I imagine we can all agree that Apple is a premium brand and to own one we are expected to pay a premium price to be a part of that ecosystem. However, with the introduction of the iPhone XR back in October 2018 and then again with the introduction of the iPhone SE (2nd Gen) in April 2020 we started to see a trend where Apple started to offer more affordable versions of their flagship phones without sacrificing too much in terms of specs.
So we weren’t too surprised when Apple continued this trend with its popular Apple Watch and introduced to us the new Apple Watch Series 6 and the Watch SE during its special event on 15th September 2020. Since it’s almost been a year and with the rumours of the Apple Watch Series 7 on the horizon, let’s take a closer look at the Apple Watch Series 6 vs Watch SE.
As we’ve come to expect from Apple products both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Watch SE have a premium build and finish. Side by side they are both almost identical - that’s good news. They both share the same exact body, so all your Apple Watch Series 6 accessories such as the straps and cases are also compatible with the Apple Watch SE.
Looking at the differences in the build, you can pick up an Apple Watch Series 6 in 3 different materials - aluminium, stainless steel and titanium. It is available in a range of new colours such as the blue and the red variants. Whereas the Apple Watch SE only come with an aluminium body and three colours - space grey, silver and gold.
Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE comes in the 44mm model and the 40mm model. They both feature the same display resolution, coming in at 368 by 448 pixels in the 44mm model and at 324 by 394 pixels in the 40mm model. However, the Apple Watch Series 6 sports an always-on display. The Apple Watch Series 6 and the Watch SE have 1000 nits brightness making them perfect for outdoor use.
This is where we start to see the main differences between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Watch SE but not as much as you’d think. So before we talk about the differences let’s get the similarities out of the way. Both of these watches come with 32 GB of internal storage memory, Bluetooth 5.0 for crystal clear connection and no latency, the same W3 wireless chip for pairing, the same microphone and the speaker, always on altimeter, compass, up to 50m of water resistance, auto workout detection, sleep tracking, and fall detection to name a few.
Those are some pretty hefty similarities and one might start to think then what’s different. To start with the Apple Watch Series 6 has the S6 chip whereas the Watch SE has the S5. According to Apple the S6 chip on the Apple Watch Series 6 gives it a 20% performance boost over the Watch SE. However, in real-world use, the Watch SE has similar performance and may have a couple of milliseconds delay when performing tasks compared to the Watch Series 6. All in all, let’s say that it’s negligible.
The wifi is slightly better on the Apple Watch Series 6 as it not only supports 2.4GHz but also the 5GHz band. Again this is not a real issue since when was the last time you used your Apple Watch to stream a YouTube video?
Now when you flip the Apple Watch Series 6 you will notice some differences from the Apple Watch SE since it has additional sensors like the blood oxygen level sensor and the ECG sensor. The Apple Watch SE only has the heart rate sensor. The tech behind the sensors in the Apple Watch Series 6 are indeed amazing, however, do you really need them?
The Apple Watch Series 6 was also introduced with the new U1 chip that supports ultra-wideband capabilities. At the time of its launch, Apple was quiet about this feature on the Apple Watch Series 6 and many speculated that it was to support the coming AirTags which would have been a great selling point for the Watch Series 6 compared to the Watch SE. However, the Apple Watch Series 6 should be able to locate an AirTag using UWB but it is still not available. With the coming watchOS8, Apple claims to fix this issue and the Find My app and will gain the ability to locate items and devices, as well as, retaining the people-finding skill that it was limited to before.
Let’s get to the juicy bits now - the price. How much would one set you back and now that we’ve broken down as to what we are getting - is it worth it?
On the Apple website, the starting price for the Apple Watch Series 6 is £379 and you can also choose a cellular variant for another extra £100. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE starts at £269 and also has the cellular variant available for another extra £50. Both these watches come with the standard silicone strap and you have to option to choose from a range of Apple Watch strap styles and colours.
When we look at the price even the cellular version of the Apple Watch SE is quite a bit cheaper than the standard Apple Watch Series 6.
So in conclusion, the choice comes down to your personal preference. I love them both but for my personal use, I would go with the Apple Watch SE. It makes sense. It has almost all the best features that make the Apple Watch special - beautiful design, great UI and useful tech. The price is just the cherry on top. However, if you are an Apple aficionado, someone who must have the latest and the greatest, or a person who would require to keep a close eye on your health, then the clear choice for you is the Apple Watch Series 6. Maybe with the release of the new watchOS8 towards the end of this year and with the ability to make full use of the U1 chip on the Watch Series 6, it could turn out to be a compelling choice.
So if you stuck along this far, what would be your choice? Would you go for the Apple Watch Series 6 or the Watch SE? Or would you rather wait for the release of the new Apple Watch Series 7? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Author | Nuwan Fonseka