Apple Watch Sequence 6 evaluation: Decoding SpO2 and all its new options

Do not Like

  • SpO2 knowledge is tough to interpret
  • Nonetheless requires every day cost with sleep monitoring and all the time on show

The Apple Watch Sequence 6 feels prefer it has perfected most of the options I preferred about its predecessor. It has a brighter always-on show, a extra highly effective processor, sooner charging and two new colourful choices to select from. However the characteristic I used to be most excited to check out was its new sensor that measures oxygen saturation within the blood (aka SpO2) with the faucet of a display screen. As somebody who panic-bought a pulse oximeter at first of the coronavirus pandemic and nonetheless checks her ranges on the first signal of a cough, the considered having one strapped to my wrist always was sufficient to pique my curiosity.

However not like the ECG characteristic on the Apple Watch, which has been tried, examined and cleared by the US Meals and Drug Administration, together with the irregular coronary heart rhythm notifications, SpO2 on the Apple Watch nonetheless appears to be in its early phases. Navigating all this new knowledge could be daunting for anybody who’s not a medical skilled. 

SpO2 leaves some unanswered questions

I purchased an FDA-cleared pulse oximeter, the machine docs use to measure SpO2 in your fingertip, as a precaution when coronavirus instances within the US began to climb. Having low blood oxygen ranges does not assure you’ve COVID-19, but it surely’s one of many main signs of the illness. I had learn horror tales of people that waited too lengthy to go to the hospital and had died of their sleep as a result of they did not understand their ranges had dipped in a single day. You must all the time examine with a doctor in case you are experiencing shortness of breath (one other symptom of COVID-19), even when a pulse oximeter says you are in a wholesome vary, however I discovered consolation in realizing that I may at the very least use it as a reference if I ever skilled shortness of breath. 

That is not one thing you are able to do with the Apple Watch — Apple says it needs to be used for wellness functions solely and never as a medical machine, that means you may should take the outcomes with a grain of salt and should not use it to display screen for any sort of illness, which is what I had been hoping to get out of it. However there could also be different benefits of getting it strapped in your wrist always. 

Very like a pulse oximeter, the Sequence 6 makes use of crimson and infrared gentle from its new sensor to find out the proportion of oxygen within the blood. However as an alternative of shining the sunshine by your fingertip, it makes use of the sunshine that is mirrored again from the blood vessels in your wrist to find out your oxygen ranges based mostly on the colour of your blood. 

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Throughout the setup course of you are requested whether or not or not you need to activate SpO2 monitoring, which I did, however you possibly can all the time return and disable it within the settings after the very fact. The very first thing I did after strapping on the Watch was open the Blood Oxygen app. It offers you a number of tips about how one can get one of the best outcome and you might want to relaxation your arm on a desk or flat floor whereas the Watch is taking a studying. Then the 15-second countdown begins and also you’re completed — simple and painless. I obtained a 95% on my first learn, which was decrease than what I am used to from my pulse oximeter. Something above 90% is mostly thought-about by clinicians to be inside a wholesome vary, however generally, larger is healthier.

I examined it a number of extra occasions and obtained barely totally different outcomes inside a number of proportion factors relying on whether or not I used to be fully nonetheless and silent through the check, the place I had the watch positioned on my wrist and the way tight the strap was. There are numerous elements that may have an effect on a studying, reminiscent of pores and skin temperature or the place of the sensors on the physique. Aspect-by-side with my pulse oximeter, the Apple Watch was usually off by about one or two factors, however typically spot on.  

Measuring blood oxygen ranges over time

What was extra fascinating to me was the SpO2 knowledge that collected over time within the Health app. That is one thing my pulse oximeter cannot do. Not like the Galaxy Watch 3, which solely does spot checks, the Apple Watch additionally takes background measurements all through the day (and evening). Click on on the Respiratory possibility on the dashboard and you may see all of your measurements plotted on a graph which you’ll view a day, week or month at a time and filter by time of day or proportion. But it surely’s as much as you, or ideally your doctor, to interpret this knowledge. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

I have been carrying the Apple Look ahead to six days and I typically fluctuate between 95% and 100%. My stage is normally on the decrease finish of that vary through the evening as your respiratory fee is diminished considerably. However there have been two nights or early mornings the place my ranges dropped to 92%, which scared me a bit. I used to be beneath what the Mayo Clinic considers a “wholesome vary,” however above what’s thought-about a “low vary.” Ought to I be involved? Dips in oxygen saturation can sign something from sleep associated situations like sleep apnea to bronchial asthma, and even respiratory viruses like COVID-19, however I do not know precisely how low and the way usually it has to occur for it to be an issue, and the Apple Watch cannot reply that. I want the watch may let me know if one thing was off, the way in which it does with the low, excessive or irregular coronary heart rhythm alerts so I may lastly put my little pulse oximeter to relaxation. Possibly sooner or later, and with sufficient knowledge and medical research, it would.

Apple presently has three totally different SpO2-related research underway, together with one associated to bronchial asthma and one other for detecting early indicators of respiratory sicknesses reminiscent of COVID-19.

With the Sequence 5 discontinued, the Sequence 6 can also be the one watch you may get from Apple with the electrocardiogram feature, which Apple calls ECG, that debuted on the Sequence four in 2018.

New colours, brighter display screen

Except for the sensors on the again, the Apple Watch Sequence 6 may go for a Sequence 5. They’ve the identical physique and comparable always-on show. It wasn’t till I put them facet by facet that I observed a distinction. Whereas the display screen on the Sequence 5 dims when not in use, the Sequence 6 nearly seems to be prefer it’s nonetheless on, which is particularly useful if you’re outdoor. Apple says it is 2.5 occasions brighter and it reveals.  

It is also the primary Apple Watch so as to add to the normal silver, area grey and gold finishes. Mine got here in a Product Pink aluminum body. That aluminum model additionally is available in blue, whereas the stainless-steel will get a brand new gold end. 

I just like the crimson, however I feel I might nonetheless persist with a extra impartial tone for the body and spice it up with a watch band as an alternative. 

Claspless bands and Memoji watch faces 


Apple additionally introduced a brand new sort of silicone band with no clasps or buckles referred to as the Solo Loop

It seems to be and feels just like the silicone sports activities band, however with no overlapping elements. I arrange my watch with a black dimension four strap that Apple offered and simply slipped in on my wrist like a hair tie. The fabric feels stretchy and barely clean to the contact. I believed it felt a bit tight at first, however I barely felt it on my wrist after a number of hours. You will need to get your dimension proper although, as a result of the dimensions down for me would’ve been method too small. 

This can require you to measure your wrist before you purchase it. And for this you may want a measuring tape, which I personally do not all the time have readily available. It is also costly for a band that I might fear would stretch a bit over time. It is $49 by itself, the identical worth because the silicone sports activities bands. 


Gabriel Sama/CNET

I will should report again on the stretching as soon as I’ve used it for some time. I do assume it could be a great various for youths, which Apple is now focusing on with its new Household Setup, as a result of it is much less cumbersome to placed on and take off.  

The brand new Household Setup characteristic means that you can arrange a second Apple Watch that does not want its personal iPhone. You’ll be able to program location alerts from the guardian’s iPhone, designate which contacts they will talk with and restrict use throughout sure hours with the College Time mode.

There are additionally new methods to customise the watch face with a brand new Animoji and Memoji which you can create straight on the watch, which I did. I do not know the way lengthy I will preserve it on as my most important display screen, however I can see this being well-liked with children too. 

Sooner processor, however solely barely higher battery 

The opposite key improve to the Apple Watch Sequence 6 is the sooner processor: Apple’s S6 chip is predicated on the A13 Bionic chip discovered within the iPhone 11 and 11 Professional. The Watch feels snappy loading apps, displaying messages and displaying stats in actual time. However the Sequence 5 already felt quick, and to date I have never observed an enormous change in my day-to-day use. The Sequence 6 can also be the one Apple Watch to incorporate Apple’s new U1 chip for ultrawideband assist, which improves spatial consciousness between gadgets. The advantages of this new U1 chip is probably not apparent immediately, however finally will allow options reminiscent of CarKey, which lets you use your machine as a key fob.

I additionally have not observed a lot of a change in battery life in comparison with the Sequence 5, which is disappointing — now the Apple Watch can observe your sleep, you may need to use it 24/7. The silver lining is that it is now higher at managing battery life throughout sure exercises and it exceeded Apple’s 18-hour declare in my testing. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

The Sequence 6 can last as long as seven hours on a single cost throughout an outside run, up from six hours on the Sequence 5. Although I’ve not examined this out for myself but, I did discover that the Sequence 6 had extra battery left after a 30-minute out of doors jog in comparison with my Sequence 5.

Even on the times I took it for a GPS-only run with out my telephone in tow, I nonetheless ended the day with the 30% cost wanted to trace my sleep. I may even squeeze in a pair further hours within the early morning. You too can disable the always-on show if you would like much more battery, which isn’t an possibility on any of the opposite fashions. 

The Apple Watch Sequence 6 and Apple Watch SE will cost to 100% in 90 minutes in comparison with the two-hour cost time of their predecessors, which helps pace your day alongside. However typically my morning routine wasn’t lengthy sufficient for it to cost again as much as 100% and I ended up having to cost it in bursts all through the day, which might be laborious if you did not have a charger readily available. And also you higher hope you’ve a wall charger at dwelling, as a result of Apple is not together with them within the field anymore. You simply get the cable with the magnetic puck.

Bye, bye Drive Contact on WatchOS 7 

The update to WatchOS 7 eradicated Drive Contact on the Apple Watch throughout the board, so as an alternative of making use of extra strain on the watch face, you now should long-press to immediate an motion. You continue to get the identical haptic suggestions that you’d with Drive Contact, but it surely did not appear fairly as satisfying. It additionally means it’s a must to relearn sure actions like switching from grid view to checklist view to your app display screen. Should you lengthy press on the app web page, all of them begin to jiggle like on the iPhone to rearrange or delete. The checklist view possibility has moved to the Settings. 

Actual-time elevation and cardio health alerts 

The whole Apple Watch line may even get new health options with WatchOS 7, together with dance monitoring and core coaching, however solely the Sequence 6 and Apple Watch SE embrace a brand new always-on altimeter that gives real-time elevation monitoring you need to use throughout an outside exercise. 

The Apple Watch additionally makes use of the Vo2 max studying (most oxygen consumption throughout train) to watch cardio health ranges. It is going to finally let you understand when your ranges are too low with a brand new notification characteristic that is launching later this 12 months. Based on Apple, this metric could be an vital indicator of total well being.

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Health Plus with the Apple Watch at its core

Apple’s new subscription Fitness Plus service brings guided exercises to the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. You’ll be able to select from a wide range of totally different packages to stream in your machine of selection and sync with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch will robotically begin the right exercise for you and show your stats on the display screen, so you possibly can observe alongside with out having to look at your telephone. Instructors will use the Apple Watch as a coaching instrument to push you throughout a exercise. 

Sadly I wasn’t in a position to check this out on the watch but, as a result of it isn’t launching till later this 12 months. The Health Plus subscription will value $9.99 (£9.99, AU$14.99) a month, or $80 (£80, AU$120) a 12 months.

Nonetheless one of the best smartwatch, however with extra competitors 

The jury’s nonetheless out on whether or not blood oxygen monitoring turns into a must have characteristic, however with the Sequence 5 discontinued, it is now your solely possibility if you would like that always-on show and ECG app. These are massive promoting factors for the Sequence 6 and I personally would have a tough time going again to a display screen I needed to increase to wake. The query now could be whether or not that is going to be sufficient to sway folks to spend the additional $130 after they now have a compelling various within the Apple Watch SE, which shares most of the identical options for much less.  

Learn extra: Apple Fitness Plus vs. Peloton: Which streaming workout service is better?

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Hey, I'm Sunil Kumar professional blogger and Affiliate marketing. I like to gain every type of knowledge that's why I have done many courses in different fields like News, Business and Technology. I love thrills and travelling to new places and hills. My Favourite Tourist Place is Sikkim, India.

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