us full opinion on the connected watch that does better than the others

The Apple Watch Series 6 is here. Replacing the Watch Series 5, it retains the same recipe and further strengthens its proposal dedicated to health and well-being. Supported by an ecosystem of bracelets for the most discerning fashion fans, it remains undoubtedly the best connected watch on the market. As long as you have an iPhone.

As every year since 2015, Apple launched in 2020 a new high-end connected watch. It’s called Apple Watch Series 6. It obviously replaces the Apple Watch Series 5 from which it takes not only the design, but also virtually the entire experience. Whether it is the integration into the Apple universe, the pronounced emphasis on health, well-being and sport (a focus all the stronger this year with the launch of Fitness +) or even the ever increasing number of compatible applications.

The Watch Series 6 therefore takes all that. And make it even better. Quite simply. A little touch up on the screen, without changing the design too much. Some additional biometric and environmental sensors to better support the wearer. Some additional services so that Apple Watch is not just an accessory, but a new screen in your digital life. This is what Apple promises. And that’s what we’ll be seeing up close in this full review of the Watch Series 6 (here in 40 mm version without 4G).

Our unboxing in video

Price and availability

The Apple Watch is already available. It is of course available in several shades. It is marketed in two sizes: 40 mm and 44 mm (this corresponds to the height of the case). And it comes in three materials: aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. It is also available in two versions: with or without an eSIM card.

Its price starts at 429 euros, in 40 mm version, aluminum case, without eSIM and standard Sport bracelet. Count 30 euros to go from one size to another and 100 euros to add a 4G connection. Account 320 euros to switch to a stainless steel case and 100 euros even more to switch to the titanium version.

The price of the bracelets varies from around thirty euros (sport buckle, sport bracelet, single buckle) to several hundred euros for Hermes bracelets, including intermediate prices for leather and steel bracelets (Milanese and links). . Some combinations may cost more than 1500 euros.

Technical sheet

Apple Watch Series 6
Dimensions 44 x 38 x 10.4 mm (44 mm)
40 x 34 x 10.4 mm (40 mm)
Weight 47.1 grams (44 mm)
39.7 grams (40 mm)
Screen 1.78 inch (44 mm)
1.57 inch (40 mm)
Always-On Display
Definition 448 x 386 pixels (44 mm)
394 x 324 pixels (40 mm)
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi n dual band, 4G (optional
Functions GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, altimeter, heart rate monitor, ECG and oximeter
SoC Apple S6 (dual-core)
Apple W3 (wireless connection)
Apple U1 Ultrawide Band
RAM 1 GB
Storage 8 GB
Water resistance waterproof 5 ATM, IP68
Audio Microphone and speaker
Drums 303.8 mAh (44 mm)
265.9 mAh (40 mm)
Autonomy announced: 18 hours
Wireless charging Yes
Materials Case: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
Screen: synthetic sapphire
Back: sapphire and ceramic

Design: on the same basis

The design of the Apple Watch does not budge. Between Series 3 and Series 4, there has been a big change: the size of the cases. They went from 38 and 42 mm to 40 and 44 mm. This allowed Apple to increase the size of the screens, but also to integrate a slightly larger battery. The Apple Watch Series 6 is therefore the third generation of Apple Watch to benefit from this update.

For the rest, Apple remains on its achievements. A rectangular case. On the left edge, a loudspeaker. On the right edge, the digital crown (which turns and clicks), the action button and the microphone for speaking to Siri. And at the back, the biometric sensors protected by sapphire and ceramic.

apple watch series 6 test

The case of our version is made of aluminum. The edges are rounded. On two slices, you find the famous notches to insert the bracelet. The fastening system is very clever because it prevents the user from taking the wrong direction when putting on the bracelet: if you insert the tip in the wrong direction, the bracelet will not attach. When it is put in the right way, you hear a slight click. To undo the bracelet, press with your fingernail on the two small notches at the back of the watches.

It’s a simple, elegant design. It gives the Apple Watch a fashion accessory side that few other connected electronics brands can claim to have. Very pleasant to wear, it is very light and is quickly forgotten. The 40mm version is very small for a man’s wrist (even for those with a small arm circumference) and will suit a woman more.

Display: the time always visible, like real watches

The Apple Watch Series 6 screen is rectangular, like all Apple Watches. Here it measures 1.57 inch or 1.78 inch depending on the version. Here it measures 1.57 inch and displays a definition of 394 pixels high by 324 pixels wide. Either a definition of 326 pixels per inch (note that this is the same definition for the 44 mm version). Which corresponds to the famous resolution ” retina By Steve Jobs.

This screen is based on a slab OLED LTPO. It offers excellent visibility, even under a summer sun, thanks to a brightness of 1000 nits. Based on OLED technology, the contrast ratios are excellent. The colors are very well reproduced. Note also that the Watch Series offers an “Always On” setting: the screen is always on so that you can see important information at any time. You can of course choose a more classic behavior (switched off all the time, except when you turn your wrist).

Note that the Apple Watch Series 6 is the first to abandon 3D Touch, technology that offers an additional level of depth in interacting with watchOS. This technology has been abandoned for several years in the iPhone (since the iPhone 8 precisely). We find this a shame, even if the developers have stopped exploiting it.

Screen protection is here from ionized reinforced glass, like on the iPhone. It is therefore not synthetic sapphire, a material that only protects the screens of the titanium and steel versions. This material is theoretically a little more fragile in the face of the vagaries of life.

More and more biometric and environmental sensors

A connected watch is not adopted today to tell the time. It is above all a “healthy” purchase. Whether it is to keep an eye on the main biometric signals day and night or to accompany sports sessions and analyze the heart rate or breathing in depth, the smartwatch has become a well-being companion.

apple watch series 6 test

From the first generation of its Watch, Apple presented this accessory as a companion related to health. This sixth generation has three important sensors. The heart rate monitor, already present since the first generation. It continuously measures the heart rate. The electrocardiogram (ECG), arrived with the Apple Watch Series 4. It measures the electrical activity of the heart. And its use is quite practical. And the oximeter, new for this year. It measures the volume of air in the blood (SpO2, VO2Max). And it’s just as convenient as the ECG.

With these three sensors, Apple Watch is able to detect certain abnormalities and advise the user to go to a specialist doctor. Of course, Apple Watch alerts are not a substitute for a doctor, but can prevent some accidents. The Apple Watch is not the only watch to offer these three sensors. But perhaps she is the only one to exploit them very intelligently.

Alongside these three elements, you find environmental sensors. There too, nothing very exceptional: accelerometer, magnetometer (compass), gyroscope, barometer, altimeter (novelty of this generation). These are important components for calculating physical activity, although their ability to accurately count movements is not always very realistic. The Apple Watch is no exception, even though it is one of the best students. Also note the presence of a GPS which is unrelated to the presence of a 4G connection. But viewing Maps still requires an Internet connection.

Interface: great ideas for dials

Apple Watch Series 6 comes with the latest version of watchOS. This is numbered 7.0. In absolute terms, watchOS 7 looks strangely like watchOS 6, but there are obviously a few new things on the program. We note for example the increase in the number of sports disciplines supported, the sleep monitoring integrated into the Health application, and new alerts (such as exposure to too much noise, for example), the integration of excellent Shortcuts (which are not shortcuts, but programmable routines) of iOS, the arrival of an “on board” translation tool (no connection required), etc.

The main novelty that really sets the Apple Watch apart from other smartwatches is the customization of the dials. With watchOS 7, each dial is customizable with elements called ” Complications (Funny name, don’t you think?). Depending on the screen you choose, you can choose two, three or four complications for display the information that is useful to you. Other elements of the dials can be personalized: color, wallpaper, graphic style, font, etc. No other watch offers so much customization on these dials.

In use, watchOS is a real operating system and not a closed, monolithic proprietary system. You can install applications. You can use these applications without going through the smartphone. And that’s not all about notifications, messaging or sports performance reports. You have everything in watchOS, even games.

If you use an iPhone on a daily basis, you will find very similar gestures in the Apple Watch: swipe from the bottom to the top for the quick setting, from the top to the bottom for the notification area) and access to all applications on the home screen. It’s a very nice miniaturization of iOS.

Three associated applications: Watch, Fitness and Health

Three iPhone apps are important for using Apple Watch. The first is Watch. It is used to configure the Apple Watch (and to make the first connection). You can change the watch face (and customize them), activate or deactivate Complications, customize the appearance of the interface, adjust certain display options (Always-On in particular), accessibility and connectivity (pairing with AirPods or Beats headphones), enable app notifications, etc. A link to tutorials and apps on the App Store are also provided.

apple watch series 6 test

The second application is Health. This is not an app specific to Apple Watch, but to all data related to health and wellness. You can include a lot of personal information, but you don’t have to. The app, of course, uses the Apple Watch for data feed, but that’s not all. You will find there all the dashboards related to your physical activity.

apple watch series 6 test

The third application is called Form. This is where you find all the data related to the rings. This is where you manage your rings (and goals) and find your trophies. This is where you can find the most comprehensive dashboard of your past training sessions (with a ranking by day and month). And this is where you can share your performances and create friendly competitions with your friends.

Autonomy: more efforts to be made

Now let’s talk about the autonomy of the watch. Officially, Apple Watch offers a battery life of 18 hours in mixed use. For the first few days, the battery life will seem slightly shorter. And that’s normal, you are learning to tame this new screen and this new interface. And, day by day, it will seem better to you: it is because you will ask for it less. In real life, we charged the watch every other day or so. And that’s not so bad for a watch that incorporates a 266 mAh only.

Even more than with competitive watches, this autonomy is extremely variable. Because Apple has optimized the platform and many parameters are available to you to extend the time until the next recharge. You can choose not to do heart monitoring or step counting (that would be a shame, but it is possible). You can turn off notifications (or keep them to a minimum). It will also vary depending on your location: at home, it connects via WiFi and outside via Bluetooth. The first seems to consume less than the second (and this is also true for the iPhone attached to it).

2 days of battery life is not much. Especially since some competitors, including Honor with the Watch GS Pro, offer several weeks of battery life (and this has been tested). So it’s quite disappointing. And that’s probably the Apple Watch’s biggest flaw: you have to search for it almost as many times as an iPhone. We obviously understand the reasons for this very limited battery life: this smartwatch offers so much more than others that it consumes a lot of energy.

To compensate, Apple has therefore chosen, like other brands, to bet on recharging. This is rather fast: it takes approximately a quarter past one to find a fully charged battery with the 40mm model. Slightly longer for the 44mm model according to our estimate (around an hour and a half, as Apple advertises).

When it comes to charging accessories, the Apple Watch is not original. The watch comes with a magnetic wireless charging pad that attaches to the back of the case. Unlike that of some competitors (Huawei, Honor for example), there is no specific meaning to plug in the pad: it is really wireless charging.

The iPhone: “my one and only friend!”

When you turn on the Apple Watch, the first information that appears on the screen is a request for the watch to be paired with an iPhone. This is the main problem with Apple Watch: it must be activated by an iPhone and nothing else. Even an iPad or MacBook isn’t enough to complete this step. Worse yet, there is a restriction on the OS version level: your iPhone must be compatible with iOS 14. Fortunately, all iPhones from iPhone 6s are able to migrate.

apple watch series 6 test

The first synchronization can go very well, as it can be very taxing depending on the quality of the connection between the two devices. Apple has done everything to make the connection between iPhone and Watch as easy as possible, but there can be some hiccups. Bring the two devices closer to each other and iPhone automatically prompts you to pair the Watch. Say yes and the Watch app launches (if installed, otherwise it will install itself).

apple watch series 6 test

Then you have the choice between automatic or manual connection. Preferably choose the first one: a screen is displayed asking you to place the Apple Watch in the white rectangle that appears (as if you were scanning a QR Code). The application will analyze the point cloud on the Watch screen and create the connection. Then comes the configuration and settings step. And that’s long enough.

If you choose manual connection, you will first need to authorize iPhone to connect to the watch with a numeric code that should normally appear on the accessory’s screen. But it’s not always the case. The procedure must then be restarted. Another possible sticking point is updates. Not only do you need to update iOS, but also the Watch app for iPhone. You can also apply the watchOS update during this phase. But we advise you to do this after activating the watch.

Can I use an Android smartphone with this watch?

In theory, as in practice, it is not possible to use an Android smartphone with the Apple Watch. First, the activation application does not exist on this OS. Second, the watch does not have a Bluetooth “standard” mode that would allow it to act as a wireless accessory.

Among the competitors, the position is very slightly different: whether with connected watches, like Honor’s MagicWatch 2, or wireless headphones like Oppo’s Enco Free, the use is better with a smartphone from the brand, but it is not impossible with another Android smartphone or iPhone. With Apple Watch, it’s no.

We did a search on the Internet to see what are the solutions to pair the Apple Watch with an Android smartphone. You will see some interesting videos on YouTube claiming that it is “possible”. But, these are solutions that are neither practical nor sustainable.

Conclusion

The Apple Watch Series 6 is, without a doubt, the best connected watch for those who dream of having a small computer around their wrist. In a very small format, it concentrates all the standard uses of a smartphone: call, messaging, geolocation, news feed, music listening, etc. Granted, the screen is small, especially when it’s 1.57 inches diagonally. But everything is perfectly calibrated to remain usable in this very small space.

We loved two things. First, intelligence around data. Like all watches, there are biometric and environmental sensors, but they’re not just there to pick up information. They offer to go further with dashboards, alerts and tips. Then customizable dials which are finally proposing to choose the useful information. This is an excellent initiative.

At 429 euros (or 459 euros) the base model, it may seem expensive. But a competitor’s watch that sells for 150 euros less will not offer half the functionality of the Apple Watch Series 6. As much to be clear, even if the face price is high, theApple Watch Series 6 is worth every penny spent. Afterwards, for bracelets, it’s another debate …

However, the watch is not perfect. Having a full OS in a very small box consumes a lot of energy. And, with a very small battery, autonomy of two days maximum is still the most annoying point, as other smartwatches last for weeks. While the use of these watches is less, but we are talking about a duration 5 to 10 times less on the Apple side.

Another point that is less and less acceptable: pairing limited to iPhone. In a market where 80% of smartphones in circulation are Android, it is a shame that Apple is forcing consumers to have an iPhone in order to use even half the potential of their watch. In other words: if you don’t have an iPhone, go your way!

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