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Apple A-Z » Apple Watch

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE
 

Apple Watch SE is in its second generation with the S8 SiP processor, Crash Detection, and a lower starting price. It is built with a budget in mind, reusing the older Apple Watch Series 4 design, limited health tracking, and a basic feature set.

● S8 SiP processor
● Midnight, starlight, or gold colors
● 40mm and 44mm sizes
● Optional cellular upgrade
● Find great Apple Watch deals
Discounted prices start at $279


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The Apple Watch SE offers an affordable entry price with a modern design, chipset, and feature set. It is the new budget Apple Watch model that replaces the Apple Watch Series 3.

The first generation Apple Watch SE was nearly identical to the Apple Watch Series 4, but didn't exactly act as a budget model. Apple was able to cut more costs and reduce the price in the second generation released in 2022, while keeping all the same health features with an all-new processor.

An ongoing Apple Watch import ban prevents Apple from importing devices with blood oxygen detection enabled. It doesn't affect Apple Watch SE.

A new third-generation model could launch in 2024 maintaining the previous design with a new chipset and features. No rumors have revealed any details as this device relies on existing parts and is less likely to leak from the supply chain.

Apple Watch SE Features

The flagship Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 contain every possible health sensor and feature that can be packed into a wearable. The budget model takes a more affordable approach by only including what is needed to run the watch, health features, and basic workout functions.

Design, display, and sensors

The Retina display used in Apple Watch SE is an upgrade from the postage-stamp style of the Apple Watch Series 3 that came before. It is an edge-to-edge design but not quite as curved as the latest models.

midnight, starlight, and gold midnight, starlight, and gold

Raise-to-wake allows users to view the clock or current app with a wrist gesture since it does not offer an always-on mode. It has a barometer, advanced 3-axis gyroscope, and improved g-force accelerometer that enables the Crash Detection feature.

The Digital Crown has the same haptic feedback as the Apple Watch Series 5. The microphone and speaker are both the same as the first-generation model.

Apple exchanged the glass cover on the back case for a plastic composite. It is color matched with the case and likely helps in production cost reduction. Apple claims this change reduces its production carbon emissions by 80%.

Apple Silicon

Generally, Apple includes the previous year's processor in its budget products to keep prices down. However, for the second generation Apple Watch SE, Apple used the S8 SiP.

This newer processor isn't more powerful than the previous two generations due to using the same CPU. It does have new portions dedicated to the Crash Detection system and is necessary for the feature.

Apple has not indicated if the new processor improves other tracking metrics due to the faster accelerometer sampling rate and other minor changes.

Health sensors

Fall Detection and Crash Detection are available in this model. When a user falls or is in a car crash, the Watch can use advanced algorithms to detect them based on wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. If a user is unresponsive, the Apple Watch will call emergency services after a 60-second delay.

The rear casing is made of a color-matched plastic composite The rear casing is made of a color-matched plastic composite

The microphone continuously measures ambient noise to alert users to potential hearing health risks. If the decibel level gets too high, an alert will notify users and suggest they move away from the noise. It tracks noise levels over time to determine overall hearing health.

The Apple Watch SE retains the heart-rate sensor that has been in every generation of Apple Watch. It alerts users to abnormal heartbeats or increased heart rates. These alerts have saved many lives as they direct users to seek medical help before potential cardiac arrest or other events.

Family Setup

Family Setup lets users set up their children's Apple Watches without needing a dedicated iPhone. Children in the household get their own phone number for each Apple Watch, allowing the family to keep in touch even if the kids don't have phones.

Family Setup lets parents specify with which contacts children can communicate. Parents can also get automatic location notifications to keep tabs on where their family is. Kids can use their Apple Watch to track their movement and all Apple Watch activity features.

Schooltime Mode is a feature that helps kids stay focused in class. It limits available features, activates Do Not Disturb during the school day, and provides a unique watch face.

Family Setup requires cellular Apple Watches, Series 4 or later.

What it lacks

The Apple Watch SE is about the features it has as much as it is about the features it lacks. Three major health features in the latest Apple Watch are not present here: ECG, temperature tracking, and blood-oxygen detection.

Blood oxygen, ECG, and temperature sensing are not available in the budget Apple Watch Blood oxygen, ECG, and temperature sensing are not available in the budget Apple Watch

Users can take a single-point ECG using an electrical circuit created between the heart-rate sensor on the Watch and a finger placed on the Digital Crown. It then takes an electrocardiogram over 30 seconds to determine if any issues are there.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and later can take blood-oxygen levels during use and manually by doing a 15-second reading. This information can determine how much oxygen passes into the bloodstream, indicating lung conditions and other ailments.

Temperature detection is available in the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Series 8 or later. It tracks body temperature during sleep and can alert users to inadequate sleeping conditions or tell someone if they've ovulated.

The Side Button now summons Control Center from anywhere in watchOS. These control changes make navigating even more simple.

What's new in watchOS 11

Announced at WWDC 2024, watchOS 11 is set to be released in the fall of the same year. While it didn't get much screen time during the keynote, Apple did mention several features that users can look forward to when it officially releases.

Health and fitness features

Like most major watchOS updates, Apple has introduced plenty of new health and fitness-related features with iOS 18. 

New pregnancy-tracking features have been added to the Cycle tracker of Apple Health. It now shows the gestational age and tracks the pregnancy across health charts. It provides recommendations and notifications for health during pregnancy, such as reviewing the high heart rate threshold and receiving alerts for increased fall risk in the third trimester.

Vitals is a new feature that uses data collected while a wearer sleeps to establish a typical range for health metrics like heart rate, respiratory rate, wrist temperature, blood oxygen, and sleep duration.

Overview of watchOS features including Check In, Live Activities, redesigned Photos face, ticketing, training load, vitals, double tap API, interactive widgets, pool workouts, navigation, and translate. watchOS features

If any of these metrics are outside the typical range, the Apple Watch will send a notification with contextual information about possible factors, such as medications, elevation, alcohol, or illness. This can help users understand that paying closer attention to their bodies is a good idea.

The new Training Load feature helps users understand how workouts impact their bodies over time. It compares the intensity and duration of workouts over the last seven days to the previous 28 days, classifying the current training load to help users gauge the strain on their body and make informed decisions about their exercise regimen.

Similar to Training Load, a new effort rating has been added to the Workout app. The metric will gauge a user's exercise intensity, pace, elevation, heart rate, and personal data factor into each rating.

Users can now pause their Activity Rings for a day, week, month, or more and maintain their award streak. 

User interface and user experience upgrades 

New interactive widgets are displayed based on time, location, and more. New widgets include severe weather alerts, Training Load, Photos, Distance, and Shazam.

The Smart Stack feature has also been upgraded to automatically display relevant Widgets based on time, location, and other factors. Live activities are also included in the Smart Stack, providing important information such as the arrival time of an Uber or the likelihood of rain.

A redesigned Photos face uses machine learning to search a user's photo library, select the best images, and create watch faces featuring their favorite people, pets, and places.

Other watchOS 11 features

The Apple Watch Maps app will feature topographic maps with detailed trail networks and hikes, including all 63 U.S. national parks. Users can save maps to their Apple Watch to access them offline with turn-by-turn voice guidance.

The Translate app supports 20 languages, allowing users to see translations by typing or dictating a phrase. Users can also play the translation aloud and slow it down if needed. Languages can easily be downloaded to the Apple Watch, too.

Apple Watch SE review

The second-generation Apple Watch SE is the ideal entry model and the best choice for parents. It is an attractive option for users who want a low-cost wearable for their iPhones.

A budget model with few compromises A budget model with few compromises

Since Apple pulled Apple Watch Series 3 from the lineup, the latest Apple Watch SE takes its spot as the cheapest model in the lineup. Its feature set is as much about what it offers as it is about what it doesn't for cost-cutting.

It has rounded corners, the most recent S8 SiP, and even offers Crash Detection. Users can get heart rate data, track workouts, and perform sleep tracking too. It is an Apple Watch all the way through.

Parents have a great choice in this budget model. Rather than handing a child a complicated iPhone that can easily be lost or broken, strap a cellular watch to their arm, and they're ready to go.

Crash Detection is included for some peace of mind Crash Detection is included for some peace of mind

The low cost of this model will surely affect the secondhand market. It offers many of the features people expect from an Apple Watch, and costs less, even with cellular.

If you're in the market for an Apple-compatible smartwatch or want to upgrade from the Apple Watch Series 3, this is a great option. You'll be lacking an always-on display and some health features, but likely won't miss them either.

Read the full Apple Watch SE Review from AppleInsider and see why we gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

The Apple Watch import ban

The United States International Trade Comission recommended that Apple Watch products with blood oxygen detection be banned from import based on a judge's decision in a patent lawsuit. Masimo, a medical technology company, claims Apple violated its patents to create the Apple Watch Series 6 and newer's ability to measure blood oxygen.

The ban is in place from December 25 with no options for Apple other than to stop sale of the offending products immediately. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are the only models that are currently sold with the feature, so those have been pulled from sale. The Apple Watch SE is still available.

Apple is seeking multiple avenues for getting the import ban lifted or going around it. Either the White House could intervene and give the ruling a stay until all appeals have been processed, or Apple could update the Apple Watch software to satisfy customs in the meantime.

Another option, which Apple seems keen to avoid, is settlement. Masimo says it is willing to discuss settlement with Apple, but no discussions have even begun on the matter.

If nothing else happens, the Apple Watch Series X released in September 2024 will likely avoid technologies Masimo claims in its patents.

Apple Watch SE Pricing

The 40mm Watch is $249, and the 44mm Watch is $299. Add $50 for a cellular model plus the cost of a monthly cellular plan. A $50 equivalent band is included with the purchase.

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