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Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET
This story is part of , our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.
The Apple Watch Series 6 continues to evolve as Apple’s personal health hub on your wrist. The new watch has an FDA-cleared ECG app, a family mode to keep track of loved ones and cardio fitness alerts. It can also measure blood oxygen levels.
But as the smartwatch landscape becomes saturated with competitors including Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 and the new , which promise health features including an ECG, plus a cheaper in the mix, the $399 (£379, AU$599) Series 6 faces more competition than ever.
I’ve only spent a day with the Apple Watch Series 6, but already there are a few things that make it stand out.
I tested it a few more times and noticed I got slightly different results (a few percentage points off) depending on whether or not I was completely silent during the test, where I had the watch positioned on my wrist and how tight the watch was. I tested alongside my own pulse oximeter (the gold standard for this metric) and the Apple Watch was off by about one or two points every time, which is expected. The pulse oximeter shines the light through the tip of the finger and where it’s picked up on the other end, while the Apple Watch does it on the wrist and measures the light that bounces back, so there are many other factors that can affect your results.
I panic-bought a pulse oximeter back in March when thepandemic was just ramping up in the US . I heard the horror stories of people dying overnight because they went to bed not knowing their blood oxygen levels were dangerously low and didn’t get to a hospital in time. I still keep it in my bedside table and use it as a safety check whenever I’m feeling ill or out of breath. To be clear, you should always check with a doctor if you’re feeling out of breath, even if your levels seem to be normal.
Apple makes it clear that this feature isn’t intended to replace a medical device, and shouldn’t be used to make any kind of diagnosis. Instead it’s meant to provide a more general look at what’s going on in your body over a longer period of time than what you’d get from a single read with a traditional pulse oximeter.
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