The Apple Watch has been one of the most recognized connected watches since its launch in 2016. It is experiencing rapid growth in the United States, especially among teenagers, and is starting to take off in France as well. Every year Apple releases a new version with even better features, and this year is no exception. Hesitating for a long time because of the battery life, I took the plunge at the end of 2020. I took advantage of the release of the Series 7 to buy the Series 6, mainly for “sport” use.
So, what is my opinion on the Apple Watch Series 6 after a few months of use? This test will allow you to understand why I gradually became convinced, why I will find it difficult to do without it today and not just for sport…
- A nice tool for sports and not just running
- Siri at your fingertips
- A real time saver on micro-tasks
- Customization (bracelets, screen, etc.) which allows you to wear a “different” watch every day if you wish
Areas for improvement
- Autonomy, but it’s better than expected
- Sleep tracking not very complete without third-party app
- Siri not very customizable, which conflicts with other Apple devices
Apple Watch for running
With the latest versions of watchOS, there are more workout modes than ever, it really is a superb workout and fitness companion. What about running?
Small precision, I do not have a cellular model but a wifi. So I need my iPhone nearby to fully exploit the potential of my watch. Still, there’s a lot to like: GPS that works even without an iPhone, plus accurate heart rate and offline music on the wrist thanks to Apple Music. It is also possible to use third-party applications, but if I had synchronization problems with Adidas Running during my outings and I had to consult my iPhone to find out where I was. From the moment I went through the integrated “exercise” app, no more synchronization problems, the information is visible on the dial of my watch in one movement / look, without having to press a button. It would be relevant to test the effectiveness of Strava, which still offers more data to analyze.
The Apple Watch is an excellent tracker, not having your iPhone handy does not hinder its ability to record sessions and track your steps, your heart rate…. The Apple Watch can store this data for 30 days. As soon as your iPhone is back within Bluetooth or Wi-Fi range, that data is synced and cleared from the Apple Watch cache. Finally, the Series 6 adds an altimeter, which is ideal for hikes and other altitude excursions, to follow the evolution in real time. The blood oxygen app can even check how your body reacts to altitude.
And for other sports?
The “Exercise” and “Activity” apps are not limited to running but include many fitness functions. It can track 80 different types of exercise: walking, cycling, swimming, strength training… and gets even bigger if you have a Fitness+ subscription.
The watch can automatically detect the start of certain exercises, including running, cycling and swimming, so there’s no problem if you forget to manually start your activity. There’s even a reminder to end the session when the watch detects that you’ve stopped working out, although it tends to come in a bit late for my taste.
Apple’s new Fitness+ service (which I recommend as part of the six-person Apple One Premium plan) provides access to workouts with coaches. Intervals, Pilates, Yoga, Reinforcement, there is something for everyone, with or without equipment, over several durations… I use reinforcement and yoga several times a week and it’s really a great tool, even if the coaches are a little too “American” in their very extroverted coaching. We don’t necessarily like it. Right now, I’m having a blast with Kyle’s Strengthening sessions and Molly’s Yoga sessions.
Big disadvantage currently: All the exercises are in English. The subtitles are by appointment, but those who do not master the English language will have to look up regularly to understand the instructions. I quickly got frustrated with the screen size of the iPhone for these sessions, but with an iPad Air or a projector/TV screen, it’s really great.
The Apple Watch 6 allows daily activity monitoring, whether in terms of steps, but also simply sitting/starting time. Activity Rings are a major part of the daily experience and are incredibly motivating. It is even possible to share your data with friends or even to challenge yourself over a period of 7 days. Everything is there to motivate you!
Apple watch for health monitoring?
As mentioned above, the Apple connected watch allows you to collect a lot of data, and not just for sport. Health information is more and more numerous and complete.
Heart rate, ECG and Ogygen
The optical sensor, considered by many specialists to be the best on the market, allows precise monitoring of heart rate during sport, sleep and everyday life. On the Series 6, the main addition is the blood oxygen sensor mentioned above. It accompanies the ECG as an exclusive feature from Series 6, and makes it possible to justify the difference with the Apple Watch SE, at a much more affordable price.
Blood oxygen level is tracked automatically throughout the day and night, and you can check it from a dedicated app. This is a short test of 15 seconds. The ECG function allows you to monitor heart rhythms and alert you in the event of high/low cardiac arrhythmia. High/low heart rate detection is a superb life-saving tool, and proof that wearing your smartwatch can save your life. The need is not there yet, but it is clear to me that my parents will eventually be equipped with Apple Watch for their well-being.
Apple watch for sleep?
There’s a built-in app for tracking sleep, which wasn’t the case until recently, but I found it quite limited. So I bought a third-party app (Autosleep+). The data is more complete, especially on deep sleep. Above all, the detection is much more accurate. Apple often thinks I’m sleeping when I’m just lying down watching a series or reading. Autosleep, without being perfect, is better on this point. And the fact of setting up a system of rings as for “Activity” of Apple is very clever. There is currently none with the integrated app. I have no doubt that the apple brand will improve in the coming years, but today, I “outsource” this follow-up.
Apple Watch everyday
The Apple Watch isn’t just a fitness tracker. It also allows you to receive lots of notifications related to certain apps, to make and take calls, to read and reply to messages… If you opt for the cellular model, which is more expensive, you won’t need your iPhone nearby to do all this. Personally, I do not want to be overwhelmed with notifications on my watch, and apart from physical activity, the notifications are only active for SNCF Connect (in the event of a train delay) or to be alerted to calls without having to go to my laptop, constantly silent.
Siri is integrated and it’s a pleasure to activate timers easily. I regularly have my 6 month old daughter in my arms when I prepare a bottle for her and it’s great to be able to start the timer via the watch without struggling to reach for the iPhone. Again, no need to press any button for this to happen, just speak.
You can also store music on the watch or stream playlists from Apple Music, listening to it through Bluetooth headphones connected to the watch. Or simply jump between songs, including if Apple music was launched on the iPhone.
Last crush, rather unexpected for once: customization! The offer in bracelets is varied. I avoid the official versions which cost an arm and a leg, but several brands have launched their own model and really allow you to customize your watch to infinity. I have a 40mm watch, much narrower than a 45mm and I can add a protective shell without the watch turning into a tank. And since there are shells of different colors (which protect the screen or not, it’s up to you), this still gives an additional option for customization. Finally, you can configure several dials on your watch. You switch very easily, with the flick of a finger, from one to the other, depending on the desired design or simply the information you want to see appear (time, battery, heart rate, activity, etc.)
I mentioned it in the introduction, the autonomy of the Apple Watch has long been a barrier to purchase for me. In fact, Apple strongly underestimates the autonomy of its watch. The brand evokes around 6 p.m., and I think it takes really intense use to get to that level of consumption. Mine is connected to wifi all day, I walk an average of 12,000 steps per day so the GPS is active, I use Fitness+ frequently, I run twice a week, I sleep with my watch… and on average, I consume about 50-60% of the battery in 24 hours. So I don’t necessarily need to recharge it every day. In fact, I charge it well every day, but only to charge it halfway, so the charging time is really short.
It’s on the move that you can find yourself a bit tight, but again, it’s not necessarily a hassle. I have a special external Apple Watch charger that ensures I can charge it pretty much anytime.
I finally fell for an Apple Watch and I’m not disappointed at all. The Series 6 is packed with features focused on activity tracking, health and wellness, but it’s not limited to that. Integration with the iPhone is excellent and offers a lot of welcome features without having your phone in your hands. It’s a big YES for this watch and I can’t wait to discover the evolutions of the next models.