The Apple Watch SE offers plenty of health-tracking features and benefits at an affordable price — but how does it compare to the more capable Apple Watch Series 5? When it launched in September 2019, the Apple Watch Series 5 brought a lot of exciting upgrades to the table. It introduced an always-on display, a new Compass app, and emergency calling for cellular variants. In short, it was one of the most capable smartwatches of its time. The Apple Watch SE, in comparison, is positioned as an affordable smartwatch — and it’s since become one of the most appealing options in the Apple Watch lineup.
According to Apple, the Watch SE comes with some of the latest motion sensors — including the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and altimeter as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7. Despite being the budget smartwatch alternative, it also benefits from oodles of performance upgrades offered through the watchOS 9 operating system. This includes customisable watch faces, an updated Workout app, new running metrics, enhanced sleep tracking, a new Medications app, and much more.
Apple Watch SE Or Apple Watch Series 5?
Apple’s budget smartwatch offers a lot, but not without skimping on certain essential health-monitoring technology. Unlike the Series 5, the Watch SE doesn’t have any ECG sensor whatsoever. It also lacks the always-on Retina display of the Series 5. Furthermore, the aluminum-only case finish means that the Watch SE omits the Series 5’s varied case material options (including stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic).
Despite those shortcomings, one big advantage of the Apple Watch SE is its S5 chipset. This is the exact same chip powering the Apple Watch Series 5. In other words, both smartwatches have virtually identical performance and battery life — a huge testament to the Watch SE’s competitive value.
So, what’s the best choice between the two? For most people, the Apple Watch SE is likely the better smartwatch. It has all the core Apple Watch features, but if you need features like ECG or the always-on display, it’s probably worth skipping the Series 5 altogether and just buying the Apple Watch Series 8. Not only does it have all the benefits of the Series 5, but it also touts features like a SpO2 sensor, improved performance, a larger display, and faster charging — all starting at $399.
The Apple Watch SE 2 Is A Better Upgrade
Since Apple has discontinued both the original Watch SE and the Watch Series 5, the Apple Watch SE 2 launched in 2022 is a far better option. The new affordable Apple Watch features the S8 chip that also powers the more expensive Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. According to Apple, this makes it 20 percent faster than the original Watch SE.
Additionally, the new smartwatch features Crash Detection, which can detect when the wearer has been in a car crash and alert emergency services. As for the design features, the Watch SE 2 gets a new back case made of a nylon composite material that Apple says is lighter. It also gets a redesigned Compass app and Low Power Mode thanks to watchOS 9. With a starting price of $249, the Watch SE 2 is both affordable and a big upgrade over the older Apple Watch Series 5.
More: Apple Watch Ultra Vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Which Is Right For You?