Apple Watch: Everything You Need to Know

The biggest updates between models, naming conventions, and more

Apple has upgraded its flagship Apple Watch wearable regularly since introducing the device in 2015. With all the naming conventions and other small changes, it can be hard to keep up with the latest Apple Watch info. Here's some basic Apple Watch information and more details about Apple's popular wearable device.

Apple Watch Series 6 with blue band on a wrist
James D. Morgan / Getty Images

What Apple Watches Can I Buy?

Currently, Apple is officially selling several versions of the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE, and the Apple Watch Series 3.

The Apple Watch Series 5 has technically been discontinued, but it's still a powerful smartwatch you can find on sites like Amazon and Adorama, often at a great discount from its original price.

Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, Series 4, the original Apple Watch, and the first-generation Apple Watch Edition all have been discontinued, but you may still find some via third-party retailers.

Apple Watch Series 6

What We Like
  • Blood oxygen sensor and app.

  • Family Setup support.

  • S6 SiP with 64‑bit dual-core processor.

  • Always-on Retina display.

  • Variety of color and band options.

  • Slew of fitness features.

  • Water-resistant.

What We Don't Like
  • Getting all the features you want may up the price considerably.

  • Some users say battery life could be better.

Apple Watch Series 6.

The Apple Watch Series 6 was unveiled in September 2020 with some notable new features, including a blood oxygen sensor and app, new watch finishes, and the arrival of watchOS7. The latest OS adds a slew of functions to the wearable, including Family Setup, sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and much more.

The blood oxygen sensor and app let you take on-demand readings of your blood oxygen levels. It uses green, red, and infrared LEDs and four photodiodes on the back of the watch to compensate for different skin colors and improve accuracy. The app can measure blood oxygen levels from 70 to 100 percent.

Family Setup lets people use their iPhones to pair watches for children, older adults, and anyone who doesn't have an iPhone.

Series 6 holds onto most of the features introduced in the now-discontinued Series 5, including Siri, and an EGC app that tracks your heart rhythm.

The Series 6 Apple Watch comes in 40 mm and 44 mm case sizes and is available in an array of colors and finishes, including a new blue color and a red option, along with silver, space gray, and gold aluminum. Stainless steel models have a new graphite finish and an updated yellow gold.

Other customization options include a variety of straps and finishes,

Prices for the Apple Watch Series 6 start at $399 and can go all the way up to $1,499, depending on GPS and cellular options.

Apple Watch SE

What We Like
  • Less expensive than an Apple Watch Series 6.

  • Family Setup support.

  • S5 SiP with 64‑bit dual-core processor.

  • Water-resistant.

  • Some, but not all, of the Apple Watch Series 6 features.

  • Choose a Sports Band or buckle-less Solo Loop.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't have the always-on display of Series 6 models.

  • No blood oxygen app.

Apple Watch SE models in different colors.

Also unveiled in September 2020, the Apple Watch SE is the least expensive model in the new lineup. It doesn't have a blood oxygen sensor, but it will give you high and low heart rate and irregular heart rhythm alerts. It has an optical heart sensor, but not an electrical one.

It also comes with watchOS7, which adds a bunch of features from sleep tracking to automatic handwashing detection. Its Family Setup feature lets children, older adults, and other family members use an Apple Watch even if they don't have an iPhone.

The SE comes in 40 mm and 44 mm case sizes and has Space Gray, Silver, and Gold options, along with many available band colors. Opt for a Solo Loop band with no buckle or a more traditional Sports Band.

The Apple Watch SE with GPS starts at $279, while cellular models start at $329.

Apple Watch Nike

What We Like
  • Nike Run Club app preinstalled.

  • Exclusive Nike watch faces with special complications for the Nike Run Club app.

  • Reflective Nike Sport Loop and new options for the Nike Sport Band.

  • Nike bands are included in the cost.

What We Don't Like
  • Aluminum is the only case material option.

  • Silver and Space Gray are the only colors.

The Apple Watch Nike, part of the 6 Series line

The Apple Watch Nike is a variant of the Apple Watch 6 and SE, with many of the same features and options. Its main selling point is that it has the Nike+ Run Club app preinstalled, making it an ideal choice for serious runners. It also features a variety of special Nike watch faces optimized for the always-on Retina display.

The Apple Watch Nike starts at $399.

Apple Watch Hermès

What We Like
  • Hermès branding on the back of the watch.

  • Exclusive Hèrmes watch face optimized for always-on Retina display.

  • Unique leather Single Tour and Double Tour watch bands.

  • Hermès Sport Band.

What We Don't Like
  • Not everyone wants to pay this much for a smartwatch.

The Apple Watch Hermes

The Apple Watch Hermès is another variant, the result of a partnership with the famous French design house, and it's a gorgeous smartwatch. The Apple Watch Hermès is part of the Series 6 lineup, so you'll have the same feature and options. This exclusive device is available in 40 mm and 44 mm sizes, and you'll choose from a variety of finishes and designer bands.

Starting at $1,249, this isn't an inexpensive option, but it's certainly stylish.

Apple Watch Series 5

What We Like
  • Accelerometer up to 32 g-forces.

  • Second-generation optical heart sensor.

  • ECG app.

  • Fall detection and emergency SOS.

  • Water resistance up to 50 meters.

  • Microphone 50% louder than Series 3.

  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback.

  • GymKit and Apple Pay.

What We Don't Like
  • It's getting harder to find one of these discontinued, but powerful, watches for sale on third-party sites.

Apple Watch Series 5 in silver showing the home screen

The Apple Watch Series 5 was unveiled in September 2019, introducing a host of new features and functionality that have carried on to the Apple Watch 6 and SE.

It debuted the always-on Retina display; the new Noise app, which helps protect your hearing; and dozens of options for customizing your new wearable in Apple Watch Studio.

Series 5 carried over many Series 4 features, such as fall detection, Siri, a compass, and a ground elevation sensor to provide enhanced data about your workouts. A second-generation optical-electrical heart sensor and EGC app were also introduced.

Series 5 Apple Watches were made with both 40 mm and 44 mm case sizes. The GPS-only version comes in aluminum and three finishes: Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. Its GPS + cellular version had a choice of four body materials: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic.

Since the Series 5 Apple Watch has been discontinued, prices will vary depending on what third-party reseller you find.

Apple Watch Edition

What We Like
  • Titanium body with an Apple-exclusive treatment to resist stains and fingerprints.

  • Ceramic finish four times harder than stainless steel.

What We Don't Like
  • Discontinued and hard to come by.

Apple Watch Series 5 Edition with white ceramic body

The Apple Watch Edition was a special Apple Watch variant that appeared in the Apple Watch Series 3 and 5 lines. It featured an elegant ceramic body as well as a titanium option. This variant has been discontinued, but you may be able to find some on third-party sites.

The Apple Watch Edition was the original high-end version of the Apple Watch and was primarily intended for watch collectors. The original version was configurable up to $17,000 depending on the size and band choice.

Apple Watch Series 3

What We Like
  • LTE antenna for using the watch without an iPhone, including phone calls (optional feature).

  • Optical heart sensor.

  • Barometric altimeter for tracking elevation (stairs climbed, etc.),

  • Health and fitness tracking features.

  • Incredibly affordable.

What We Don't Like
  • Users may prefer the design of the newer models.

Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 was released in September 2017 with watchOS 4. Its flagship feature was the availability of cellular connectivity for an additional cost. Series 3 Watches feature 38 mm and 42 mm sizes and are 11.4 mm thick.

Apple still sells the Series 3 Apple Watches, which start at $199 and come in Silver Aluminum, Space Gray, with a variety of bands available. It still boasts fitness features, heart-rate monitoring, sports tracking, and more.

Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2

Apple Watch series 1

Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 were both introduced in fall 2016. Series 1 was an original Apple Watch, with an updated processor for additional speed. It supported brief encounters with water from rain or washing hands but wasn't intended to be submerged. Series 2, however, was the first Apple Watch that officially supported use in water, featuring water resistance up to 50 meters and fitness tracking for swimming.

Series 1 and Series 2 were available in two sizes: 38 mm and 42 mm. Series 1 was 10.5 mm thick, while Series 2 was 11.4 mm thick.

These models have been discontinued.

Apple Watch

Original Apple Watch Sport
 Pexels

The original Apple Watch didn't have a series number but was available in three models: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch Sport was the lowest-cost model and featured an aluminum body. Apple Watch was the premium version, made out of stainless steel. Apple Watch Edition was made from 18-karat gold. There was no differentiation in features beyond body material.

Apple announced the first Apple Watch in September 2014, and it became available for purchase in spring 2015.

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