Apple may have heralded its entry into the high-end sports watch market, but it hasn’t forgotten about those of us who don’t have deep pockets. The Apple Watch SE is the most budget-friendly option in Apple’s lineup, and it just got an update. The new version has a better chip, with the S8 inside rather than the older S5. According to Apple, this makes it up to 20% faster than its predecessor. And while it doesn’t have the always-on display of the Series 8, it does come with Apple’s added crash detection feature and Emergency SOS feature that will call for help if a bound iPhone is at risk. proximity (we don’t yet have the compatible mobile plans here to justify buying the cellular version of the Apple Watch).
The new software also supports low battery mode, so you can take the Watch SE out for a weekend if you’ve left the charger behind.
Like the Series 8, you can set it up for a family member who doesn’t have an iPhone, meaning the Apple Watch SE could be given to a younger member of the family. With that in mind, Apple gives you the ability to restrict which contacts are accessible to and from the Watch SE. Managed through Screen Time, you can set a list of contacts who can message and call the Watch SE. In Ireland, you can’t add a mobile plan to the Watch yet, or at least not via the major mobile networks. That means the only way someone can ‘call’ the watch is through Wi-Fi calling, or through Apple’s own messaging and FaceTime audio network.
The Apple Watch SE costs a little less than the Series 8, so what are you sacrificing? There’s the aforementioned always-on display, meaning you’ll have to raise your wrist to check the time or your stats during a workout if the screen goes dark.
There are also fewer sensors on board. While you still get GPS and heart rate monitoring, you don’t get blood oxygen, for example, and the ECG app isn’t available for the cheapest watch. The heart rate sensor is second-gen rather than the third-gen that’s found in the Series 8, although in truth you’ll notice very little difference between the two.
The Apple Watch SE also doesn’t have an always-on display, so you’ll have to raise your wrist to activate the display. That means no peeking to see the time or your activity stats. It’s a small sacrifice though; probably more of a loss is the lack of fast charging.
It’s still a reduction of 200 €. And if you’re looking for an Apple Watch that does the basics, there’s very little reason to spend the extra money on the Series 8.