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Compared: Apple Watch Series 7 versus Apple Watch Series 6 versus Apple Watch SE

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Apple has unveiled the Apple Watch Series 7, but are its new features enough to tempt current Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 6 owners? Here's what you should know.

At its Sept. 14 "California Streaming" event, Apple took the wraps off the Apple Watch Series 7. It did not feature the radical redesign that many Apple watchers were expecting. And, additionally, it didn't expand Apple's existing suite of health features.

However, the Apple Watch Series 7 does feature some enhancements in durability, screen size, charging, and display brightness. Are those improvements enough to warrant upgrading? Let's break it down.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Specifications

Apple Watch SEApple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series 7
Price (starting)$279$399
$399
Sizes40mm, 44mm40mm, 44mm41mm, 45mm
DisplayLTPO OLED RetinaLTPO OLED Retina
Always-on display
LTPO OLED Retina
Always-on display
Up to 70% brighter indoors
Increased crack-resistance
Case MaterialsAluminumAluminum,
Stainless Steel,
Titanium
Aluminum,
Stainless Steel,
Titanium
ProcessorS5S6 SiPS7 SiP
Heart SensorsSecond-generation
optical heart sensor
Fall Detection
Third-generation optical heart sensor
ECG
Blood oxygen sensor
Fall Detection

Third-generation optical heart sensor
ECG
Blood oxygen sensor
Fall Detection
Water Resistance50m50m50m
Dust Resistance--IP6X
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
RechargingWirelessWirelessWireless
USB-C Fast Charging
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4, 5 GHz),
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n(2.4, 5 GHz),
Bluetooth 5.0
Other SensorsGPS/GNSS,
Compass
Barometric altimeter,
Accelerometer,
Gyroscope,
Ambient light sensor
GPS/GNSS,
Compass
Barometric altimeter,
Accelerometer,
Gyroscope,
Ambient light sensor
GPS/GNSS,
Compass
Barometric altimeter,
Accelerometer,
Gyroscope,
Ambient light sensor
Colors (Aluminum)Silver, Space Gray, GoldSilver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, (Product)RedMidnight, Starlight, Blue, Green, (Product)Red

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Case sizes

Both the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 6 come in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm. Those have been the standard case sizes since Apple's Apple Watch Series 4 model in 2018.

With the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple has bumped up the size by 1mm on both the smaller and larger models. While the actual physical size increase may be negligible, the company says that the new flagship wearable has about 20% more screen area than the previous models.

Additionally, the borders on the edges of the Apple Watch Series 7 are just 1.7mm, down from 3mm on the Apple Watch SE and Series 6.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Materials and Weight

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 are available in the same case materials.
The Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 are available in the same case materials.

The Apple Watch SE is only available in aluminum. The 40mm model weighs 30.8 grams, while the 44mm model weighs 36.5 grams.

The previous model Apple Watch Series 6 was available in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium cases options. Here's how the weight breaks down across the case materials.

  • Aluminum: 30.5 grams (40mm) / 36.4 grams (44mm)
  • Stainless Steel: 39.7 grams (40mm)/47.1 grams (44mm)
  • Titanium: 34.6 grams (40mm)/ 41.3 grams (44mm)

Apple's latest Apple Watch Series 7 is available in the same materials: aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. Apple Watch Series 7 models are slightly heavier across the board. Here's how they break down.

As far as screen material, it's Ion-X glass across the board on the aluminum models and sapphire crystal on the stainless steel and titanium models. Apple says the glass on the Apple Watch Series 7 is much more durable and crack-resistant, however.

  • Aluminum: 32 grams (41mm) / 38.8 grams (45mm)
  • Stainless Steel: 42.3 grams (41mm) / 51.5 grams (45mm)
  • Titanium: 37 grams (41mm)/ 45.1 grams (44mm)

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Display

The Apple Watch Series 7 features a larger display with softer curves around the edges.
The Apple Watch Series 7 features a larger display with softer curves around the edges.

The Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 6 both have the same display size. They also share the same 324 x 394 (368 x 448 for the 44mm model) resolution.

There is one key difference between the two older models: the always-on display. While both the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 feature low temperature polysilicon oxide (LPTO) OLED Retina Displays, only the Apple Watch Series 6 has an always-on feature.

Apple's new Apple Watch Series 7 has a slightly larger display with up to 20% more screen area than either the Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE. It also features softer, more rounded corners that allow the display to integrate more seamlessly with the glass.

Like its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 7 also sports an always-on display. Apple also says that it's up to 70% brighter indoors.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Processor

The Apple Watch SE packs an S5 chip under the hood with a 64-bit dual-core processor. Performance statistics are hard to come by, but Apple say it's up to twice as fast as the chip in the Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple's 2020 Apple Watch Series 6 model packs an updated S6 SiP chip with a similar dual-core processor. Apple says it's up to 20% speedier than the chip in the Apple Watch Series 5.

Despite rumors that the Apple Watch Series 7 would use the same chip as its predecessor, the wearable does feature a next-generation S7 SiP. Although the company didn't speak about the processor at all during its announcement event, subsequent materials indicate that it's up to 20% faster than the Apple Watch SE.

The lack of detail about the S7 chip suggests that the performance benefits aren't significant.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Health & Fitness

Automatic cycling detection and improved workout fall detection are not exclusive to the Series 7.
Automatic cycling detection and improved workout fall detection are not exclusive to the Series 7.

Apple has been steadily increasing the suite of health and fitness features on its watch models, and 2021 is no different. However, the Apple Watch Series 7 doesn't appear to have any exclusive health or fitness additions.

The Apple Watch SE, in contrast to its more expensive counterparts, packs an optical heart rate sensor, fall detection, an always-on altimeter. Unlike the last few generations of flagship wearables, it does not have a blood oxygen sensor or an electrocardiogram.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch Series 7 feature blood oxygen sensors and ECG capabilities. They also have the same third-generation optical heart sensor, a step up from the Apple Watch SE's second-generation sensor.

New health and fitness features mentioned during the Sept. 14 event, including cycling detection and new workout types, are coming to other Apple Watch models with the release of watchOS 8.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Battery

Apple hasn't made significant improvements to the Apple Watch's battery in some years. Case in point: the Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6, and Apple Watch Series 7 all have the same "all-day battery life" rated to last up to 18 hours.

The Apple Watch Series 6 does feature fast-charging capabilities that allow it to hit a 100% charge in about an hour and a half.

Apple has improved the fast-charging ability with the Apple Watch Series 7, which can reach up to an 80% charge in about 45 minutes.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Other Features

The Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6, and Apple Watch Series 7 all sport Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. There's been no changes there. The Apple Watch SE only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, while the Series 6 and Series 6 supports 5GHz. The Apple Watch SE also packs a U1 chip, which its flagship counterparts have.

Both the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 6 are rated at WR50, which means they're swim-proof.

The Apple Watch Series 7 is the company's first to have an IP6X dust resistance rating. Apple also says it features the "most crack-resistant front crystal" yet in an Apple Watch. Like its predecessors, it's also WR50 rated.

Owing to its larger display, the Apple Watch Series 7 also supports a full keyboard that users can tap or slide across. The Apple Watch Series 7's proprietary charging puck also now features a USB-C connector.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - Pricing, Storage, & Colors

The Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6, and Apple Watch Series 7 all have 32GB of internal storage. In other words, you won't find a variant or model that has an increased storage capacity.

The Apple Watch SE comes in space gray, silver, and gold. Only aluminum models are available.

The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in silver, gold, space gray, blue, and (Product)Red for the aluminum models. Stainless steel cases are available in silver, graphite, and gold, while titanium cases are available in natural and space black.

The Apple Watch Series 7 is available in midnight, starlight, green, blue, and red for aluminum models. Stainless steel and titanium colors haven't changed.

The Apple Watch SE starts at $279 for the 40mm or $309 for the 44mm.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch Series 7 share the same pricing tiers. The 40mm (41mm) starts at $399, while the 44mm (45mm) starts at $429.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 7 - What to buy

The Apple Watch Series 7 is not a major upgrade from the Series 6, but it features some minor improvements.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is not a major upgrade from the Series 6, but it features some minor improvements.

Apple's Sept. 14 event, with few exceptions, featured almost entirely incremental updates. Compared to the iPhone 13 models, the Apple Watch Series 7 is even more muted than initially expected.

The slightly larger display and screen area is the most significant update, along with the increased durability, brightness, and charging speeds. Other than those features, not much has changed between the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch Series 7.

In other words, if you already have an Apple Watch Series 6, then you shouldn't rush out to upgrade. Even some of the health and fitness features Apple showed off are coming to the Apple Watch Series 6 via watchOS 8.

Apple Watch SE owners might find the Apple Watch Series 7 a compelling upgrade with its blood oxygen sensor and ECG capabilities.

The Apple Watch SE remains a solid entry-level wearable for users who have an older Apple Watch, or those who don't own an Apple Watch at all.

As of writing, the Apple Watch Series 6 is still available to order, since the Apple Watch Series 7 is coming later in the fall. If you're eyeing a new Apple Watch Series 6 right now, we suggest waiting a bit for the Series 7. It's the same price, and although its feature might not warrant an upgrade from the Series 6, they're still worth the additional wait if you're coming from an older model.

On the Apple Watch Series 3: it's still available, but we don't recommend it. The Apple Watch Series 3 is an aging device, and it shows. More than that, it's only $80 cheaper than the Apple Watch SE. Even if you're on a budget, we recommend springing for the Apple Watch SE.