The Apple Watch has been one of the most coveted smartwatches since its launch in 2016. Every year, Apple unveils a new iteration with even better fitness features, and this year is no exception.
The Apple Watch Series 6 was unveiled last week, but it looks identical to the Apple Watch Series 5 and comes with the same hefty price tag. So how does it stack up against other smartwatches? And is the Apple Watch Series 6 the best smartwatch you can buy? We got our hands on one to find out...
Apple Watch Series 6: How We Tested
We wore the Apple Watch Series 6 for five days, assessing how accurate it was at counting steps taken and distance travelled, as well as logging walking, running and strength training exercise sessions.
We tested the reliability of the sleep tracking function, the blood oxygen measure, and evaluated how many smartphone notifications it displayed, as well as how clear making and taking calls through the watch was. We also put Siri to the test and asked her to do a range of different tasks, from showing the weather, setting timers and even finding information from the web.
Apple Watch Series 6 Specs
- Display: 1.57 inch or 1.73 inch
- Processor: Apple S6
- Works with: iPhone
- Strap material: Silicon
- Interchangeable straps: Yes
- Storage space: 32GB
- GPS: Yes
- Number of exercises tracked: 80
- Contactless payments: Apple Pay
- Voice assistant: Siri
- Battery life: Up to 18 hours
Apple Watch Series 6: Fitness Features
There’s no denying this Apple Watch offers a comprehensive range of fitness features. It can track 80 different types of exercises, from walking, running, cycling and swimming to boxing and strength training.
For more than a quarter of these, the watch uses built-in sensors such as GPS, Altimeter and a heart rate monitor to work out an accurate calorie burn, as well as providing other metrics including distance and pace. The calorie burn for other workouts is based on that of a brisk walk.
It can automatically detect when you start performing eight exercises including running, cycling and swimming, so it doesn’t matter if you forget to manually start the workout, and there’s even a reminder to end the workout when the watch senses you’ve stopped exercising.
During testing, we found the automatic workout detection was accurate at identifying which exercise we were doing and kicked in around 10 minutes after we’d started.
For the first time, the watch can measure your SP02 level. This measures how well your red blood cells are carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and is a good way to keep track of your overall fitness.
On test, it was simple to measure and the watch will even take background readings, too. You also get the same low or irregular heart rate alerts, fall detection, and ability to take an ECG as on the Series 5.
The watch tracks the steps you take, the distance you travel and the calories you burn in your everyday activities, too. On test, we found it was accurate at monitoring all of this.
Another plus is that you’ll no longer need a third-party app to track your sleep, as this is now built into the watch. It requires some initial set up on your phone, but after that, it will automatically detect when you’re asleep using its movement and heart rate sensors. We love that it turned the display off and locked it, so it didn’t light up in the middle of the night.
Apple Watch Series 6: Smart features
The Apple Watch isn’t just a fitness tracking tool. You can make and take calls through the watch, read and reply to messages and see app notifications from your smartphone. If you opt for the more expensive cellular model, you won’t need your iPhone close by to do any of these either.
Siri is built-in, so she can set timers, get directions and even accept dictated replies to messages. You no longer have to press the button on the side (known as the digital crown) to summon her. On test, we were able to raise the watch to our mouth and say “Hey Siri” for her to spring into action.
You can also store music on the watch or stream playlists from Apple Music, listening through Bluetooth headphones connected to the watch. It’s got a brighter screen too, which we found was easier to read from in sunny condition compared to the Apple Watch Series 5.
Another new feature, the watch is now able to detect when you’re washing your hands and show a 20-second countdown timer on the screen.
Apple Watch Series 6: Comfort
The Apple Watch Series 6 has interchangeable straps that come in a range of different materials including silicon, which is ideal for fitness as it wipes clean, leather and metal.
There’s now even a strap option that has no buckles or clasps. Instead, this stretchy band, which comes in silicon, fabric or leather, can just be pulled on and off the wrist.
Apple Watch Series 6: Battery life
During testing, we found the Apple Watch Series 6 lasted around 18 hours between charges. It’s quicker to recharge than the Apple Watch Series 5 too, taking one hour and 30 minutes to fully recharge.
If you have sleep tracking set up, the watch will even remind you to charge it if you have less than 30% left before bed.
The battery doesn’t last as long as other smartwatches and the display suffers from fingerprint marks.
Apple Watch Series 6: Price
The Men's Health Verdict
This is a fully loaded smartwatch that’s accurate when tracking your exercise sessions and has plenty of health features, so you can track your overall wellness.
However, if you’re looking to upgrade from a Watch Series 4 or earlier, it may not be worth splashing your cash.
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