Apple Watch Series 6 vs Watch Series 5

Should Watch Series 5 owners upgrade to the newest model? Here’s a comparison between the two.

Image: Apple

Apple’s unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 6 at its Sept. 15 launch event added a new device to grace your wrist. The Series 6 offers a few enhancements over 2019’s Series 5, including a beefier processor, a brighter display, and a blood-oxygen detection sensor. But if you already own a Series 5 model, is it worth spending $399 or more to grab these new features? Let’s take a look.

SEE: Everything Apple announced today that business pros need to know (TechRepublic).

Most of the core features and specs remain the same from the Series 5 to the Series 6, but there are some notable exceptions.

Weight: The Series 6 weighs a bit less than its predecessor, specifically 1.09 oz for the 40mm model and 1.31 oz for the 44mm version. That contrasts with the Series 5, which weighs 1.41 oz for the 40mm model and 1.69 oz for the 44mm edition. Those differences may not sound like a lot, but if the watch is on your wrist all day, every little bit helps.

Processor: The Series 6 is powered by the S6 64-bit dual-core processor, an upgrade over the Series 5’s S5 processor. Apple claims the S6 is up to 20% faster than S5. If true, then apps and screen activity should prove more responsive.

Display: Both the Series 5 and 6 offer an always-on Retina display. But the screen on the Series 6 is up to 2.5 times brighter than the one on the Series 5 when your wrist is down, according to Apple. That means you’ll be able to see it better outdoors, most notably in bright sunlight.

apple-watch-series-6-aluminum-blue-case-blood-oxygen-animation-09152020.gif

Image: Apple

U1 Ultra Wideband support: The Series 6 kicks in support for U1 Ultra Wideband. Also built into the iPhone 11, this type of chip provides a short-range wireless form of communications that offers greater accuracy than Bluetooth LE or Wi-Fi. As such, the technology adds more precise location tracking and spatial awareness, features that help your phone better recognize its surroundings.

Blood-oxygen oximeter: Apple has increasingly advanced its watch in the area of health. And the Series 6 continues that trend. The latest watch comes with an oximeter, a sensor that measures your blood-oxygen levels. The results can provide information about your blood circulation and breathing, which can clue you into any changes to your respiratory or cardiac health.

Sleep tracking: Apple has finally introduced a native sleep tracker to its watch via watchOS 7. Any watch that supports the latest OS (which includes the Series 6, 5, 4, and 3) will offer this feature. But the oximeter built into the Watch Series 6 can track your blood-oxygen levels during the night, which can indicate if you’re suffering from sleep apnea or related health issues.

Faster battery charging: The battery in the Series 6 won’t last longer than the one in the Series 5. Both devices are rated to give you 18 hours on a single charge. But the Series 6 provides a faster charging time, about 40% quicker than the Series 5, according to Apple.

Always-on altimeter: A helpful addition for hiking, climbing, and other types of exercise activities, an always-on altimeter in the Series 6 continuously tracks your elevation.

SEE: Apple unveils a number of health and fitness features, apps, and more (TechRepublic)

Colors: The aluminum version of the Series 6 adds a snazzy blue and red to the palette of colors you can choose from for the watch body. That means you can opt for silver, space gray, gold, blue, or red.

Watch bands: Apple has added more watch bands to the lineup, notably ones that don’t require a buckle or clasp. The new options are available when you buy a Series 6 but will also fit older models, starting with the Series 3.

For $49, the Solo Loop is a stretchable liquid silicone rubber band that comes in white, black, red, pink, navy, green, and ginger.

For $99, the Braided Solo Loop is stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicone threads offered in blue, red, pink, charcoal, and green.

You’ll also find new colors for the other bands, including the Sport Band, Sport Loop, Nike Sport Band, Nike Sport Loop, Leather, Hermès Leather, and Stainless Steel.

Apple Series 6 vs. Apple Series 5: Specs and prices

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 5

Watch sizes

40mm and 44mm

40mm and 44mm

Variants

GPS

GPS + Cellular

GPS

GPS + Cellular

Dimensions

1.57″ x 1.34″ x 0.41″ (40mm)

1.73″ x 1.5″ x 0.41 in (44mm)

1.57″ x 1.34″ x 0.42″ (40mm)

1.73″ x 1.5″ x 0.42″ (44mm)

Weight

1.09 oz/30.5g (40mm)

1.31 oz/36.5g (44mm)

1.41 oz/39.8 g (40mm)

1.69 oz/47.8g (44mm)

Materials

Aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium

Aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, or titanium

Display

Always-On OLED Retina display

Always-On OLED Retina display

Screen size

1.57″ (40mm)

1.78″ (44mm)

1.57″ (40mm)

1.78″ (44mm)

Processor

S6 64-bit dual-core processor

S5 64-bit dual core processor

Wi-Fi

802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz

802.11 b/g/n

Other connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

U1 Ultra Wideband support

Yes

No

Sensors

Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate sensor, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, blood-oxygen oximeter (SpO2, VO2max)

Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate sensor, altimeter, barometer, compass

Battery

Up to 18 hours on a single charge.

Up to 18 hours on a single charge.

Features

 

50m water resistant, ECG certified

Capacity

32GB

32GB

Colors

Aluminum: silver, space gray, gold, blue, and red.

Stainless Steel: silver, graphite, and gold.

Titanium: natural titanium and space black.

Aluminum: silver, space gray, gold

Stainless Steel: stainless steel, space black, gold

Titanium: natural titanium and space black

Ceramic: white

Price

Starting at $399 (40mm, Wi-Fi only)

Starting at $399 (40mm, Wi-Fi only)

Where to buy

Apple’s website and retail stores, Best Buy, and other retailers.

No longer sold by Apple. Available at Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers.

Availability

Preorder now. In stores on Sept. 18.

No longer sold by Apple. Still available at Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers.

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 6?

Some of the enhancements in the latest Apple Watch are compelling, particularly the brighter display, the faster battery charging, and the blood-oxygen oximeter. But if you already own a Watch Series 5, these features alone probably aren’t worth an upgrade. You’re likely better off waiting another year to see what Apple cooks up for the Watch Series 7.

If you own an older Apple Watch, such as a Series 1, 2, or 3, then the collective improvements made over time are appealing and valuable enough to warrant an upgrade to the Series 6.

Where and when can I buy the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Series 6 is available for preorder from Apple, Best Buy, and other retailers. The watch will be for sale in Apple stores and other retail outlets, both physically and online, starting Friday, Sept. 18.

If you plan to shop for an Apple Watch at a brick-and-mortar store, be mindful of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Call the store before to see if it allows walk-in customers. In some cases, as with Apple Stores, you may need to make an appointment for your shopping expedition. In other cases, you may have to order online for in-store or curbside pickup. Remember to wear a mask and practice safe social distancing when in the store.

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