The Apple Watch SE is an affordable smartwatch option from Apple that still packs many of the key features of the more premium Apple Watch models. Launched in 2020 alongside the Series 6, the SE sits in Apple’s smartwatch lineup as a mid-range option below the flagship Series 7 and Series 6 models.
Overview of Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch SE retains the same squircle shape and Retina display of the Series 6, but with some differences. It lacks an always-on display, ECG app, and blood oxygen sensor of pricier models. However, the SE still offers robust health and fitness tracking, seamless iPhone connectivity, a powerful chip, a swim-proof design, and Apple’s intuitive watchOS interface.
Overall, the SE delivers core smartwatch functionality at a more accessible price point. It’s a sweet-spot option for iPhone users wanting an Apple Watch without paying top dollar for the highest-end features.
Features of Apple Watch SE
While the SE doesn’t have every bell and whistle of the Series 7 or Series 6, it packs an impressive set of features into its aluminum case.
Design and Display
The Apple Watch SE features the same aesthetics and 44mm or 40mm case options as the Series 6. It has a Retina OLED display with 1000 nits max brightness and haptic feedback via the Digital Crown. The always-on display is not included, though.
Health and Fitness Tracking
Robust health and activity tracking are where the SE shines. It has a full suite of sensors to measure active calories burned, hourly movement, VO2 max, heart rate variability, and more. The SE even detects workouts automatically.
You get built-in tracking for running, cycling, swimming, dancing, and high-intensity interval training. Apple’s three-ring Activity system helps you stay motivated by tracking movement, exercise, and standing daily goals.
Connectivity and Communication
Thanks to a Bluetooth and W3 wireless chip, the Apple Watch SE seamlessly pairs with your iPhone. You can receive notifications, take calls, reply to messages, and more. With WiFi and cellular (LTE) options, the SE can even operate away from your iPhone.
Apps and Watch Faces
The SE gives access to Apple’s huge library of Watch apps and customizable watch faces. Use apps like Apple Pay, Maps, Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and more. Switch up your watch face to fit your style or mood.
The SE contains an array of advanced sensors to enable its health and fitness-tracking features:
Accelerometer and Gyroscope
Tracks motion data like step count, distance, and swim laps.
Monitors elevation in real-time for hiking, running, and weather apps.
Lets you see which direction you’re facing and show navigation directions.
Heart Rate Sensor
Measures your heart rate continuously during workouts and throughout the day.
Ambient Light Sensor
Adjusts screen brightness automatically based on lighting conditions.
Performance and Hardware
Despite its lower price, the SE doesn’t sacrifice much in performance and hardware.
Apple’s S5 system-in-package (SiP) chip powers the SE model. It’s the same chip used in the Series 5 Watch. So you get snappy, responsive performance from the SE.
There is 32GB of storage for downloading apps, music, podcasts, and more. That’s plenty of capacity for most users’ needs.
Apple promises up to 18 hours of battery life for the SE on a single charge. That covers a full day’s use in most cases. Physical activity and use of certain features will impact actual battery runtimes.
Comparison to Other Apple Watch Models
How does the SE stack up against Apple’s other smartwatch offerings? Here’s a quick rundown:
vs. Series 7
The Series 7 is Apple’s top-tier model with features missing on the SE like an always-on display, blood oxygen app, ECG app, faster charging, and QWERTY keyboard. It also has a larger, edge-to-edge screen within the same case size. However, the SE delivers the core Apple Watch experience at a 40% lower price.
vs. Series 6
The Series 6 looks nearly identical to the SE but adds an always-on altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, ECG app, U1 chip, and faster charging. These extras come at a $120+ premium over the SE.
vs. Series 3
The Series 3 is Apple’s most affordable watch starting at $199. However, it’s an older model with slower performance, a smaller screen, and less advanced health sensors than the SE. The SE is worth paying a bit more for better technology and a more future-proofed user experience.
Pricing and Availability of Apple Watch SE
With the Apple Watch SE, budget-conscious consumers get an affordable path to Apple’s world-class smartwatch. Here’s a look at the pricing and where to buy the SE model.
The Apple Watch SE starts at $279 for the 40mm GPS model and $329 for the 44mm GPS model. Adding LTE cellular connectivity tacks on an extra $50.
Various band options (Sport, Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop) come in different price points. There are also upgrades possible with higher-end case materials like stainless steel.
Where to Buy Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch SE is available at these select retailers:
Apple.com and Apple Stores
Carrier stores (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon)
You can often find sales events or modest discounts on the SE around peak shopping holidays. But in general, Apple avoids heavily discounting the SE since it’s already a value-driven smartwatch option.
Pros and Cons of Apple Watch SE
Here is a balanced look at the biggest advantages and potential drawbacks of the SE model based on Apple Watch reviews and user experiences.
More affordable Apple Watch option
Attractive, durable design with a variety of bands
Great fitness/health tracking with advanced sensors
Swimproof for pool and open-water
Seamless pairing with iPhone
Cellular option for untethered use
Apple Pay on your wrist
Huge library of apps and watch faces
Intuitive watchOS platform
Powerful S5 chip provides smooth performance
32GB of storage for music, apps, etc.
18 hours of battery life per charge
No always-on display
ECG app and blood oxygen sensor missing
Less advanced screen technology vs Series 7
Slightly slower charging time
More expensive than competitive smartwatches
Less rugged than sports-focused watches
The Apple Watch SE hits a sweet spot in Apple’s smartwatch lineup with its compelling blend of useful features and attractive pricing. It delivers core Apple Watch capabilities like health/fitness tracking, seamless iPhone connectivity, swim-proof design, and Apple’s intuitive software in an affordable package.
While it lacks some bells and whistles of the high-end Series 7 and Series 6, the SE retains the styling and essential functionality of an Apple Watch at a budget-friendly price point. For iPhone users wanting their first Apple Watch, or those who don’t need every latest feature, the SE is a smart choice. With regular software updates from Apple going forward, it promises to remain a capable smartwatch for years to come.
Does the SE need to be connected to an iPhone to work?
The Apple Watch SE is designed to be paired with an iPhone for optimal functionality. However, the SE also comes in a cellular version that allows you to stay connected even when you don’t have your iPhone nearby.
How long does the SE battery last on one charge?
Apple claims up to 18 hours of normal use on a single charge. Battery life depends on usage, screen brightness, which apps are running, and other factors.
Can the SE track my sleep?
Yes, the SE has a sleep tracking app that monitors your sleep duration and quality each night when worn to bed.
Is the SE waterproof for swimming?
The Apple Watch SE has a water resistance rating of 50 meters. So it can be safely worn for swimming, showering, and other water activities.
Does the SE work with Android phones?
No, the Apple Watch SE requires an iPhone to pair and sync. It only works with Apple iOS devices, not Android phones.