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Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE review: Small steps forward

By Kenny Yeo - 11 Oct 2020

Introduction

Note: This review was first published on 5 Oct 2020.

Two new watches

Apple has two new smartwatches this year. The Apple Watch Series 6 on the left, and the Apple Watch SE on the right.

For 2020, Apple announced not one but two new Apple Watches. New this year is the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. It’s amazing how Apple has steadily updated its smartwatch. I didn’t think you could make advancements to something so small at a yearly rate, nor was it necessary given the gulf between the Apple Watch and its closest rivals. But to be fair, some year’s updates were more significant than others.

This calls for a quick trip down memory lane. Series 2 added water-resistance so it could finally be taken swimming; Series 3 gave us cellular connectivity; Series 4 introduced a radically new form factor, display, and also the ability to take ECG readings; and finally, Series 5, added an always-on display and a built-in compass. So what about the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE?

 

Same design

The case design is unchanged. Series 6 also gets an updated gold finish that is supposed to mimic the look of 18k yellow gold.

The design is unchanged. Series 6 and the new SE are still square watches that come in two sizes: 44mm and 40mm. However, they are slightly thinner. 0.3mm to be exact, but you won’t be able to tell unless you pull out a micrometre.

Now, some people are going to say it’s boring or lament that it isn’t round. To the first point, I’d say that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Apple has found a design that worked and stuck with it. Rolex doesn’t change the way the Submariner looks just because a handful of naysayers say it’s repetitious. And at any rate, the Apple Watch has now become one of the most recognisable watches in the world. You can identify it on someone’s wrist from across the room and I don’t think you can say that of many watches. And to the second point, let’s face it: you don’t see airports using round signages because a square/rectangular display is still the most ideal for displaying text and information.

The case back of both the Series 6 and SE are a combination of ceramic and sapphire glass.

There are new finishes. Series 6 still comes in aluminium, stainless steel, and titanium. Gone is the ceramic Apple Watch Edition. For the aluminium models, there’s now a new blue finish, and, for the first time, a (PRODUCT)RED model. As for stainless steel, there’s a new Graphite finish while the Gold finish has been updated with a new hue that more closely mimics the look of 18k yellow gold. The Apple Watch SE is only available in an aluminium case.

I have been testing the Gold stainless steel model and I’d say that its hue in somewhere in between that of yellow and rose gold. In bright light, it looks more like yellow gold while in dimmer environments it shows a more reddish tone. In fact, it reminds me of the unique honey gold material that German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne employs for its most exclusive watches. I’d leave you to judge for yourself the attractiveness of this new finish but I really enjoy it.