Apple launched two new smartwatches this week (on September 15th), the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE. They both run on the new Wear0S 7 and both come in wifi-only and cellular variants, but the Watch SE has been consciously designed to be cost-effective. It offers fewer features and runs on a less cutting-edge S5 chip, but that does not make it the poor person’s Apple Watch.
An Apple Watch 6 will set you back $399 whereas the Watch SE will cost you $279.
If you’re interested in an Apple Watch and it’s either your first time or you’re not sure which model to get next, we’re going to compare them for you here.
Apple Watch Design
Off the bat, they look incredibly similar. The Series 6 is available in more variants, though. Cases fit both watch versions the same way.
Both the 6 and SE offer the same display (including the same resolution), so to the eye you get the same experience. They’re both water-resistant so you can confidently take them swimming. Apple has offered users two new bands; the Solo and the Braided Solo.
The Watch 6 comes in more colour and design choices. Additionally to the usual grey, silver, gold and aluminium, the Apple Watch 6 comes in a new blue and never-before-seen red. You can opt for a steel or titanium version, of which both come in different colours.
The well-known fashion brand Hermes has teamed up with Apple to offer exclusive bands in different materials and colours for the Series 6.
The Series 6 continues the always-on feature. This was first seen on the Series 5 last year. This feature means your display is literally always on so you don’t have to flick your wrist to turn it on to check the time or your notifications.
The Apple Watch Series 6 comes with the S6 chipset; the latest from Apple. The SE, on the other hand, comes with the S5. The whole point is that the SE had to make some sacrifices to be more accessible and this is one of those elements. Users will notice that the SE isn’t as advanced as the 6. Apple did claim the SE is still twice as fast as the 2017 Series 3.
The Series 6 comes with an Ultra Wideband (also known as a U1 chip). This is what you typically see in an iPhone, starting with the 11 onward. It’s used for spacial awareness and its function is to allow devices to find other devices with accuracy, albeit within short distances. Apple said this was being used to further develop AirDrop, the service that allows an iPhone user to share things with other iPhones in close proximity. Apple teases us with their promise that this is just the beginning of what they’re planning. People have suggested that the U1 will be used for Apple’s tile tracking device, which has been rumoured for a while.
Blood Oxygen App
One huge difference between not only the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE, but all predecessors is the addition of the blood oxygen sensor. More commonly referred to as an oximeter. This will track key information about your breathing and blood circulation. Getting a reading will take exactly 15 seconds. This will give insight into your overall cardiac and respiratory health. It’s been coined the “COVID-catching watch” as blood oxygen levels can tell us how deeply this virus is affecting the body. You can read more on how smartwatches are diagnosing COVID-19 in our article.
There’s an app that accompanies the oximeter. It will continually take measurements in the background (like when you’re asleep), but you’re able to take a manual reading any time you like. The data will be shown in the Health app and you can monitor changes and trends.
Both devices have an optical heart rate sensor which will keep an eye on your heart rate. The Series 6 has the accompanying ECG app, which we saw make its debut on the Series 4. This will catch an irregular heartbeat.
As we’ve said, both devices run on WearOS 7. New to this version is the Family Setup feature. This lets a user pair either device with an iPhone. This is great for people with kids or elderly relatives. You can do things like limit which contacts the watch can send messages to, apply controls over app downloads or set automatic location tracking. Breaking away from the norm for Apple, the other user doesn’t have to have an iPhone to use this feature. We wrote more on this and why it’s great for families with kids, here.
Aside from Family Setup, WearOS 7 comes with new watch faces including Memojis.
There have been a few other exciting updates like noise level monitoring, fall detection, more accurate altimeter (which Apple say will detect to one foot of difference) and emergency SOS contacting.
Apple Watch Series 6
The Series 6 takes the throne from the Series 5. Happily, the pricing remains the same. (updated November 2020)
The 40mm GPS model is $399. The 44mm starts at $429
The cellular versions of either will add $100 to the tag. Check Amazon price for up to date pricing and deals.
- GPS model lets you take calls and reply to texts from your wrist
- Measure your blood oxygen with an all-new sensor and app
- Check your heart rhythm with the ECG app
Apple Watch SE
The SE model also comes in 40mm or 44mm versions and starts at $279 if you want the GPS variant.
If you want to enjoy the location tracking features, you’ll need the cellular version which starts from $329.
- GPS + Cellular model lets you call, text, and get directions without your phone
- Large Retina OLED display
- Up to 2x faster processor than Series 3
Shipping commenced Friday, September 18th 2020.
If you’re not sure which Apple watch is best for you then we have created an easy comparison of all Apple offerings from the first generation to the Series 6 and SE. Check it out here.
- Apple Watch 6 – Everything you need to know
- Apple Watches for Kids
- The new Apple Watch SE – Review
- Apple Family Sharing Functions and Benefits
- The Control and Safety Benefits of Apple Family Set Up
- Apple Watch Comparison
Last Updated on October 4, 2021