It’s hard to believe that the Apple Watch has only been around for five years. The sixth edition of Apple’s flagship smartwatch is yet another reminder that this is the most ‘sorted’ wearable out there. Apple’s blend of hardware and a massive app ecosystem have given it a huge lead in the premium smartwatch segment. This year, Apple also unveiled an entry level smartwatch – the Apple Watch SE. However, the showstopper was the Apple Watch 6 with its cutting-edge hardware and its headline feature – Blood Oxygen monitoring, the starting point of our deep-dive.
Until 2020 SpO2 wasn’t a term most users were familiar with. COVID-19 and the Apple Watch 6 have increased the buzz around this. In simple terms, SpO2 refers to oxygen saturation, an estimate of the amount of oxygen in the blood. An acceptable SpO2 value is between 90 to 100% (95 to 100% being ideal) indicating good blood oxygenation that is necessary to supply the energy your muscles need to function. Apple has been quick to point out that this feature is more about measuring your overall wellness. You will notice a new set of sensors on the back of the watch – four LED clusters and 4 photodiodes, to measure light reflected back from blood.
The Watch 6’s on-demand SpO2 readings worked quite well in my tests, but you need to follow a couple of key steps that include placing your hand on a flat surface like a table and keeping still for this sensor to work effectively. The other handy addition is an altimeter that combines both GPS coordinates and barometric pressure to give you real-time updates on your altitude. This can work well in tandem with the Blood oxygen sensor when you’re trekking in high altitudes with thin oxygen levels.
While some of these new wellness features are very useful, it’s the hardware upgrades that you’re more likely to appreciate in everyday usage. At the heart of this watch is the new S6 SIP (system in package) that uses a dual-core processor, based on the A13 Bionic in iPhone 11, and runs up to 20% faster. These internals also impact the battery life that improves despite a more vibrant always-on display (500 nits) that is 2.5 times brighter than the Apple Watch 5.
The other key variable in the user experience is Watch OS 7, the latest iteration of Apple’s smartwatch operating system that has seen one of its biggest overhauls. There are quite a few new watch faces and some handy features like a handwashing timer that automatically detects when you’re washing your hands and sets off a 20-second timer. There’s also sleep tracking, although Apple does not offer some of the deeper sleep insights that some of its rivals do.
Style is a big part of the smartwatch game. We really dig the latest addition to Apple’s line up of watch bands. The Solo Loop, a unique stretchable band comes in two materials: soft silicone and braided yarn. It’s probably where style meets convenience, a phrase that also describes the Apple Watch experience.
The Apple Watch 6 starts at Rs 40,900 and comes in an array of variants. The new solo loop bands cost Rs 3,900 while the braided solo loop bands are priced at Rs 7,900
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