The first Apple Watch SE was launched at the same time that the company’s introduced its current latest model, the Apple Series 6. The SE is offered as a mid-range watch between the flagship Apple Watch Series 6 and entry level Apple Watch Series 3. However, it shares many of its features with the previous generation Apple Watch Series 5, but apart from the ECG monitor and the Always-on display what else is missing from this cheaper alternative?
Update: Apple announced the 2nd generation Apple Watch SE at their Far Out Event in September 2022. Here is how the new Apple Watch SE 2022 compares with Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple Watch SE or Shall We Say Apple Watch Series 5
Reintroducing an older generation watch at a reduced price is always a risk. You risk alienating those who have just paid top dollar for the-then flagship watch, only for it to be relegated and given a cheaper price tag. That is really what the Apple Watch SE is. It is essentially a cut-price Apple Watch Series 5 and in many ways, both watches are the same, from the case to the display to the processor and all of its sensors except for one.
So, how then can Apple pull this off? Apple has been performing this party trick on almost all of its earlier generations of iPhones. When a new generation iPhone is released, the old one hangs around and is offered at a lower price. The current one being the iPhone XR staying on the shelf with iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. It is not so obvious now, given the number of phones that share the same numerical iterations, but it was a lot more obvious during the time of iPhone X, 8, 7 and 6.
Apple Watch SE is the crippled Apple Watch Series 5
To appease buyers who may have just made their Apple Watch Series 5 purchase, in the SE version Apple has disabled the always-on display and removed the electric heart sensor for the ECG monitor. They have also removed the premium case finishes, namely the stainless steel, titanium and ceramic leaving only the aluminium cases.
There is also the matter of Force Touch. While both versions of the watch have the same touch screen Retina LTPO OLED display, the SE version lacks Force Touch. Last but not least, in the interest of mother nature, the USB power adapter has been removed. We are likely to see the same move with iPhones 12s.
Specifications: Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 5
Here is a quick side by side comparison between the two watches.
|Apple Watch SE||Apple Watch Series 5|
|NA||Stainless Steel, Space Black (DLC), Gold (PVD|
|NA||Titanium and Space Black|
|Space Gray||Space Gray|
|Always-on altimeter||Barometric altimeter|
|Water resistant||Water resistant|
|50 meters1||50 meters1|
|NA||Electrical heart sensor|
|Second-generation optical heart sensor||Second-generation optical heart sensor|
|International emergency calling3||International emergency calling3|
|Emergency SOS2||Emergency SOS2|
|up to 32 g-forces with fall detection||up to 32 g-forces with fall detection|
|Ambient light sensor||Ambient light sensor|
|Apple Pay||Apple Pay|
|Capacity 32GB||Capacity 32GB|
|Ceramic and sapphire crystal back||Ceramic and sapphire crystal back|
|368 by 448 pixels||368 by 448 pixels|
|977 sq mm display area||977 sq mm display area|
|324 by 394 pixels||324 by 394 pixels|
|759 sq mm display area||759 sq mm display area|
|Retina LTPO OLED display||Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display with Force Touch|
|1000 nits brightness||1000 nits brightness|
|S5 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor||S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor|
|Apple wireless chip||Apple wireless chip|
|LTE and UMTS5||LTE and UMTS4|
|GPS + Cellular models||GPS + Cellular models|
|802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz||802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz|
|Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery||Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery|
|Up to 18 hours6||Up to 18 hours5|
|Magnetic charging cable||Magnetic charging cable|
|NA||USB power adapter|
|Height: 40mm||Height: 40mm|
|Width: 34mm||Width: 34mm|
|Depth: 10.4mm||Depth: 10.74mm|
|Height: 44mm||Height: 44mm|
|Width: 38mm||Width: 38mm|
|Depth: 10.4mm||Depth: 10.74mm|
|GPS: 30.49g||Aluminum: 30.8g|
|GPS + Cellular: 30.68g||Stainless Steel: 40.6g|
|GPS: 36.20g||Ceramic: 39.7g|
|GPS + Cellular: 36.36g||44mm|
|NA||Stainless Steel: 47.8g|
If you have the Apple Watch Series 5, hang on to it. The only thing missing in comparison to the new generation Apple Watch Series 6 is the Sp02 sensor for a blood oxygen level monitor and the faster S6 chip. Considering that the Apple Watch Series 3 is still kicking around, with the introduction of the Apple Watch SE (which is essentially a Series 5), one can hope that the Apple Watch Series 5 will enjoy life with at least three WatchOS version updates. Here is to hoping.
However, if you are new to the market and want a hot wearable, are not so fussed about an ECG monitor or the always-on display, then do give the Apple Watch SE some serious consideration. With 30% savings compared to Apple Watch Series 6 it’s really a steal.
It has the same large retina display, 30% larger than Series 3, a second-generation optical heart rate sensor with irregular heart rhythm notification, fall detection, emergency SOS and international emergency calling. Other sensors include the compass, always-on altimeter, speaker and microphone, water resistance, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor and GPS.
Finally, with the launch of Apple Watch SE and Series 6, Apple also introduce the Solo Loop and Braided Loop straps. These are fixed size straps sold measured to fit so you have to size them to fit your wrist at the time of purchase. Choose from size 1 – 12 depending on your case size. The 40mm case works with strap sizes 1–9; the 44mm case works with strap sizes 4–12. These straps are compatible Series 3, 4, 5, SE and 6 with a slight caveat with Series 3 and 4. E.g. for Apple Watch Series 3, the 40mm strap works with the 38mm case; the 44mm strap works with the 42mm case.
NOTE: To measure your wrist at home, Apple created a printable tool or you can use a strip of paper and ruler. Follow the on-screen instruction when purchasing online to get the right strap for your wrist.