The Apple Watch Series 6 launched just over a month ago. Perhaps you ordered it the day it debuted, or perhaps you have some questions for those people who've had the watch for a bit before purchasing one of your own. If that’s the case, hopefully I can provide some answers for you.
I’ve worn the Apple Watch 6 almost every day since it launched and can say with the utmost confidence that it’s the best smartwatch around. It’s responsive, intuitive and everything a savvy iPhone user could want on their wrist.
But that doesn’t mean I recommend spending $399 (or perhaps a smidge less thanks to Black Friday Apple Watch deals) for the sake of it. Especially not with the $279 Apple Watch SE and even $329 Fitbit Sense promising similar, key features at a more affordable price.
Our Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple SE face-off sifts through the difference between these top smartwatch models. That said, if you’re more or less committed to the Series 6, you might be interested in hearing how my feelings towards it have changed now that we’re past the fog of first impressions.
Here’s what I think of the Apple Watch Series 6, one month later.
Blood oxygen app: Haven’t used it once
Although I’ve tested several smartwatches with blood oxygen monitoring before the Apple Watch 6, I thought Apple would put it on the map for wearables. SpO2 levels are a reliable indicator for respiratory health, and given the ongoing pandemic, it seemed like customers would be interested in this kind of tool. Heck, I thought I’d be checking my blood oxygen daily.
But I’m not. In fact, outside of work purposes (such as when I wrote our guide for how to use the Apple Watch 6 Blood Oxygen app), I haven’t administered a single blood oxygen reading. I’m happy to report I didn’t experience any of the issues that reviewers and users alike have run into some issues with fielding accurate readings, though.
Unless you find yourself needing to know your body's oxygen saturation often, I don’t think the blood oxygen sensor alone justifies a Series 6 purchase. The brighter always-on display is a far more universal upgrade.
Battery life: Better than you’d think
For once I can finally stop complaining about the Apple Watch’s battery life. It’s taken three years to get here, and I’m sorry to anyone I nagged along the way. Despite the always-on Series 6 being rated for 18 hours like the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 4 before it, I found the newest Apple Watch goes the distance. Some days I can go 24 hours before needing a charge.
Of course activity tracking and GPS usage still drain the battery faster than normal. But overall I don’t find myself preoccupied with how much juice is left. I used to stick to watch faces that showed my battery life at a glance, but it’s not a concern anymore, even when it comes to wearing my Apple Watch overnight for sleep tracking.
Yes, it would be nice if the Apple Watch could survive an overnight trip without needing to pack a charger. A friend put me onto this $20 portable Apple Watch charger for my keychain that I’m excited to try out, though.
Solo Loop: Awesome, as long as you have the right size
One of the first things I disliked about the Apple Watch Series was the Solo Loop band that came in the box. The stretch band sounded like a great replacement for the traditional sport band, but I ended up returning to the classic strap quickly. I realized I probably had the wrong Solo Loop size (you need a printable measuring tape to find yours), and it seemed like I'm not the only person who had problems.
I’ve since acquired a Solo Loop in the proper size, and not just any Solo Loop: the braided one. If you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, the Braided Solo Loop is a worthwhile accessory. The lightweight, fabric feel makes it the most comfortable Apple Watch band I’ve used to date. I also appreciate that it's made from 100% recycled materials.
Watch Face sharing: Totally underrated
This is less of an Apple Watch Series 6-specific feature, but one worth mentioning as it relates to the watchOS 7 software. Now that I’m familiar with sleep tracking, hand washing and the fun new watch faces, I’m appreciating some of this year’s more underrated upgrades.
Watch Face sharing is one of them. The Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE releases lined up with several birthdays and occasions for loved ones in my life, and so I gave these new smartwatches as gifts (when I could afford it). Most of them went to first-time users, so to help with getting started I sent some of my favorite complications through the watchOS 7 watch face sharing feature.
You can share watch faces with contacts from your phone or Apple Watch, although I think app companies would be silly not to start extending their brand identities via shared watch faces on social media. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing this feature used more often.
Apple Watch 6: Who's it for?
So, overall, the Apple Watch 6's best overall upgrade (for me) is its longer battery life, taking away the work of managing your remaining juice, and that means the folks who will get the most bang for their buck are likely those who are tired of making sure they don't hit empty.
And while the new Solo Loop is excellent (provided yours fits), these bands fit older Apple Watches so you do not need to upgrade for one. Same goes for Watch Face sharing. I'm not sure that blood oxygen level-checking is a real game-changer, but your mileage may vary.