Apple Watch Series 6 vs. Watch Series 5: Which smartwatch is best for you?

Apple Watch Series 5 owners, should you upgrade to the newest model of the smartwatch? Here's a comparison between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Watch Series 5 to help you make that decision.


Image: Apple

Apple's unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 6 at its Sept. 15 launch event added a new Apple Watch to grace your wrist. The Apple Watch Series 6 offers a few enhancements over 2019's Apple Watch Series 5, including a beefier processor, a brighter display, and a blood-oxygen detection sensor. But if you already own an Apple Watch Series 5 model, is it worth spending $399 or more to grab these new features? Let's take a look.

SEE: Apple's 2020 Event: What business pros need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Most of the core features and specs remain the same from the Apple Watch Series 5 to the Series 6, but there are some notable exceptions.

Weight: The Apple Watch Series 6 weighs a bit less than its predecessor, specifically 1.09 oz for the 40mm model and 1.31 oz for the 44mm version. That contrasts with the Apple Watch Series 5, which weighs 1.41 oz for the 40mm model and 1.69 oz for the 44mm edition. Those differences may not sound like a lot, but if the watch is on your wrist all day, every little bit helps.

Processor: The Apple Watch Series 6 is powered by the S6 64-bit dual-core processor, an upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 5's S5 processor. Apple claims the Watch S6 is up to 20% faster than S5. If true, then apps and screen activity should prove more responsive.

Display: Both the Apple Watch Series 5 and Watch Series 6 offer an always-on Retina display. But the screen on the Apple Watch Series 6 is up to 2.5 times brighter than the one on the Series 5 when your wrist is down, according to Apple. That means you'll be able to see  the smartphone's screen better outdoors, most notably in bright sunlight.

SEE: Mobile Device Computing Policy (TechRepublic Premium)


Image: Apple

U1 Ultra Wideband support: The Apple Watch Series 6 kicks in support for U1 Ultra Wideband. Also built into the iPhone 11, this type of chip provides a short-range wireless form of communications that offers greater accuracy than Bluetooth LE or Wi-Fi. As such, the technology adds more precise location tracking and spatial awareness, features that help your watch better recognize its surroundings.

Blood-oxygen oximeter: Apple has increasingly advanced its watch in the area of health. And the Series 6 continues that trend. The latest Apple Watch comes with an oximeter, a sensor that measures your blood-oxygen levels. The results can provide information about your blood circulation and breathing, which can clue you into any changes to your respiratory or cardiac health.

Sleep tracking: Apple has finally introduced a native sleep tracker to its watch via watchOS 7. Any watch that supports the latest OS (which includes the Apple Watch Series 6, 5, 4, and 3) will offer this feature. But the oximeter built into the Apple Watch Series 6 can track your blood-oxygen levels during the night, which can indicate if you're suffering from sleep apnea or related health issues.

Faster battery charging: The battery in the Apple Watch Series 6 won't last longer than the one in the Series 5. Both devices are rated to give you 18 hours on a single charge. But the Apple Watch Series 6 provides a faster charging time, about 40% quicker than the Series 5, according to Apple.

Always-on altimeter: A helpful addition for hiking, climbing, and other types of exercise activities, an always-on altimeter in the Apple Watch Series 6 continuously tracks your elevation.

SEE: Apple unveils a number of health and fitness features, apps, and more (TechRepublic)

Colors: The aluminum version of the Apple Watch Series 6 adds a snazzy blue and red to the palette of colors you can choose from for the watch body. That means you can opt for silver, space gray, gold, blue, or red.

Watch bands: Apple has added more watch bands to the lineup, notably ones that don't require a buckle or clasp. The new options are available when you buy an Apple Watch Series 6 but will also fit older models, starting with the Series 3.

For $49, the Apple Watch Solo Loop watch band is a stretchable liquid silicone rubber band that comes in white, black, red, pink, navy, green, and ginger.

For $99, the Apple Watch Braided Solo Loop  watch band is stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicone threads offered in blue, red, pink, charcoal, and green.

You'll also find new colors for the other watch bands, including the Apple Watch Sport Band, Sport Loop, Nike Sport Band, Nike Sport Loop, Leather, Hermès Leather, and Stainless Steel.

Apple Series 6 vs. Apple Series 5: Specs and prices

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch sizes

40mm and 44mm

40mm and 44mm



GPS + Cellular


GPS + Cellular


1.57" x 1.34" x 0.41" (40mm)

1.73" x 1.5" x 0.41 in (44mm)

1.57" x 1.34" x 0.42" (40mm)

1.73" x 1.5" x 0.42" (44mm)


1.09 oz/30.5g (40mm)

1.31 oz/36.5g (44mm)

1.41 oz/39.8 g (40mm)

1.69 oz/47.8g (44mm)


Aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium

Aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, or titanium


Always-On OLED Retina display

Always-On OLED Retina display

Screen size

1.57" (40mm)

1.78" (44mm)

1.57" (40mm)

1.78" (44mm)


S6 64-bit dual-core processor

S5 64-bit dual core processor


802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz

802.11 b/g/n

Other connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

U1 Ultra Wideband support




Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate sensor, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, blood-oxygen oximeter (SpO2, VO2max)

Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate sensor, altimeter, barometer, compass


Up to 18 hours on a single charge.

Up to 18 hours on a single charge.


50m water resistant, ECG certified

50m water resistant, ECG certified





Aluminum: silver, space gray, gold, blue, and red.

Stainless Steel: silver, graphite, and gold.

Titanium: natural titanium and space black.

Aluminum: silver, space gray, gold

Stainless Steel: stainless steel, space black, gold

Titanium: natural titanium and space black

Ceramic: white


Starting at $399 (40mm, Wi-Fi only)

Starting at $399 (40mm, Wi-Fi only)

Where to buy the Apple Watch Series 6

Apple's website and retail stores, Best Buy, and other retailers.

No longer sold by Apple. Available at Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers.


Preorder now. In stores on Sept. 18.

No longer sold by Apple. Still available at Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers.

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 6?

Some of the enhancements in the latest Apple Watch are compelling, particularly the brighter display, faster battery charging, and blood-oxygen oximeter. But if you already own a Watch Series 5, these features alone probably aren't worth an upgrade. You're likely better off waiting another year to see what Apple cooks up for the Watch Series 7.

If you own an older Apple Watch, such as a Series 1, 2, or 3, then the collective improvements made over time are appealing and valuable enough to warrant an upgrade to the Apple Watch Series 6.

Where and when can I buy the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Watch Series 6 is available for preorder from Apple, Best Buy, and other retailers. The watch will be for sale in Apple stores and other retail outlets, both physically and online, starting Friday, Sept. 18.

If you plan to shop for an Apple Watch at a brick-and-mortar store, be mindful of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Call the store before to see if it allows walk-in customers. In some cases, as with Apple Stores, you may need to make an appointment for your shopping expedition. In other cases, you may have to order online for in-store or curbside pickup. Remember to wear a mask and practice safe social distancing when in the store.

Also see

Editor's note: This article was updated to include additional information.