Apple Watch: Everything You Need to Know

The biggest updates between models, the naming conventions, and more

Apple has upgraded its star wearable, Apple Watch, regularly since introducing it 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 your guide to Apple's popular smartwatch.

Available Apple Watch Names and Models

Three versions of the Apple Watch are currently available for purchase from Apple:

Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, Series 4, Series 5, the original Apple Watch, and the first-generation Apple Watch Edition have all been discontinued. You may still be able to purchase them through third-party retailers, however.

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6.

Apple Watch Series 6 was announced and released in September 2020. Its notable new features include a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, new watch finishes, and the arrival of watchOS7. The latest OS adds a slew of features including Family Setup, sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and much more.

The Blood Oxygen sensor and app lets you take on-demand readings of your 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.

In addition, Series 6 has 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 comes in 40-mm and 44-mm case sizes. The watch comes in an array of colors and finishes including a new blue color and a (PRODUCT)RED option, along with silver, space gray, and gold aluminum. Stainless steel models have a new graphite finish and an updated yellow gold.

Highlights of Apple Watch Series 6:

  • Blood Oxygen sensor and app.
  • Family Setup support.
  • S6 SiP with 64‑bit dual-core processor based on A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE models in different colors.

Also announced and released in September 2020, the Apple Watch SE is the cheapest model in the lineup. It doesn't have the Blood Oxygen sensor that the Series 6 has, 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. A new 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 is available in many colors and finishes, including two new colors: blue and (PRODUCT)RED.

Highlights of Apple Watch SE:

  • Lowest price.
  • Family Setup support.
  • S5 SiP with 64‑bit dual-core processor.

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5 in silver showing the home screen
Apple Inc.

Apple Watch Series 5 was announced and released in September 2019. Its notable new features include an Always-On Retina display, a new Noise app that helps protect your hearing, and dozens of options for customizing your new wearable in Apple Watch Studio. If you're a woman, you'll find a Cycle Tracking app to help you track your menstrual cycle, too.

In addition, Series 5 has most of the features from the Series 4, such as fall detection, Siri, and a compass and ground elevation sensor to provide enhanced data about your workouts. A second-generation optical-electrical heart sensor and EGC app can alert you to irregularities in your heart rhythm.

Series 5 comes in 40-mm and 44-mm case sizes and is 10.7 mm thick. The GPS-only version comes in aluminum and three finishes: silver, space gray, and gold. The GPS + Cellular version is available in four body materials: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic. The finishes available depend on the body material you choose.

Highlights of Apple Watch Series 5:

  • Always-On Retina display.
  • Second-generation optical heart sensor.
  • ECG app.
  • Compass.
  • Accelerometer up to 32 g-forces.
  • Fall detection.
  • Microphone 50% louder than Series 3.
  • 64-bit dual-core S5 processor that's twice as fast as the processor in Apple Watch Series 3.
  • Capacity: 32 gigabytes (GB) GPS + Cellular/32 GB GPS.
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback.
  • GymKit.
  • Apple Pay.
  • Emergency SOS.
  • Water resistance up to 50 meters.
  • Back of the watch with all ceramic and sapphire crystal.

Apple Watch Nike

Apple Watch Series 5 Nike analog face
Apple Inc.

Apple Watch Nike has all the features of Apple Watch Series 5 with the addition of the Nike Run Club app and Nike watch faces optimized for the Always-On Retina display.

Highlights of Apple Watch Nike:

  • Exclusive Nike watch faces.
  • Nike Run Club app.
  • Reflective Nike Sport Loop and new options for the Nike Sport Band.

Apple Watch Hermès

Apple Watch Series 5 Hermes
Apple Inc.

Apple Watch Hermès is the result of a partnership with the French design house of that name. It remains part of the Series 5 lineup. The exclusive watch is available in 40-mm and 44-mm sizes.

Highlights of Apple Watch Hermès:

  • Hermès branding on the back of the watch.
  • Exclusive Hèrmes watch face optimized for Always-On Retina display.
  • A new Dark art limited edition, with a black stainless steel case, black watch face, and black Swift leather band.
  • Unique leather Single Tour and Double Tour watch bands.
  • Hermès Sport Band.

Apple Watch Edition

Apple Watch Series 5 Edition with white ceramic body
Apple Inc.

Apple Watch Edition is back. This smartwatch is available in 40-mm and 44-mm sizes and an elegant ceramic body as well as a titanium option.

Highlights of Apple Watch Edition:

  • Titanium body with an Apple-exclusive treatment that resists stains and fingerprints.
  • Ceramic finish four times harder than stainless steel.

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch series 3
 Apple Inc

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 features two sizes: 38 mm and 42 mm and is 11.4 mm thick.

As of September 2018, the Series 3 is available only in aluminum and two finishes: silver and space gray.

Highlights of Apple Watch Series 3:

  • LTE antenna for using the watch without an iPhone, including phone calls (optional feature).
  • First-generation optical heart sensor.
  • Barometric altimeter for tracking elevation (stairs climbed, etc.) to factor into your total activity-tracking data.
  • Accelerometer up to 16 g-forces.
  • S3 processor, which Apple claimed offered up to 70% faster performance over previous models.
  • W2 chip, which delivers faster Wi-Fi than previous models.
  • Capacity: 16 GB GPS + Cellular/8 GB GPS.

Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2

Apple Watch series 1
Apple Inc

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 supports brief encounters with water from rain or washing hands but was not 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.

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. It became available for purchase in spring 2015.

Apple Watch Edition

Debuting in 2015, Apple Watch Edition was the original high-end version of the Apple Watch that was primarily intended for watch collectors. Its started at $10,000 for the 38-mm version and $12,000 for the 42-mm version and came in 18-karat gold or rose gold. The original version was configurable up to $17,000 depending on the size and band choice.

Starting with Series 2, the solid-gold Apple Watch Edition was retired in favor of an all-ceramic version. Series 3 offered a ceramic version in two colors, as well.