How Apple Watch Series 6 Focuses on Wellness

Can you put a price on your health?

Key Takeaways

  • The Apple Watch Series 6, starting at $399, is aimed at health and fitness.
  • New features include blood oxygen monitoring and an always on altimeter.
  • Many of the Apple Watch Series 6’s fitness features are available in cheaper models.
Dr. Sumbul Desai next to Apple Watch Series 6 displaying blood oxygen measurements
Apple 

For fitness freaks who want to track every last metric, the new Apple Watch Series 6 has a plethora of options to measure your health. However, many of its features are also available in lower-priced smart watches, experts say.

The Apple Watch Series 6, starting at $399, throws the kitchen sink onto your wrist with blood oxygen tracking and ECG measurements on top of the usual heart rate monitoring and step counting. It’s a cutting-edge mix that’s a look into the future of health monitoring. All these features might be overkill for some people, however.

"It's a nifty smartwatch that captures a diverse range of health data," Antti Alatalo, CEO and founder of the review site Smart Watches 4 U, said in an email interview.

"With that being said, unless you have very specific needs (i.e. really want the blood oxygen monitor sensor), I wouldn't say it's an absolute must-have. If you just want a smartwatch with basic built-in health features, the more affordable Apple Watch SE or Series 3 will suffice just fine."

There Will be Blood (Sensing)

The standout feature of the Series 6 is the new blood oxygen sensor. It uses sensors on the back of the watch to monitor the oxygen saturation of the user’s blood, which "can give you a snapshot of your body’s ability to process oxygen, which is a key factor in performance," according to the experts at health site Training Peaks.

For athletes heading up or down mountains, look no further than the latest Apple Watch’s always-on altimeter for real-time elevation tracking. Christine Wang, founder of The Ski Girl, says she uses her Series 6 constantly for ski training.

"I keep track of my heart rate and blood oxygen while exercising with the watch and use the GPS and stopwatch to help with my varied workout routine," said Wang in an email interview. However, she reports having intermittent problems with the watch’s bluetooth connection.

Khunshan Ahmad, co-founder of InsideTechWorld, says he uses his Apple Watch Series 6 entirely for fitness tracking. "I am a committed exerciser, so I use it to track my runs and record how many calories I burn in a day," he added in an email interview.

Fitness+ on iPhone and Apple Watch
Apple 

Apple is trying to create a whole fitness ecosystem centered on its smartwatches. The company recently introduced a new feature called Fitness+, coming later this year, which will provide workouts that integrate with the Apple Watch. A three-month trial subscription is free when you buy the watch, but will cost $10 per month or $80 per year after that.

Sweet Dreams

But health is more than just exercise. New with watchOS 7, Apple has a 20-second hand washing timer to make sure you’re getting all the COVID off your hands. Sleep tracking is another new feature that was rolled out around the time of the Apple Watch Series 6’s launch; it also works on some earlier models. It integrates with the existing Bedtime feature on the iPhone's Clock app (that feature is now called Sleep), so you turn it on and create a schedule.

Alatalo says he uses the sleep tracker function daily.

"I can capture sleep data to ensure I'm getting a minimum of seven to eight hours and compare the results on a day-by-day basis," he said. "The data is highlighted in an easy-to-read graph display. Since you need to wear the watch during sleep, it does mean having to charge the watch during the day, so that's something to keep in mind."

"It's a nifty smartwatch that captures a diverse range of health data."

Similar Features, Lower Price

Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles on the latest iteration of Apple Watch, though. The new Apple Watch SE, starting at $279, has many of the same features as the Series 6, minus the blood oxygen monitoring and ECG. Even the now slightly long-in-the tooth Series 3, starting at $199, can do basic health tracking. Fitbit’s smartwatches also have many fitness features and generally cost less.

Health and wellness are on everyone’s minds more than ever before with the coronavirus crisis. The risk of a severe case of COVID-19 has even been tied to obesity. Apple is clearly trying to cash in on this trend with the Series 6, but even if you strap on the latest Apple Watch, you’ll still have to get off the couch.