"The Apple Watch SE foregoes some of the more noticeable features of the Series 6, but retains almost all important functions with the same design at a lower price."

  • Stylistic look

  • Very customizable

  • Comprehensive health surveillance

  • Responsive, fluid performance

  • Reliable, user-friendly software

How exactly do you make the Apple Watch better? It's already a feature-rich, well-made, easy-to-use wearable to buy as a smartwatch if you have an iPhone. The answer is, they're making it cheaper, and that's exactly what Apple did with the Apple Watch SE. A price cut comes with a reduction in functionality, of course, but how much does this affect the SE and should it put you off?

The answer is no, it definitely shouldn't put you off. In fact, it will be the Apple Watch model that is slated to be purchased this year.


The Apple Watch SE looks exactly like the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6. It has a 1.78-inch retina screen under Ion-X reinforced glass with a density of 326 pixels per inch. The digital crown is on the side with a single button underneath. The aluminum housing is available in sizes 44 mm (shown in our photos) or 40 mm and can be made in silver, space gray or gold. If you like the look of the Series 5 or 6, you will like the SE.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I picked a gold version that is paired with the Charcoal Sport Loop band and as you'd expect everything is beautifully done and presented, right down to the packaging that it arrives in. The SE is only available in aluminum with the posher. more expensive and slightly more durable surfaces made of titanium and stainless steel, which are reserved for the 6 series. The gold is less on your face than the renders on Apple's website suggest, and it's a more brassy tone than I expected. It works very well with the blue and gray accents of the carbon ribbon. Since the screen is usually black, the overall picture is more noble than the silver model and more interesting than the room gray version.

The screen is often black because the SE doesn't have the always-on screen feature of the Series 5 and 6 and only shows the time you raise your wrist or tap the screen. If the last Apple Watch you used was Series 3 or 4, this is nothing new. After using the Series 5 last year, I miss it on the SE, but the wake up gesture is so accurate and immediate that figuring out what time it is is never difficult.

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The 44 mm Apple Watch SE is light at 36 grams and the Sport Loop bracelet adds practically nothing to it, so it is comfortable to wear not only during the day but also at night. The SE supports WatchOS 7's sleep tracking feature, so if you want to wear it while you sleep, this is a good combination. Replacing the belts only takes a few moments. So if you need a metal band during the day and want to keep the sports loop or other band for the night, you can do it without a fuss.

Learn about the square shape of the Apple Watch. When you put on the Apple Watch SE or an Apple Watch, you will immediately notice how little it affects clothing and movement. The digital crown is never in your wrist, and the tabs on the strap have only a slight overhang so they don't get caught on the sleeve of your shirt. The lack of sharp or sharp edges combined with the smooth ceramic and sapphire caseback means you will never feel it on your wrist regardless of your movement. Round smartwatches that mimic traditional watch designs are rarely as convenient.

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The shape of the Apple Watch may be controversial to some, but it makes a great smartwatch that can be worn all the time. It's by far the least intrusive watch-like wearable out there, and that wearing and forgetting is essential if you want to get the most of it. You will often forget that you are wearing the Apple Watch until a haptic tip reminds you.

Wash your damn hands

While it's technically a WatchOS 7 feature, the automatic hand wash timer is one of the many health and fitness monitoring features on the Apple Watch SE and excellent. The Apple Watch SE is a product of its time. She listens to the tone and waits for the movement in which you wash your hands. She then starts a 20-second timer to make sure you are doing the recommended exertion. It's shockingly effective.

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The timer credits you with the time already spent washing and shows a soap countdown before a haptic tip lets you know you're done. It never failed to tell when I was washing. In contrast to the manual hand wash timer from Wear OS, which you have to start yourself, this function is completely input-free. The Apple Health app even has a dedicated section for hand washing data. It's a dream feature for 2020 clean freaks.

Sleep and fitness tracking

Sleep Tracking is another new feature of WatchOS 7. With the right band, Apple Watch SE is comfortable enough to wear while you sleep and automatically detects when you go to sleep. You can also set up a sleep schedule with Wind Down, which will prepare the phone for the night. It will still add helpful shortcuts to the lock screen, such as: B. access to the timer, the alarm or the music. This will reduce the distraction while the watch only shows the time and your alarm until it gets dark while you sleep.

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The sleep data shown is not very comprehensive. It lists your bedtime and calculates averages, but does not provide detailed sleep phase metrics. Sleep Tracking is a nice addition to Apple Health and helps to create an overall picture of your lifestyle. However, it does not provide a thorough analysis of sleep patterns. It's intended for occasional use only, and while the impact on the battery is relatively minor, the time between charges increases, which can prove to be more useful.

Workout tracking is excellent. The workout can be started on the watch and there are a variety of specific activities to choose from. Data is collected in the Apple Health app and displayed along with daily activity data. Apple Health doesn't go into the details and instead simplifies goals using the activity ring system. The idea is to close every ring – goals based on exercise (represented as burning calories), exercise, and standing – each day, which is easy to understand and motivating.

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The Apple Watch SE is not for marathon runners, hardcore cyclists or anyone else fixated on their VO2 Max. It provides a comprehensive view of daily activities and overall health without getting too nerdy. It shows you if you are burning fewer calories than usual, if you are exercising more than the week before, and how far you need to go to reach a daily goal.

You won't get electrocardiogram (EKG) or blood oxygen (SpO2) monitors on Apple Watch SE, but there is a heart rate sensor on the back that detects irregular rhythms, as well as fall detection and noise monitoring. Apple's mindfulness feature, Breathe, is there, and the watch can be set up to remind you to take a few moments each day to relax. It also reminds you to get up once an hour if you've been sitting for too long. It all adds up to a comprehensive, coherent and complementary package of functions that keep you up to date and motivate you.

All health monitoring functions on the Apple Watch SE work outside of the initial setup with very little input from you, while the data in the app is displayed attractively and clearly. Serious sports enthusiasts may not find the data in sufficient detail and may also benefit from the Series 6 SpO2 monitoring, but for everyone else, the Apple Watch SE is the wearable health monitor they need. Apple's new Fitness + program, which works in conjunction with your Apple Watch SE, will be rolled out later this year and has the potential to make it an even more rounded package.

Use the Apple Watch SE

The health and fitness features make up a large part of the watch's appeal, but what about everything else? Everything you do on the Apple Watch SE is incredibly polished, straightforward, and quick. It has the same dual-core processor as the Series 5, not the updated S6 Series 6 processor, but I didn't even wish the SE had any more power as the response is almost instantaneous, even when running data-intensive applications how to use cards or access to e-mail. The Digital Crown is a joy to use as the feel of it matches the rotation required to move it through the operating system. The button below activates the dock, which can be filled with current apps or a selection of favorites for quick access.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Notifications are handled professionally. Let's use a Twitter notification as an example. If there is an image in it, the watch will display it without waiting for it to appear. You get an extremely tactile haptic alert, you raise your wrist and the message is displayed almost instantly, where it can be viewed, liked and retweeted in its entirety from your wrist. It is great.

Now, take advantage of this experience with Apple's messaging, email, and many other apps, including Microsoft Teams. Usually you can do with most – such as B. Reply, mark, like or delete – interact quickly and easily without reaching for your phone. Then extend that speed and functionality to the vast majority of other installed or third-party apps that you might install yourself. If you choose the cellular model (for $ 50 more upfront plus monthly service charges), you can make and receive calls regardless of your phone. Even if you don't, you can still use the Apple's phone functionality to watch with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The voices are loud and clear and useful when your hands are full.

The watch supports Apple Pay, shows music controls when music is playing on my phone, there are plenty of fun and useful watch faces to choose from, and there is Siri too. You can even create Memoji on the Apple Watch. This process is incredibly quick and smooth given the multitude of choices and animations. This is a very good example of the great fluidity and performance of the Apple Watch SE no matter what you do.


The Apple Watch SE can be used for two days before charging. This will vary based on your use, but for me from 9 a.m., usually with an hour of tracking exercise, then overnight to track sleep, and by day two it was up to 18% less than 6 p.m.

Monitoring your sleep overnight has used up between 15 and 25% of the battery. This variant makes the second full day a hit-or-miss. If you don't bother with sleep tracking and instead charge or turn off the watch overnight, two days of use is no problem at all. Even with an hour of fitness tracking, the SE will last from early morning until after midnight with about 60% of the battery left.

Not that it matters. In order for a smartwatch with Google's Wear operating system to last two days, it takes special modes, a clever second screen, or very careful use. In other words, you can't really rely on it. The Apple Watch SE doesn't require any special attention, and that makes life a lot easier.

Price and availability

The 44mm Apple Watch SE is $ 309 while the 40mm model is $ 279, assuming you choose a Sport Loop, Solo Loop, or Sport Band strap (including the Nike models ). If you want the braided solo loop, pay $ 329 or $ 359 – or buy it later for $ 99. Add cellular connectivity to both models for $ 50 plus a monthly carrier fee.

In the UK, the 44mm Apple Watch SE is £ 299 or £ 349 with cellular connectivity and the 40mm model is £ 269 or £ 319 with cellular connectivity. Adding the solo braided loop increases the cost to £ 349 for the 44mm model and £ 319 for the 40mm model.

Apple Watch SE is available immediately through the online and retail stores of Apple, Amazon, and many other retailers.

Our opinion

The Apple Watch SE is almost flawless and Apple is once again showing everyone else how smartwatches are made. But what about the missing features – are they preventing it from being a must have? Keeping the display on all the time is the most unfortunate omission that can affect everyday use. Knowing that these are series 5 and 6, they are just a little more enticing. The EKG and SpO2 features are more specialized, and those who feel like they're using them regularly enough can justify the extra $ 120 to buy a Series 6. Anyone else won't miss it.

If you spend more on a stainless steel, ceramic, or Hermés Apple Watch, you only get boastful rights as they are all technically identical and the SE's performance is excellent on last year's processor. I have no hesitation in recommending the lower-cost, almost fully featured aluminum Apple Watch SE, but will have to wait until I've worn the Series 6 for a while to be sure if the SE is the Apple Watch bought this year shall be . However, at this point in time, it looks like it could be very good.

Is there a better alternative?

Not really. If you own an iPhone and are thinking about buying a smartwatch, then you should get the Apple Watch. However, what about the $ 399 / $ 429 Apple Watch Series 6? Several features are added – including the ECG, SpO2, and the always-on screen – but they are visually identical. The jump in price is significant if you're not expecting to use the advanced health features. You can also find a Series 5, which may be available at a slightly cheaper price than the Series 6, and enjoy the always-on screen and EKG.

Smartwatches that use Google WearOS, Samsung Tizen, and Huawei Health can connect to iPhone, but they don't offer the same level of integration with iOS, and you'll miss out on some features, including messaging support. Many cost about the same price as the Apple Watch SE, but the performance and features aren't that good.

The only other alternative you should seriously consider for your iPhone is the Withings ScanWatch for $ 299. It has all the health tracking features from the Series 6 including an EKG and SpO2 measurement, better sleep tracking and a very attractive design. There is less emphasis on the related elements like notifications, but they are there and work well enough.

How long it will take?

Smartwatches don't follow the same upgrade cycle as a smartphone, and the Apple Watch should easily last three or more years, provided it's handled well. For example, the aluminum body can be damaged if you are careless. However, the Apple Watch SE is waterproof up to 50 meters. The abundance of replacement belts also helps to extend the service life.

Your own needs will determine whether the additional health-related features of the Series 6 will become more useful in the near future. If you think it might, the increased spending on the Series 6 may prevent you from feeling like you need to update the SE early on. Software support should last at least three years. For example, WatchOS 7, the latest version, is compatible with Apple Watch Series 3 2017.

Should you buy it?

Yes, the Apple Watch SE has almost everything you would expect from a smartwatch.

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