The Apple Watch Series 3 that has been on the shelf since 2017 is finally gone. Taking its place as the most affordable Apple Watch is the Apple Watch SE 2022 (2nd generation) with a starting price of $249. So how does this watch that only costs around two thirds the Apple Watch Series 8 measures up. Let’s take a look.
We compared the first generation Apple Watch SE to the Apple Watch Series 5 that it is based on albeit with the absence of some sensors and features. This time however, Apple has taken a different approach, using instead the same S8 64-bit dual core chip found in Series 8 and the all-new Apple Watch Ultra. Previously, Apple Watch SE was introduced with Apple Watch Series 6 and is powered by Apple S5 and S6 respectively, a generation behind.
What is missing on the Apple Watch SE 2022
The 2nd generation Apple Watch SE is available in three colours, Midnight, Starlight and Silver, with the case made from 100% recycled aluminium. And, you can pair this with a multitude of bands. The case sizes are 40mm and 44mm so be sure to get the right band to fit. Naturally, what is on everyones mind is, what will I be missing if I go for the cheaper Apple Watch SE. Here’s a quick look.
- No always-on display
- Aluminium finishes only
- Smaller 40mm and 44mm case
- Smaller, slightly lower resolution display
- Not IP6X dust resistant but Swimproof
- No Blood Oxygen Sensor (no Blood Oxygen app)
- No Electrical Heart sensor (no ECG app)
- No temperature sensing
- No U1 Ultra Wideband chip
- No Dual band WiFi
1. No Always-on Display
Just like the previous generation Apple Watch SE, the 2022 version has a bright OLED display with up to 1000 nits brightness but does not come with Always-on feature. If you always had the Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch series 4 or earlier, you are not missing out much. Always-on was only introduced in Apple Watch series 5 onwards.
2. Aluminium finishes only
Again, not really a big deal but the Apple Watch SE is only available in an all-aluminium case while the Apple Watch Series 8 has to option of going premium with a stainless steel case. If you were going to pick an aluminium Apple Watch Series 8, you wouldn’t notice the difference. It basically uses the same recycled aluminium. It even shares the same colours; Midnight, Starlight and Silver. Although, the Apple Watch Series 8 has a product RED option and the Stainless Steel case is available in Graphite, Silver or Gold.
Apple Watch SE also uses for the first time, a colour-matched back plate based on nylon composite material but shares the same Ion-X Glass up front with Apple Watch Series 8 aluminium model. Apple Watch Series 8 has ceramic and sapphire crystal back.
3. Smaller 40mm and 44mm case
The difference here is negligible to say the least. Apple Watch SE is available in 44mm or 40mm cases while the Apple Watch Series 8 is slightly bigger in 45mm or 41mm cases. Only 1mm difference. Even when set side-by-side, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
4. Smaller, slightly lower resolution display
It also misses out on edge-to-edge display, using instead a lower resolution and smaller Retina display leaving a bigger black border near the edges. The display on the 44mm case has a resolution of 368 x 448 pixels while the 40mm case carries a 324 x 394 pixels display. These are the same as the first generation Apple Watch SE.
The edge-to-edge display was only introduced on Apple Watch Series 7. It is carried on the new Apple Watch Series 8. The rounded corner display on Apple Watch SE was first introduced on Apple Watch Series 5. It still looks good and unless you use a watch face with a full background colour, it isn’t all that obvious to begin with, see image below.
Apple puts the edge-to-edge display at 20% more screen area compared to the Apple Watch SE. No doubt, on screen interactions will be much easier on a bigger display. However, I wouldn’t be poking on my watch trying to type a long reply to a message or composing an email.
5. Not IP6X dust resistant but Swimproof
Not dust resistant rated like the Apple Watch Series 8? No problem. The Apple Watch Series 7 was first to be rated for dust resistant so it is something pretty recent. What the Apple Watch SE does have like its predecessor and the Apple Watch Series 8 is a water resistant rating up to 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010. This means, it will track your splits and sets in the pool. It will even map your route in open water. This include water sports and activities like surfing or using a kick board.
6. No Blood Oxygen Sensor (no Blood Oxygen app)
And, like its predecessor, it also loses on a couple of sensors reserved for the more expensive Apple Series 8 namely the blood oxygen sensor. It is unfortunately that as a fitness tracker first, that an oxygen sensor is not included. However, such a sensor is only used to take measurements when the Blood Oxygen app is in use or occasionally when background reading is enabled. Measurement usually takes 15 seconds with your wrist staying flat and still and the watch facing up. Unless you have a real need to check your Blood O2 level often, you can give this option a miss.
7. No Electrical Heart sensor (no ECG app)
This again is a sensor reserved for the more expensive Apple Watch Series 8. And, like the Blood O2 level, it requires your arm to be rested on a table or lap. But, it goes further by requiring you to place a finger from the opposite hand on the Digital Crown during measurement. Unlike blood oxygen monitor, it cannot be set to take readings in the background. However, the Apple Watch SE does come with a heart rate sensor that periodically takes your heart rate and track your heart health. It can be set to alert you if your heart rate is too high or too low or if you have irregular heart rhythm.
Both Blood Oxygen and ECG sensor are what I would call a non-essential sensor. It is not required for an active and healthy body. It takes more time and effort to track and save those data compared to say the heart rate sensor as additional steps are requirement to complete a good measurement.
8. No temperature sensing
Here is a new feature in Apple Watch Series 8, the ability to track your temperature while you sleep. The Cycle Tracking app uses body temperature data to retrospectively estimate when you are ovulating if you are planning a family. It also works in conjunction with heart rate and logged cycle data to present a detailed schedule of your menstrual cycle. No such luck with Apple Watch SE 2022.
9. No U1 Ultra Wideband chip
Another feature not available on the Apple Watch SE 2022 is the U1 Ultra Wideband chip. The Ultra Wideband technology helps with spatial awareness when in proximity with other devices with U1 Ultra Wideband chip such as the iPhone (11 onwards). The same technology is also used in Apple’s AirTag and AirPods Pro 2nd Gen’s MagSafe Charging Case. Quite simply, you can use your iPhone to track the whereabouts of your watch. So such luck with Apple Watch SE.
So, you’ve been warned. Unless you know where you are going to put it, don’t take off your Apple Watch SE and leave it some place you will forget. Personally, the only place I would take my Apple Watch off is when I get home, and even then, I will only put it on the magnetic charger. No where else. Chance of losing my Apple Watch… zero. Do I need the U1 Ultra Wideband chip, I wouldn’t sweat it if it didn’t come with. Besides, U1 chip only started appearing in Apple Watch Series 6.
10. No Dual band WiFi
Apple Watch Series 6 is also the first Apple Watch to support Dual band WiFi, 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Like its predecessor, the Apple Watch SE has to rely on single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz. Speed wise, on a dedicated device like a smart watch, you won’t be able to tell the difference. You will likely see some improvements when transferring big files or when downloading an update but that sort of activity is rare. And, if you have to do it, it will probably take just a couple of minutes more for a big download.
To summarise, the main health features you will be missing out on are Blood Oxygen and ECG. While the main design aesthetics you will be missing out on are bigger always-on display and choice of stainless steel cases. Newer features like temperature sensing and fast charging are also absent from the Apple Watch SE. If you can live with all those compromises, you have a perfectly good watch that doesn’t cost a small loan. Check out the comparison table below for a line-by-line comparison.
|Apple Watch Series 8||Apple Watch SE|
|45mm or 41 mm case size||44mm or 40mm case size|
|396 x 484 or 352 x 430||368 x 448 or 324 x 394|
|Aluminium or Stainless Steel||Aluminium|
|Certified IP6X dust resistant||NA|
|Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display||Retina LTPO OLED display|
|up to 1000 nits brightness||up to 1000 nits brightness|
|Dual-core S8 SiP chip||Dual-core S8 SiP chip|
|W3 Apple wireless chip||W3 Apple wireless chip|
|U1 Ultra Wideband chip||NA|
|32GB storage||32GB storage|
|LTE and UMTS on GPS+Cellular models||LTE and UMTS on GPS+Cellular models|
|Dual band WiFi||2.4GHz WiFi|
|Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Water resistant up to 50 m||Water resistant up to 50 m|
|Third gen optical heart rate sensor||Second gen optical heart rate sensor|
|Blood Oxygen app||NA|
|High and low heart rate notifications||High and low heart rate notifications|
|Irregular rhythm||Irregular rhythm|
|Cardio fitness notifications||Cardio fitness notifications|
|Cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates||Cycle tracking|
|Emergency SOS||Emergency SOS|
|International emergency calling||International emergency calling|
|Fall detection||Fall detection|
|Crash detection||Crash detection|
|High-g accelerometer||High-g accelerometer|
|Compass Backtrack||Compass Backtrack|
|Compass app with waypoints and backtrack||Compass app with waypoints and backtrack|
|Always-on altimeter||Always-on altimeter|
|Cellular option||Cellular option|
|Supports Family Setup (GPS+cellular models only)||Supports Family Setup (GPS+cellular models only)|
|Up to 18 hours||Up to 18 hours|
|Second-gen speaker and mic||Second-gen speaker and mic|