There have been 6 versions of Apple Watch to date, but that won’t stop the next Apple Watch from being called the Series 6. The company simply called the original watch ‘Apple Watch’ – presumably because Apple was unsure of the longevity of what was new technology back in 2015.
Fast forward five years, and it has proven to be one of the most popular products in the Apple range ever, completely reimagining what we can do with our watches. A whole industry of capable smartwatches has emerged around it, but Apple still remains top dog for design and performance among many consumers.
With that in mind, and a relatively underwhelming Series 5 update, we have high hopes for the Apple Watch Series 6. Here’s everything we know so far, from release date whispers to key feature rumours.
When will the Apple Watch Series 6 be released?
While the iPad and MacBook have more erratic update cycles, the Apple Watch and iPhone have remained reassuringly predictable. The last five generations of Apple Watch have been unveiled annually in September, and we expect that to be no different in 2020.
But while an Apple Event for early September looks likely, Jon Prosser suggests that it could be pushed back to October 2020, due mainly to the fact that Apple really wants media to attend the event where it’s rumoured the AR glasses could also be teased, but that’s not possible with current coronavirus restrictions.
Whatever happens, we’ll more than likely see the Apple Watch Series 6 launched this Autumn.
How much will the Apple Watch Series 6 cost?
Despite prices creeping up in recent years, we’d expect the Apple Watch Series 6 to be priced similarly to its predecessor.
The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at £399/US$399 for the aluminium version, while the stainless steel variant will cost at least £699/$US699. These are the main two materials aimed at everyday consumers.
Higher-end titanium and ceramic designs can push the price as high as £1399/US$1399 though, particularly if you add cellular connectivity.
What will the design of the Apple Watch Series 6 be like?
We’re not expecting any massive Apple Watch redesigns coming soon, but there could be some subtle tweaks to enhance the user experience.
The latest leak is that Apple could build additional functionality into the Digital Crown, the small dial on the side of the screen. This is one of the key ways in which you navigate the device, but has remained largely unchanged in recent generations.
However, that could be all about to change with the Series 6, as Apple has applied for a patent which would allow you to use light sensors on the crown to control your watch. The official document linked above goes into detail on how this might work, but it could mean using swipe gestures around the edges of the watch to navigate the user interface.
We’re not sure whether this would mean losing the Digital Crown altogether, or whether this would simply be an alternative to the rotation of the crown we have now. It’s important that many patented ideas never make their way into the final product, but it’s the most concrete information we have so far.
Apple Watch Series 6 specs and features
The easiest upgrades to predict on the Apple Watch Series 6 are improved internals. It’s almost certain that Apple will have a new S6 processor ready, which could see enhancements to the already excellent performance. This could be aided by a potential move to Liquid Crystal Polymer circuit boards for the first time.
The highlight of watchOS 6 was full App Store functionality being brought to the Apple Watch for the first time, while it also added cycle tracking and noise monitoring.
Elsewhere, we could also see some pretty big improvements to the water resistance. The latest Apple Watch has an official ISO rating which means it is already able to withstand water depths of up to 50m, but Ming-Chi Kuo suggests there will be further improvements.
Will Apple finally bring sleep tracking to the Apple Watch? Simply put: yes. Apple confirmed the sleep tracking functionality will be available in watchOS 7 at WWDC 2020, with the update scheduled for release this Autumn, so it’ll be available to both new and existing Apple Watch owners.
Many people take their Apple Watch off to charge overnight, so this could suggest the next Apple Watch will be tailored to sleep tracking, possibly resulting in some significant improvements to battery life. This could be achieved by Apple moving to a microLED display, as reported by Chinese site Economic Daily News. The current OLED panels have led to more significant battery drain than had been anticipated.
Despite being phased out of the latest iPhones, Touch ID could make its first appearance on an Apple Watch in 2020. Of course, due to the size of the device it would have to be an under-display fingerprint scanner, although a November 2019 patent suggests it might be in the works.
This is backed up by a March 2020 report that also suggests the Digital Crown will feature Touch ID. According to the report’s source, “the option of unlocking the watch will be added with a fingerprint embedded on the ‘crown’ of the Watch” and continues to claim that Apple is working on an in-display fingerprint scanner for use on the Series 7, currently slated for release in 2021.
It’s true that an Apple Watch remains unlocked when it detects a heartbeat, in any other situation you still need to enter a four-digit PIN. Adding Touch ID will make the process easier and more secure, and will also make online payments much more seamless.
Another leak in early April 2020 came courtesy of Twitter user @NikiasMolina. In addition to the features mentioned above, he’s also suggesting the Series 6 will come with a Pulse Oximeter and the ability to detect abnormalities in mental health.
EXCLUSIVE leaks about the upcoming #AppleWatch Series 6 features.
? Sleep Tracking
? Longer Battery Life
❤️ Pulse Oximeter
⚡️ S6 Chip
? Mental Health Abnormalities Detection
Stay tuned for more. pic.twitter.com/fN0j6xmOMA
— Nikias Molina #BeHappy (@NikiasMolina)
April 30, 2020
Molina does not have history with leaks, and the latter does seem a little fantastical, so this information should be taken with a big pinch of salt. However, it would be highly impressive to see such advanced features on the Apple Watch in 2020.
A patent, which was filed way back in 2018, details a system that scans the veins in your wrist to detect non-touch gestures. The patent details a device packed with sensors that’ll “capture one or more images of the user’s hand” and use those images to figure out the position of the veins and thus the position of the hand.
It’s certainly a good idea – there are all times where we can’t touch our Watch to interact, like when cooking or when wearing gloves in the winter – but as with all patents, it may never appear in an official product. Still, it gives us an idea of the avenues that Apple is pursuing in the development of its smartwatch line.
If you’re interested in other wearables, check out our round-up of the best smartwatches currently available.