Apple Watch Series 6 and SE revealed - all you need to know

Heavy on hardware, but light on new features
Two new Apple Watch models land
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Apple has announced two new Apple Watch models at its event at Apple Park.

As widely rumoured we got a new Apple Watch Series 6, which is now joined by the all-new Apple Watch SE.

And there’s been a big revamp of services too. The company has launched a subscription workout app called Fitness+, which uses the Apple Watch to power it with stats.

And Family Setup enables Apple Watch devices to become kids smartwatches, with location tracking, approved contact calling and School Time mode.

Quick headlines

  • Apple launches Apple Watch Series 6 - $399
  • Apple Watch SE - $279
  • Series 3 remains at $199
  • Release date of 18 September 2020
  • Series 6 adds SpO2 and always-on altimeter
  • Apple Watch SE matches Series 6, but without ECG/SpO2
  • Company launches Fitness+ subscription service
  • Family Setup means older Apple Watches can be used by children

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6 showing SpO2

The Apple Watch Series 6 is getting new colours, with blue, graphite and (PRODUCT)RED versions – as well as stainless steel gold.

The rest of the external hardware is unchanged from the Series 5, but things under the hood have moved on.

The big change is the SpO2 sensor, which allows blood oxygen tracking for the first time. Users can take a spot check and you can have blood oxygen monitored during sleep.

The processor has been upgraded to the sixth generation S6, which boosts performance by 20%.

Always-on display is now 2.5x brighter outside, and there’s an always-on altimeter for altitude tracking. There are also new altimeter watch faces showing your altitude, aimed at hikers.

And that’s it in terms of hardware improvements, making it somewhat of an interim update.

We were expecting some news around battery of charging, given the extra demands around SpO2.

Battery life is the same, quoted by Apple at 18 hours.

However, not mentioned at the event, but snuck into the press materials, was faster charging.

The Apple Watch will now charge in 1.5 hours. It's perhaps not quite as potent as some fast charging we've seen, but means you can recover a lot of battery life after waking up and before leaving the house.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE models

While we didn’t get too much in the way of new Apple Watch Series 6 features, we did get a whole new device.

The Apple Watch SE uses the previous generation S5 chip.

It uses the same line-up of accelerometer and altimeter as Series 6, which means it retains fall detection, altitude tracking and heart rate.

It uses the newer shape with the larger 44mm display, but eschews health features like SpO2 and ECG.

It’s set to cost $279, making it more expensive than Series 3 which stays at $199.

We’re guessing Apple wants to lure in users with the superior build post-Series 4, who still feel $399 for the 40mm Series 6 is too much.

Apple Watch kids mode

As rumoured, Apple is now letting users pair multiple Apple Watches to their account in a new feature called Family Setup.

Additional Apple Watch smartwatches can be used by children, and the feature offers GPS tracking, location alerts, safe contact calling and School Time mode, which strips back the experience to prevent classroom distractions.

The watch will have kid-friendly watch faces and still do activity tracking.

However, it will only work with Series 4 and later, which means that the many Series 3 smartwatches out there won’t get a second life as a kids smartwatch.

New bands and watch faces

Solo Loop band unveiled at Apple Watch Series 6 launch

For those wishing for a little more customisation for your Apple Watch, you're in luck.

The company has announced the new Solo Loop band (pictured), which has no clasp or buckle, and is swim-proof.

However, we do prefer the Braided Solo Loop, which really looks the business.

And there's a load of new watch faces too.

GMT shows different timezones, while Count Up offers lap tracking. Chronograph Pro landed as part of watchOS 7.