Although there have already been six versions of the Apple Watch, the next version is still highly likely to be called the Series 6. The company simply called its original watch ‘Apple Watch’, presumably because Apple was unsure of the longevity of what was considered new and emerging technology back in 2015.
Fast forward five years, and it has proven to be one of the most successful products Apple has ever made, completely revolutionising what is possible from our wrist. A whole industry of capable smartwatches has emerged around it, but Apple still remains top dog for many people.
With that in mind, we have high hopes for the Apple Watch Series 6. Here’s everything we know so far.
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.
An Apple Event for early September looks likely, with the Watch going on sale around a week later.
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. All will probably be revealed at WWDC 2020, which usually takes place in the first week of June.
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? It’s arguably the most notable missing feature, particularly when it’s available on devices that are so much more affordable. Apple acquired sleep tracking company Beddit back in 2017, and it looks like it will finally put that expertise to use in its wearable.
9to5Mac have discovered that iOS 13’s code currently includes a feature called “Time in Bed tracking”, with the associated note stating “you can also track your sleep and get woken up silently by wearing your watch to bed”. The Apple Watch would be the logical device to add that functionality.
Many people take their Apple Watch off to charge overnight, so this would surely result 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.
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.
The Apple Watch Series 5 introduced 40mm and 44mm as the two size options, so we don’t expect that to change in 2020.
If you’re interested in other wearables, check out our round-up of the best smartwatches currently available.