We do not have long to wait now until we find out exactly what Apple will announce today. An Apple Watch SE is one of the expected new products, along with the Apple Watch Series 6. If rumors of the differences between the two are true, the new low-cost model may be the new standard choice.
The headline feature of the Series 6 is expected to be an oxygen saturation reader – and it seems that this may be the most important feature compared to the Apple Watch SE which is expected to be launched next to …
Here is what we expect from S6:
Code found in iOS 14 by 9to5Mac has indicated that the Apple Watch will add oxygen levels to the bloodstream this year.
9to5Mac has also found evidence in iOS 14 that Apple is working to improve the electrocardiogram function with the Apple Watch Series 6. Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 are currently resulting in crucial ECG readings with heart rates between 100 and 120 beats per minute. The Apple Watch Series removes that limitation with an upgraded version of the ECG app.
Apple Watch Series 6 is likely to look like Apple Watch Series 5. Reports indicate that there are no major changes pending for Apple Watch Series 6’s industrial design, and that it will follow the same overall form factor as the series. 4 and series 5. Of course, things like new surfaces, colors and ribbons are always possible.
This was echoed in a tweet by Bloombergs Mark Gurman this morning.
Oxygen saturation aka O2 rate aka pulse oximeter
The heading function of S6 is then to measure O2 sets.
Technically, this is not something that requires new hardware, as a demolition showed that the sophisticated heart rate monitor in even the original Apple Watch was also able to function as a heart rate oximeter, which is another term for an O2 saturation monitor.
Apple has not enabled that functionality in any Apple Watch to date, and we got an idea of a potential reason for this back in 2015. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was reluctant to tangle with the need for FDA approvals.
Cook suggests that Apple may have more plans for the health sphere, in a revelation that will fascinate Wall Street, but he does not want the watch itself to be a regulated, government-licensed health product. We do not want to put the clock through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I do not mind putting something next to the clock through it, but not the clock, because it will hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can start imagining other things that could be next to it – maybe an app, maybe something else. “
Cook, of course, changed this when the Apple Watch Series 4 added ECG functionality, which required FDA approval.
Measurement of O2 sets is an interesting and timely function in a time of a pandemic that damages the lungs. However, I’m not sure there is a massive reason to choose Series 6. First, I tested a smartwatch with an oxygen saturation function – and I used it exactly once. Basically, unless you have a medical condition that affects O2 saturation, it does not vary much.
Of course, you could argue that during the pandemic, the ability to easily check your O2 rates can be felt if you feel that coronavirus symptoms are extremely valuable. But it still seems that the vast majority of those infected are asymptomatic, and if you still want to check it regularly, twenty dollars will get you a stand-alone device to do the job. I bought one at the beginning of the crisis, and it is now part of our medicine cabinet. So there is not much reason to pay a likely significant premium to get the feature on the Apple Watch.
Other expected S6 advantages over the Apple Watch SE
We also found evidence of better ECG readings with a resting heart rate between 100 and 120 beats per minute, but this area is rare and for most people will already be a sign of seeking medical attention, so it is irrelevant to most buyers.
Finally, it has a faster processor. Personally, I noticed a difference in the Siri response speed between my original Series 0 clock and the Series 3 – but no noticeable difference with the Series 4. Processor speed is not really an issue with the clock.
Apple Watch SE looks like the new standard
So, choosing the Apple Watch Series 6 seems to give you: O2 sets most people will probably only use once, and can buy cheap anyway; better ECG readings within a resting heart rate range most of us do not have; and a faster processor that will hardly make any noticeable difference.
Of course, if you care about the new features, or if you want premium materials, such as stainless steel and ceramics (if offered), then the Series 6 is what you want to buy. But if the reports are accurate, and the Apple Watch SE is otherwise identical, I think most people will choose what is likely to be a significantly cheaper model.
What are your own plans? Let us know in the comments.
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