Apple Watch Series 6 Review: Time Matured

Another year, another Apple Watch. Even amid the craziness of 2020 Apple found time to release an update to one of their still emerging products. I’ve been a fan of the Apple Watch since day one and it keeps getting better and better with each revision. I purchased the Apple Watch Series 6 on launch day making this my fifth watch since the original in 2015.

Just like last year, there aren’t a lot of major changes, especially when views as a year over year change. The Series 6 still looks the same and comes in the same sizes as the Series 4 and 5. The biggest three changes this year are the addition of the blood oxygen sensor, new case colors, and better always-on display.

The Series 5 finally gave me a feature that I’ve been longing for ever since the first Apple Watch, the always-on display. This allows you to view information on your watch without having to raise or flip your wrist. The Series 6 expands on that with a brighter display that allows you to see it better in sunlight (in always-on mode).

Something that is pretty relevant right now with COVID-19 being a respiratory disease, is the ability to measure your blood oxygen level. You may have seen this in your doctor’s office when they put a sensor on your finger to get your pulse and a percentage usually in the high 90s. Apple warns that this is not a health device so it should only be viewed as informational. I suspect this is just a liability protection until they can get FDA clearance like the ECG.

Apple Watch rear sensors

I used the Apple Watch blood oxygen reading and a traditional sensor and they both resulted in 99%. To me, this justifies the level of accuracy I would expect out of this device. Just like the ECG in the Series 5 (which is still present and the same in Series 6) I’ll probably only use this occasionally when I remember it exists. The watch will also take background measurements when you are idle, which could be interesting to track.

For the first time ever, we finally have actual colors in the Apple Watch. Instead of the usual silver, space gray, and gold finishes, we get an anodized blue and red finish for the Series 6. These look great in person with and have a similar matte finish as the iPhone 11. The stainless model also got a refined finish changing the black to graphite.

The model I went with is the Apple Watch Series 6 44mm Graphite Stainless Steel. Usually I opt for the Aluminum “Sport” versions, but after a few years of my watch face getting severely scratched I find the stainless model (which features a sapphire crystal lens) to be better against scratches.

In addition to a new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced a lower-priced SE version. This is the same as the Series 6, but without the blood oxygen sensor, ECG, and always-on display. This creates a good, better, best structure to the Apple Watch tiers allowing a wider variety of buyers.

New watches usually come with new bands and this time around Apple debuted a new style called the Solo Loop. Similar to the original Sport Bands, this is a single piece of silicone that you can stretch around your hand to attach to your wrist. These bands come in 12 different sizes (1 – 12) to fit a wide variety of wrists. Downside to this is it’s not like shoes where most people know their size. You have to measure your wrist and hope it’s correct. Apple provides a printable measuring tool to measure your wrist. The tool told me I was a size 12, but I concluded a 11 would be a better fit. After getting the band, I could have gone down to a 10, but that might be too tight. If you but a Solo Loop band with an Apple Watch, and it doesn’t fit, you have to return the entire watch and band to get another one. This is a difficult online-only purchase as in-store try ons would be great for this item.

Update: I have since reached out to Apple about their Solo Loop sizing debacle. They have revised their return policy to allow returning of the band purchased with the watch. Apple also update their sizing guide to make it more clear that it needs to be a tight measurement. They are sending me a size 10 and a box to send them the too large size 11 back. To make things right, they’re also gifting me a Sport Band for my troubles.

Apple Watch on wrist
Apple Watch Series 6 44mm Graphite Stainless Steel
Wrapped in Longvadon Caiman Band

Of course you don’t have to use a watch band made by Apple. One of my favorite bands are made by the good folks over at Longvadon. They make luxury watch bands that pair great with an Apple Watch. Made to look like they came right off a high-end luxury traditional watch. The cost of these bands slots nicely between the cheap knockoffs and the really expensive Apple bands. My favorite thing about these Longvadon bands is they combine the traditional metal clasp with a buckle fastener, meaning you can just unclasp the watch and slide it off your hand instead of fiddling with the buckle. Pictured above is the ‘Men’s Whiskey Brown w/ Silver Details’ from their Caiman Series. It has a beautiful embossed crocodile pattern on top of high quality top grain bovine leather. The inside of the strap is very comfortable and soft. Shortly after I got my Apple Watch Series 6 I had a wedding to attend and the Longvadon watch band was the perfect way to class up my watch for the formal occasion. You can get your own Longvadon watch band on their website use my exclusive code ‘BEN20’ to save 20% off all products in their store!

There’s always a great reason to get a new Apple Watch, and this year’s lineup is no exception. With all the fitness and health benefits of an Apple Watch I recommend any iPhone user (and now their kids) look into being an Apple Watch wearer.

Like the watch faces you see here? Download those and more on my Apple Watch face page.

Read more about my thoughts on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch : A Retrospective

On April 25, 2015, I received my first generation Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch. You can read my original review here, where I talk about moving away from traditional watches and a Fitbit. Now, a year later I still have my same Apple Watch, and a whole new love for it.

Over the last 12 months, I have worn my Apple Watch 99% of the time I was awake. There may have been a day or two I forgot to put it on or did not charge it. After so long, it now becomes habit to want to check my wrist for messages, activity, and weather. At it’s core, which is receiving iPhone notifications, telling the time and showing me on-demand information on the watch face, the Apple Watch is a necessary device for my lifestyle.

Between my wife and I, we accumulated a good collection of sport bands in various colors to keep the look fresh. One of the joys of the Apple Watch is changing the band every morning to better match my clothing choice for the day.

I’ll admit that I don’t use the Apple Watch to it’s full technological extent. Third-party apps, different faces, and glances have all become secondary features. The watch is now more of an appliance in my life and a fashion accessory. That’s more than I can say for my iPhone which is somewhat an appliance, but more an entertainment device.

After a year, what I use my Apple Watch for is very simple:

  • Telling time (like a traditional watch)
  • Keeping track of time (alarms, timers, etc.)
  • Checking the weather (watch face complication)
  • Tracking activity (workouts, steps, standing, etc.)
  • Getting alerts from my iPhone (iMessages, emails, etc.)

That’s about it. Can’t imagine what my day would be like without it.

As Apple said, this is a very personal device indeed.

 

Technology brings us together

During this holiday season, when you visit with your families and friends, some of that time may be blocked by bright screens in front of their faces. For the last couple of years, we may have thought this was a bad thing. In the soon-to-be year 2016, I think that has become something more.

This year instead of everyone sinking into their chairs with the soft glow of LED screens on faces, I’ve seen families and friends come together over technology. From talking about iCloud backups to Uber driving, it now seems our time together also includes some tech talk.

Continue reading “Technology brings us together”

The 2015 Beard Blog Holiday Tech Gift Guide

Back in my day, toys were the rage of the holiday season. Everyone wanted the coolest, most popular toy, and stores had trouble keeping up supplies. From ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ to ‘Zhu Zhu Pets’ we’ve see our fair share of off-the-wall gifts of the year. Nowadays, the climate has shifted to technology. Kids and adults alike want the latest craze in technology whether it be wearables, tablets, or video games, nothing is out of bounds. Continue reading “The 2015 Beard Blog Holiday Tech Gift Guide”

My Apple Watch Review: 3 Months of Joy

From Fitbit to Apple Watch

As an avid Apple enthusiast, I’m always excited about their new products. I’ve been following the Apple Watch or ‘iWatch’ news since it was first reported on MacRumors years ago. Previously I’ve never worn a smartwatch, but I have been collecting traditional watches for some time. Just about every day I could have been spotted wearing a watch on my left hand, so you could say I was ready for the next generation of watches. I later grew tired of waiting for an Apple iWatch to emerge so I ventured in the wearables market by purchasing a Fitbit Flex. This was great, it could track my steps and only needed charged about once a week. As this point I’m wearing a traditional watch on my left wrist, and a Fibit fitness tracker on my right wrist. This is where Apple captured my interest, by combining both a watch and fitness tracker into one device, both my wrists no longer needed to be decorated with straps.

Expense over Excitement

When the Apple Watch was announced in the fall of 2014, I was immediately immersed in the hype, and by spring of 2015 I was over eager to meet my new wrist companion. The publicity since fall kind of dissipated so I didn’t know that many people taking the plunge on this first generation device. On pre-order day I settled on ordering two Apple Watches, one for me of course, and one for my wife to share the experience with me… and send my heartbeat to. For me it was the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel Case) with black sport band and the Apple Watch Sport with white sport band for my wife. After adding AppleCare+ this was a large purchase and immediately I started having buyer’s remorse. Would I actually use this thing? Will it be another great Apple product? Apple Watch

My wife’s Apple Watch Sport band arrived first, and to my surprise, my Apple Watch had yet to be shipped. This was a tiny dilemma because it was a surprise gift for her and I wanted to have both at the same time. I ruined the surprise and asked if I can wear it until mine was delivered, of course agreed as it was already adorning my wrist. Ten days later my Apple Watch arrived in glorious fashion, while I was out of town. This put my time with the Apple Watch Sport at about two weeks. I enjoyed the sport, but fell in love with the look and design of the stainless steel Apple Watch. I’m pretty rough on watches so I knew I would not only need AppleCare+, but a scratch-proof sapphire screen sold me.

Since then I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch everyday, and I have the activity history to prove it.

Three months later I’m as happy as ever, especially when people ask me if I still like it as much as the day I got it. My only answer can be, “why yes, it is essential to me everyday.”

Continue reading “My Apple Watch Review: 3 Months of Joy”