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Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitor released, plus cheaper Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitor released, plus cheaper Apple Watch SE
(Image credit: Apple)

Last night, Apple released the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE, the latest additions to its globally popular line of wearables. The Apple Watch is arguably the best smartwatch for health monitoring, and the Watch Series 6 is set to cement that reputation. The Apple Watch SE is a stripped-back version, sharing some Watch Series 6 features but at a lower price tag.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is available to pre-order now, with shipping to begin on Friday 18 September. Prices start from $399 for the Sport Band, Sport Loop and Solo Loop models, from $449 for the Braided Solo Loop, from $749 for the Apple Watch Series 6 with Milanese Loop, and from $799 for the Leather Loop. For the first time ever, there is also a Product (RED) Apple Watch, starting from $399. 

The Apple Watch SE is also available to pre-order now, from $279 for the Solo Loop and Sport Band models, and from $329 for the Apple Watch SE with Braided Solo Loop.

Apple Watch Series 6 top features:

  • Blood oxygen sensor
  • ECG sensor
  • Automatic hand-washing detection
  • Advanced sleep tracking
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Step and calorie counting
  • Swimproof
  • S6 chip
  • OLED Always-on retina display
  • watchOS 7
  • VO2 Max monitoring
  • 40mm and 44mm sizes
  • Up to 18 hours battery life
  • 50m water-resistance

Apple Watch SE 6 top features:

  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter
  • Fall detection
  • Emergency SOS
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Step and calorie counting
  • Swimproof
  • S5 chip
  • OLED retina display
  • Up to 18 hours battery life
  • 50m water-resistance

Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitor released, plus cheaper Apple Watch SE

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 6 blood oxygen monitoring

The Apple Watch Series 6 now has health and activity tracking features to rival the very best fitness trackers in the world. The biggest addition to Apple’s latest smartwatch is a blood oxygen monitor to measure the oxygen saturation of your blood.

Apple explains how, ‘Oxygen saturation, or SpO2, represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body.’

According to Apple, the Watch Series 6 is capable of measuring blood oxygen levels in around 15 seconds. It does so using a cluster of green, red and infrared LEDs found at the back of the watch. A custom algorithm, built into the Blood Oxygen app, then measures blood oxygen levels. Data is displayed in the Apple Health app so that you can see how your blood oxygen level changes.

Low blood oxygen levels could potentially indicate underlying health conditions such as Hypoxemia, so this data is potentially hugely useful to protecting your overall health, and could be shared with your health practitioner if you have ongoing concerns.

Apple Watch Series 6 Series Hermes with brown leather strap

(Image credit: Apple)

Could the Apple Watch 6 detect coronavirus symptoms?

Apple also announced that it’s teaming up with researchers to launch three new health studies. The most timely will be conducted with researchers for the Seattle Flu Study, at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and faculty, University of Washington School of Medicine. 

During the study, researchers will look at how signals from apps on the Apple Watch, including Heart Rate and Blood Oxygen, could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions such as influenza and COVID-19.

As the research is yet to be completed, it’s too early to say whether the Apple Watch Series 6 is capable of detecting early coronavirus symptoms, but this is an interesting prospect, providing it’s done right. 

The other two studies focus on asthma and heart failure, respectively. The first study will look at how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

The second study, to be conducted with researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, North America, aims to understand how blood oxygen measurements could help with management of heart failure. 

Apple Watch Series 6 Series Nike in white with green

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Fitness+ 

Apple also unveiled Fitness+, a digital exercise platform built for the Apple Watch that’s due to arrive later this year. Apple Fitness+ incorporates metrics from Apple Watch for you to view on your iPhone, iPad tablet, or Apple TV, for a custom workout experience. So you can get fit with on demand studio-style workout classes whenever you want.

In addition, the Apple Watch Series 6 offers a robust suite of wellness and fitness tracking, including advanced sleep tracking thanks to the presence of watchOS 7. The advanced sleep tracking monitors how long you’re sleeping for, how much quality sleep you’re getting, and how you could improve it. 

Steps and calorie counting are here, and the watch is swimproof, so you can use it to monitor a range of exercises in the pool or at your home gym. As with the Watch Series 5, there’s automatic tracking for workouts such as yoga, walking and cycling, whether that’s outdoors or inside using one of the best bike trainers or exercise bikes.

And if you’re one of the many Americans who bought one of the best treadmills during the height of lockdown, the Apple Watch Series 6 will track your distance covered and heart rate during your power walking or running sessions.

Apple Watch Series 6 is now available in a Product RED version for the first time

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 6 display, power and software

The Apple Watch 6 comes with watchOS 7, unveiled in June. It introduces new workouts, an automatic hand washing feature to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and more.

The Apple Watch Series 6 display is an always-on OLED retina affair, designed to be 2.5 x brighter than the Series 5 display. In terms of battery life, the Watch 6 should last up to 18 hours per charge (same as the Series 5), with a fast-charging function to get the watch juiced in around 90 minutes.

The Watch Series 6 is powered by Apple’s S6 processor, said to be up to 20% faster than the chipset in the Watch 5. Also present is the U1 Ultra Wideband, a chip that appeared in the iPhone 11 smartphone range.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE are available to pre-order now, with shipping and in-store purchases to begin on Friday 18 September.