Apple Watch SE Assessment: The One To Go For

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Revealed alongside the Apple Watch Sequence 6 at Apple’s Time Flies occasion in September 2020, the Apple Watch SE could possibly be the brand new favorite amongst iPhone customers. It presents most of the key options of the Apple Watch with out the premium price ticket of the flagship, though it’s not the proper improve for all Apple Watch customers.

Nonetheless, for these tempted by the Apple Watch on the whole, the Apple Watch SE could possibly be the one to go for.

Design and options: Key options of the Apple Watch assortment, mixed

The Apple Watch SE isn’t an entire redesign of the smartwatch – in reality, in some ways, it’s an identical to the premium Apple Watch Sequence 6. With seven generations of Apple Watch coming and going, you’ll both love or hate the design of Apple’s smartwatch at this level. I’m an enormous fan personally, providing a modern, compact, extremely customisable on-wrist expertise that’s largely unmatched by the competitors, however there can be these craving for a extra conventional round form. It’s all down to non-public choice.  

Importantly, Apple didn’t base the design of the Apple Watch SE on the older, boxier design of the Sequence 3 – which remains to be on sale at £199/$199 – as an alternative choosing the improved design launched within the Sequence 4. It’s an all-round enchancment, instantly noticeable due to the bigger shows and smaller bezels in comparison with the sooner iteration, and just like the premium choice, the Apple Watch SE is offered in two sizes – 40mm and 44mm.

You’ll discover Apple’s signature Digital Crown and aspect buttons mounted to the best of the show. It’s the Digital Crown that stands out most, providing each a free-scroll mode and a extra conventional mode with haptic suggestions to simulate the mechanical click on of a wristwatch, and it’s pulled off flawlessly. It’s one thing that rivals have tried to duplicate, however no one has perfected it like Apple.  

Contained in the Apple Watch SE, you’ll discover the S5 chipset first launched within the Apple Watch Sequence 5. It’s not fairly as snappy because the S6 chip discovered within the Sequence 6, but it surely presents double the efficiency of the S3 chipset within the Sequence 3. It’s noticeable in efficiency, with a usually snappier expertise navigating the watch interface and interacting with apps, and there’s no actual lag both.

There’s additionally an elevated 32GB of inside storage on provide, permitting you to retailer images and your favorite tunes for standalone use – so long as you subscribe to Apple Music, anyway.

There are just a few variations in design in comparison with the Sequence 6 although; for starters, the Apple Watch SE is simply obtainable in an aluminium end, with no chrome steel or titanium choices on provide, and it’s restricted to the gold, house gray and silver color choices. If you need the brand new vibrant Product (RED) or blue color choices, you’ll should go for the premium Sequence 6.

The largest distinction in design, although, is the show. Whereas the Apple Watch SE sports activities the identical common look because the high-end Watch, it lacks one essential function: the always-on show. First launched within the Sequence 5 and improved within the Sequence 6, it permits Apple Watch customers to look on the smartwatch with out having to lift their wrist to activate the show.

It does really feel slightly bit odd to go away out a function current on rivals just like the Fitbit Versa Three that value lower than Apple’s choice, however Apple does should hold a handful of options unique to the high-end mannequin.

It’ll be exhausting to maneuver from an Apple Watch with an always-on show to 1 with out the tech, however arguably, that gained’t be one thing many individuals expertise. Apple positioned the Apple Watch SE as an entry-level machine for these new to the Apple Watch expertise, or these upgrading from the Sequence Three or older. There’s definitely not sufficient right here to tempt even Sequence Four homeowners, not to mention Sequence 5.

The excellent news is that Apple’s wrist-raise detection is near-flawless, turning on with even the slightest gesture. That’s a stark distinction in comparison with rivals just like the Nubia Watch the place you actually should exaggerate your actions to wake the show. It’s not fairly an always-on show, however it’s a battery-friendly various that you simply’ll possible not discover. And the truth that you gained’t discover means it’s doing its job very properly.

You would possibly assume that not having an always-on show will increase the battery lifetime of the Apple Watch SE in comparison with its always-on counterpart, however you’d be incorrect. You’ll get the identical quoted 18-hour battery life as nearly each different Apple Watch within the assortment, however I’ve discovered that I can squeeze that to round two days of use if I’m not monitoring train or utilizing apps excessively.

When it does come to time to cost, the magnetic charger snaps into place and tops the Apple Watch as much as full in little over 90 minutes, an enchancment on the two.5hrs of the Apple Watch Sequence 3. It might take some getting used to in case you’re used to the likes of the Huawei Watch Match and its 10-day battery life, however you’ll quickly get right into a routine, very similar to charging your iPhone each day.

Well being and health monitoring: Versatile, however not probably the most succesful

Apple has by no means really pitched the Apple Watch as a rival to professional-level fitness-focused smartwatches from the likes of Garmin, however that hasn’t stopped the corporate from providing a set of well being and health options to help the typical joe in main a more healthy life-style.

It begins off at a primary degree, providing all-day monitoring that’ll monitor not solely your energy burned, however your train minutes and hours the place you’ve stood up for at the very least a minute. These are displayed in enjoyable vibrant circles that may be positioned immediately on most watchfaces, and you’ll sync up with your mates for a little bit of pleasant competitors. No better motivation to get transferring than seeing your greatest mate beating you, proper?

Nonetheless, you may take issues up a notch with exercise-specific monitoring. The Apple Watch SE is wise sufficient to note once you’re working or biking and can ask you if you wish to begin monitoring, however for people who like to ensure it’s monitoring the right exercise, you may manually browse from a rising checklist of workouts – starting from out of doors working to HIIT and swimming – and show key monitoring metrics on-screen.

The great thing about the Apple Watch is its simplicity, and that extends to train monitoring too. It’ll solely provide the core information on the watch itself, and though that depends upon the train you’re doing, you’ll get stats like total time, energy burned and within the case of working, your common time per mile. A swipe to the left reveals easy accessibility to media controls, and a swipe to the best lets you pause or finish the exercise.

The Apple Watch SE options built-in GPS, that means you may go away your iPhone at dwelling and exit for a run and never fear about whether or not your information is correct. It’s additional improved by non-compulsory 4G connectivity, permitting you to make and obtain calls and textual content in addition to stream music from Apple Music and use watchOS apps when your iPhone isn’t close by.

The Apple Watch could not show many metrics throughout a exercise, however that doesn’t imply it’s not monitoring nearly the whole lot you do. To entry a extra detailed breakdown of your latest exercises, you’ll should dive into the Health companion app for iPhone. From there you’ll get entry to graphs showcasing your coronary heart charge, GPS heatmaps (for out of doors actions) and metrics like VO2Max and elevation.

Admittedly, it’s not as detailed as what you’ll get from devoted working or mountaineering smartwatches, but it surely’s the flexibility of the Apple Watch SE that impresses most. Regardless of the kind of train you undertake, there’s possible a monitoring mode that’ll be useful to you.

A part of the rationale that it isn’t fairly as detailed as rivals is the shortage of not solely the ECG first launched within the Apple Watch Sequence 4, but additionally the shortage of bloody oxygen monitoring current on the Apple Watch Sequence 6. The previous permits for extra exact coronary heart charge monitoring and the flexibility to detect indicators of atrial fibrillation whereas the latter exhibits how properly saturated your blood is with oxygen.

It’ll be down to non-public choice whether or not these options are necessary sufficient to you to benefit the £110/$120 improve to the Sequence 6. As with the always-on show, I anticipate this can be a determination to assist differentiate the SE and the Sequence 6, however it’s a little disappointing contemplating the equally priced Fitbit Sense presents each blood oxygen monitoring and ECG performance.

One function that did make the lower, nevertheless, is Fall Detection. Just like the ECG monitor, Fall Detection was a function first launched within the Apple Watch Sequence 4, and it’s arguably among the finest security options of any mainstream smartwatch proper now, so it’s nice to see it obtainable on the SE.

For those who take a tumble, the sensors constructed into the SE can detect this and examine that you simply’re okay. You possibly can faucet the on-screen notification to let the watch know that you simply’re properly, or alternatively, you will get the watch to name the emergency companies. The watch will start to bleep and vibrate with a rising depth in case you don’t reply earlier than lastly calling the emergency companies in your behalf. For those who’ve acquired a mobile mannequin it’ll name immediately (even in case you don’t have a plan arrange) and in case you’ve acquired an ordinary mannequin, it’ll use your iPhone to attach.

It’s a life-saving function that Apple likes to deal with in its Watch keynotes, and can little doubt present nice peace of thoughts not just for people who go on runs and hikes, however these considering of getting the Apple Watch SE for an older relative.

Software program: watchOS is smoother than ever

Whereas the Apple Watch {hardware} is nice, it’s watchOS that really contributes to its reputation. Merely put, watchOS is probably the most full smartwatch working system available on the market proper now, providing an unmatched degree of polish and performance for iPhone customers. You’ve acquired loads of third-party apps on provide, every with their very own issues for watch faces, alongside full notification assist and fast entry to Siri, just by elevating your wrist.

The Apple Watch doesn’t have as many watchfaces as some opponents, it’s true, however these which are obtainable are extremely customisable and of an Apple customary. There are many choices on provide, from conventional watchfaces to these powered by Siri, and my private favorite, a watchface that blazes with fireplace each time the show is turned on (enjoyable truth – that was a real-life shot filmed by Apple). Each single watchface is customisable, be it the colors of the dials to the issues displayed, permitting you to get fast entry to the data you want with out having to open any third-party apps.

You see, whereas the Watch has a big library of standalone apps, most individuals most likely gained’t use all of them that always – I definitely don’t. It’s all in regards to the issues that these third-party apps deliver for me, and it’s an space the place the Apple Watch definitely doesn’t disappoint.

Notification assist is one other space the place the Apple Watch stands out. Whereas getting notifications in your smartwatch isn’t a function particular to Apple’s watch, the flexibility to react to these notifications with out reaching on your smartphone is. The deep integration with iOS lets you carry out actions like shortly dismiss or reply to textual content messages, and relying on third-party app assist, you may carry out fast actions like liking a tweet you’ve been talked about in on Twitter.

Because of a built-in speaker and microphone, you’ve even acquired the choice of taking incoming calls through the Apple Watch SE immediately. It’s not as loud because the loudspeaker in your iPhone, and isn’t splendid for longer conversations, but it surely’s a really useful function for fast calls. Prime tip: you may really use the tip of your nostril to faucet the Apple Watch show, good for answering calls when your palms are full. You would possibly get odd seems, however hey, it really works!

And, after all, you’ve acquired easy accessibility to Siri, Apple’s digital assistant.

The first technique to work together with Siri is to lift the watch and say Hey Siri, however you’ve additionally acquired the choice of pushing and holding the digital crown and easily elevating your wrist and talking immediately into the watch from shut proximity. When doing the latter there’s no must wake Siri beforehand, and has turn into my go-to technique to set timers, alarms and different capabilities utilizing the digital assistant.

One of many new options launched in watchOS 7 is sleep monitoring, a much-requested function from Apple Watch followers, however contemplating the suite of sensors aboard not solely the Apple Watch SE however Sequence 6, it’s surprisingly primary. It tracks your complete time in mattress, solely indicating durations once you’re awake and asleep, with no info on total sleep high quality, sleep cycle monitoring and different elements that contribute to simply how well-rested you’re feeling once you get up.

Extra useful is the brand new Wind Down mode, a function obtainable on iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7 that locks the show and silences incoming notifications simply earlier than your set bedtime, encouraging time away from digital units earlier than you hit the hay. Within the case of the Apple Watch, it’ll gently wake you up the subsequent morning too.

You see, Apple is extra centered on making a wholesome bedtime routine than offering the in-depth sleep monitoring metrics obtainable on most different health trackers, as a wholesome sleep routine is integral to a wholesome life-style. I get it, but it surely’s only a bit odd that the corporate didn’t, y’know, deal with each on the similar time. I’m a sucker for sleep monitoring metrics, and the present sleep monitoring simply doesn’t scratch that itch for me.

Nonetheless, there’s all the time watchOS eight to look ahead to in 2021, proper?

Pricing and availability

Regardless of being the best entry-level mannequin within the Apple Watch assortment, Apple determined to maintain the ageing Apple Watch Sequence Three on sale and provide the SE as a mid-range choice between the Sequence Three and Sequence 6. As such, you may choose up the Apple Watch SE for £269/$279 for the 40mm variant and £299/$309 for the 44mm variant, with mobile connectivity costing a further £50/$50.

That’s £70/$80 greater than the Apple Watch Sequence 3, and contemplating not solely the dated design however the ageing S3 chipset on provide from the entry-level mannequin, we’d advocate spending the additional on the Apple Watch SE. Issues are slightly extra sophisticated relating to the Apple Watch Sequence 6 nevertheless – it’s all the way down to you whether or not the premium options just like the always-on show, ECG monitor and SpO2 monitor are value the additional £110/$120.

It’s costly in comparison with the competitors, but it surely does provide an unparalleled expertise for iPhone customers. It simply depends upon what issues extra – the general expertise or the capabilities of the health monitoring. If it’s the latter, I’d recommend looking at our roundup of one of the best health trackers for a less expensive various.  

In case you are tempted by the Apple Watch SE, you should buy it immediately from Apple alongside third-party retailers like John Lewis and Amazon.


For those who’re new to the Apple Watch ecosystem, the Apple Watch SE is the proper choice. It’s extra budget-friendly than the premium Apple Watch Sequence 6, and whereas it doesn’t provide headline options just like the always-on show, ECG or SpO2 displays, it does provide the core Apple Watch expertise. Importantly, it’s an unlimited enchancment on the entry-level Sequence 3, each by way of design and efficiency, and properly value the additional £70/80.

You’ve acquired entry to the up to date Apple Watch design, first launched with the Apple Watch Sequence 4, full with bigger shows with thinner bezels, alongside key options like Fall Detection, superior health monitoring with built-in GPS, a raft of customisable watchfaces and the flexibility to make and obtain calls, texts and extra.

The Apple Watch SE is the one I’d advocate to the overwhelming majority of iPhone customers, except there’s a particular cause for needing the built-in ECG or blood oxygen monitoring.

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