Specs and features
Despite representing a compromise option, the SE has a surprisingly decent specs list. It has the larger 40mm/42mm screen sizes (with narrower bezels) brought in with the Series 4 and retained on even the latest models, and offers fall detection, sleep tracking, handwashing detection, Family Setup and other up-to-date features. It also has the same accelerometer, gyroscope and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, and the same Bluetooth 5.0 standard.
The processor is a slight compromise compared to the Series 6 – it’s the S5 from the Series 5 rather than the S6 – but in absolute terms that’s not a bad chip. Apple still says this will offer twice the speed of the Series 3, from which we suspect many buyers of this device will be upgrading. Apple says the Series 6 with its S6 chip is 20% faster than the SE.
What’s missing from the Apple Watch SE?
Aside from stepping down from the S6 to the S5, there are a few gaps in the SE’s features list.
Most obviously the SE misses out on the always-on display. This may be the biggest compromise for many potential customers, since it was the highlight of the Series 5 launch.
On the health front it doesn’t get the Blood Oxygen sensor and app introduced with the Series 6, nor does it get the ECG. You also miss out on the Ultra Wideband U1 chip, and Wi-Fi is only 2.4GHz, compared to 2.4GHz and 5GHz on the Series 6.
In most respects the SE strikes us as a well-equipped smartwatch.
Accessories and customisation
The Apple Watch SE is compatible with the new bands announced at Apple’s event tonight, including the new stretchy Solo Loop and braided Solo Loop. It’s available in three cases: gold aluminium, silver aluminium and Space Grey aluminium. There aren’t any more expensive case options, unsurprisingly – no stainless steel or ceramic.
The Apple Watch SE will come with watch OS7 preinstalled. It appears able to run all the new features in the OS update; It gets Fitness Plus, for instance, and Face Sharing, and is able to run the new watch faces.
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