Beyond this, Apple’s changes include a faster processor, an always-on altimeter that lets you see your elevation in real time, and a bump in screen brightness when your wrist is down. These improvements, plus many new additions in watchOS 7, including a 20-second hand-washing timer and sleep-tracking capabilities, make the Apple Watch Series 6 the company’s best smartwatch yet and our new Editors’ Choice.
Apple introduced two new smartwatches this year, the flagship Series 6 and the more affordable Watch SE. The Series 6 starts at $399 for the GPS-only model and $100 more for the GPS and cellular version.
The Watch SE, which shares design elements with the Series 6 along with key health and safety features like fall detection, starts at $279 for the GPS-only model or $329 for the GPS and cellular version. It lacks an always-on display, as well as blood oxygen saturation and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings.
The GPS-only Series 3 remains on sale for just $199 as another budget-friendly option. All models require a paired iPhone, so Android users are out of luck.
The Series 6 comes in 40mm and 44mm case sizes and three different case materials: 100 percent recycled aluminum, polished stainless steel, or brushed titanium. Apple is also giving you some new jewel-toned colors to choose from this year. The aluminum Series 6 is available in new navy-blue and red, as well as gold, silver, and space-gray. The stainless steel model comes in a new classic yellow-gold tone, a grayish-black called Graphite, and silver. The titanium model comes in Natural Titanium and Space Black.
Apple Watch Series 6
Measures blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) on demand. Always-on altimeter for real-time elevation tracking. Improved wrist-down screen brightness. WatchOS 7 adds handwashing countdown timer and sleep tracking. Fast new processor. Best third-party app selection. Attractive new watch colors and band options.
Expensive. Offers only a slight battery life improvement
With an unrivaled user experience, fantastic apps, and potentially lifesaving health and fitness features, the Apple Watch Series 6 is the best smartwatch you can buy.
Swapping out the strap is a big part of the Apple Watch experience for a lot of people, and this year Apple debuted some nice options, including the $49 Solo Loop (which you can choose to get with the watch instead of the default Sport Loop) and the $99 Braided Solo Loop. Both feature no clasps, buckles, or overlapping parts and are available in a range of colors. They stretch over your wrist and come in nine different sizes to ensure a good fit. The Solo Loop is made of liquid silicone rubber, and the Braided version is made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled yarn that is braided around a thin silicone thread.
For this review, I tested a 40mm GPS and cellular Series 6 with a blue aluminum case and a deep navy Sport Loop. Apple also sent a matching Atlantic Blue Braided Solo Loop band in size 4, which fits perfectly on my wrist. It looks chic, yet understated and casual. It feels secure and is easy to get on and off, but its $99 price is hard to swallow. For the sake of comparison, the fancy Milanese Loop is also $99.
Apple includes a charging cable in the watch’s box, but you don’t get a USB power adapter. The company says it made this decision to help the environment, and it will have the same impact as eliminating 50,000 cars from the roads.
Like it or not, the Series 6 has the distinctive squarish design with rounded corners the Apple Watch is known for. The 40mm model measures 1.56 by 1.35 by 0.42 inches (HWD), while the 44mm model is a touch taller and wider but the same thickness, at 1.73 by 1.48 by 0.42 inches.
Looking at the Series 6 next to the Series 5, it’s hard to see a difference aside from the case color and band. Indeed, Apple hasn’t made any changes to the size or resolution of the display. To that end, the 40mm model has a 1.57-inch display with 394 by 324 pixels, while the 44mm Series 6 has a 1.73-inch display with 448 by 368 pixels.
The Series 6 is light and comfortable on my wrist, even when I wear it to bed. The 40mm and 44mm aluminum models weigh 1.07 ounces and 1.28 ounces, respectively, without the strap. The stainless steel models are the heaviest at 1.40 ounces and 1.66 ounces, and the titanium models weigh 1.22 ounces and 1.45 ounces.
The Series 6 is water-resistant to 165 feet. Apple says it’s safe for shallow-water activities such as swimming (in a pool or the ocean). You can also wear it in the shower and hot tub. You shouldn’t, however, wear it while scuba diving, waterskiing, or “other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth,” Apple says.
SETUP AND INTERFACE
The Series 6 comes partially charged. As soon as you take it out of the box and turn it on, a screen appears on your iPhone asking if you want to set the watch up for yourself or someone else using Apple’s new Family Setup service. It then instructs you to put on the watch, hold it up to your phone’s camera, and align the watch face with the viewfinder on screen to pair it. As soon as I did this, it said the Apple Watch was paired and asked me if I wanted to restore from a backup or set it up as a new watch. I regularly use the Series 5, so I chose to restore from that device.
You have the option to enable the Blood Oxygen app during the setup process, which lets you check your blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels and measure them throughout the day; you can also turn this feature on later. Next, you have the option to enable automatic updates; if you do, you’ll receive a notification before an update is installed. It then asks if you want to set up Apple Pay.
Next, it goes over the Emergency SOS and fall-detection features. To call emergency services, press and hold the side button. Doing so will also send a message to your emergency contacts. With fall detection enabled, the watch will call emergency services when it detects that you took a hard fall. You can disable this feature in the Apple Watch app.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Boston Dynamics' Spot Robodog Finds Work on a BP Oil Rig
Boston Dynamics’ four-legged canine-inspired Spot is by no means an old dog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn new tricks. The 55-pound robot, unveiled in 2016, has boarded BP’s Mad Dog oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where it will master tasks including reading gauges, finding corrosion, mapping the facility, and sniffing out methane, according to Reuters.
CAN THIS AI HELP SMOKERS QUIT?
While COVID-19 remains an occupying force in our world, and a viable vaccine is still out of reach, dealing with the pandemic comes down to mitigating health risks while coping with stress. If you’re a smoker, that’s going to be tough on both accounts. This isn’t the Mad Men era; everyone knows the risks of tobacco use, but cessation of addictive substances isn’t easy.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla (for PC): Another Winner
The Assassin’s Creed series has taken us to numerous historical settings since its 2007 debut, including Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and Revolutionary War-era America. The newest installment, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, details the Viking invasion of 9th Century England from the perspective of history’s most notorious raiders. Though Valhalla doesn’t introduce anything wholly new to the series, it’s an excellent PC game that follows in the footsteps of its equally exceptional predecessors, Origins and Odyssey.
Microsoft Xbox Series X: An Impressive Console
The newest Xboxes are here, packing plenty of power into boxier frames than ever. Microsoft’s entries into the latest console generation are the Xbox Series X, reviewed here, and the Xbox Series S ($299).
2020's Most Common Passwords Are Laughably Insecure
Chances are that if a password is easy for you to remember, a hacker can easily crack it. And despite years (and years) of tech companies warning consumers to use hard-to-crack passwords, plus two-factor authentication, people are still using laughably insecure codes.
THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2020
It’s been a weird year.
Virtual Movie Night: How to Watch Netflix With Friends Using Teleparty
Many of us are facing a long winter indoors, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. And though we have video streaming to distract us, watching shows and movies is more fun with friends. You could get everyone on Zoom and press play at the same time, but there’s an easier way: Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party).
Apple Mac mini (M1, Late 2020): Most Polished, Potent Tiny Desktop
The Mac mini doesn’t get upgraded often, but when it does, it makes an impact well out of proportion to its trim dimensions. The 2018 Mac mini was a PCMag Editors’ Choice pick for its pep, connectivity, build quality, and limited upgradability. A slight variation on the same sheet music, played with little fanfare earlier this year, pumped up the two base models’ SSD capacity. The real update of this iconic little desktop is this one, and it’s a big-band extravaganza. Apple’s own highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC), the M1 brings the Mac mini to new performance highs, and while a few fundamentals have changed, the peppy performance, the reasonable mix of connectivity, and a new lower $699 starting price combine to make it one of the best values in compact computers, period. It easily earns our Editors’ Choice nod.
Optoma HD39HDR: Bright, Low-Lag Projector
Designed for gaming and for watching movies and TV, the Optoma HD39HDR is one of a growing number of 1080p home projectors that can accept a 4K UHD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) HDR signal and downconvert the resolution to 1080p. Some projectors in this category accept the input without really offering any of the benefits that high dynamic range promises for a wider color gamut or range of brightness levels. Others, including the Optoma, make good use of HDR. In my tests, the HD39HDR delivered more-vibrant color and far better shadow detail when I played the 4K HDR versions of movies on my Blu-ray player than when playing the 1080p SDR versions of the same titles.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review: Perfect Balance of Power and Price
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is everything you need and nothing else. Samsung pared down its flagship S20 series to a more palatable price, and the result is a value-minded standard-bearer to properly face up against the forthcoming iPhone 12 line. With fast performance, solid cameras, and often substantial discounts at major wireless providers, the S20 FE 5G becomes our default Android phone recommendation for 2020 as well as our Editors’ Choice.
APPLE ANNOUNCES NEW PROJECTS AS PART OF ITS RACIAL EQUITY AND JUSTICE INITIATIVE (REJI)
IT’S ALL PART OF THE COMPANY’S $100 MILLION PLEDGE
WHATSAPP GROWTH SLUMPS AS RIVALS SIGNAL, TELEGRAM RISE
Encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram are seeing huge upticks in downloads from Apple and Google’s app stores.
SPOTIFY'S PODCAST POWER PLAY
The company is staking its future on converting music listeners to podcast fans and has become the favorite to own the industry—for better or worse
ATHLEISURE LIST: EQUIPMENT + STREAMING CITYROW
Founded by Helaine Knapp,'s CITY ROW Signature-class format combines rowing intervals with strength training for a total body HIIT-style workout.
T+A Solitaire P headphones and HA 200 DACheadphone amplifier
What I categorize as mainstream, dealer-based, fancy-pants stream-ers and big-speakers audio is actually only the gold-plated tip of a gigantic asteroid-like monolith that extends (underground) from New York to Hong Kong, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. This immense audio-social mass is mostly invisible to the Madison Avenue mainstream, but simple Google searches expose millions of proletarian audio-gear constructers (DIY’ers) working in shops, basements, and garages, scratch-building everything from turntables to tonearms to phono cartridges, to capacitors and vacuum tubes, to amplifiers, headphones, ribbon and electrostatic speakers.
STM ChargeTree 3–in–1 wireless charger
Space–conscious wireless charging
YOU: PRO NEW GENERATION POWERS UP YOUR TECH
As iPhone and iPad sales begin to fall, Apple is focusing its attention on professional users, introducing a bunch of new hardware to compete in an increasingly crowded - but lucrative - market. With the launch of Pro Mode for macOS, the company could be onto a winner…
BACK TO SCHOOL: RETURNING TO THE CLASSROOM SAFELY
Five months on from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and policymakers and public health officials have decided it’s time to return to the classroom. Around the world, schools and colleges are preparing for a new semester, and though environments may be different, one thing is clear: teachers and students will be depending on technology more than ever.
Apple unveils new iPad Pro with trackpad support
APPLE TAKES THE iPAD PRO TO THE NEXT LEVEL
SEARCH: APPLE COULD RIVAL GOOGLE WITH NEW INDEXING SERVICE
As antitrust battles continue to dominate Silicon Valley, Apple is using its initiative, planning for a future where multibillion-dollar tie-ups aren’t acceptable. In a perhaps surprising move, the Cupertino company has reportedly begun ramping up efforts to launch its own search engine tech to rival that of Google’s, a course of action that could change the face of search.