Apple Watch SE review

Apple launched with the Apple Watch SE two Apple Watch models back in 2020, splitting their own lineup into what many might consider a “pro” offering – in the form of the new Apple Watch Series 7 – and a more price-friendly version with the SE version.

The SE loses some of the more advanced and premium features in favor of a much more affordable price. But has Apple cut too many corners to please, or has the smartwatch maker gotten the balance just right?

Technical details

Screen size1,73 inches
Wrist materialNylon with stainless steel, Leather with stainless steel or 18k gold, Woven nylon, Silicone
Size watch case40 mm / 44 mm
ConnectivityBluetooth, WLAN, LTE
Battery lifeup to 18 hours
Supported systemsiOS
Water resistanceNo
SensorsFall detection, altimeter, heart rate monitor, GPS, pedometer
Microphone includedYes
Speaker includedYes

Apple Watch SE: These features are missing

The big question you’re probably asking yourself is whether you should opt for the SE over the Apple Watch S7? And the answer is: maybe.

The aluminum models look very similar when viewed side by side. Both are available in 40 mm and 44 mm size variants depending your wrist size, have similar screens, and have multiple strap options to suit your style.

More importantly, both use the WatchOS 8 version, so the software experience is the same – with the only differences based on the built-in technology.

The Watch SE doesn’t have an always-on display and larger bezels, ECG (electrocardiogram) function, or the newer blood oxygen sensor. It also has a slower processor (not that you’ll notice) and doesn’t have the Apple U1 chip – which is eventually used to open car doors and find your other Apple devices.

Apple Watch SE Smartwatch
The Apple Watch SE is available in different colors and models.

The Apple Watch SE design

The Watch SE (check out the Apple store) offers a much lower price than the top-end S7, the same processor as the 2019 Series 5 , plus a heart rate sensor, a compass, an always-on altimeter, a waterproof design and a louder speaker than the Apple Watch 3 , GPS and cellular support.

In short, if you were to pit the SE against previous Apple Watch models, it would likely fall somewhere between the now-discontinued Series 4 and Series 5 models.

The sleek and stylish SE is available in three colors – Gold, Silver and Space Grey – with plenty of options for the interchangeable strap you can buy. There’s a new “loop” option that stretches, with nine different sizes so you can order the right size for your wrist.

Everything is controlled by a combination of touchscreen, digital crown and side button. The combination of those three buttons gives you access to every feature you need and want.

Robust and fast to use

Charging is wireless via a puck in the box (keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to bring your own charger, as it’s not included), and the Apple Watch SE can charge from zero to full in two and a half hours – that’s an hour and a half slower than the S7, but still pretty fast.

The Watch SE is also waterproof, so it’s great for swimming or for those moments when you jump in the shower and forget to take it off.

You probably haven’t always experienced the Apple Watch on display – if you already own an Apple Watch Series 5, this watch isn’t aimed at you – so not having it isn’t a problem. It’s nice to have, and if you want it, check out the S6 or S7 models instead.

Apple Watch SE Smartwatch
You can either choose the Apple Watch SE in a 40 mm or a 44 wrist size.

What sensors does the Apple Watch SE have?

On the sensor front, some of the fancy sensors on the S7 model aren’t there, but for most people that shouldn’t be a problem. In the two years we’ve had the ECG feature on our Apple Watch (both Series 4 and Series 5 models), we’ve really only used it for bragging rights, and while it’s a valuable piece of kit for the right people, if you ARE healthy, then we don’t think it’s a deal-breaker.

Likewise, we suspect it will be for the new blood oxygen sensor as introduced in the Series 6 model. It’s a potentially great new addition to the Apple Watch, but likely the vast majority of people won’t need or care about measurements. Do you know what it means to have a score of 98 percent and how to improve it? Yeah, neither do we.

Helpful features for sports

What you do get in terms of sensors is the heart rate monitor – which is great for measuring fitness in a meaningful way – a compass and an always-on altimeter.

If you want to use the Watch SE to keep fit and track your workouts – which, let’s face it, is probably why you’re thinking about getting one – then that heart rate monitor will do the trick. The compass not so much, but at least the altimeter will let you know how you rate that epic hike or run if the GPS isn’t reliable.

The Apple Watch SE features different sensors for different tasks.


The Watch SE combines many of the best parts of Apple’s now-discontinued Watch Series 4 and Series 5, and helps split the lineup into a much more distinctive entry-level and pro-spec approach.

Sure, compared to the Series 7 model, there are a number of differences in the SE, but the more we use this more affordable watch, the more we’ve realized that such differences won’t be deal-breakers for most casual users.

The Apple Watch SE is the perfect middle ground for users who don’t care about multiple health sensors or the added cost of luxurious materials like stainless steel or titanium.

So if you want an Apple Watch because you’re interested in fitness or have the idea of unlocking your Mac without entering a password – or paying with Apple Pay while shopping – then the Watch SE is an ideal wearable for the majority.


Author: Smartwatch Fans

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