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Apple Watch 6: Release date, price, sleep tracking and rumors

Apple Watch
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If it actually happens, Apple's newest wearable, the Apple Watch 6, will be arriving this fall. 

Apple’s flagship wearable has released annually since it first put smartwatches on the map in 2015, gradually gaining key new features such as cellular support, heart tracking and an always-on display. And while we’re a ways out from the Apple Watch 6’s expected fall release, we’re already seeing some interesting rumors that could point to some significant leaps forward for Apple’s wearable.

Here’s everything we know so far about the Apple Watch 6, including the watch’s rumored release date, price and features.

Apple Watch 6 release date 

Like clockwork, the latest Apple Watch has launched every September since the debut of the Series 1 and Series 2 models in 2016. We normally would expect that trend to continue in 2020, with the Apple Watch 6 likely debuting alongside the iPhone 12 this September, but this year is unlike any other.

However, you can expect to get a sneak peek at the Apple Watch 6’s software before then. In a normal year, Apple typically unveils its latest mobile software every June at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2020); due to the coronavirus pandemic, this will be an online-only affair this year. We'll probably hear about Watch OS 7 at the event, but when it will actually show up, along with the Apple Watch 6, is anyone's guess.

Apple Watch 6 price 

Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch 5 currently starts at $399 for the GPS only model, and $499 for the GPS + cellular variation. Apple has employed this pricing structure for several years now, so we don’t expect it to change much for the Apple Watch 6.

What’s less clear is what will happen to the lower end of Apple’s watch lineup. The Apple Watch Series 3 currently sits as Apple’s budget option, starting at $199 for GPS and $299 for cellular. It’s possible that the Series 3 will get an even steeper price cut with the Apple Watch 6 replacing the Series 5. Alternatively, Apple could keep the Series 5 around at a lower price. 

Apple Watch 6 features and specs 

Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Early rumors suggest that the Apple Watch 6 could get some major new features, including one that everyone’s been asking for. 

Sleep tracking: According to several reports, this long-awaited feature could be coming to the Apple Watch 6. 

Israeli tech site The Verifier says that Watch OS 7 will get both sleep and blood oxygen tracking, citing anonymous sources within Apple that its worked with for several years. However, these features will not come to the original Apple Watch, nor the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2, though those models will continue to receive other updates and bug fixes.

A Bloomberg report from early 2019 claimed that Apple has been testing a built-in sleep monitoring feature that could be ready to launch by 2020, which would make it primed for this year’s Apple Watch.

While there are several sleep-tracking apps available for watchOS including Sleep Watch and AutoSleep Tracker, Apple’s wearable doesn’t monitor your snooze time out of the box. Integrated sleep tracking is a feature Apple Watch fans have been asking for for quite some time, and would make the Apple Watch 6 a worthy rival to fitness-focused wearables such as the Fitbit Charge 3.  

MicroLED display: One of the more interesting Apple Watch 6 rumors is around the smartwatch’s display, which could make the switch from OLED to microLED. According to a 2019 report from Economic Daily News (via MacRumors), Apple could launch a microLED-based Apple Watch as soon as 2020, which could lead to a slimmer and more power-efficient Apple Watch 6.

(Image credit: Patently Apple / USPTO)

Optical sensor: The Apple Watch 6 also could drop one of the wearable’s most defining features: the Digital Crown. A newly discovered Apple Patent shows a design for an on-body optical sensor, which would sit flush with the watch case and eliminate the need for a protruding physical button. 

While this change would take some getting used to for longtime Apple Watch users, it could lead to a sleeker Apple Watch 6, and may even reduce the likelihood that you’ll perform accidental inputs while putting clothes on or working out. There’s no telling if this feature will arrive in time for the Apple Watch 6 (or any Apple Watch at all), but it would be a significant change, similar to Apple dropping the home button in 2017’s iPhone X. 

Better performance and water resistance: In a note to MacRumors in late 2019, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the Apple Watch 6 will boast speedier performance (duh) in addition to improved water resistance and better wireless capabilities. The latest Apple Watch models are water resistant at up to 50 meters, so it will be interesting to see how Apple could take the Watch 6’s endurance further.