The Apple Watch SE is the best Apple Watch for the money
If you know you want a new Apple Watch, the Watch SE is the one to go for: it’s got all the useful features of the Watch 6, but it’s much cheaper, and thus one of the best smartwatches around. The always-on display is sorely missing, but the fitness tracking – including motivating nudges to keep you active – is as good as ever, and will improve when Fitness Plus lands. However, the Watch SE comes with the same issues as the rest of the Apple Watch line: some features and apps are too lightweight, and the battery life is just too short to get the best out of the watch.
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Before you dive into this Apple Watch SE review, think about one thing: what do you actually want from a smartwatch?
Because if it’s just ‘an Apple Watch’, then the Apple Watch SE is an underrated hit in the making, the high-value smartwatch with all the best watchOS perks at a great price. Heck, for some it may well be the best smartwatch around.
However, it doesn’t manage to address the flaws that remain in Apple’s smartwatch line, despite some notable advantages and a starting price of just 279 / £269 / AU429. It offers the best of what you’d expect without offering anything new, so you’ll be waiting on the fabled Apple Watch SE 2 for any big changes – though without a possible release date, the Apple Watch SE is still a sure bet.
The design of the Apple Watch SE is as familiar as you can get – the same curved edges, rounded aluminum chassis and Digital Crown on the side. If you’ve had an Apple Watch before, or just admired the devices and aspired to owning one, there’s nothing new here.
Along with the Apple Watch 6 it’s also a ‘larger’ Apple Watch, coming with a wider display and offered in 40mm and 44mm sizes, compared to the still-on-sale-from-2017 Apple Watch 3, which is 38mm and 42mm, and packs a smaller screen. The latter is the Apple Watch SE’s real competition, and we’ll see if more attractive perks are revealed in the upcoming Apple Watch 7.
The display is also familiar, in terms of sharpness and resolution. Thanks to OLED technology it’s clear, bright and easy to read in any situation – this is Apple at its best.
However, some may be turned off by the lack of an always-on display – Apple has dropped it here to keep the price down, so as on older Watches you’ll need to raise your wrist to see the time, how your workout is going, follow a map you’re using… basically anything.
While that’s helpful in making it cheaper and saving battery, it’s not ideal for a watch.
Where the Apple Watch excels is that it’s probably the best extension of a phone onto a wrist of any smartwatch out there. Alarms sync across flawlessly. Your data is shared between apps instantly. The integration into Apple’s ecosystem is immense.
But while many of the Watch SE features are smaller versions of those on the iPhone, when it comes to fitness the Apple Watch steps up well. The list of exercises that can be tracked in the default Workout app is growing all the time, and third-party apps like Strava work well – if a little simplistically – on the Watch too.
Add in an Apple Music subscription and a pair of Airpods, and you can head out of the house without your phone and go running with a wealth of music – these seamless experiences are what will entice Apple Watch users, and while this can be done on any of the Apple Watch range, the combination of the SE’s larger screen on which to track your workout and the lower-than-Watch-6 price make the Watch SE a compelling fitness companion.
However, when it comes to battery life Apple still has some hard yards to make up. Having a smartwatch that only lasts a day and a half isn’t good enough in 2020, especially now that Apple has deployed sleep tracking on the Watch SE.
When are you supposed to charge this thing? There’s no point in the day where charging is a natural option, as charging overnight is, so you end up just doing little top ups here and there, or just forgetting to pick the Watch back up again and not having it on the wrist for hours on end.
While the battery life is good in terms of the Apple Watch range (and thanks to the lack of an always-on display and an efficient chip at the heart, the best we’ve seen from Apple) compared to the rest of the market, it’s sorely lacking.
If sleep tracking wasn’t so basic, this would present you with more of a conundrum – you’d have to decide whether to change your charging routine in order to take advantage of the feature, or just not use it very much. But all sleep tracking will do is tell you when you’ve been asleep, and several longer-lasting and cheaper smartwatches on the market can give you much more data.
If you’re after a cutting-edge Apple Watch, but don’t want to spend a huge amount of money, the Watch SE dispenses with ‘luxury’ features and just offers the things you need. It’s somewhere between the Apple Watch 4 and Apple Watch 5 in terms of power and features, and if you can get the older Watch 4 on a deal, it’s probably worth checking out.
But if you want a new Apple Watch, we absolutely recommend this model – as long as you can live without the always-on display.
Apple Watch SE price and release date
The price of the Apple Watch SE will depend on whether you opt for the GPS-only version or the cellular edition, and whether you prefer the simple Solo Loop / Sport Band, or the more elegant Braided Solo Loop.
We were sent samples of the Solo Loop, but unfortunately they were a little too large for our wrists. However, there was something much more pleasing about just slipping them on, rather than having to fiddle with a buckle instead.
The Apple Watch SE is available now from the Apple Store or online, having gone on sale September 18, 2020, in key territories worldwide.
A basic ‘upgrade’
The first question you might be asking is: what does the Apple Watch SE actually replace? It doesn’t have the always-on display of the Watch 5, but it has more power than the Watch 4, so if those two devices were still on sale we might well be calling it the Apple Watch 4.5.
With that in mind, what upgrades, if you can call them that, does the SE bring over the Watch 4 (which as mentioned is no longer on sale)?
The main change is to the chipset inside – we found that the battery life of the Apple Watch 5 improved markedly when the always-on display was turned off, and given that’s not an issue with the Watch SE, we’re expecting good battery life from this device – and that’s what we’re seeing in the first couple of days of having it strapped it to our wrist.
There are still reams of useful features on the Apple Watch SE that those upgrading from the Apple Watch 3 would enjoy, and a lot of them are great for health tracking too – which is fast becoming the primary reason to buy this Watch.
The decibel meter on board the Watch SE does a good job of alerting you when the sound around you is too high. The sleep tracking – which admittedly is available on any Watch capable of running the new WatchOS 7 these days – is useful, even if it’s not as fully-featured as dedicated sleep monitors, with things like time spent in deep, restorative sleep not specified.
The constantly-running altimeter is useful to let you know the true reflection of your elevation on a run – to the nearest foot according to Apple, although in side-by-side tests with the Apple Watch 6 on a workout we found that the height climbed and descended varied by 10-15 meters on a two-mile run.
Not massive, but we wouldn’t use the Watch SE to calculate our exact elevation stats on any workout.
At the other end of the fitness scale, the Apple Watch SE does feel like a great option for an elderly relative whose health you might want to keep an eye on – being able to get fall detection alerts, or warnings of issues with heart rate, will really bring peace of mind to those worried.
Combine that with the larger display on both the 40mm / 44mm size, courtesy of less bezel, and this is going to be a genuinely helpful device for the elderly.
With the new Family Setup feature for the Watch range, which enables you to set up an Apple wearable for someone else from your iPhone, buying the Watch SE for someone who doesn’t use an iPhone becomes a relatively straightforward proposition.
Apple Watch SE design
The design of the Apple Watch SE isn’t going to surprise anyone – the cheaper Watch isn’t any different from any other Apple Watch that’s been launched since the Apple Watch 4 in 2018.
The same curved outline, which folds elegantly into the OLED display (more on that in a moment) is present and correct, packing the Digital Crown that rolls pleasantly under the finger when you’re using it to scroll through a list on the Watch face.
Below that resides the power / multitasking button, which you can use to flip through recently-opened apps to get back to the one you were just using.
Despite this being a cheaper Apple Watch, there’s no hint of cutting back in the design process.
On the underside of the Watch SE you’ll find the heart rate monitor, with the glowing green LEDs that check your pulse throughout the day, which bulge slightly outward but can’t be felt on the wrist in normal use.
2020 sees the launch of an all-new style of Band, the Solo Loop, which looks like a really neat addition. It’s a silicone (or braided silicon) loop that stretches over your hand, so you don’t need to constantly buckle and unbuckle your Watch SE to put it on and take it off.
But you’ll need to make sure you get the right size for your wrist – Apple optimistically sent us the largest and third-largest sizes available, which turned our Apple Watch SE into a bangle.
Usually, you’d go into an Apple Store and get fitted for one, but in today’s Covid world people are likely to be less willing to do that; the alternative is to print out a paper sizing guide, and that just seems like a lot of stress.
Luckily there are plenty of other bands to choose from, so you’ll always find something to suit, although they are pricey, and it’s not always simple to get them on and off – we wish Apple would come up with a design that enables you to change straps more easily.
Unlike with the Apple Watch 6, there are no fancy new colors options for the Apple Watch SE – Cook’s Crew is clearly keeping the red coloring for the flagship Watch to entice buyers to spend a little more if they want the (in our opinion) best-looking option on their wrist. That means you’re stuck with gold, silver or space gray if you want the Watch SE.
Apple Watch SE display
The Apple Watch SE display uses the same OLED display technology you’ll see on the Watch range stretching right back to the first model. As we mentioned above, it’s larger than the Apple Watch 3, thanks to coming in 40mm and 44mm sizes, and that’s a really key reason why you’d plump for the Watch SE over the Watch 3.
For those who loved the idea of the always-on display of the Watch 5 or Watch 6, that’s the big thing that’s missing on the Watch SE. What’s interesting is that the SE uses the same low temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) technology as those Apple Watches with the always-on display, but disappointingly, it doesn’t seem like Apple will enable this technology in the future:
LTPO displays allow for variable refresh rates, thus enabling the Apple Watch’s always-on display. If the Series 5/6 have LTPO and get always on, why doesn’t the SE with LTPO get always-on, too? Could this, one day, be enabled through software? piccom/5IZ8KvxGHnSeptember 18, 2020
However, we’re coming around to the idea that you don’t really need the always-on display, especially until Apple can get its act together and bring out a Watch that lasts three to four days on a single charge.
Until that point, we’re okay with flicking our wrist to see the time or check a notification – it doesn’t feel like that much of an imposition. Also, we’re still waiting for developers to be allowed to add always-on functionality to their apps, as right now the display just shows a floating clock when the Watch 5 or Watch 6 goes to sleep.
In short, we prefer the battery life and cost savings that come with not having the always-on display on the Watch SE. The outdoor brightness is comparable to that of the Watch 6, so there’s no issue with trying to see the time when you’re blinded by the rays of Helios, and it doesn’t glow like a beacon at night, or when you’re in a gloomy place and have forgotten to enable Theater Mode.
Apple Watch SE fitness
The fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch SE are likely the key reason you’ll be buying this device. Apple has been hard at work turning its wearables into serious fitness and wellness devices since the first Watch was first unveiled in 2015, and it’s doing a better job with each iteration.
Given that the Watch SE is broadly comparable to last year’s Apple Watch 5, other than missing out on the always-on display, you know you’re getting a strong health and fitness device for less money than 2019’s model cost.
The key features here are GPS and Glonass (another satellite the Watch SE can track to help improve location accuracy), 5 ATM water resistance, which means you can go swimming with this device down to 50 meters, and now on-board sleep tracking.
With the launch of watchOS 7 you’re also getting more ways to track your fitness in the Workouts app, with Dance and Cooldown added to running, walking, cycling, yoga and more – having these new options means your calorie burn is going to be more accurate, and you’ll know when you’ve hit your fitness rings.
Those rings are the key to how the Apple Watch SE can help you live a healthier, fitter life. Many will be familiar with the concept by now, but if you’re not, these are colored, animated rings that fill up depending on how much you’re exercising each day, how much movement you’re managing, and if you’re standing up from your desk often enough.
It sounds simple, but the Watch can learn your general movement patterns, and towards the end of the day you’ll get a notification telling you what the Watch SE thinks you need to do in order to hit your movement goals. These suggestions aren’t always the smartest – being told to go for a walk at 11pm isn’t particularly helpful – but they can encourage you to be more active at key times.
It’s certainly not perfect – we’ve hit our ‘move’ goal when driving, and while writing this review we were notified that we’d hit our ‘stand’ goal… while sitting. But overall, it helps nudge you in the right direction.
In terms of the more granular fitness elements on the Apple Watch SE, however, it’s clearly not designed for those who want to step their fitness up a level. Running is still more about convenience than improvement – there’s no GPS lock at the start of the run, for instance, which means that sometimes you’ll get a slightly inaccurate reading.
We compared the Watch SE regularly to a high-end Garmin Forerunner 945, and found that, by and large, the results were the same – and there were especially impressive moments where the Watch SE proved capable of detecting that we’d started a run, asked if we’d like to log it, and returned results that were comparable to the Garmin’s to within 0.03 miles.
However, it’s more prone to error when coverage becomes spotty in forested and built-up areas, highlighting the fact that if you really want to make improving your running or cycling goals a FOCUS, you might be better off with a more dedicated fitness device.
If, however, you just want something to help you try out new fitness regimes, track your calories-burned through an ever-widening range of supported workouts, or just give you the regular nudges and data you might want in order to help you get healthier, then the Watch SE is a fantastic option.
One of the key benefits of the Watch SE is going to be the addition of the new Fitness Plus service from Apple, to which you can subscribe to get access to dozens of videos to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Your heart rate and other data from your Watch will be displayed on whichever phone or TV screen you’re using, be it iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, and will alter dynamically depending on what the pre-recorded coach is asking you to do. It’s not cheap at 9.99 / £9.99 / AU14.99 per month or 79.99 / £79.99 / AU119.99 for a year, but new Watch buyers will get a three-month subscription with their purchase, while current Apple Watch owners can try out the service free for a month.
It’s a strong proposition, and one that’s far more suited to the Watch SE than the Watch 6, thanks to the lower cost of the former device – your fitness data is sent to your workout no matter which Watch you’re wearing (that’s a fun phrase to say) so you can spend less on the Watch SE and get the same workout effect.
Apple Watch SE watchOS 7
If you want to get our full rundown of what’s new with the latest Apple Watch operating system, check out our Apple Watch 6 review – we found the experience with the new features was identical in every way on the Watch 6 and the SE.
One of the key benefits of the Apple Watch is the onboard music – if you’ve got an Apple Music subscription then you can save offline music (or stream it over LTE if you’ve got that version of the Watch).
And, finally, Spotify is being upgraded to let you stream music without having to be connected to an iPhone (as long as you have the LTE version of the Watch SE), although there’s still no offline support to let you download music from Spotify – it’s frustrating, but perhaps that will be coming soon.
But for those who just want to know the highlights, or how certain features performed on the Watch SE, here are the key things we enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) using.
Being able to track sleep on the Apple Watch SE is a nice feature to have – yes, it’s coming to most Watches in the range with the upgrade to watchOS 7, but the longer-lasting battery on the SE is helpful here.
We were easily able to get through to the morning to capture the sleep tracking, but, as we’ve discussed, the battery life isn’t useful enough to not be annoying. What you want is a watch that can last for multiple days’ worth of sleep tracking, and then only need an hour’s top-up once in a while, when you’re at a desk.
The results are a little dull too – no ideas on whether you’ve slept well or not, just an update on how long you slept based on the accelerometer. There are better apps out there for more in-depth sleep tracking than Apple offers, and we expected a little more from the brand’s first foray into monitoring your slumber.
Apple claims this feature wasn’t added in response to the Covid pandemic, but it’s mighty coincidental that it’s appeared as the pandemic is gripping the globe.
Initially, we felt like this was a redundant feature, taking too much time to activate and not giving us credit for washing our hands when we actually were.
However, we began to learn to wash harder to make sure the effort was registered, and we soon found that we became better at washing for the right length of time, and with the right amount of force. Ordinarily it would be annoying that we needed to work this hard to make use of a Watch feature, but this actually felt worth it.
You can activate Siri simply by raising your watch to your lips, and for the most part it worked pretty well. There were a few occasions when it wouldn’t fire, or couldn’t connect to the internet, but that’s Siri in a nutshell: great when it works, but often erratic in its performance.
There were also accidental triggerings when the Watch thought we had said the ‘Hey Siri’ command, which were irritating. Then we get into the idea of controlling your Smart home from your wrist. you can either press a button on the screen or, more conveniently, ask Siri to perform Smart home actions for you. But, as ever with Apple’s Smart home control, there were times when the Watch couldn’t turn lights on and off with a brief tap on the screen or fully complete the action with Siri. the expensive Watch not being able to act as a light switch as instructed is frustrating.
Apple Watch SE battery life
The Apple Watch SE battery life is easy to review: it’s longer than you’d expect if you listened to Apple. The brand says you’ll get around 18 hours, or ‘all-day’ battery life, but the reality is that you’ll get much more than that.
Thanks to the Watch SE display being turned off most of the time, we enjoyed 24-36 hours of use from a full charge during our testing – and that was with running nearly every day, so firing up the GPS for anything from 45 minutes to two hours.
Despite packing the older S5 chipset inside, we found that the Watch SE still had excellent battery life compared to the other Apple Watch models – better than the Watch 5 at launch thanks to the display, again, as well as efficiency improvements in the operating system.
The SE also lacks the advanced heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring of the Watch 6, which can be heavy drains on the battery.
The Watch 6 performs better during GPS-tracked workouts, as well as when listening to on-device music, thanks to the more efficient S6 chipset inside, but in day-to-day use the Watch SE was absolutely fine in most situations.
We say ‘most’, because there is still an issue with the new sleep tracking function in watchOS 7 (more on that in a moment).
As we’ve mentioned, 24 hours is a tricky battery life number if you want to track sleep. Charging the Watch SE to 100% from empty should take around two and a half hours (although we timed it at closer to two) – that’s a tough time slot to find in the day if you don’t want to charge the SE overnight.
What that means is that you’ll end up ‘spot-charging’ here and there to keep your Watch topped up – and unless you have a routine that makes it easy for you to do that at the same time each day, you’ll quickly end up needing to charge it overnight every few days, and losing that sleep data.
Buy it if…
You want an Apple Watch for less money.
The Watch SE has a lower price, but you still get a lot of the high-end features of the Watch 6 – it largely depends on how much you want an always-on display.
You don’t care about blood oxygen.
The ability to check how well your respiratory system is working is a key feature of the Watch 6, but it’s more of a peace-of-mind feature, rather than a must-have, and many people will be able to live without it.
You want good battery life
While the Apple Watch is far from market-leading here, the battery life on offer with the Watch SE is the best we’ve seen, thanks to a more modern chipset and the omission of the always-on display.
Don’t buy it if…
You want the latest and best
The Watch SE is effectively a hybrid of the Watch 4 and Watch 5, which effectively makes it 1.5 generations old. If you love having every cutting-edge feature, this isn’t for you.
You want the cheapest Apple Watch
That’s the Apple Watch 3, and it’s still on sale. It also lacks the always-on display, but it also has a smaller display, although many of the most useful Watch Features are present.
You love a cheeky glance
While the always-on display is battery-hogging, it does make it easier to quickly see the time – and that’s a good thing on a watch, we think.
So you’ve read our Apple Watch SE review, but if you’re still not sure what to buy, here are some alternatives.
Apple Watch 7 If you don’t need to pinch pennies when buying a new Apple Watch, then this version will get you plenty more features over the SE. Check out our Apple Watch 7 review
Fitbit Versa 2 If you don’t want to be stuck on Apple’s ecosystem, the Versa 2 is comparable in terms of price and has more advanced sleep tracking. Check out our Fitbit Versa 2 review
Apple Watch 3 The Apple Watch 3 is a more affordable smartwatch that Apple keeps around as its cheapest offering, with even fewer features than the SE. Check out our Apple Watch 3 review
First reviewed: November 2020
Apple’s second-generation low-cost Apple Watch, available now.
At a Glance
- Sold alongside the Series 8, the Apple Watch SE is Apple’s low-cost Apple Watch option with many Series 8 features except a blood oxygen sensor, temperature sensing, and ECG.
- Two sizes: 40mm and 44mm
- LTE and non-LTE options
- S8 chip
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Crash detection
- 249 starting price tag
Should You Buy the Apple Watch SE?
Refreshed in September 2022, the Apple Watch SE is Apple’s most affordable Apple Watch option. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the Apple Watch Series 8 or the Apple Watch Ultra, as it lacks temperature sensing, ECG functionality, and blood oxygen monitoring, but it otherwise provides all key Apple Watch functionality.
Apple has not historically refreshed the Apple Watch SE on an annual basis, so it is not clear if a new model is coming in 2023. With that in mind, now is still a good time to buy the Apple Watch SE if you’re looking for watch that offers a good balance between functionality and price.
- Storage Space
Alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple in September 2022 introduced a new version of the lower-cost Apple Watch SE for those who are looking for a more affordable, fitness-focused Apple Watch option that has all of the essential Apple Watch functionality at a lower price point.
The second-generation Apple Watch SE is almost identical to the Series 6, and it does not feature the new design that was introduced with the Series 7. It also lacks some health sensors, and it does not include ECG, blood oxygen, or temperature sensing functionality as those health features require hardware components that Apple did not include in the Apple Watch SE in order to keep costs down.
When it comes to design and features, the Apple Watch SE is something of a mix between the previous-generation SE and the Series 8 models. The Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm size options, and it has the same design as the Apple Watch Series 4, 5, and 6 models. It has the same S8 SiP dual-core processor that’s in the Apple Watch Series 8, which has not been updated since the Series 6. Still, it offers performance improvements over the original Apple Watch SE, which had an S5 chip.
All Apple Watch SE models are aluminum and this model can’t be purchased with a stainless steel or titanium casing. Casing colors include Midnight, Starlight, and Silver, but Apple did add a new matching back case made from a nylon composite material so the Apple Watch SE is even lighter than before. The Apple Watch SE is compatible with all Apple Watch bands.
The Apple Watch SE has a Retina LTPO OLED display with 1000 nits brightness, but it does not have the same Always-On functionality that is available with the Apple Watch Series 8.
The Apple Watch SE includes a Haptic Digital Crown for navigating through the operating system, and Ion-X glass protects the display. It has the same speaker and microphone as the prior-generation SE, which are optimized for phone calls, Siri, and Walkie-Talkie.
The Apple Watch SE is water resistant to 50 meters and supports Apple Pay with skin authentication much like prior models, and though it lacks ECG and blood oxygen monitoring, it has the same optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer so it can monitor steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, and heart rate, plus it can track sleep, look out for falls with fall detection, make emergency calls with SOS, check orientation with the compass, and watch out for overly loud sounds with sound detection features.
Apple sells both LTE GPS and GPS only Apple Watch SE models, so there is an option to use the new low-cost Apple Watch with cellular plans. Since it supports LTE, it can be used with Family Setup. Family Setup allows multiple Apple Watches to be paired with and managed by a single iPhone, so a family member without an iPhone can use an Apple Watch. Apple envisions this feature being used for children and elderly adults who need assistance.
The Apple Watch SE and Series 8 offer the same 18-hour battery life, but the Apple Watch Series 8 can charge much faster with just eight minutes of charging providing up to eight hours of sleep tracking time. The Apple Watch SE can take advantage of the new Low Power Mode to extend battery life even further at the cost of disabling certain features.
A new Crash Detection feature, which is also in the Series 8, uses an updated gyroscope and accelerometer along with an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm to detect severe car crashes and alert emergency services. When a crash occurs, the Apple Watch checks in with the user and if no response is received within a 10-second countdown, emergency responders are contacted.
The Apple Watch SE is priced starting at 249 for the 40mm model and 279 for the 44mm model, so it is more affordable than the prior-generation model. The Apple Watch SE is being sold alongside the more expensive Apple Watch Series 8 and the high-end Apple Watch Ultra.
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How to Buy
The Apple Watch SE is available from the online Apple Store, Apple retail locations, and third-party retailers. The 40mm model is priced starting at 249, and the 44mm model is priced starting at 279. Apple also offers refurbished versions of the Apple Watch SE that can be purchased at a discount.
Initial reviews of the second-generation Apple Watch SE were positive, but noted the very incremental upgrades compared to the previous generation. The improvements include the S8 chip, car crash detection, and international roaming.
Given that the S8 chip features the same CPU as the S7 and S6 chips, the Series 8 does not have any notable performance improvements compared to the Series 7 or Series 6, but the new Apple Watch SE is up to 20% faster than the original. Engadget’s Cherlynn Low confirmed that the second-generation Apple Watch SE performs equally to the Series 8 given both models have the same chip:
Otherwise, this year’s Watch SE actually packs the same system-in-a-package (SiP) processor as the 400 Series 8, as well as a high-g accelerometer that makes crash detection possible. In my time with it, the SE has, unsurprisingly, been just as responsive as the Series 8, starting workouts and completing heart rate scans in the same amount of time.
MobileSyrup’s Patrick O’Rourke said that given the Apple Watch lacks major competition, Apple can get away with incremental year-over-year updates to the device:
Apple is in an interesting position with its Apple Watch. In the iOS space, there’s really no viable competition, especially when it comes to the Apple Watch’s app ecosystem, and even on Android, the closest is Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. This leaves the tech giant with very little reason to really push the wearable forward with each new release.
Design and Display
The second-generation Apple Watch SE is identical in overall design to the original Apple Watch SE, featuring slim-bezeled displays in 40mm and 44mm size options to fit a variety of different wrists. The first-generation SE was modeled after the Apple Watch Series 6, so the Apple Watch SE does not feature the design changes introduced with the Series 7.
The Apple Watch SE measures in at 10.7mm thick and it continues to feature the same square-shaped design that Apple has used since the Apple Watch launched in 2015. With no design changes to the case, the Apple Watch SE works with all previous-generation Apple Watch Band options.
Apple’s 40mm models measure in at 40mm high and 34mm wide, while the 44mm models are 44mm high and 38mm wide. The 40mm models weigh in at 26.4 grams and the 44mm models weigh in at 32.9 grams. The Apple Watch SE is the lightest Apple Watch that Apple sells.
All Apple Watch SE models are made from 100 percent recycled 7000 series aluminum, which is lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for an active lifestyle. The Apple Watch SE is available in Starlight, Silver, and Midnight colors.
The second-generation Apple Watch SE includes a redesigned back case made from a nylon composite material rather than ceramic, so it is lighter weight than the prior-generation model. The backing includes an optical heart rate sensor to enable the heart rate detection features.
A Digital Crown on the side of the Apple Watch is available for navigation purposes, and there’s a side button that’s used to bring up frequently used apps, access emergency services, confirm Apple Pay purchases, and more.
The Digital Crown is equipped with haptic feedback that offers a precise, mechanical feel when scrolling through lists and controlling various aspects of the Apple Watch. The Digital Crown looks different depending on the Apple Watch model you purchase. LTE models have a red ring around the Digital Crown so you know that they have LTE functionality, while GPS-only models lack the red ring.
The Apple Watch SE offers many of the same display specifications as the Series 8 with the exception of Always-On functionality. It features 1000 nits brightness and Ion-X glass to protect it from scratches. The Apple Watch SE’s display area is 20 percent smaller than the Apple Watch Series 8 because of differences in design.
The 40mm Apple Watch SE features a resolution of 324 x 394 pixels, while the larger 44mm Apple Watch Series has a resolution of 368 x 448. This translates to a 759 sq mm display area for the 40mm Apple Watch and a 977 sq mm display area for the 44mm Apple Watch.
Apple Watch SE models are rated for immersion in water as deep as 50 meters thanks to seals and adhesives. The speaker, which needs air to produce sound, is the only point of ingress and has been designed to expel water from itself using sound vibrations after exposure to moisture.
Because it is rated for 50m immersion, the Apple Watch SE can be used when swimming in the ocean or in a pool. It is only suited to shallow water activities, though, and can’t be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, showering, or other activities that involve high-velocity water or deep submersion.
Apple’s Apple Watch warranty does not cover water damage, so it is best to use caution when exposing the watch to water.
The Apple Watch SE offers many of the same health features as the Apple Watch Series 8, but it lacks a blood oxygen sensor, temperature sensing, and the capability to take an ECG reading.
There is an optical heart rate sensor that calculates metrics like calorie burn, activity level, heart rate, and more.
The Apple Watch can detect a low heart rate, a high heart rate, and an abnormal heart rate, monitoring for health problems like atrial fibrillation and sending notifications when anomalies are detected.
A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope enable other important health-related features such as fall detection and a new Crash Detection feature, and the LTE models support international SOS capabilities so you can call emergency services no matter where you are.
The Apple Watch SE can be worn at night to monitor your sleep, with Apple providing data on how long you sleep each night. The feature also offers up useful tools for getting a better night’s sleep, with details available in our Sleep Tracking guide.
The Apple Watch SE offers all-day battery life of up to 18 hours. Apple bases “all-day” battery life on 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback via Bluetooth. For LTE models, Apple assumes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone.
With a new Low Power Mode introduced in watchOS 9, the Apple Watch SE battery can last for up to 36 hours. Low Power Mode turns off heart rate notifications, background heart rate measurements, Wi-Fi and cellular connections when the iPhone is not nearby, and other features to save power.
It takes approximately 1.5 hours to charge the Apple Watch SE from 0 percent to 80 percent, and 2.5 hours to charge it all the way to full from 0 percent. The Apple Watch SE does not support fast charging like the Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple Watch SE models are equipped with the same Apple-designed W3 chip that is available in the Series 8. There are two Apple Watch SE configurations: GPS and GPS Cellular. The GPS Cellular SE models have an LTE connection while the GPS-only models do not.
LTE connectivity has been available since the Apple Watch Series 3, and with an LTE connection, the Apple Watch is untethered from the iPhone and does not require an iPhone or known Wi-Fi network for an internet connection.
The Apple Watch is not entirely independent from the iPhone, though, because LTE connectivity through a carrier requires an Apple Watch and an iPhone 6s or later to share a cellular plan with the same carrier. The Apple Watch also does not have the battery capacity to be used full-time without an iPhone nearby.
Apple Watch LTE models are available in many countries around the world, with a full list on Apple’s website.
LTE connectivity enables an international Emergency SOS feature that was first released with the Series 5. With Emergency SOS, the Apple Watch can make international calls to emergency services regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if there’s an active cellular plan.
That means if you’re traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the side button to automatically get in touch with that country’s emergency services.
International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch’s fall detection feature, so if that’s enabled, it automatically places an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
Updated motion sensors and an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm allow the Apple Watch SE to detect a severe car crash and alert emergency services. After a crash is detected, the Apple Watch checks in with the user and then dial emergency services after a 10-second period with no response. It also alerts emergency contacts.
This functionality is also available in the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS
Apple Watch SE supports 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.3. It does not support 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is supported on the Series 8.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Apple Watch SE models, LTE and non-LTE, feature an L1 GPS chip that allows the Apple Watch to determine its position without needing to be near an iPhone.
With GPS, the Apple Watch is able to keep tabs on speed, distance, and route when you’re walking, running, hiking, or biking, providing more insight into your fitness activities. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS systems are supported for positioning technology across multiple countries.
The Apple Watch SE includes a second-generation optical heart rate sensor (the Apple Watch 8 models use a third-generation sensor), an updated high-g accelerometer, a gyroscope, an ambient light sensor, and an always-on altimeter to track flights of stairs climbed, elevation gains when climbing, and more. Note that the altimeter can be inaccurate in some weather conditions.
Apple Watch SE models are equipped with a built-in compass feature and a Compass app that allows users to see their heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and current elevation.
Apple redesigned the Compass app in watchOS 9, and it now supports dropping waypoints and a backtrack feature that can retrace your route should you become lost.
Compass functionality is baked into the Maps app to let users see which way they’re facing when getting directions, and there are three new Compass complications for Apple Watch faces.
All Apple Watch SE models feature 32GB of storage space, the same storage space that’s in the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra.
The Apple Watch SE runs watchOS 9, the latest version of the Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 9 introduced new watch faces, enhancements to the Workout app and many types of workouts, a feature for tracking medications, updates to notifications, an AFib History option for those who have irregular heart rhythms, and more. Full details on watchOS 9 can be found in our watchOS 9 roundup.
Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch SE is being sold alongside the high-end Apple Watch Ultra, priced at 799, and the mid-tier Apple Watch Series, priced starting at 399.
The Apple Watch Series 8 features the updated casing design introduced with the Series 7, ECG functionality, blood oxygen monitoring, and temperature sensing. The Apple Watch Ultra is aimed at adventurers and explorers with a larger 49mm case size, longer battery life, a more rugged build, and all of the Series 8 features.
What’s Next for the Apple Watch SE
Apple plans to release a third-generation Apple Watch SE with a larger display in 2024, according to research analyst David Hsieh. The device is expected to have the same screen size as the Apple Watch Series 8, so it could be available in 41mm and 45mm case sizes, up from the current 40mm and 44mm options available for the Apple Watch SE 2.
Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Which should you buy this holiday season?
The Apple Watch is bound to be a popular gift this holiday season, and we’re already seeing notable deals on the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE as we approach Black Friday. If you’re trying to make a decision on which model to buy, head below for more details on the Apple Watch Series 6 vs the Apple Watch SE.
Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE were both introduced in September, headlining Apple’s special event that also saw the introduction of a new iPad Air. There are quite a few similarities between the Apple Watch SE and the Series 6, but the differences are very important to note as well.
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone else this holiday season, the decision between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE can be a tricky one. Here’s everything you need to know.
The design of the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE is nearly identical. They are both available in 40mm and 44mm sizes with slim bezels, rounded corners, and compatibility with Apple’s entire lineup of watch bands.
One of the differences, however, is that the Apple Watch Series 6 is available in different materials and colors, including aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE is only available in three different aluminum finishes: silver, space gray, and gold.
Apple Watch Series 6 colors and finishes:
- Aluminum: (PRODUCT)RED, blue, silver, space gray, gold
- Stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold
- Titanium: space black, silver
So while the physical design of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE is similar, the former is available in a much wider array of colors and finishes. Depending on who you’re shopping for, this could be a deciding factor in your decision.
For example, the Workouts app on Apple Watch has been optimized for the always-on display. This allows you to easily see your time, calories, and other data without having to raise your wrist or awkwardly tap the screen while working out.
Meanwhile, on the Apple Watch SE, you have to raise your wrist or tap the screen in order to see the time and your watch face. This should be familiar to anyone who has used an Apple Watch and is the way it worked until the introduction of the Apple Series 5 last year.
Another display difference worth noting is that the Apple Watch Series 6 titanium and stainless steel models feature sapphire crystal displays, which are more durable than the Ion-X glass display used in the aluminum models of the Series 6 and the SE.
Performance and battery life
The Apple Watch Series 6 is powered by Apple’s newest dual-core S6 processor, which the company says is up to 20% faster than the S5 processor found in the Apple Watch SE. In fact, Apple says that the new Apple Silicon S6 processor is based on the A13 Bionic processor used in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.
In real-world use, whether or not you’re able to notice a difference between the processor in the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE depends on how you use it. For most people using their Apple Watch mainly for fitness tracking and as a complement to your iPhone, the S5 processor is likely powerful enough.
As for battery life, Apple says that the Apple Watch Series SE and Apple Watch Series 6 can both run for up to 18 hours on a single charge. Actual battery life will always vary, but this 18-hour benchmark is a good way to shape your expectations.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is able to charge slightly faster than the Apple Watch SE, with Apple saying it can go from completely dead to fully charged in under 1.5 hours.
Best Apple Watch charging docks:
Another major differentiator in this comparison is that the Apple Watch Series 6 features several notable health features not available on the Apple Watch SE.
The headlining feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 is its blood oxygen sensor, which allows you to monitor your oxygen saturation from your wrist. Oxygen saturation represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body.
Through the blood oxygen app on the Apple Watch Series 6, you can measure blood oxygen between 70% and 100%. You can manually take a reading in just 15 seconds, and periodic background measurements occur when you’re inactive, including during sleep.
The Apple Watch Series 6 also includes support for taking an electrocardiogram from your wrist. You can then view the results of your ECG from the Health app. The Apple Watch SE does not support taking an ECG or monitoring blood oxygen levels.
Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE include support for high and low heart rate notifications, as well as irregular heart rhyme notifications. Other health features of both devices include:
- Emergency SOS
- International emergency calling
- Fall detection
- Noise monitoring
A few other tidbits worth noting include that the Apple Watch Series 6 includes 5GHz Wi-Fi support, which should provide faster and more reliable performance when your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch SE is limited to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks.
Both Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE include the following features:
- Digital Crown with haptic feedback
- Cellular connectivity on GPS Cellular models
- Always-on altimeter
- Second-generation speaker and mic
- Family Setup support
Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Pricing
The Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm configurations, with the former regularly going for 279 and the latter going for 309. If you opt for cellular, you’re looking at 329 for the 40mm size and 359 for the 44mm size.
Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 6 regularly starts at 399 for the 40mm model and 429 for the 44mm model. If you want cellular connectivity, that’ll bump the starting price up to 499 and 529, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: The verdict
For many people, the Apple Watch SE is an excellent way to enter the Apple Watch ecosystem. It features top-of-the-line fitness tracking capabilities, deep integration with other Apple services and products, heart monitoring features, and more.
But with that having been said, if you can justify the price jump to the Apple Watch Series 6, it features notable additional health tracking features, including blood oxygen and ECG capabilities. There’s also an always-on display that will be useful for many people.
What do you think of the differences between the Apple Watch Series SE vs. the Apple Watch Series 6? Which are you planning to buy? Let us know down in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев!
Throughout the holiday season, be sure to keep an eye on 9to5Toys for the best Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE deals.
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Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE: Which device is the right fit for you?
We’ve said it before: Apple Watches are hard to beat. When comparing models like the Apple Watch Series 6 vs the SE, how do you choose? The Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best smartwatches for anyone who wants a great all-around experience. The Apple Watch SE offers an overall excellent value for anyone on a budget. If you are already invested in the Apple ecosystem, either device is still worth a look, despite being older devices.
Now outdone by the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch Series 8, the Series 6 can typically be found on sale from third-party retailers. Likewise, the Apple Watch SE 2 replaced the SE as a mainstay on Apple’s website, but the older pick still sells elsewhere. If you are happy to stick with one of these older devices, we’re here to help you choose which one. Read what the watches have in common and what sets them apart.
Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE
LTPO OLED Retina368 x 448 pixels
44mm:44 x 38 x 10.7mmGPS: 36.2gGPSCellular: 36.36g
40mm:40 x 34 x 10.7mmGPS: 30.49gGPSCellular: 30.68g
44mm:44 x 38 x 10.7mmAluminum: 36.5gStainless steel: 47.1gTitanium: 41.3g
40mm:40 x 34 x 10.7mmAluminum: 30.5gStainless steel: 39.7gTitanium: 34.6g
USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
Aluminum: Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, Product Red
Stainless steel: Silver, Graphite, Gold
Titanium: Titanium, Space Black
GPSGLONASSGalileoQZSSWi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHzBluetooth 5.0
Model A2353 (40mm)Model A2354 (44mm)LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
GPS/GNSSGLONASSGalileoQZSSWi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHzBluetooth 5.0
Model A2293 (40mm)Model A2294 (44mm)LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Always-on altimeterThird-generation optical heart sensorAccelerometerGyroscopeAmbient light sensorBlood oxygen sensorECG
The Apple Watch SE and Series 6 are very similar when it comes to design. The only differences between the smartwatches are case materials and available colorways. Users can find the SE in aluminum only, while the Series 6 comes in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. Additionally, if you opt for a higher-end Series 6, you can also upgrade your device with sapphire glass. The Apple Watch SE is limited to Ion-X Glass, which is more susceptible to scratches.
Color-wise, the Series 6 comes in Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, and Red, but you will only find the SE in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. Luckily, Apple Watch bands are interchangeable across the lineup so there are plenty of opportunities to add color to either pick.
As far as display, only the Series 6 offers always-on functionality. The SE, meanwhile, will turn on whenever you raise your wrist. Both have 32GB of internal storage and house internal microphones and speakers. The Series 6 uses a newer system on a chip than the SE that Apple claims is up to 20% faster than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the SE sticks with the same specs as the Series 5. We found no complaints about the SE in terms of speedy performance, but it is a differentiating data point.
Above all, the major health and fitness features to consider when comparing the Apple Watch SE vs the Apple Watch Series 6 are sensors. Certainly, blood oxygen monitoring and electrocardiogram sensors are absent from the SE model, so if these are deal-breakers, you’ll need to upgrade to the Series 6. During our Apple Watch Series 6 review, we found these sensors accurate, but not necessarily tools every user really needs.
That being said, the Apple Watch SE does still offer all-day heart rate monitoring. Like the Series 6, it can tell you if you have a heart rate that is abnormally high or low, and both devices will also notify you if they detect irregular heart rates. The Series 6 uses an upgraded sensor, so it’s the leader if you want the best in terms of accuracy.
After hours, differences in sleep tracking are also worth considering. Both devices tap into Apple’s upgraded sleep tracking offerings brought to wrists in the watchOS 9 software update. If you choose the Series 6, you can use the SpO2 sensor to track your blood oxygen while you snooze. Unfortunately, it’s not a clinically validated sensor, so it can’t alert you to any potential signs of sleep apnea. Conversely, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t have this sensor and therefore cannot offer SpO2 monitoring.
As for fitness tracking, both devices automatically track a variety of workouts and can manually track many others. Likewise, either one tracks your steps, resting and active heart rate, active and resting energy burn, standing minutes, distance, floors climbed, and more. Fitness tracking received some major software updates since these products’ launches as well, and both devices are compatible with those new features.
Overall, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t make any real sacrifices in smartwatch features compared to the Series 6. They avail the same library of watch faces and both allow users to share faces with friends. Both let you access unmatched third-party app support, get assistance from Siri, make purchases with Apple Pay, control Smart home devices, and much more. Finally, Family Setup is also available on both models, allowing you to set up one of the best smartwatches for kids even if they don’t have an iPhone.
It’s hard not to get excited about the price tag of the Apple Watch SE. It originally launched at 279, falling right between the 199 Series 3 and the Series 6 at 399. In other words, for just 80 more than the cost of a Series 3, users could cash in on an improved processor and better display. Apple no longer supports the Series 3 which makes the SE an even more valuable buy. By ditching a few sensors, shoppers can save over 100. Our review calls it the “Goldilocks option” because it hits the perfect balance of price and features. Plus, are even lower now that the Apple Watch SE 2 is available.