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Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 5

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?

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.

Apple Watch SE on Amazon

Nothing New

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 Series 5 Gold Aluminium with Pink Sand Sports Band on Amazon

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.

Apple Watch SE Watch Faces

Specifications: Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 5

Here is a quick side by side comparison between the two watches.

Apple Watch SEApple Watch Series 5
NAStainless Steel, Space Black (DLC), Gold (PVD
NATitanium and Space Black
NACeramic White
Space GraySpace Gray
Always-on altimeterBarometric altimeter
Water resistantWater resistant
50 meters150 meters1
NAElectrical heart sensor
Second-generation optical heart sensorSecond-generation optical heart sensor
International emergency calling3International emergency calling3
Emergency SOS2Emergency SOS2
up to 32 g-forces with fall detectionup to 32 g-forces with fall detection
Ambient light sensorAmbient light sensor
Apple PayApple Pay
Capacity 32GBCapacity 32GB
Ceramic and sapphire crystal backCeramic and sapphire crystal back
368 by 448 pixels368 by 448 pixels
977 sq mm display area977 sq mm display area
324 by 394 pixels324 by 394 pixels
759 sq mm display area759 sq mm display area
Retina LTPO OLED displayAlways-On Retina LTPO OLED display with Force Touch
1000 nits brightness1000 nits brightness
S5 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processorS5 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple wireless chipApple wireless chip
GPS + Cellular modelsGPS + Cellular models
802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteryBuilt-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Up to 18 hours6Up to 18 hours5
Magnetic charging cableMagnetic charging cable
NAUSB power adapter
Height: 40mmHeight: 40mm
Width: 34mmWidth: 34mm
Depth: 10.4mmDepth: 10.74mm
Height: 44mmHeight: 44mm
Width: 38mmWidth: 38mm
Depth: 10.4mmDepth: 10.74mm
GPS: 30.49gAluminum: 30.8g
GPS + Cellular: 30.68gStainless Steel: 40.6g
44mmTitanium: 35.1g
GPS: 36.20gCeramic: 39.7g
GPS + Cellular: 36.36g44mm
NAAluminum: 36.5g
NAStainless Steel: 47.8g
NATitanium: 41.7g
NACeramic: 46.7g
Apple Watch SE on Amazon

Final Thoughts

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.

Apple Watch SE with Different Straps on Amazon

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.

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