The Apple Watch is undoubtedly the most popular smartwatch in the market, offering a premium experience enhanced by standalone watchOS apps, optional LTE support, a built-in EEG and impressive waterproofing capabilities. But, of course, there are always elements that can be improved on, and while the Apple Watch Series 5 introduced the heavily requested always-on display tech and a built-in compass, there’s a lot more that can be done to Apple’s wearable.
With that being said, here’s all you need to know about the 2020 edition of the Watch, dubbed unofficially as the Apple Watch Series 6, from release date speculation to the latest leaks and rumours.
When will the Apple Watch Series 6 be released?
There’s no confirmation – or even rumours – about the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, but we can take a look at previous releases to glean some information about what to expect from the upcoming debut.
Typically speaking, Apple tends to release new versions of Apple Watch alongside new iPhones at an event that takes place in September every year. It’s not a perfect record, with Apple releasing the original Apple Watch in April 2015, but all since have been released in September.
With that being said, we assume that the Apple Watch Series 6 will appear alongside the rumoured iPhone 12 in September 2020, but there’s always a chance that Apple could shake things up a bit in 2020.
We’ll update this section as soon as we hear any news or rumours, of course, so check back soon for the latest release date details.
How much will the Apple Watch Series 6 cost?
The Apple Watch is available in two sizes and several finishes with a large collection of straps to choose from, and the combination you select dictates the price.
The entry-level Apple Watch Series 5 currently costs £399/$399, while the stainless steel variant costs £699/$699. You’ve also got the option of a titanium finish at £799/$799 and ceramic at £1,499/$1,499, but the latter isn’t really aimed at everyday consumers.
While there have been slight fluctuations in the price of the Apple Watch due to local currency fluctuations, new versions of Apple Watch tend to cost the same as their predecessors. With that being said, we assume that Apple will adopt the Series 5 pricing for the Series 6 once it’s released in 2020.
What will the Apple Watch Series 6 look like?
The design of the Apple Watch has largely remained unchanged since the original Watch was first introduced in 2015, with the exception of the introduction of a bezel-less display with the Series 4. At this point, we think the design is synonymous with the Apple Watch brand and we can’t see Apple introducing any drastic design changes any time soon.
The new Watch may be thinner due to the possible inclusion of a MicroLED display – which we’ll go into more detail about below – but it’ll most likely offer the familiar form factor with a square body and rounded edges that we’ve seen for the past few years.
What should we expect from the Apple Watch Series 6?
While the Apple Watch Series 5 was light on new features, the rumour mill has been churning and it looks like the Apple Watch Series 6 could offer much more in the way of an upgrade.
Improved performance and water resistance
The Apple Watch Series 6 should feature not only improved performance, but improved water resistance too – if a research note from the infamous Ming-Chi Kuo is to be believed (and given his track record, they generally are!). As first reported by MacRumours, Kuo explains in the note that advancements will be made possible thanks to Apple’s switch from polyimide (PI) to Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) for the flexible circuit boards.
While all current Series’ of Apple Watch feature PI-made circuit boards, the Series 6 will sport an LCP flexible circuit board that’ll allegedly provide a bump in performance – something missing from the current Series 5 when compared to the Series 4, with the only real additions being a built-in compass and an always-on display.
While Kuo doesn’t explain the reasons behind the claim, he has also predicted that the Apple Watch Series 6 will offer improved water resistance. Considering the Apple Watch is already water-resistant down to 50 meters, what more could Apple add? One option is to add support for intense water activities like scuba diving and water skiing, but this is purely speculation from us right now.
It has been rumoured for quite some time, but Apple could finally be gearing up to release an Apple Watch with built-in sleep tracking – no need for any third-party app or additional hardware, as is the case right now. Finally, the Apple acquisition of Beddit back in 2017 starts to make sense.
As first picked up by 9to5Mac, the functionality is referred to as “Time in Bed tracking” within iOS 13’s source code, and features a note describing the functionality. “You can also track your sleep and get woken up silently by wearing your watch to bed.” it reads, specifically mentioning the use of an Apple Watch.
This is in-line with a Bloomberg report claiming that Apple was testing sleep tracking on the Apple Watch way back in February 2019, with Mark Gurman stating that Apple plans to roll the feature out by 2020 if the testing was deemed successful. There’s also evidence for a sleep tracking-focused Watch face after the discovery of a “ClickFaces-Burrito” string, with Burrito being Apple’s internal codename for the sleep tracking functionality.
While there’s a possibility that it’ll be pushed out to Apple Watch Series 5 owners via a software update in 2020, we think Apple will wait until it releases the Series 6 with (we assume) improved battery life to offer tracking all day and all night too.
The OLED display of the Apple Watch is a power drain, and that’s partly why Apple is rumoured to be ditching OLED tech in the next-gen Apple Watch. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s supply chain plans, Chinese site Economic Daily News claims that the Apple Watch Series 6 will feature a microLED display.
The main difference between the two display types comes down to the light-emitting compounds – microLED displays are thinner, brighter and less power-hungry than OLED displays, which could allow Apple to create an Apple Watch with longer battery life and slimmer form factor.
It’s worth noting that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports a slightly different timeline, claiming that it’ll appear in 2020 at the earliest with full adoption across the Apple Watch and iPhone planned for the next two-to-four years, so take this one with a pinch of salt for now.
In-screen Touch ID
The next Apple Watch could feature upgraded security in the form of Touch ID, but unlike the iPad and Mac, it’ll be built directly into the display itself.
As it stands, the Apple Watch is secured by a four-digit PIN which the wearer taps into the display. It’ll stay unlocked as long as the Watch can detect a heartbeat, allowing you to read notifications, unlock your Mac, make contactless payments and everything else you can do on the Apple Watch.
Unlocking is admittedly a quick process, but it can be a bit fiddly on the small display, and it’s certainly not as slick as Face ID or Touch ID.
The rumoured Touch ID upgrade comes via a patent published in November 2019. It suggests Apple is making progress on under-display fingerprint reader technology similar to that used on 2019 flagships including the Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7T and Huawei P30 Pro.
The patent states how the display could “provide an input surface for one or more input devices such as touch sensing device, force-sensing device, temperature sensing device, and/or a fingerprint sensor”.
Of course, it’s important to note that while Apple files a lot of patents covering a broad range of future tech on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean that the technology will arrive in the near future – or ever – so don’t get too excited just yet.