The new Apple Watches have been available for a few days. The top model Series 6 and the well-equipped but significantly cheaper Watch SE. But which watch should you buy? Let’s make it easier for you.

Apple Watch 6 Vs SE
©Apple

Apple not only renewed its Smartwatch this year with the Watch Series 6 but also introduced a new, cheaper model with the Watch SE. And that’s so good at first glance that you almost ask yourself whether Apple had to really launch a more expensive Series 6 at all. But there are actually a couple of good reasons for that.

Apple Watch Series 6

This year Apple is relying on subtle further developments in the top model. If you put the new Series 6 next to the previous year’s model, at most the color reveals that it is the current model. In fact, Apple has become much more colorful here. The new watch is now available in an aluminum casing. In addition to the silver, gray, and rose gold versions, the blue and red color models are also available.

The stainless steel versions are also given the color graphite and a lighter gold. Together with the numerous bracelet variants, buyers now really have many options to adapt the watch to their own taste. Apple’s watch is no longer just a gadget, but also an accessory.

New Blood Oxygen Measurement

The four round sensors for the new blood oxygen measurement can be seen on the back. Four red and green LEDs illuminate the skin under the watch, integrated photodiodes can read from the color of the blood how much oxygen is bound in it.

Many people who wake up from general anesthesia in the hospital know the same principle. There, too, the oxygen saturation is measured optically, usually from the fingertip. Unlike these devices, Apple’s sensors are not classified as medical devices which would certainly have meant significant approval hurdles. The process is not new, by the way, other fitness bands have been offering this function for years.

blood oxygen measurement apple watch
©Apple

Improved, Brighter Display

The display of the watch also looks identical at first but here Apple has made improvements in a crucial area. The Series 5 already introduced the so-called always-on display. Before for energy reasons, the Apple Watch only showed something on the display when you actively looked at the watch, otherwise, the screen often stayed dark. With Always-On, there is now a second, energy-efficient model. If you do not actively look at the clock, a more efficient display mode is activated. Moving elements are faded out and the brightness is reduced. Even so, the dial is still visible.

Especially in bright surroundings or in glaring sunlight, it was sometimes too dark to really see anything. That has now changed with Series 6. In a direct comparison, the savings display is also much brighter and easier to read which is a real advantage. At the same time, battery performance does not suffer. 

Compared to Series 5, the displays of the new watches also seem to be more sober and neutral in color. The differences are subtle but noticeable.

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More Power, Faster Charging Time

According to Apple, the new S6 chip in the watch is about 20 percent more powerful than the S5 chip in the previous model. In fact, some apps open slightly faster on the new watch, the advantage is marginal, since the Series 5 is still absolutely fast enough for all tasks. The new chip also includes an improved altimeter, which now permanently measures height.

Much more relevant for many users, however, is that the Apple Watch can now also be charged faster. It takes around 60 minutes to charge the watch to 80 percent, and it is full after just under an hour and a half. With the previous model, this could take a good hour longer.

Apple Watch Fast Charging
©Abigail Abesamis/Business Insider

Faster charging is also necessary if you want to use the new sleep tracking function. The Apple Watch also informs you in good time in the evening when the battery level is too low to last through the night.

However, some of the most exciting functions that can be discovered on the Apple Watch Series 6 are also available for other, older models, as they are part of the new WatchOS 7.

Apple Watch SE – A best of the previous models

The features of Apple Watch SE can be summarized quickly because apart from a few important differences in everyday life, it feels very similar to Series 6. At first glance, it too cannot be distinguished from the Series 5 or Series 6. It’s kind of the best of the past two generations. The display can be compared more with the Series 4. Shape and resolution are the same as the current model but unfortunately, you have to do without the always-on function.

However, it is more powerful than the Apple Watch Series 4. The S5 chip from the previous year’s model is inside Apple watch SE, so it feels absolutely fast enough. When it comes to WLAN, however, you have to cut corners because unlike the Series 6, the SE cannot handle the fast 5 GHz network.

You also have to do without the new blood oxygen measurement, as well as the option of doing an ECG on the wrist. Beyond that, the SE feels almost the same in everyday life as its more expensive sister model. With the new family configuration, the smartwatches can now also be set up so that the wearer does not need an iPhone themselves but can still use most of the watch’s functions. 

Apple Watch SE
©Apple

The Watch SE is only available in the colors silver, dark gray, and rose gold. But like all other watches, it can be combined with the new straps without a locking mechanism. Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop are the names of the new straps and they are available in nine sizes. 

So Which Model Should It Be?

The Apple Watch has been the best-selling smartwatch for years and both the Watch Series 6 and the Watch SE show why they are still the benchmark in this device category by which the competition has to be measured. There is simply no better alternative for iPhone users, but it is still not one for everyone else as an iPhone is still a prerequisite to use all functions.

If you want to buy a new Apple Watch now, you basically have three models to choose from: the new Watch Series 6, the Watch SE, or the older model Series 3. Sure, the price difference is noticeable, however, consumers get a smartwatch that is superior in so many ways that one can only recommend the SE.

In fact, the Watch SE is so good that for some users it is also the better choice compared to the new Series 6. Not everyone will miss the functionalities like ECG or measuring blood oxygen content in everyday life. On the other hand, it is somewhat more painful to do without the always-on display. 

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So in the end, it’s a matter of personal taste and budget. There is almost nothing to complain about with both models except only the battery could have a little more reserves. Normally it lasts well throughout the day. If you forget to charge it only once, sooner or later the next day you will see a black display. And that’s even more annoying with a watch than with a smartphone.

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