Apple Announces Apple Watch Series 6, SE

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple Watch with 20 Comments

With its new iPhones delayed at least a month, Apple instead just launched two of the other products it would normally announce at its September event: New Apple Watch and iPad models.

First up was Apple Watch, which will soon be powered by watchOS 7 and its new features like sleep tracking, automatic hand-wash detection, and improved VO2 max testing.

Apple announced the new Apple Watch Series 6, which looks physically identical to the previous models but offers 20 percent better performance and comes in some new and updated colors—new blue aluminum and Project [RED], plus updated classic gold and graphite.

There’s also one major new feature, a Blood Oxygen sensor. This can be used manually at any time—the test takes about 15 seconds—and it will also perform periodic background readings, such as when you sleep. And in the future, you’ll get notifications if your blood O2 level falls too far.

The Apple Watch Series 6 display is much brighter than its predecessor, Apple says, and offers an always-on altimeter so that it can factor altitude into its measurements. Finally, the firm announced a few new types of Apple Watch bands, two of which are stretchable single-piece units that don’t require a clasp.

Apple Watch Series 6 will start at $399, but Apple also announced a lower-cost version of Apple Watch called Apple Watch SE. It uses last year’s designs and even older internals but starts at just $279. Both devices are ready for order now and will ship Friday.

Finally, Apple also announced its first online service aimed at Apple Watch owners. Dubbed Apple Fitness+, it provides a wide variety of Apple Watch-compatible workouts that can be accessed on iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, and the firm says it will add more every week; it launches with workouts for yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill, strength, core, fit, rowing, and mindful cooldown. The cost? $9.99 per month, or $79.99 for a year.  It launches later in 2020.



Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (20)

20 responses to “Apple Announces Apple Watch Series 6, SE”

  1. thalter

    *Yawn* I was hoping for an all new hardware design. Looks like I'll keep my Series 4, which works just fine, for another year.

  2. jdawgnoonan

    My issues with the Apple Watch (and why I moved to a Garmin Fenix 6): 1) Battery life. On the sixth generation I would think that they could decide that the screen is bright enough and it is fast enough, let's make it last longer between charges. I can get 12 days with my Garmin in smartwatch mode, 9 days if I have it track blood oxygen when I sleep (6 days if I track that all of the time), and still 3 full days if I track a few 30 to 50 mile bike rides with it. 2) Siri. Siri is so annoying to use to reply to messages on the watch. I prefer my watch that I cannot talk to. 3) Data access. For someone who closely monitors health statistics it is quite frustrating to infuriating that the only place where you can access the data is on your second smallest screen, IE, your phone. Can you see the data on a web browser on your Mac or PC? No. Can you even see the data on your iPad? No. You must have the iPhone and you must be satisfied in only seeing the data on that small screen.

    • dcdevito

      In reply to jdawgnoonan:

      I use a free app called QS Access to export all my health data and dump into excel. Works great.

      And yeah I wish battery life was better but the Apple Watch is the only smart watch that allows me to be independent from my watch. I leave my watch at home everyday.

      • jdawgnoonan

        In reply to dcdevito:

        The Apple Watch is a great device, there is no doubt about that. But for me the Garmin Fenix is preferable, my Series 3 has been sitting on my dresser for the last year. I have went up to a month without having to charge my watch more than topping it up for 15 minutes while I take a shower before I finally drain it enough that it needs a full charge. That combined with the fact that my Garmin is also a full activity tracker in the same league as my Garmin Edge bike computer makes its utility unbeatable. It didn't bug me to spend 800 dollars for a watch plus an extra 150 for a band, but paying a mobile carrier for connectivity for a watch would bug me a lot. And the lack of anything involving Siri is always a plus.

  3. wright_is

    But, have they improved the battery life? That was the one thing that swung me on FitBit and the Huawei Watch GT, the battery life was over a week - heck, if you paired back notifications, the Watch GT would last a month on a single charge.

    I don't currently use an iPhone, but if I did, the only way I'd buy an Apple Watch is if it exceeds a week between recharges.

  4. shameer_mulji

    Apple's execution on Apple Watch, and wearables in general, is phenomenal. Apple Watch, to me, is Apple's most revolutionary product since iPhone. Not in terms of unit sales but the potential positive impact on people's lives.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I agree. It certainly didn't start out that way. But they saw what people were doing with it and really dug in on health and fitness. Really smart.
  5. angusmatheson

    The O2 sat seems like one more sensor we won’t care about? But in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic where about 20% of people’s O2 sat drops but oddly they feel fine (because their CO2 doesn’t rise) until they go into abrupt respiratory failure something that measures O2 sat seems like a pretty helpful feature. I wish all my patients with covid 19 had one of these Apple Watch 6 - the Sat monitors that you put on need to be put on a checked while this checking passively. And when they don’t feel worse but are becoming hypoxic I’m worried people won’t think to test or come to the doctor to be tested.

  6. brothernod

    In reply to lvthunder:

    Something you wear is very convenient when you want to be woken up with a vibration instead of an alarm so your partner can keep sleeping. That was my biggest regression "upgrading" from a Fitbit to an Apple Watch.

  7. red.radar

    I feel like Apple should resurrect "There is an app for that" with....

    "There is a service for that"..


  8. jgraebner

    Whomever designed Apple's graphics for this presentation really needs to learn that sometimes less is more.

  9. crunchyfrog

    Well, I don't need it... Buuut here we go again.

  10. brothernod

    I'm super disappointed they have yet to create a product that is actually useful for sleep tracking. They either need to double the battery life or halve the charging time and they've done neither :/

    With that said, the Family Setup is a big deal and will likely result in my grandma getting one so we can get her part of the smart watch experience and always connectedness without the complex full phone experience she'd never use.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to brothernod:

      YMMV but I use my Apple Watch for sleep tracking the past year or so by charging it between dinner and bedtime, the period when my needs for both activity tracking and notifications are at their lowest.

      I agree Family Setup will bring more people on board, but I still chafe a bit at the cellular plan requirement which on our AT&T plan would be $10/month. If it were maybe $5 per month, or if they had a bonus that let you connect multiple watches and iPads and brought the cost per device to <$5 per month I'd be tempted.

      • wright_is

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        On the other hand, I use my smartwatch for sleep tracking and top up its battery when I go for a relaxing bath at the weekend (usually 40% left). The recharge usually takes less than an hour. If I turned off notifications, I could stretch that to once a month.

        The lack of battery life on the Apple Watch (or any smartwatch that can't last at least a week on a charge) is a real turn off.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to wright_is:

          I keep hearing this but I don't see it as any different or less convenient than charging my phone every day. I've had multiple Fitbit devices and both versions of Microsoft Band prior to my Apple Watch. I found the irregular charging schedule of the Fitbit devices to be more annoying than the regular schedule for Band and Watch.

          • brothernod

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            Man I miss my Microsoft Bands... but to your point, personally, my ideal charge time is during the shower. The problem is that because the Apple Watch doesn't even make it 24 hours on a charge, the 15-30 minute daily top up cannot keep it alive. With my FitBit and my Microsoft Band (1/2) since they lasted multiple days, topping it up during my shower was plenty to keep it alive. My Apple Watch Series 4 probably wouldn't even make it to the next day's shower without being charged at some other time during the day, nor does it charge fast enough to top up in that 15-30 minute windows.

            I was really hoping Apple would either extend the battery life sufficiently (say 36 hours) or give us a 15 minute 100% charge, but they've done neither, so I don't see how you can live on your Apple Watch and sleep track, without some kind of inconsistent or sacrificial charging routine.

          • Paul Thurrott

            No way. Fitbit notifies you on the phone and via email when the charge is getting low so you don't even need to think about it. More battery is always better. And a week of battery is much better than 1 day.
            • Chris_Kez

              In reply to paul-thurrott:

              Okay, phone alert to charge is good; I haven't seen that before. A second alert when it is topped off would be a nice addition as well. And yes, more battery is always better. Still, I think the trade-off of daily charging is worth it for me. Fitbit could offer a month-long battery and I would still prefer the Apple Watch.

              • Paul Thurrott

                I will say that a band that doesn't have a clasp will make daily charging less difficult to deal with. Solo band, and whatever those loop-over types are.
      • brothernod

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        It sounds like it's basically $10 a month to get gps location sharing, emergency phone usage, and peace of mind your grandma didn't lock herself out without a phone. Much cheaper than $40 a month for a smartphone that they'll just leave around the house.

  11. geoff

    As everyone else is saying . . .

    The number one issue with the Apple Watch is *still* the poor battery. That hasn't been fixed.

    A device that does sleep tracking at night as well as serving as a smartwatch during the day needs a 7+ day battery.