We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs 4 (2020): How Does The New Apple Watch Compare?

The Apple Watch Series 6 is coming out this fall and expectations are high for what is arguably the most popular smartwatch on the market. Rumors abound with the latest model — from a radical design change to the addition of a much-awaited native sleep tracking app. Given what we know about the Series 6 from leaks, rumors, and patents, how well does it stack up against the critic’s favorite, the Apple Watch Series 4?

Apple Watch Series 6 vs 4 Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series 4
Coming SoonApple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm) - Gold Alumimum Case with Pink Sand Sport Band
PriceStarting at $399Check Price on Amazon
Sizesn/a40mm, 44mm
DisplaymicroLED*Retina OLED
Always-On Displayn/aNo
Screen Sizen/a1.78”
Dimensionsn/a1.73″ x 1.5″ x 0.42″
Weightn/a1.29 oz
Colorsn/a3 (silver, gold, space gray)
Call and Text Alertsn/aYes
Heart Rate Monitorn/aYes
Activity Trackern/aYes
Water Resistancen/aUp to 50 meters
ECG Monitorn/aYes
Connectivityn/aWiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
Compatibilityn/aiOS
GPSn/aYes
Cellularn/aYes
SecurityTouch ID*Passcode
SoftwarewatchOS 7watchOS 5, 6
Battery Lifen/aUp to 18 hours
Release Date20202018

Design

The Apple Watch Series 6 is rumored to have a crown-less edge and a power-efficient microLED display.

Concept renders show the rumored Apple Watch Series 6 sporting a circular screen. (Image by Alcion Design)

With the Apple Watch Series 4, the Cupertino-based tech giant released its largest display (1.78 inches) while also drastically minimizing the bezels. Understandably, there is expectation that the Apple Watch 6 will follow suit in terms of redesign. But how radical will it be?

Although the Series 4 went bigger and slimmer, the form factor of the Apple Watch line has largely been unchanged: a rectangular device with rounded corners. The form is already synonymous with the line. So while a circular screen similar to rival Samsung’s Galaxy Watch would be a welcome change, the leaks indicate that the Apple Watch 6 will retain the current screen shape.

RELATED  Apple Watch vs Gear S2 (2020): Which Smartwatch Is Better?

The Apple Watch 6’s digital crown, however, may surprisingly get a facelift. Based on a patent filed by Apple, the distinctive dial on the side may be given up in favor of a touch-sensitive digital crown. Rumors suggest this new feature will operate using light sensors. This will allow you to move your fingers on a crown-less edge to navigate through menus, not unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2’s touch bezels.

The display is also expected to get an upgrade. Currently, the Apple Watch 4 comes with a Retina OLED display. The Apple Watch 5 also adopted the same technology, although with the introduction of an always-on mode for convenience. The compromise, however, was battery life. Now, reports suggest the Apple Watch 6 might use microLED to make it more power-efficient even with the always-on display.

In-Screen Touch ID and watchOS 7

The latest Apple Watch may take a leaf from the Series 4 model while potentially adding Touch ID and running on the equally anticipated watchOS 7. 

The Apple Watch 6 is touted to include the first native sleep-tracking app of the series. (Image on the left courtesy of 9to5mac).

Last November, reports surfaced that Apple filed a patent for an under-display fingerprint reader technology. Rumors suggest this development could mean an In-Screen Touch ID for the Apple Watch 6. Although the Apple Watch 4 has a large display for a smartwatch, it’s still a small screen to enter a passcode using your fingers. Having a Touch ID for the Apple Watch Series 6 will certainly improve security and convenience.

In terms of software, Apple Watch 4 originally ran on watchOS 5 but—like all models except for the original 2015 watch—could be updated to watchOS 6. The last software upgrade came with new watch faces and complications, as well as the introduction of new first-party apps like Calculator, Voice Memos, and Audiobooks.

RELATED  Apple Watch 40mm Vs 44mm (2020): Which Model Fits You?

Some reports suggest the upcoming watchOS 7 will come with the first native sleep tracking app for the line, and will support the rumored biometric capabilities of the smartwatch. New watch faces, including those which you can share with friends, are also in the discussion. However, leaks about the upcoming watchOS 7 claim the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 may miss out on the software update, so it might not be an upgrade as inclusive as the watchOS 6

Health and Fitness Features

The Apple Watch 4 introduced the first-of-its kind ECG on a smartwatch. Rumors suggest the Apple Watch 6 will expand health monitoring capabilities with a pulse oximeter. 

The Apple Watch Series boasts a plethora of health and fitness applications as well as sophisticated watch faces.

The Apple Watch 4 is already packed with activity tracking features for health and fitness buffs. The model was the first direct-to-consumer product allowing customers to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) test. Then, there’s the heart rate monitor, fall detection, and Medical ID features, combined with a plethora of fitness applications. It’s truly a beast of a device.

The latest leaks and patents show that the Apple Watch Series 6 will largely be retaining most of these capabilities, and in some cases, even enhancing them. The ECG app, for example, may get an upgrade to provide more accurate heart readings. There is also the rumored pulse oximeter for blood oxygen monitoring.

Some reports make mention of a life-saving fall detection feature that uses the GPS functions of the watch to notify authorities if you’ve fallen into a body of water. And in response to growing awareness over mental health, there are even predictions the yet-to-be-released smartwatch will include an anxiety monitoring feature, allowing the device to detect if a user is under stress or experiencing panic attacks.

But perhaps none is more anticipated than the long-rumored native sleep tracking app. Several tipsters have pointed out the presence of a ‘sleep goal’ in the leaked watchOS 7 Health app. While it’s not conclusive evidence, it adds weight to a 2019 Bloomberg report that Apple is testing sleep-tracking functionality. It also lends credence to the company’s acquisition of the Finnish-based tech company, Beddit, back in 2017. Given the demand for this feature in many smartwatches, it’s a realistic expectation for the Apple Watch 6.

RELATED  Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 1 (2020): What's the Difference?

Battery Life and Other Features

If certain design changes are applied, the Apple Watch Series 6 may have a battery life comparable or even better than that of the Apple Watch Series 4.

The Apple Watch Series 6 could follow its predecessors’ suit and come with a range of customizable straps. 

The Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a surprisingly decent 18-hour battery life. As mentioned earlier, the Apple Watch 5’s always-on display compromised this incentive. While 18 hours is not as long-lasting as specialized fitness trackers like Fitbit or Garmin, the Apple Watch 4 offers a respectable performance given its larger screen size.

So reports of the Apple Watch 6 sporting a microLED display make us hopeful the battery life will eventually get a boost. With rumors of a native sleep-tracking app, Apple is probably keen to overcome the hurdles of the device’s current battery life and make it last more than a day on a single charge.

Other rumors mention the Watch 6 will include a tachymeter integrated into a new Infograph watch face. A popular feature on analog watches, the scale measures speed and distance based on travel time. It will be interesting to see how added surveying capabilities can expand the functionality of the smartwatch. Then, there’s upgraded water resistance. Some leaks describe the Apple Watch 6 as being equipped to support intensive underwater activities like scuba diving.

Reports of Apple moving from polyimide (PI) to Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) for its circuit boards also suggest the Watch 6 will get a bump in terms of performance. So it would be reasonable to expect the new model to deliver an even smoother interface compared to the Watch 4. But of course, as most leaks go, the discussion is still speculation.

Verdict

If leaks, patents, and reports are true, the Apple Watch Series 6 may be the best smartwatch Apple comes out with.

Although the Apple Watch Series 6 is still several months away from release, the reports and leaks describe a significantly better upgrade to the smartwatch line than the Series 5 was to the Apple Watch 4. Some of the rumors make sense, given the direction Apple as a tech-company has been taking. Others, though exciting, seem a little more far-fetched. But if improved battery life, enhanced health features, and the predicted new design do make it into the final product, expect the Watch 6 to build on the legacy of Apple’s smartwatches of combining excellent hardware with industry-leading software.

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mari Bassig
Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.