Apple Watch Running & Fitness Review +

The Apple Watch has been one of the most popular connected watches since its launch in 2016. It is experiencing rapid growth in the United States, especially among teens, and is starting to appear in France as well. Every year Apple releases a new version with better features, and this year is no exception. I hesitated for a long time because of the battery life, it started dropping at the end of 2020. I took advantage of the Series 7 release to buy the Series 6, mainly for “sports” use.

So, what do I think of the Apple Watch Series 6 after a few months of use? This quiz will allow you to understand why I gradually became convinced, why I would find it difficult to do without it today and not just for sports …

strength point

  • Nice tool for sports and not just for running
  • Siri at your fingertips
  • Save real time on small tasks
  • Personalization (bracelets, screen, etc.) that allows you to wear a ‘different’ watch every day if you wish

areas for improvement

  • Autonomy, but better than expected
  • No sleep tracking is complete without a third-party app
  • Siri is not highly customizable, which is in conflict with other Apple devices

Apple Watch to play

With the latest version of watchOS, there are more workout modes than ever before and it truly is a great companion for exercise and fitness. How about running?

Small resolution, I don’t have a cellular model but wifi. So I need my iPhone nearby to take full advantage of the capabilities of my watch. Still, there’s a lot to like: GPS that works even without an iPhone, as well as accurate heart rate and offline music on the wrist thanks to Apple Music. It’s also possible to use third party apps, but if I’m having trouble syncing with Adidas Running on my outings and have to consult my iPhone to see where I’m at. From the moment I swiped the integrated Workout app, no more syncing issues, the information appears on my watch dial with a single movement/look, without the need to press a button. It would be appropriate to test the effectiveness of Strava, which still provides more data for analysis.

The Apple Watch is an excellent tracker, and not having an iPhone at your fingertips doesn’t hamper its ability to record sessions and track your steps and heart rate…. Your Apple Watch can store this data for 30 days. Once the iPhone is back in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi range, this data is synced and cleared from the Apple Watch’s cache. Finally, the Series 6 adds an altimeter, ideal for hiking and other upland excursions, to follow the evolution in real time. The blood oxygen application can check how your body reacts to altitude.

And for other sports?

The ‘Workout’ and ‘Activity’ apps are not limited to running but include many fitness functions. It can track 80 different types of exercise: walking, cycling, swimming, strength training … and it increases in size if you have a Fitness + subscription.

The watch can automatically detect the start of certain exercises, including running, cycling and swimming, so there is no problem if you forget to start your activity manually. There is even a reminder to end the session when the watch detects that you have stopped exercising, although it comes a little later to my taste.

Apple’s new Fitness+ service (which I recommend as part of the Apple One Premium six-person plan) provides access to workouts with trainers. Intervals, Pilates, yoga, strengthening, there is something for everyone, with or without equipment, at many intervals… I use reinforcements and yoga several times a week and it really is a great tool, even if the instructors are also a bit “American” in their very open-minded training. We don’t necessarily like him. For now, I’m enjoying Kyle’s Strengthening and Molly’s Yoga sessions.

Currently a big drawback: all exercises are in English. The translation is done by appointment, but those who are not very fluent in English will have to search regularly to understand the instructions. I quickly got frustrated with the iPhone screen size for these sessions, but with an iPad Air or a projector/TV screen, it’s really cool.

Apple Watch 6 allows monitoring of daily activity, both in terms of steps, but also in terms of sitting/starting time. Activity loops are a major part of the everyday experience and incredibly motivating. It is also possible to share your data with friends or even challenge yourself over the course of 7 days. It’s all there to motivate you!

When you just had a baby and your nights were exploding ^^

Apple Watch for health monitoring?

As mentioned above, a connected Apple Watch allows you to collect a lot of data, and not just for sports. Health information is more and more numerous and complete.

Heart rate, ECG and Ogygen

The optical sensor, considered by many professionals to be the best on the market, allows accurate monitoring of heart rate during sports, sleep and everyday life. In the 6 series, the main addition is the above-mentioned blood oxygen sensor. It comes with ECG as a feature exclusive to the Series 6, and makes it possible to justify the difference with the Apple Watch SE at a more affordable price.

Your blood oxygen level is automatically tracked throughout the day and night, and you can check it with a dedicated app. This is a short 15-second test. The ECG function allows you to monitor heart rhythms and alert you in case of high / low arrhythmia. High/low heart rate detection is a great life saving tool, proof that wearing your smartwatch can save your life. It wasn’t needed yet, but it was clear to me that my parents would eventually be fitted with an Apple Watch for their own convenience.

Apple Watch to sleep?

There is a built-in sleep tracking app, and it wasn’t until recently, but I found it to be quite limiting. So I bought a third party app (Autosleep+). The data is more complete, especially with regard to deep sleep. Above all, detection is more accurate. Apple often thinks I fall asleep when I just lie down watching a series or reading. Spontaneous sleep, without being perfect, is the best at this point. And the fact of creating a looping system as an “activity” for Apple is very clever. There is currently nothing with the integrated app. I have no doubt that the Apple brand will improve in the coming years, but today, I’m “outsourcing” this follow-up.

Apple Watch every day

The Apple Watch isn’t just a fitness tracker. It also allows you to receive a lot of notifications related to specific apps, to make and answer calls, to read and reply to messages… If you choose the cellular model, which is more expensive, you don’t need an iPhone near you to do all this. Personally, I don’t want to be overwhelmed with notifications on my watch, aside from physical activity, notifications are only active for SNCF Connect (in case the train is late) or to be alerted about calls without having to go to a laptop, constantly silent.

Siri is integrated and I am happy to activate the timers easily. I regularly have my 6 month old daughter in my arms when I prepare a bottle for her, and it’s great to be able to run the timer through the watch without the difficulty of reaching for the iPhone. Again, you don’t have to press any button for that to happen, just talk.

You can also store music on the watch or stream playlists from Apple Music, and listen to it through Bluetooth headphones connected to the watch. Or simply switch between songs, including if Apple Music launches on iPhone.

Another like, somewhat unexpected one-off: Personalization! The width in bracelets is varied. I avoid official versions that cost an arm and a leg, but many brands have released their own model and really allow you to customize your watch endlessly. I have a 40mm watch, much narrower than the 45mm and I can add a protective case without the watch turning into a tank. And since there are covers in different colors (which protect the screen or not, it’s up to you), this still provides an additional option for customization. Finally, you can configure several dials on your watch. You can switch very easily, with the tap of a finger, from one to another, depending on the desired design or simply show the information you want to see (time, battery, heart rate, activity, etc.)

the battery

I mentioned that up front, the Apple Watch’s autonomy has always been a hindrance to my purchase. In fact, Apple severely underestimates the autonomy of its watch. The mark conjures up around 6pm, and I think it takes heavy use to get to this level of consumption. Mine is on wifi all day, I walk 12,000 steps a day, so my GPS is active, I use Fitness+ frequently, I run twice a week, I sleep with my watch…on average, I consume about 50 -60% of battery in 24 hours. So I don’t necessarily need to recharge it every day. In fact, I charge it pretty well every day, but only to charge it halfway, so the charging time is very short.

You can find yourself a bit screwed up on the go, but again, that doesn’t have to be a hassle. I have a special external Apple Watch charger that ensures I can charge it a lot at any time.

Conclusion

I finally signed up for my Apple Watch and was not disappointed at all. Series 6 is packed with features that focus on activity tracking, health, and wellness, but it’s not limited to that. The integration with the iPhone is excellent and offers a lot of welcome features without even having your phone in your hands. This is a huge plus of this watch and I can’t wait to discover the developments of the next models.

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