Apple watch

Skip the 8-series. The SE is the best value

Apple Watch Series 8 and SE (second generation).

Sophie Pitt

I tested the new Apple Watch Series 8 and second-generation Apple Watch SE ahead of their Friday release.

If you already have an Apple Watch, the $399 Series 8 doesn’t have enough new features to warrant an upgrade. Most of the cool innovations are available on Watch OS 9 software, which you can download as long as you have an Apple Watch Series 4 paired with iPhone 8 or later.

The Apple Watch SE, on the other hand, has had a facelift. The new SE has a starting price $30 less than the first-gen SE at just $249. It’s Apple’s most affordable watch and it has new upgrades including a new Apple S8 processor – which enables faster and smoother performance – low power mode, sleep tracking, crash detection, and you can set up the OS for a family member without an iPhone.

The Series 8 and the SE are pretty similar except for the $150 price difference. The benefits you’ll get by paying the premium for the Series 8 are a few extra health tracking features and a bigger screen.

The $799 Apple Watch Ultra, designed for extreme sports enthusiasts, won’t be available until September 23, and we’ll cover that when we get our hands on it.

Apple doesn’t break down its watch revenue like it does for the iPad, iPhone and Mac. However, the company’s Wearables, Home and Accessories business – which includes Apple Watch, HomePod, AirPods and Apple TV – saw sales drop in Apple’s last quarter to $8.08 billion from $8.78 billion. dollars a year earlier. The two watches that go on sale Friday are unlikely to have much effect on this business segment, but the expensive Ultra – if successful – could help boost apparel sales for the company’s next fiscal year. , which begins in October.

The same goes for the new AirPods Pro 2, which I’ll review later.

Here’s why I wouldn’t splurge on the 8-Series and why the SE is a great value.

Series 8 has a bigger screen and an always-on display

Series 8 is available in two sizes: 41mm and 45mm. Like the new iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max, Series 8 has an always-on display, which means you can see the time even when your watch is idle. You can choose an aluminum or stainless steel case. Aluminum is available in black, beige, silver and red. Stainless steel is available in black, silver and gold.

The second-generation Apple Watch SE is only available in aluminum in either 44mm or 40mm, and it doesn’t have an always-on display. It is available in black, beige and silver.

Although aluminum looks slightly cheaper, you can feel a little better knowing that the production process Apple now uses for the 2022 SE reduces carbon emissions by more than 80%.

Apple Watch SE.

Sophie Pitt

I appreciate the size of the SE. The Apple Watch 8 felt a little clunky while I was using it, which is a complaint I’ve heard from my other friends. I also found that the SE being lighter made it more comfortable to use for sleep tracking.

The SE and the 8 series have the same S8 processor

Although it is the cheapest model, the SE has the latest S8 processor, which is the same as the new 8 series. Apple claims that the upgrade makes the SE 20% faster than the SE first generation, which debuted in 2020.

The Series 8 also has the U1 chip, which the SE does not. This chip allows you to use location tracking in the Find My app.

Both watches felt like they were running at the same speed to me. It was equally easy to navigate on either watch between the workout app, mindfulness, and weather app without any issues.

Apple Watch Series 8.

Sophie Pitt

SE has less health stats but important stats

The SE has heart rate and fall detection, while the Series 8 can measure blood oxygen levels and has an ECG app to monitor heart rhythms.

Series 8 features a new temperature sensor that allows menstrual cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates.

While I appreciate that Apple is building women’s health into the new watch, I struggle to understand how retrospective ovulation will provide the necessary data for women trying to conceive. Instead of giving you data on when you ovulated in the last month, other wearables like Ava Fertility tell you when you’re actively ovulating so you can take advantage of your fertility window if you’re trying to conceive.

Heart rate notifications on the new SE can alert users to abnormally high or low heart rates or irregular rhythms that Apple says have helped save lives.

Apple Watch SE.

Sophie Pitt

There is a breakthrough in Series 8 that could provide users with important information. It now has AFib monitoring, which will help diagnose people with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.

When it comes to sleep, both watches offer comprehensive sleep tracking, although as I mentioned the smaller and lighter SE is a bit more comfortable to wear in bed.

The new Collision Detection feature is available on both the SE and 8 Series.

Series 8 has better battery life

Series 8 loads very quickly. Apple claims to be able to charge from 0 to 80% in 45 minutes and to 100% in about 75 minutes. I really noticed a difference when charging my 8 series.

When the Series 8 is in low power mode, it lasts up to 36 hours. Both watches have an “all day” battery life of up to 18 hours.

If Apple wanted me to buy the Series 8, they would have given it as much battery life as the new Ultra, which offers 36 hours in normal mode and 60 hours in low power mode.

Low Power Mode on Apple Watch SE.

Sophie Pitt

Having a laptop that only lasts 18 hours or less is disappointing. A few months ago I started using the Oura Ring, which gives me many of the same settings as the Apple Watch, except I forget I’m wearing it and it only needs to be charged every three and a half to four days.

Which should you buy?

If you’ve never owned a smartwatch and just want the basics, like notifications and activity monitoring, the SE is a great value. If you are concerned about your health and want to be notified quickly if something goes wrong, the 8 Series can give you more peace of mind.

The SE is also perfect for buying a child too young for a smartphone. Maybe you don’t want them going on social media or texting, but setting them up with an SE can let you track their location and contact them in case of an emergency.

If you already have a late-model Apple Watch, I wouldn’t suggest upgrading. I barely noticed a difference when using the Series 8 compared to my Series 7, or even the Series 5. The new health tracking features like the temperature sensor don’t seem interesting enough to justify the price, especially since ovulation tracking is retrograde. looking at.

Correction: This article has been updated to indicate that the abbreviation AFib stands for atrial fibrillation. A previous version used an incorrect term. It has also been updated to remove references to the Apple Watch being used as a health device by people previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Apple states in a footnote on its website that the watch is not intended for such use.