Last week, Apple launched the new Apple Watch Series 6 and a new lower cost option with the Apple Watch SE. Both were made available on Friday 18th with the Series 6 starting at £379/$399 and the SE at £269/$279, but deciding between may be a bit confusing as they both look identical, apart from some minor differences on the back related to the heart sensors.
First of all we’ll discuss what Apple changed between the Series 5 from last year and the Series 6 from this year as the Series 6 is the direct successor to the Series 5.
Apple has remained with the same design as the Series 4 and 5 with the always on display, which with the Series 6 is 2.5x brighter than the Series 5. The Series 6 also has a new S6 SoC which is, according to Apple – 20% faster at launching apps than the S5 in the Series 5. Also new is the blood oxygen sensor which uses light to reflect into your wrist and determine how much oxygen your blood cells have. Apple has also added the U1 chip, always on altimeter, 5GHz WiFi support and a whole range of new colours, which are only on the Series 6.
With the Apple Watch SE, Apple has built a less expensive model which is like a hybrid between the Series 5 and Series 6. The SE looks identical to the Series 6 but lacks a few features. The SE has the S5 SoC from the Series 5, it lacks ECG, the always on display, U1 chip, 5GHz WiFi support and the blood oxygen sensor.
What model do I get?
If the benefits of the new features of the Series 6 don’t concern you and you are on a tight budget, then the SE is a good first Apple Watch to get, but if someone is coming from a Series 4 or Series 5 then it might feel like a bit of a downgrade in some aspects. If someone is looking to go from Series 4 to SE, you’ll lose out on ECG and the jump from the S4 to the S5 SoC doesn’t provide anything but the addition of the Compass as the speed of the chip remained unchanged.
Also good to think about is the new Family Setup for the Apple Watch, that requires and Series 4 or later so if you are buying this for your child, then the price difference might the thing that sways that decision. And the Series 3 is still in the lineup at that £199 price point, but that is a three year old device at this stage and while it has some good features, for a first Apple Watch the SE is looking like the better option.