Apple Watch SE Overview Updated October 31, 2021

Apple Watch SE

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Six 'Apple Watch SE' stories

September 2020 - September 2021

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE combines the power of the Apple Watch Series 6 with features from Series 5 and Series 4. With a lower price than the current generation of Apple’s smartwatch, the SE can also be a great option for kids or older family members without an iPhone.

History

The Apple Watch was first introduced in 2015 and quickly became the best-selling wearable device of the year, reportedly selling 4.2 million units in Q2 2015. When the company introduced the Apple Watch Series 2 later in 2016, Apple labeled the original Apple Watch as “Series 0” while bringing an updated chip with “Series 1” and a brand new “Series 2” Watch.

It was only in 2020 that Apple introduced a different brand for the Apple Watch with the Apple Watch SE, combining the Series 6 processor, the Series 4 design, and some Series 5 features. According to Apple:

“This Watch combines elements of the Series 6 design with the most essential features of Apple Watch, all at a more affordable price,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, in the September of 2020 keynote.

In 2021, Apple discontinued the Apple Watch Series 6 while maintaining Series 3 available as well as the Apple Watch SE, and the new Apple Watch Series 7.

Apple Watch SE Specs and Features

The Apple Watch SE is available in Aluminum with 40mm or 44mm cases in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. The Retina display is 30% larger than Series 3, so you can see more and use all the latest watch faces and complications. This Apple Watch features:

  • The second-generation optical heart sensor
  • Dual-core S5 chip, twice as faster than the S3 processor
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback
  • Compass
  • Always-On Altimeter
  • The second-generation speaker and mic.

Apple Watch SE can withstand up to 50m of water and notifies about high and low heart rate and irregular heart rhythm. With International emergency calling and fall detection, the Apple Watch can also help in times of emergency.

You can choose between the GPS model or the GPS + Cellular. Both versions have an “all-day battery” of up to 18 hours.

With watchOS 7, users can take advantage of powerful new features, including Family Setup, which allows kids or older family members without an iPhone to enjoy Apple Watch. There’s also sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and new workouts. With watchOS 7.4, it’s possible to unlock your iPhone with the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch SE for children and older people

When Apple announced the Apple Watch SE, one of its focuses was on children and older people. With watchOS 7, users can finally set multiple Watches on their iPhone but let other people use with the Family Share feature.

With Family Setup, you can use your iPhone to pair watches for your children or older adults who don’t have their own iPhone. So everyone can stay in touch by phone, text message, or Walkie-Talkie. They also can do things like play music, find apps, and close their Activity rings. It’s more independence for your kids and parents, and you have the comfort of knowing they’re just a call away.

The company says that, for older people, the Fall Detection feature is a must, while giving children redesigned activity rings, focusing on movement rather than calories burned.

With its $279 price tag, Apple says it’s best to use an Apple Watch to track and find family members rather than using the AirTag to find people, which the company strongly discourages.

watchOS 7

The Apple Watch SE runs the watchOS 7.5. With watchOS 7, Apple introduced new features to the Watch, for example:

  • Family Setup: you can pair watches for children and older family members to your iPhone
  • New Watch Faces: there’s a new Memoji Watch Face and more
  • Face Sharing: share faces you created by texting, emailing, or posting a link online
  • Sleep app: when you go to bed, the Watch automatically turns on Do Not Disturb and keeps your screen from waking
  • Fitness: with more workouts added

watchOS 7.4

With watchOS 7.4, Apple introduced the iPhone mask unlock feature for Apple Watch and Brough support for the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications to Australia and Vietnam.

watchOS 7.5

Now, with watchOS 7.5, the company brought other additions to the Apple Watch SE:

  • Access to subscription content in the Podcasts app
  • Apple Card allows members to track expenses, manage spending, and build credit together with a Family Sharing group
  • Support for the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in Malaysia and Peru
  • Support for irregular heart rhythm notifications in Malaysia and Peru

watchOS 7.6

watchOS 7.6 is probably the last big update from the watchOS 7 cycle. Here are all the new features:

  • Bug Fixes;
  • Enables the ECG app in 30 additional regions;
  • Enable irregular heart rate notification in 30 additional regions.

Find all the new places that now have these two functions available here.

watchOS 8

During the WWDC21 keynote in June, Apple previewed watchOS 8, the current Apple Watch operating system. Here’s what’s new:

  • New version of the Breathe app, now called Mindfulness
  • New icon for the Weather app
  • Respiratory rate is now measured during sleep tracking
  • Photo watch faces can now include depth using portrait mode photos 
  • Photos app overhauled with featured highlights and memories
  • Photos can now be shared from the watch with Messages and Mail
  • Scribble now lets you include emoji in handwritten messages
  • App shelf in iMessage includes image search and quick access to photos
  • “Find My” now includes items (including AirTags)
  • Weather includes next hour precipitation 
  • Apple Watch can do multiple timers for the first time.

Learn more about watchOS 8 here.

watchOS 8.1 features

One month after releasing watchOS 8, Apple made available watchOS 8.1. Unfortunately, this update doesn’t bring a lot to the Apple Watch.

  • COVID-19 vaccination card support that allows you to present verifiable vaccination information form Apple Wallet;
  • Fitness+ supports SharePlay to allow subscribers to invite up to 32 people to workout together through a FaceTime call;
  • Always On may not display the time accurately for some users when their wrist is down.

Apple is currently testing watchOS 8.3 – and, weirdly, not watchOS 8.2.

Pricing

The Apple Watch SE pricing starts at $279 on the 40mm model with GPS only and a Solo Loop band. The prices can go up to $359 with the 44mm version with GPS+ Cellular. In fact, the Apple Watch can be a lot pricier depending on your band’s choice.

  • 40mm with GPS: $279
  • 40mm with GPS + Cellular: $329
  • 44mm with GPS: $309
  • 44mm with GPS + Cellular: $359

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

Apple Watch SE Review

apple watch SE

In our review, the Apple Watch SE is a great option if you’re coming from an Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, or Series 3:

If you’re coming from an Apple Watch Series 3 or below it’s a simple choice: upgrade. You’ll get a much, much faster watch, a larger case with a larger display, better speakers and microphone, and so much more. Plus you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the great new enhancements that watchOS 7 and future upgrades of watchOS bring to the table. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer decision to upgrade to either an SE or Series 6 if you’re coming from an Apple Watch Series 1, 2, or 3.

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the Apple Watch SE and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Apple Watch SE Stories September 16

One of the few new features of the Apple Watch Series 7 is support for fast charging, which results in 33% faster charging time when compared to the Apple Watch Series 6. However, Apple says that fast charging requires a new USB-C cable (which now comes bundled in the box), but MagSafe Duo owners may not be able to take advantage of this feature.

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Apple Watch SE Stories December 3, 2020

For the first time ever, Apple has a new mid-range Apple Watch for potential buyers to consider this holiday season. The Apple Watch SE sits between the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 6 in Apple’s lineup, and it provides an interesting hybrid of features. Here’s how the differences between the Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Apple Watch SE stack up.

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Apple Watch SE Stories November 24, 2020

The Apple Watch is bound to be a popular gift this holiday season, and we’re already seeing notable deals on the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE as we approach Black Friday. If you’re trying to make a decision on which model to buy, head below for more details on the Apple Watch Series 6 vs the Apple Watch SE.

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Apple Watch SE Stories September 17, 2020

In addition to the Apple Watch Series 6, the first reviews of the Apple Watch SE area also now available. The Apple Watch SE comes in at $279, sitting between the Apple Watch Series 3 and the Apple Watch Series 6. Early reviews praise the new device and the value it provides for most buyers.

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Apple Watch SE Stories September 16, 2020

Some might argue that the most notable aspect of yesterday’s Apple event was the fact that the company didn’t announce the iPhone 12, or even make any reference to the new phones it will launch next month.

That, however, wasn’t a surprise: all the signs had pointed to that. Instead, what we got was a pretty solid event. What it lacked in excitement (except for developers), it made up for in good news for consumers …

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