The Apple Watch SE isn’t fairly the iPhone SE of Apple’s wearable line. While it does have a beginning price ticket that’s about 30 p.c decrease than the flagship Series 6 watch, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t have the most recent processor or an outdated design, neither is it the most cost effective Apple Watch you should buy. That places it form of in no man’s land for now, an unenviable place for a product anticipated to maneuver the needle.
But you’ll be very pleased with the Apple Watch SE if it’s your first smartwatch. It has all the options you need in a contemporary smartwatch—an enormous display screen, next-gen sensors, swappable bands, good battery life—at a value that in all probability gained’t break your funds. Aside from the brand new unique purple and blue colours you’ll be able to solely get with Apple’s flagship watch, the Apple Watch SE seems equivalent to the Apple Watch Series 6 and could be outfitted with any of the brand new Solo bands.
If you will get a Solo band that matches, that’s. I ordered a Solo Loop with my Apple Watch SE utilizing Apple’s on-line printed sizing instrument. It clearly stated I wanted a dimension 9, however it’s too huge on my wrist, so Apple is swapping it out for a smaller dimension. I’ll write about it once I evaluate the Apple Watch Series 6, however the band’s materials could be very comfortable and good, and the stretchiness looks as if it gained’t get worn out too rapidly.
Looks apart, nonetheless, the Apple Watch SE is lacking a wide range of options that may make the bounce to the Apple Watch Series 6 worthwhile. They won’t appear all that vital on the tech sheet, however the always-on show, Sp02 sensor, and ECG app are beneficial additions that give Apple’s flagship a severe benefit. The lacking options make the SE really feel extra outdated in comparison with the Series 6 than the iPhone SE does in comparison with the iPhone 11. The Apple Watch SE looks like extra of a instrument to promote Apple Watch Series 6 watches than a viable funds choice.
A look ahead to now, not later
It’s bizarre to start out a evaluate by writing about what a product doesn’t have, however the largest detriment to purchasing one isn’t the dearth of an always-on show or next-gen sensors, it’s future-proofing. Assuming you’re more likely to hold your Apple Watch SE for at the least two years, once you’re watching a clean display screen in your wrist all day in 2022, the Apple Watch SE’s often-off show goes to really feel antiquated.
The lack of an Sp02 sensor will appear equally obtrusive, as effectively. While it’s not stunning to see the Apple Watch Series 6’s marquee characteristic left off its more-affordable doppelgänger, blood-oxygen sensing is rapidly changing into a necessary well being metric. Fitbit has shipped trackers and watches with Sp02 sensors for years, and whereas there may be nonetheless a methods to go earlier than smartwatches sensors could be as correct as an over-the-counter pulse oximeter finger clamp, the algorithms will little doubt enhance over the following few generations.
In the age of COVID-19, Sp02 is changing into extraordinarily vital for monitoring impending sicknesses even earlier than signs present. According to latest research, the data from an Sp02 sensor could be invaluable for detecting and treating COVID and comparable respiratory sicknesses, in addition to monitor any potential lingering respiration points. It might change into as indispensable as a heart-rate sensor as sleep monitoring matures.
Working when you sleep
Speaking of sleep monitoring, the Apple Watch SE is likely one of the first Apple watches to help sleep monitoring out of the field as a part of watchOS 7, and it does it effectively sufficient for a first-gen characteristic. It’s nowhere close to as detailed as a Fitbit tracker and with the identical 18-hour battery life as earlier Apple Watches, you’ll must plan your day and evening accordingly to be sure to don’t run out of juice in a single day.
But it’s a superb if not overdue addition to the Apple Watch characteristic set. Results are delivered rapidly upon waking, however with out one thing like Fitbit’s Today app to gather your each day stats, you’ll want to go to the Sleep app or the Health app in your iPhone every day to get your outcomes. There isn’t even a complication but that may show your sleep time, solely a shortcut to the app.
Sleep monitoring goes hand-in-hand with iOS 14’s new Sleep Schedule and Wind Down options, with a objective of getting you to develop a correct eight-hour sleep routine. There isn’t a lot on the way in which of perception into the way you’re sleeping, nonetheless, so for the time being it’s extra concerning the amount of sleep than the standard of it.
The different watchOS 7 enchancment that’s a little bit of a letdown is handwashing. It’s alleged to robotically sense once you’re washing your fingers and different suggestions to be sure to proceed scrubbing for 20 seconds. That’s an vital characteristic for these post-COVID occasions, however the Apple Watch SE hardly ever acknowledged the beginning of a hand-washing session. Your mileage will certainly differ however my notifications have been so rare, I initially thought the characteristic was turned off. In a number of days carrying the watch, it solely labored because it ought to as soon as.
Fast sufficient, wherever you go
The Apple Watch SE makes use of the prior-generation S5 dual-core processor, however it’s nonetheless a lot quick for what it must do. It runs circles across the Apple Watch Series 3’s S3 chip, and specifically, the clock face seems in a short time once you increase your wrist, which practically compensates for the dearth of an always-on show. I doubt anybody will be capable of inform the distinction between it and the S6 within the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Apple Watch SE has all the new faces and problems launched with the Apple Watch Series 6, with the apparent exception of blood-oxygen. My favourite look is the extremely customizable Stripes face, although it’s a bummer that problems are solely out there within the decidedly less-immersive round model. The new always-on altimeter makes for a neat complication to see your elevation in real-time and it really works extremely effectively, although except you’re mountain climbing, it’s not all that helpful. (Case in level: As I write this I’m 113 toes above sea degree.)
LTE on the Apple Watch SE was a lot dependable when roaming out with out my iPhone, and the pace of the processor made the entire expertise really feel simply as responsive as if I used to be over Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch SE’s mobile connection is as easy because the one on my iPhone and the most effective I’ve ever utilized in a wearable. Downloading apps is quick, as is streaming music and sending texts. And switching between Wi-Fi and LTE is simply as seamless as it’s on my iPhone.
Using a mobile connection does have a measurable impression on battery life, however Apple makes positive you get a full day trip of the Apple Watch SE no matter the place you’re. I routinely bested Apple’s 18-hour battery estimate, even with sleep monitoring on. We’ve reached the purpose now that Apple is clearly content material on delivering single-day battery life till a breakthrough triples or quadruples it. But till that day arrives, the Apple Watch SE’s battery is sweet sufficient.
Charging is similar as its all the time been—it’ll take about an hour to get an honest quantity of juice—and the dearth of wi-fi charging or quick charging (which is accessible on the Apple Watch Series 6) is beginning to be an actual detriment. Wearing it to trace sleep would require some inventive scheduling to be sure to don’t run out in a single day, however when you get right into a charging routine, preserving your watch going all day and evening gained’t be an excessive amount of of a difficulty.
Should you purchase an Apple Watch SE?
The Apple Watch SE is at the moment in a bizarre spot. On the one hand, for $80 greater than the Series 3, the pace and have upgrades make it an absolute no-brainer. My unique Apple Watch Series 3 is sort of gradual in comparison with the SE, and there’s no assure the Series 3 will help watchOS 8. And add within the Apple Watch SE’s fall detection, an always-on altimeter, and noise monitoring, and there’s actually no motive to even take into account the Apple Watch Series 3.
Apple Watch Series 6 is one other story. The Apple Watch SE is an excellent smartwatch, however it’s lacking essentially the most trendy health-tracking options and an always-on show. That makes the SE really feel a bit of extra cut-rate than it ought to and presents a powerful case for making the leap to the Series 6. I’d nearly favor it if Apple had gone the iPhone SE route add added higher specs to the Series 3’s sq. show at a $199 price ticket. Then it could at the least really feel like a cut price.
If you need LTE, a characteristic that’s all of a sudden much more helpful thanks to Family Setup, the choice is even murkier. For no matter motive, it’s solely $50 additional to get the LTE model of the Apple Watch SE quite than $100 on the Apple Watch Series 6, so you will get a completely geared up mobile wearable for $329, $170 lower than the comparable Series 6. That’s an enormous financial savings, particularly once you issue within the activation charges and month-to-month recurring fees that drive the worth up even increased.
My advice is to purchase the SE in case you match any one in all these statements:
You’re proud of the options in your pre-Series 4 Apple Watch however it’s too gradual.
Your funds doesn’t go increased than $350.
You’re giving it to a baby as a part of Family Setup.
You don’t care about blood-oxygen or ECG readings.
You’re content material to put on a clean display screen in your wrist for many of the day.
There’s no denying that the Apple Watch SE is likely one of the finest smartwatches round. Even a compromised Apple Watch remains to be higher than the lion’s share of wearables from Samsung, Fitbit, and Fossil—however in all actuality, these watches aren’t competing towards the Apple Watch. With the Apple Watch SE, Apple’s primary competitors is itself. But in contrast to the iPhone SE, the Apple Watch SE will in all probability find yourself engaging folks to put money into an Apple Watch Series 6 as a substitute.
Update 9:25am ET: Added hyperlinks to the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 3.