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Apple Watch 6 six months later — what I love and hate

Apple Watch 6 six months later: What I love and hate
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve spent six months wearing the Apple Watch Series 6 almost every day. Whether I’m working out, cooking, commuting around or catching some zzz’s, you can usually find the Product Red smartwatch secured to my wrist.

As the best smartwatch you can buy, the Apple Watch 6 gets a lot of things right. It has a bright, always-on display, in addition to precise fitness tracking and seamless integration with the rest of Apple’s products, including my iPhone 12 Pro Max. While the battery life still pales in comparison to some competing smartwatches, faster charging actually makes a difference.

Recently, a friend asked me if she should get the Apple Watch 6, and I realized I’d been using mine long enough to offer some insight on this $399 investment. Although my thoughts haven’t changed much since my Apple Watch 6 one month later review, there are different reasons I appreciate the smartwatch now than I did when I first started using it. There are reasons I’m starting to get excited about ditching it for the Apple Watch 7, too.

Here’s what I think about the Apple Watch 6, six months later.

Apple Watch 6 is a must for biking

I’ve recently moved to New York City, where biking is a highly practical mode of transportation. Because I don’t have my own bike, I’ve learned how to navigate the infamous CitiBike bicycle-share system. But I’m not sure I’d feel as comfortable two-wheeling around Manhattan without my Apple Watch 6 and watchOS 7.

Apple Watch 6 six months later

(Image credit: Apple)

Not only do I like to track my ride duration, calories burned and heart rate in the Workout app, but the native Apple Maps app is also a must for cycling directions. Usually, I have no idea where I’m going, and my iPhone is stored safely out of reach while I’m whipping down the West Side Highway. I rely on the turn-by-turn directions and haptic cues of the Apple Watch 6’s cycling navigation to make sure I reach my destination. In the battle of Apple Maps vs. Google Maps, this is one instance where Apple wins.

Customize your notifications if you haven’t already

Customizable notifications is an Apple Watch feature I only began taking advantage of recently. Until a few weeks ago, I felt bombarded by mirrored notifications from every single app on my iPhone. I finally decided to toggle off notifications for services I don’t need updates from on my wrist.

Consider this a sign to curate your Apple Watch notifications, if you haven’t done so yet. If you plan to purchase the Apple Watch Series 6 (or Apple Watch SE, or Apple Watch 3) make sure to customize your notifications settings during the setup process.

The battery life might be deteriorating

few months I used it, the smartwatch would last up 24 hours. Now, my wearable seems to need juice every 20 hours, which is still better than Apple’s 18-hour estimate but prevents me from charging at the same time every day. 

What could cause this? First, I’m working out more than I was six months ago. I’ve also switched my charging source a couple of times. Plus batteries aren’t designed to last forever, they can deteriorate. I just hope the trend doesn’t continue, as we’ve seen happen with aging iPhones.

Get the silicone Solo Loop, not the braided one

I initially despised the Solo Loop band and the hoops you had to jump through to find the right size when the Apple Watch 6 launched and many Apple stores were closed to shoppers. The ones I had ordered online with the printable measuring tape didn’t fit properly, and I didn’t like the sensation of pulling the watch over my hand instead of clasping it around my wrist. 

Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Future)

Then, I got the Braided Solo Loop in my size, and I liked it for a while. After six months, though, the band’s fabric has grown discolored and a little stretched out, even though I tried to take care of it. The $99 band stopped feeling comfortable. Since then, I’ve switched the $49 silicone Solo Loop, and think it’s the better choice, especially for anyone who’s active. Of course, you could always get any of the best Apple Watch bands, too.

I still don’t use the Blood Oxygen app

Outside of work purposes (such as when I wrote our guide for how to use the Apple Watch 6 Blood Oxygen app or test the SpO2 readings on other smartwatches,) I don’t administer blood oxygen readings. Unless you find yourself needing to know your body's oxygen saturation often, I don’t think the blood oxygen sensor has huge appeal. 

Still, I’m hoping Apple has a new health sensor in store for the Apple Watch 7. Rumor has it  blood glucose monitoring is coming, which could greatly benefit those with diabetes. I don’t know if that alone should justify an upgrade. FDA-approved blood pressure monitoring, on the other hand, would absolutely elevate the Apple Watch’s role as a medical device.

For more on Apple Watch tips and tricks, visit our guide on how to use the Apple Watch. Be sure to check out the best Apple Watch deals before buying, too.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.