Apple just announced the release of the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. These Apple Watches offer the latest in wearable device technology and Apple fans will now need to decide which of these new Apple Watches is best for them. Is it worth spending extra to get the Apple Watch Series 6 or will the Apple Watch SE do everything you need at a lower cost? What’s the difference between them, is it just gimmicky stuff or are there must have features in the Series 6 that are missing from the Apple Watch SE? Lastly, why did Apple release a lower priced SE version anyway?
Prices for Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE
The price difference is shown in the below chart for both the US and Australia. In the US, the entry level price of the SE is $279 USD whereas you pay 43% more or $399 USD for the entry level Apple Watch Series 6.
Another thing to note here is you can get a top of the line 44mm GPS + Cellular Apple Watch SE for $359 USD which is less than the entry level 40mm Series 6 at $399 USD.
|US Prices (USD)|
|Screen||Type||SE||Series 6||Extra Cost of S6|
|40mm||GPS + Cellular||329||499||170|
|44mm||GPS + Cellular||359||529||170|
|Australian Prices (AUD)|
|Screen||Type||SE||Series 6||Extra Cost of S6|
|40mm||GPS + Cellular||499||749||250|
|44mm||GPS + Cellular||549||799||250|
So, if you decide to shell out the extra cash for the Apple Watch Series 6, what do those extra dollars get you? Let’s have a look at each extra feature in order of likely impact on your overall Apple Watch experience.
Battery Life and Battery Charge Time
While the battery life for both versions is the same at 18 hours, an important difference is battery charging time. The Apple Watch Series 6 offers ‘fast charge’ getting the watch back up to 80% charge in just 1 hour. By comparison Apple Watch SE takes 1.5 hours to get back to 80% charge. When you awake each morning, if you forgot to charge your watch the previous night or if you wore it to bed then you may be due for a charge. Most people getting ready for the day might be able to manage an hour for charging but squeezing in 1.5 hours before dashing off is going to be a stretch for a lot of people. The Series 6 wins hands down here. If you find you’re rushing out in the mornings, fast charge on the Series 6 may mean the difference of getting to the end of the day or not.
|Apple Watch Battery Life and Charging Times|
|Battery Life||Charge to 80%||Charge to 100%|
|SE||18 Hours||1 hour||1.5 hours|
|Series 6||18 Hours||1.5 hours||2.5 hours|
Always On Retina Display
One of the most well received features of the Apple Watch Series 5 was the Always On Retina Display. When the Series 5 was released, a lot of people commented on the convenience of not having to ‘wake’ the watch to see the time. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch SE does not come with Always On display, only the Series 6 does. If Always on Display is important to you then you will need the Series 6.
Health Monitoring Features
The Series 6 introduces a blood oxygen level sensor which is not included in the Apple Watch SE. This sensor paired with a special Blood Oxygen app may be useful in helping to detect sleep apnoea and other conditions.
Another feature difference is the heart sensors. While both watches will tell you your heart rate via their inbuilt optical heart rate sensor, only the Series 6 also has an electrical heart sensor allowing ECG/EKG graphs to be produced via the ECG app.
The Series 6 comes with Apple’s latest S6 ‘System on Chip’ whereas the SE still uses the Series 5 S5 processor. Apple states that the improvement in processing speed is up to 20% on the Series 6. As a result, apps launch up to 20% faster on the Series 6. While this sounds impressive, the Series 5 chip which the SE uses was already very responsive and so the impact of this upgrade is not likely to be great.
Ultra-wideband U1 Chip
For the first time on an Apple Watch the Series 6 includes support for ultra-wideband radio technology. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch SE does not offer Ultra-wideband support. Ultra-wideband is only just starting to appear on high end phones such as the Apple iPhone 11 and now on the Apple Watch.
This is a great piece of technology. An UWB-enabled device can be used just like a key fob to unlock a car or enable entrance to a building. It can also be used to determine exactly where another U1 device is. So, as long as it’s nearby you can use your iPhone 11 to find your Apple Watch Series 6 and vice versa.
802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz is standard on both versions of the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Series 6 also adds support for 802.11b/g/n 5.0GHz. Most people will have a router capable of communicating using either or both frequencies but with the Series 6 at least now you are not restricted to 2.4GHz.
The Apple Watch SE comes in Aluminium Silver, Space Grey or Gold. The Series 6 has these plus seven more variants including Aluminium red, blue and Stainless Steel and Titanium options.
Why Did Apple release an Apple Watch SE?
The time of smart watches is well and truly here and Apple is trying to broaden the market reach of the Apple Watch. For that to happen it needs to offer affordable options so it can capture as much of the market as possible. The Apple Watch SE and continued sales of the older Apple Watch Series 3 achieve this. As the Apple Watch works best when paired with an iPhone, people who buy an Apple Watch are more likely to also then buy an iPhone and so on with other Apple products. The synergies for consumers and the profitability of Apple products increases. But to get the ball rolling they first need to sell you at least one Apple product. By making the Apple Watch more affordable, the chances of doing this have greatly increased.
Looking ahead, I’d expect Apple will discontinue the Series 3 next year and retain the SE at a lower price. The model name ‘SE’ won’t date as quickly allowing for a potentially longer selling life of a lower cost model. See here for a feature list of all three models.
The Series 6 is up to 51% more expensive than the Apple Watch SE. For the extra cash you get fast charge, always on display, additional health monitoring features, a better processor and the chance to unlock your door or car with your watch. In this case, the extra cost brings with it a commensurate increase in value making the Series 6 a worthy choice for anyone wanting to get the most out of their Apple Watch.