November 30, 2023

Apple Watch Series 6 review: The watch for our times

With the blood oxygen reading that is just a tap away, the Apple Watch series 6 makes great sense for anyone at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19

Rs. 49,900

There are very few gadgets I am as attached to as the Apple Watch. Maybe it is the only gadget I am attached to, literally, at least for 12 hours every day. No work from home restriction is going to prevent me from taking full advantage of this smart timepiece that ticks away silently on my wrist. It is a relationship forged over time.

And for me, the Apple Watch is more than a smart gadget. It has become a part of life, helping me be on top of my activity goals and thus keep my sugar levels under control. Interestingly, over the past year, one more incentive has been added to help me complete my step and calorie goals daily — a health insurance that gives a cash back for keeping fit. The insurance company app updates from the Apple Health data daily and calculates the cash back on a monthly basis.

Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic becoming a part of our lives, Apple has added another good reason to have its latest watch on your wrist. The Apple Watch Series 6 has an app that measures blood oxygen levels, a drop in which is a good indicator of a novel coronavirus infection. Using the app is easy and it takes about 15 seconds to come up with the reading. So far, my numbers have stayed between 99 and 100 per cent, while the Pulse Oximeter at home has not been that kind. The Apple Watch has also not thrown any wild numbers so far, which happens quite often with the Rs 1000 oximeter.

When it comes to keeping your sugar levels under check, my doctor keeps emphasising on the needs for good sleep — that would be at least 8 hours for someone like me. The Apple Watch Series 6 can now measure sleep and that is a good reason to wear this one to bed. Frankly, the Apple Watch is not something I would sleep with and even before I wore it to bed only occasionally when I have to monitor my sleep patterns for the doctor.

Now, the new Sleep App comes preloaded in the Watch and you don’t need to depend on third-party apps. It lets you set a sleep schedule with a wind down time before the start time. All great features, but laughable when you look at my life schedule. I get about six hours of sleep daily… or so I thought. The app showed that on most days while I was on bed for six hours, I was sleeping only about half of that and even lesser time was spent in deep sleep. The latter is important for that is when your heart rate almost settles down to a nice 60-70 beats per minute. The longer you manage this, the better it is for your body. Since the Watch tracks both sleep and heart rate real time, it is now easier to see the correlation in the Watch App.

However, I would have loved Apple to give a deeper dive into this data. Now the data is there, but Apple keeps the details to itself. For the finer details, I still use the Auto Sleep app which my doctor suggested as he can track my sleeping pattern exactly with the sugar levels when needed.

Except for the new LED-photodiode cluster at the back that enables the blood oxygen readings, the Apple Watch Series 6 is not different from a design perspective. Yes, there are the new cases, the blue aluminium which I got for review and the Product RED, which I would not wear in any case. Apple has also launched the new Solo Loop with the Series 6, a convenient stretchable fabric band that can be just pulled up your wrist. But with this, you need to find the perfect size, and I have not yet managed that.

There are some new watch faces, most of them more functional, or artistic, than before. There are is a much better level of customisation on offer now and I loved how I could add exactly the elements I wanted on the watch faces. For instance, the GMT watch face which I wear while working can now pull in the AQI reading compilation to remind me how bad the air is outside. And this watch face is there even when the screen in not active, thanks to the new always-on display. The screen just brightens up a bit more when you face it and this subtle shift makes the Series 6 a better watch than before.

Apple has also loaded its new S6 chip in the Series 6. But you will hardly notice given that the Series 5 was itself so fast and smooth. But for those upgrading from an older version of the Apple Watch, this jump will be very discernible. The battery life is similar to Series 5 and easily gives over 30 hours on a full charge.

For those upgrading from an earlier version of Apple Watch, or getting their first Watch, the Series 6 makes great sense. Also, with the blood oxygen reading that is just a tap away, the Watch makes great sense for anyone at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. Those on Series 5 can give this one a miss and get a pulse oximeter to fill the gap. While it is the best smart watch you can buy, the Apple Watch Series 6 has also become a better watch and smarter too.


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