The Apple Watch lineup last received a major update in 2018 with the Apple Watch Series 4 featuring a 30 percent bigger display, thinner body, and ECG capability. The 2019 Series 5 refresh was a muted one, with the only update being the addition of an Always-On Display. For this year, Apple is expected to once again announce a major upgrade to the Apple Watch lineup at its event next week. Here’s a roundup of what the rumors tell us about the Apple Watch Series 6 will pack.
Faster S-series Chip
Apple ended up using the same S4 series chip inside the Apple Watch Series 5 as it did on the Series 4. For this year, it is all but given that the company is going to use a newer and more efficient S5 chip inside the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6. A faster and more efficient chip will not only help with performance but also allow the Apple Watch to last longer without the need for increasing the battery capacity. The addition of Always-on Display on the Apple Watch Series 5 had a negative impact on battery life which Apple could very well make up this year by using a more efficient chip.
There are no estimates or rumors on the S5 chip but going by the last few generations of the Apple Watch, it should bring about a notable jump in performance and efficiency.
Design and Display
We don’t expect any drastic changes design-wise from the Apple Watch Series 6. Rather, it will continue to feature a similar industrial design and form factor as the Series 5 and Series 4 smartwatches. Rumors about Apple adding Touch ID fingerprint biometrics to the Digital Crown or underneath the display itself seem highly unlikely to happen this year.
Taking about the display, we expect all models to continue using OLED panels, contrary to rumors that Apple could to switch using microLED displays. That would’ve allowed for higher brightness levels and lower power requirements.
However, Apple may remove Force Touch-related hardware from the Series 6. We don’t know for sure, but considering that watchOS 7 has all but ditched support for Force Touch features, that could very well happen. That could mean a thinner Apple Watch or a slightly bigger battery.
Blood Oxygen Monitoring
watchOS 7, which was unveiled in WWDC 2020, brought a slew of health-related features to the Series 3, 4, and 5 Apple Watches. However, code found in internal iOS 14 builds suggest that the Apple Watch Series 6 could stand out of the pack with the ability to warn users of reduced blood oxygen levels.
Lower levels of blood oxygen levels (below 80%) could pose risks to the respiratory and the cardiac systems. Furthermore, COVID-19 infections could also result in low oxygen levels. That could make such functionality invaluable.
Considering that competing smartwatches such as Samsung’s Galaxy 3 already offer the ability to monitor blood oxygen levels, it’s extremely likely for Apple to add the functionality so as not to fall behind. However, we don’t know whether Apple plans to implement additional hardware (such as a pulse oximeter) in the Series 6 or if the new functionality is merely software-related.
Apple was among the first companies to add ECG support to a consumer wearable with the Apple Watch Series 4. The company did not change anything in this regard with the Series 5 refresh last year. For 2020, rumors suggest the Apple Watch Series 6 will feature improved ECG capabilities that should make the overall experience even better and accurate. The ECG feature in Apple Watch has already saved countless lives across the globe and any improvement in this regard is going to be a welcome addition. Apple could also expand the ECG capabilities of the Apple Watch to more countries with the release of Apple Watch Series 6.
Improved Sleep Tracking
watchOS 7 finally brought sleep tracking to the Apple Watch Series 3, 4, and 5. However, the functionality is rather basic and doesn’t offer much when it comes to analyzing the overall quality of your sleep. Hence, the Apple Watch Series 6 may come with improved sleep tracking features with the inclusion of new hardware.
Mental Health Capabilities
Rumors indicate that the Apple Watch Series 6 could come with the ability to detect panic attacks and stress levels. It could then suggest breathing exercises to help the wearer calm down. The new Apple Watches may also maintain a history of stress-related issues, allowing the wearer to report the findings to his or her health provider for improved diagnosis.
Whether the Apple Watch Series 6 will simply use the heart rate sensor, or a combination that includes any new hardware related to blood oxygen monitoring, is yet to be seen. If it’s simply a case of the former, these features could also make their way to the Series 5 and the Series 4.
Low-Cost Apple Watch
According to a new Bloomberg report, we expect Apple to reveal a replacement low-cost model for the Apple Watch Series 3. It’s supposed to come with basic features such as heart-rate tracking, along with improved performance and battery life. It could also be priced in the same ballpark as the Series 3, which starts from $199.
Considering that the Apple Watch Series 3 is an extremely popular choice among users who only want fitness tracking, this rumor does make a lot of sense. This could also help Apple compete against similar offerings from the likes of Fitbit and Samsung.
The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at $399 for the GPS model and $499 for GPS + Cellular variant. Since Apple has employed a similar pricing structure for its smartwatches over the years, we don’t expect any surprises for the Apple Watch Series 6.
Announcement and Release Date
For months, we expected Apple to announce the Apple Watch Series 6 alongside the reveal of the iPhone 12. However, it’s now likely for the Cupertino-based giant to unveil the new smartwatch in a virtual event scheduled on the 15th of September. Other products, such as a refreshed iPad Air and the much-anticipated AirTags, could also be announced at that date. Apple may hold a separate announcement for the iPhone 12 sometime in early October.