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Apple Watch 6 release date, price, blood oxygen tracking and rumors

Apple Watch 6: Release date, price, sleep tracking and rumors
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Watch 6 is coming this fall, and leaks about what will be new (and the same) for Apple's upcoming wearable are starting to ramp up. 

We're confident the Apple Watch 6 is on the way because next-generation Watch models have debuted every year since Apple first put smartwatches on the map in 2015. And now that the companion watchOS 7 software has been unveiled, we know some of the features planned for the next year of wearable computing.

The Apple Watch has gradually gained key new features such as cellular support, ECG tracking, a built-in compass and an always-on display. Our Apple Watch Series 5 review shows why it's the best smartwatch around.

But now, we’re seeing some interesting rumors that could point to even greater leaps forward for Apple’s wearable in 2020, including the confirmation of blood oxygen monitoring.

The Apple Watch 6 will be revealed alongside the iPhone 12 at Apple's fall keynote. Based on Apple's latest earnings report, this will happen sometime in October due to production delays.

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

Latest Apple Watch 6 news (Updated August 2)

Apple Watch 6 release date and price

A new Apple Watch has been announced every September since the debut of the Series 1 and Series 2 models in 2016. We would expect that trend to continue in 2020, with the Apple Watch 6 likely debuting alongside the iPhone 12, but this year the world is facing unprecedented obstacles.

Production delays are hitting the supply chair hard right now, and we're seeing several companies push back releases. Though our iPhone SE 2020 review is live at last, the phone launched a few weeks after most analysts initially expected. Apple is probably doing what it can to keep its fall event on track, but we wouldn't be surprised if the keynote is later than September this year. 

The Series 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, adding it to our list of the best cheap smartwatches.

Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Watch 6 design and display

Apple hasn't changed the appearance of its smartwatch much since the Series 1 debut 5 years ago. We don't expect a radical redesign for the Apple Watch 6, but there could be a few changes based on rumors and patents.

The Apple Watch 6 could drop one of the wearable’s most defining features: the Digital Crown. A 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. 

One of the more interesting Apple Watch 6 rumors is that the smartwatch's display could switch from OLED to microLED. According to a 2019 report from Economic Daily News (via MacRumors), Apple plans to launch a microLED-based Apple Watch as soon as 2020, which could lead to a slimmer and more power-efficient Apple Watch 6. However, more a recent leaks say not so fast — the Watch 6 will still use JDI Display's OLED screen.

Will new accessories become available with the Apple Watch 6? Images of Apple's next leather bands leaked online, but we're not impressed. 

(Image credit: Patently Apple / USPTO)

Apple Watch 6 specs and battery life

Better battery life: A new leak shows that at least one battery in the Apple Watch 6 should be larger than the Apple Watch 5, coming in with a capacity of 303.8 mAh. However, the two other listed capacities of 265.9mAh and 262.9mAh would be smaller.

Regardless, we expect improved battery life from the Apple Watch 6, whether it's through a new S6 chip or the possible use of a more efficient Micro LED display.

Blood oxygen detection: According to The Verifier, blood oxygen monitoring, known as SpO2 monitoring, is coming with Watch OS 7. SPO2 measures the oxygen saturation level of your blood. If your blood oxygen drops below a certain concentration, which can be more likely to happen during exercise, the Watch could then warn you to ease up before you injure yourself.

Mental health features: A new video has revealed news that Apple wants its next wearables to give you better insight into your anxiety and emotions — with nearly live feedback. Leaker Max Weinbach and YouTube channel EverythingApplePro explain that the company wants the Apple Watch to be better at spotting early signs of stress and panic.

Specifically, the Apple Watch could use a blood oxygen monitor included with the watch to detect if you're hyperventilating before you notice, potentially helping you stave off panic attacks.

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. 

Apple Watch 6 blood pressure tracking

Reading blood pressure often requires an external device such as a compression cuff, but an Apple patent details how the company's smartwatch could do so autonomously. Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active 2 already offers blood pressure tracking, and the not-yet-released Galaxy Watch 3 is rumored to get it, too. With this in mind, Apple could be motivated to bring their own version of the technology to the Apple Watch.

The benefit of blood pressure tracking is identifying certain health conditions, such as hypertension. If recognized early on, treatment can be prescribed before the condition causes more severe issues.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 6 with watchOS 7: Sleep tracking and fitness features

The rumors are true: watchOS 7 will bring sleep tracking to the Apple Watch at last. 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 requested for quite some time, and could make the Apple Watch 6 a worthy rival to fitness-focused wearables such as the Fitbit Charge 4.  

WatchOS 7 will also introduce some new health and fitness features for the Apple Watch 6. The upcoming activity presets will include Dance, Functional Strength Training, Core Training and Cool Down.