apple watch series 6 red

Credit: Apple
  • Apple has unveiled Watch Series 6 with a price of $399 and a September 18 release.
  • The new smartwatch includes blood oxygen monitoring that could be helpful with COVID-19 and other health issues.
  • There’s also a budget Apple Watch SE arriving September 18 for $279.

The rumors were true: Apple has launched a bevy of new smartwatches without waiting for new iPhones. The company has unveiled Apple Watch Series 6, an evolution of its wearable focused even more on health.

The new Apple smartwatch adds blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, helping you track your heart and respiratory health. This could be particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when low blood oxygen levels could be a sign you have the virus.

Apple Watch Series 6 should also be more powerful overall. It incorporates a new S6 system-on-chip that should be up to 20% faster. A brighter display will help you see the screen on sunny days, and an altimeter will help you gauge progress on hikes.

Read more: The best smartwatches you can buy

Style is an important factor as well. You’ll find aluminum cases in blue and red, as well as new straps. Solo Loop in elastomer and yarn completely eliminate buckles or other attachments, while a new Leather Loop attaches without a hole to slot through.

It comes with watchOS 7 and introduces Family Setup, a feature that lets you enable features for kids without requiring that they have their own iPhones. A School Time mode helps kids avoid distractions. You need a cellular Apple Watch Series 4 or later in countries where Family Setup is available.

A new service, Apple Fitness Plus, provides guided, Apple Watch-oriented workouts from “world-class” trainers that are updated every week. You start videos on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, and the workouts will automatically sync with your watch to show your metrics, interval countdowns and even completed rings. Apple Music subscribers can save playlists from the service for listening later. Apple Fitness Plus is priced at $10 per month or $80 per year, and will be available in six countries by the end of 2020.

Apple Watch Series 6 starts at a price of $399 for a GPS model with a release date of September 18. Be warned, though: to cut costs and reduce the environmental footprint, Apple won’t ship the USB power adapter. You’ll have to either plug into a computer or use an existing adapter if you don’t want to buy a new power brick.

apple watch se alumium

Credit: Apple

There’s also a new budget model to straddle the line between Series 3 (which remains at $199) and Series 6. The new Apple Watch SE (above) uses the S5 chip instead of the S6, but still includes the accelerometer, gyroscope, and altimeter of the Series 6 as well as a modern display. It starts at $279 for a GPS model and will also be available on September 18.

While these new smartwatches won’t matter much if you’re a staunch Android devotee, they could be key to Apple maintaining an edge over rivals. Apple has already been faring better than Samsung and other smartwatch challengers during 2020, and that was with models that had been around since September 2019. The new models could spike demand from people who want to stay fit during the pandemic, and the Apple Watch SE in particular could appeal to cost-conscious types who still want most of the latest fitness features.