Everything we know so far about Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple’s rumored Series 3 replacement

Following the introduction of an always-on display with last year’s Apple Watch Series 5, early indications are that the Apple Watch Series 6 will continue to expand the wearable’s health capabilities. Read on as we round up everything we know so far about the 2020 Apple Watch, including details on the rumored lower-end replacement for the Series 3.

Design

The Apple Watch Series 6 is likely to look similar to the Apple Watch Series 5. Reports indicate that there aren’t any major changes in store for the Apple Watch Series 6’s industrial design and that it will follow the same general form factor as the Series 4 and Series 5.

That being said, it’s not out of the question that Apple will offer new finishes, colors, and casing options for the Apple Watch Series 6. With last year’s release of the Series 5, Apple debuted an all-new titanium option.

What’s in store for this year? We don’t know yet, but possibilities include new colors for existing casing materials, new materials altogether, and much more. And of course, Apple will likely have new band options and colors as well.

One of the changes introduced with watchOS 7 is the deprecation of the Force Touch capability. Force Touch allowed Apple Watch users to firmly press on the device’s display to access additional content and controls, such as changing watch faces or clearing all notifications. Apple explains:

In versions of watchOS before watchOS 7, people could press firmly on the display to do things like change the watch face or reveal a hidden menu called a Force Touch menu. In watchOS 7 and later, system apps make previously hidden menu items accessible in a related screen or a settings screen. If you formerly supported a long-press gesture to open a hidden menu, consider relocating the menu items elsewhere.

Force Touch is technically a hardware feature that has been available on every Apple Watch model since day one, but with watchOS 7, Apple is removing the feature completely, even if the Apple Watch hardware supports it. This is a way for Apple to force developers to make the necessary changes before the Apple Watch Series 6 release and to ensure uniformity.

So with this in mind, it seems inevitable that the Apple Watch Series 6 will drop the hardware that was originally needed for Force Touch. The removal of Force Touch hardware capabilities could also mean that Apple can make the Apple Watch Series 6 thinner, or pack a bigger battery or other sensors inside.

Apple Watch Series 6 health features

One of the tentpole features of this year’s Apple Watch update is expected to be blood oxygen level detection. Code found within iOS 14 by 9to5Mac has indicated that Apple Watch will add it this year.

How would this work? Blood oxygen levels between 95% and 100% are considered healthy; blood oxygen levels below 80% may lead to compromised heart and brain functionality. Risk of respiratory or cardiac arrest is common after continued low blood oxygen saturation. This feature would work similarly to existing watchOS heart rate notification features. If Apple Watch detects a blood oxygen level below a certain threshold, it will trigger a notification for the user.

Building on blood oxygen level detection, Apple is also developing improved electrocardiogram (ECG) capabilities for Apple Watch Series 6. Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 currently result in inconclusive ECG readings with heart rates between 100 and 120 beats per minute. A future update, either in software or hardware, will remove that limitation with an upgraded version of the ECG app.

As of right now, it is unclear whether these new health features will be limited to the Apple Watch Series 6 or if watchOS 7 might also bring them to the Apple Watch Series 4/5. History suggests Apple will want to use these features to push upgrades to the Series 6, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure.

Sleep tracking

Sleep tracking has been at the top of my Apple Watch wishlist for many years, and this year’s release of watchOS 7 finally brings the feature to fruition. The new Sleep app allows you to set your schedule, view sleep analysis, and adjust settings for things like Wind Down and your Sleep Goal.

The sleep tracking data itself is rather basic, but the tie-in with features like Wind Down and Sleep Mode makes for a sleek experience. What’s interesting is that Apple Watch sleep tracking is not limited to the new Apple Watch Series 6, though more advanced sleep-tracking features could come to this year’s Apple Watch exclusively.

In fact, Bloomberg had reported that sleep tracking would be tied to new hardware rather than new software. Even though watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking support to all Apple Watch users, it could be that the Apple Watch Series 6 features new hardware capabilities.

More watchOS 7 features

Release

Do Apple products warrant their premium price?

Currently, we expect the Apple Watch Series 6 to be announced in September alongside Apple’s 2020 lineup of iPhones. That being said, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, product launch timelines are in flux, especially given that we already know the iPhone will launch “a few weeks” later than usual this year.

Whether or not the Apple Watch Series 6 might also be affected by these delays remains to be seen.

Should you buy an Apple Watch Series 5 or wait?

One of the most common questions, whenever a new Apple product is looming, is whether you should buy the current-generation model or wait for the new one. At this point, we are likely around two months away from the release of the Apple Watch Series 6.

This means that for most people, it’s probably wise to wait for the Apple Watch Series 6 to be announced later this year. Even if you don’t end up buying the newest model, the introduction of the Apple Watch Series 6 will mean that the older models, such as the Apple Watch Series 5, will likely receive a price drop.

If you do decide to buy an Apple Watch Series 5 instead of waiting for the Apple Watch Series 6, you should avoid paying full price. You can keep track of the latest Apple Watch deals over at 9to5Toys, or check out the Amazon rates below:

Apple Watch Series 3 follow up

In an odd turn of events, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is also preparing a new lower-end Apple Watch to replace the Apple Watch Series 3. Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3 in its lineup for $199, and it’s a popular choice for buyers who just want fitness tracking capabilities.

The Apple Watch Series 3, however, is starting to show its age in terms of both design and processing power. The Bloomberg report doesn’t elaborate much on what to expect from the new version of the Apple Watch Series 3, other than saying that it will “compete with lower-cost fitness devices such as those from Fitbit.”

It’s possible that the new lower-end Apple Watch retains the same design as the Apple Watch Series 3, but adds a more recent processor inside and features such as fall detection.

Apple Watch Series 6 wrap-up

As of right now, that’s all we know so far about the Apple Watch Series 6. As always, it’s likely that we’ll continue to learn more about the device in the lead-up to its expected release in September. We should also soon learn more about Apple’s reported follow-up to the Apple Watch Series 3.

What’s on your Apple Watch Series 6 wishlist? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know down in the comments!

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