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

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

Apple Watch 6 is launching sometime this fall, and leaks about what Apple's next wearable will hold are starting to gain speed.

We're confident the Apple Watch 6 and companion watchOS 7 software is on the way because new models have released every year since Apple first put smartwatches on the map in 2015. 

The Apple Watch has gradually gained key new features such as cellular support, ECG tracking and an always-on display. But now we’re seeing some interesting rumors that could point to even greater leaps forward for Apple’s wearable.

The Apple Watch 6 will likely be revealed alongside the iPhone 12 at Apple's fall keynote. Though the event could be later than usual this year due to production delays, Apple said during a recent earnings report that its global supply chain is back on track.

With lots of Apple Watch 6 leaks and a new watchOS 7 platform right on the horizon, keeping track of what is fact and what is fiction could get confusing.

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 May 13)

Apple Watch 6 release date 

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. 

However, you can expect to get a sneak peek at the Apple Watch 6’s software before then. 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, which is slated for June 22.

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

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Watch 6 price 

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

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Watch 6 battery life: Will it get more juice?

The Apple Watch 6 will likely get a battery life boost, part due to annual innovation and part due to it simply being time for Apple's wearable to last at least 2 days on a single charge. When it launches, it'll be competing with the Galaxy Watch 2, which is expected to last longer than the original's 4 days.

Apple could make the best smartwatches even better by giving the Apple Watch 6 more juice. One way it could look to improve battery life is by increasing the actual size or capacity of the battery, but this could complicate the watch's slim case.

It's more likely the new S6 chipset will offer improvements to power efficiency, much like the iPhone's new chip provides each year.

Apple Watch 6 new features and specs: Sleep tracking, blood oxygen detection

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

Sleep tracking: Israeli tech site The Verifier says Watch OS 7 will get sleep tracking, citing anonymous sources within Apple that its worked with for several years. 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.  

Blood oxygen detection: According to Israeli tech site The Verifier, blood oxygen monitoring, also 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: 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.

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.