Apple unveils Watch Series 6 and affordable Watch SE

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has taken the wraps off its new Apple Watch Series 6 at today's event with a collection of new colors and a blood monitoring feature along with internal updates to deliver performance boosts. 

In addition, the Apple Watch SE was revealed, the rumored affordable new Apple Watch will seek to do for the Apple Watch line what the iPhone SE did for the iPhone with a cheaper entry point while still delivering most of the Apple Watch experience.

Here's a look at everything new with the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Series 6 price

(Image credit: Apple)

The Watch Series 6 is maintaining its price point this year at $399 for the GPS-only model and $499 for the cellular model. We cover the Apple Watch SE below. It joins the Watch Series 3 as the more affordable options in the Apple Watch lineup at $279 and $199, respectively.

Apple Watch Series 6 colors

Apple Watch has introduced new colors including blue aluminum, graphite and, for the first time, a Product Red edition. Silver and gold are still around as well if the new color options aren't tempting you.

Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen Monitoring

(Image credit: Apple)

Exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 6 is a blood oxygen monitoring feature that can be used for both fitness and general health monitoring alongside the existing health monitoring of the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch Series 6 uses both red and infrared light in order to measure your blood oxygen levels in about 15 seconds. The feature will also be used in partnership with health networks to contribute data to large-scale studies regarding general cardio health as well as potentially COVID-19 studies.

Apple Watch Series 6 performance

The S6 processor in the Apple Watch Series 6 is based on Apple's A13 chipset found in the iPhone SE and Apple's iPhone 11 lineup. Apple claims it will result in a 20% performance boost over the Series 5.

Battery life will hold steady at the same 18 hours as the Series 5, but topping back up will be faster at just 1.5 hours as compared to a full 2 hours with the Series 5. Notably, this is achieved while delivering a 2.5x brighter always-on display mode when compared to the Series 5, making it far easier to see when casually glancing at your Apple Watch Series 6 in daylight.

Apple Watch SE

(Image credit: Apple)

Starting at $279 the Apple Watch SE is a more affordable new entry point for Apple Watch customers. 

From a design standpoint, the Apple Watch SE closely follows the Apple Watch Series 4 while using internal components similar to last year's Apple Watch Series 5. It should offer roughly twice the speed seen on the Apple Watch Series 3, which is sticking around as the cheapest Apple Watch at $199.

Features for the Apple Watch SE are on par with the Series 5 with fall detection, a swim-proof design, sleep tracking, a compass and always-on altimeter, and more. 

Bluetooth and cellular Apple Watch SE options will be available to order starting today and shipping Friday.

watchOS 7

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Announced back at WWDC in June, watchOS 7 is finally slated for release on the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE and will make its way to all Apple Watches this month.

The most notable updates for watchOS 7 include sleep tracking, a feature that has been a part of most fitness trackers for years now, but perhaps due to battery concerns, it has been left off the Apple Watch until now.

Family Setup allows you to set up an Apple Watch for someone who doesn't own an iPhone. This will predominantly be useful for parents who want to give young kids an option to reach them, one that is easily manageable but could also be applicable for elderly family members. Family Setup requires a cellular Apple Watch.

(Image credit: Apple)

Watch faces are getting an upgrade, allowing developers to offer deeper experiences with the watch faces and, in turn, give users the ability to customize their faces to a greater degree with multiple complications on a single watch face. And if you want to share your painstakingly crafted watch face with a friend, that will now be easily done directly between Apple Watches or over iMessage or social apps.

The Activity app on the Apple Watch is getting a name change to Fitness and adds a number of new exercise types, including Core Training, Functional Strength Training, Dance and Cooldown. 

Finally, Siri on the Apple Watch is getting an update that should make it much more responsive with on-device dictation that avoids the slowdown of communicating through Apple's servers. 

Fitness Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

Arriving alongside watchOS 7 is a new fitness service called Fitness Plus; it's a full streaming workout service that will be viewable on your iPad, iPhone or Apple TV, but you will be able to sync up your heart rate, pace and other data to Fitness Plus directly from your Apple Watch and then view the data live during your workout. 

Users will get three months free to try Fitness Plus and it will then be available for $9.99 per month or $79 for a full year as a standalone service or it is included in the $29.95 per month Premier tier of the new Apple One subscription that also includes Apple Music, TV, News, Arcade and iCloud.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.