Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Specs and Feature Comparison

Late last night, Apple concluded its Time Flies event, and announced a new 8th-gen iPad, and a 4th-gen iPad Air. However, the company also launched the new Apple Watch Series 6 — its flagship smartwatch for the coming year along with the Apple Watch SE which is supposed to be an affordable offering for customers. So, what is different between the Apple Watch Series 6, and the Apple Watch SE? And why the hell is the Series 3 still available? Let’s check it out.

We have discussed the differences between the Series 6 and the Watch SE on the following fronts:

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Design

As far as the design of both offerings are concerned, you won’t find many differences. That’s because the Watch SE has a big retina display, with thinner bezels and curved corners like the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 6. So basically, the watch looks and feels modern, and not as old as the Series 3 looks these days.

Obviously, with the new blood oxygen sensor in the Series 6, there is a design difference on the back of the Series 6 and the Watch SE.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Specs and Feature Comparison
The new sensor array on the back of the Series 6

Also different in terms of design (and honestly, build as well) is the construction material. The Watch Series 6 is a flagship smartwatch. That means you can get it in an aluminium case, a stainless steel case, and even in titanium. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE is only available in an aluminum case.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Sensors and Hardware

The biggest difference between the Series 6 and the SE is the hardware they pack. The flagship Series 6 comes with the latest Apple S6 SiP. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE comes with the S5 SiP from the Series 5. According to Apple, the S6 is 20% faster than the S5, so right out the gate, there will be a slight performance discrepancy between the two Apple Watches.

That said, I’m using the Apple Watch Series 5 with watchOS 7 beta right now, and it’s really fast. Obviously a 20% increase over that will be mind blowing in terms of speed, but it just goes to show that the S5 is completely capable and the Watch SE will not feel slow or sluggish by any means. Obviously, I haven’t used the Watch SE yet, so I can’t be certain about its performance, but based on my experience with the S5 SiP, I think the Watch SE will be just fine.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Specs and Feature Comparison
The Series 6 uses the new Apple S6 SiP

Apart from the SiP, both the watches feature the Apple W3 wireless chipset, however the Series 6 also brings in the U1 UWB chip that’s also present in the iPhone 11 series.

Then there are the sensors. As I mentioned in the previous section, the Watch SE doesn’t have the ability to measure blood oxygen levels. That’s exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 6 thanks to its new sensor.

However, there’s more, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t have ECG capabilities either. It does have an optical heart rate sensor, same as the Series 3, but that’s pretty much it for heart health on the Watch SE.

Other than that, both watches have an altimeter, next-gen speaker and mic, compass, and the option for GPS-only, or GPS+LTE connectivity.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Display

So the display on both these watches is pretty much the same, but there is one big difference.

So, both the Series 6 and the SE come with the same retina display that’s 30% larger than the one on the Series 3. What’s more, both these displays are LTPO OLED displays. However, the big difference is that the Watch SE doesn’t feature an always-on display.

This is a bummer, honestly. There’s no reason for the Watch SE to not have the always on display. It features the same processor as the Series 5 (which features an AOD), and it has an LTPO display, which is what Apple claims was used in the Series 5 to bring AOD to life without hurting battery life. Clearly, this is a play from Apple to get more people to spend extra money and get the Apple Watch Series 6, if not for the new sensors, then atleast for the always on screen.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Other Features

Other than the differences I mentioned above, there’s not a lot that differs between the Series 6 and the Watch SE. Both watches come in GPS or GPS+LTE variants. You get features like Apple Pay, GymKit, and Emergency SOS in both watches as well. Both watches also support WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. However, the Series 6 supports 5GHz networks as well, while the Watch SE only supports 2.4GHz networks.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Battery

Apple claims that the battery life on both the Series 6 and the Watch SE is the same, at 18 hours of use on a single charge. Both the watches charge via Apple’s proprietary magnetic wireless charger, and neither of the watch will ship with a USB wall charger, so make sure you have your own to spare. And if you are having some battery problems, you can read our article on improving battery life on Apple Watch series 6 to get the most usage out of the watch on a single charge.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Price

Lastly, let’s discuss the price differences between both these watches. The flagship Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399 (₹40,900 in India), while the Apple Watch SE starts at $279 (₹29,900 in India). That’s a fairly big price difference. However, you also miss out on features such as ECG, Blood Oxygen measurement, and an always on display.

Plus, for anyone looking for an even more affordable option to get, the Series 3 is still on sale at $199.

While I was expecting Apple to introduce the Apple Watch SE with the bare essentials and replace the Series 3, it seems the company has opted to offer more variants across price points. That’s a valid market strategy for sure, because there’s now another option between $199 and $399 for people who don’t want to own an old-looking Apple Watch but don’t want to spend $400 on a smartwatch either.

If you’re wondering which one is better, obviously the flagship is the best one there is. However, the Watch SE makes a strong case for people looking to get their first Apple Watch. If only it had an always on display, it would be my first choice as well.

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