podcasts is fast and reliable. If you want to buy water on the way, just pay with Apple Pay. And in the 4G version, you have free access to emergency services in more than a hundred countries even if you have not set up a cell phone plan on your watch, which gives you a feeling of security.
But if there’s one thing that Apple hasn’t managed to solve yet (and maybe it won’t solve in the short term) it is the battery, which remains with a promised 18-hour autonomy since the first generation, launched in 2015. I noticed advances on several specific points in the last years, as in battery life when monitoring races with GPS, but I always worry about the “solutions” that Apple implements to try to improve the experience and that, for me, are nothing more than temporary workarounds.
In my tests, the Apple Watch Series 6 held up even longer than promised on the days when I did not engage in any physical activity: in the standard settings, with the screen always on, notifications on and using sleep monitoring, it was about 26 hours between 100% and 10% load.
In my races, until the clock went well: in a 23 km long, done in just over two hours, listening to an Apple Music playlist previously saved in memory, the charge of the Apple Watch Series 6 was 100% for 61% at the end of the activity. This means that the battery is sufficient even to register a marathon, leaving a small amount of charge left at the end.
However, there are hidden problems with this apparently “satisfactory” autonomy. If you want to use your Apple Watch to monitor your sleep, you become dependent on the charger and need to charge your watch once or twice in the middle of the day. The other issue is that lithium batteries have a life span measured in cycles. With a low battery life, you need to charge more often. And charging the battery faster helps you wear it out faster. Attacking these symptoms does not address the cause, which is the limited battery.
And I don’t need to say that these autonomy tests were done with few charge cycles, when the Apple Watch battery is at its peak. The results would obviously be worse after a year or two of use.
The Apple Watch Series 6 brought me the same sensations as the Series 5. It is far from perfect and does not excite to bring very little news, but it remains, in my opinion, the best smartwatch on the market as a whole. There may be a competitor with a better battery, another with more complete resources for physical activities or another with some exclusive characteristic. However, nobody has been able to deliver a more complete package to date.
While Apple does not really solve the battery problem and remains very conservative in design and native applications, without major changes from one year to the next, the Apple Watch Series 6 continues as a very sure “health companion”. It is remarkable the excellent work of integration between the cell phone and the watch, the caprice in watchOS and the impeccable performance both in the use of applications and in the data obtained by the sensors.
For those who already have a previous model, I believe that the upgrade is only worthwhile for users of Apple Watch Series 3 or earlier, who should benefit from the larger screen, the faster processor for applications and the new sensors, such as the electrocardiogram and the blood oxygen saturation meter. From the Series 4 onwards, the changes have been so small that it is difficult to justify a new expenditure.
Of course, the Apple Watch is an expensive toy. So expensive (and for so long) that I don’t even emphasize it anymore in Apple product reviews: who keeps buying is because they don’t have to be counting money. But for those who can afford it, it’s hard to regret it later: the Series 6 has every chance to help Apple maintain the crown in the smartwatch market.
- Drums: up to 18 hours;
- Connectivity: 3G, 4G LTE (bands 3 and 7), GPS, Glonass, Galileo, QZSS, 802.11n Wi-Fi, NFC (Apple Pay), Bluetooth 5.0;
- Dimensions: 40x34x10.4 mm;
- Internal memory: 32 GB;
- Weight: 30.5 grams (without bracelet, aluminum);
- Platform: watchOS 7.1;
- Processor: dual-core Apple S6;
- Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, luminosity, barometer, optical cardiac sensor, electric cardiac sensor, blood oxygen saturation meter, compass, altimeter always active;
- Screen: OLED LTPO always on with a resolution of 394 × 324 pixels.