Apple just announced two new smartwatches that look very similar. There's the Apple Watch Series 6, which starts at $399. And there's the Apple Watch SE, which starts at $279. So what exactly are you giving if you opt for the more affordable option?
One of the biggest differences is that Apple Watch SE doesn't have an always-on display, which is exclusive to the Series 5 and the Series 6. This means that Apple Watch SE's watch face will go dark when it resting at your side. It's probably the biggest thing that most people will notice because they won't be able to check the time or a notification at a glance.
There are two big sensors that the Apple Watch SE lacks.
First, it doesn't have an electrical heart sensor, so it's not capable of taking an ECG. This is a test that records the timing and strength of your heart beats, which could potentially help a doctor determine if you have an irregular heart beat. The Apple Watch SE does have optical heart sensor, similar to the one found in the Series 3, so it's still about to record your heart rate.
Secondly, the Apple Watch SE lacks the blood oxygen sensor that Apple debuted on the Series 6. This sensor uses infrared light to detect how much oxygen is in your blood, which could help identify something like asthma, as well as various heart conditions. However, I imagine it's feature that endurance athletes and workout enthusiasts will get the most out of it because because blood-oxygen is a big metric for fitness.
Here's a wildcard. The Apple Watch SE doesn't have the U1 Ultra Wideband chip which Apple integrated into the Series 6. The issue is that we don't know how Apple intends to use it just yet. It's expected that U1 Ultra Wideband chip helps with location tracking. On the iPhone 11, the U1 Ultra Wideband chip helps with directional AirDrop. The Series 6 is currently the only Apple Watch with the U1 Ultra Wideband chip.
Finally, the Apple Watch SE is only available in an aluminum finish, whereas the Series 6 is available in a number of different finishes, including aluminum, stainless steal, titanium and ceramic. The SE is only comes in three finishes (gold, silver and space gray) while the Series 6 comes in several more, including red and blue.
In the end, the Series 6 and SE are two Apple Watches that are more similar than they are different. They have the same display size, come in the sizes (40mm or 44mm) and work with the same watch straps. They come in GPS-only and cellular models. They have most of the same sensors, including the gyroscope, compass, fall detection and the brand-new always-on altimeter. They also have the same battery life and support the watchOS 7 (out now).
Both new smartwatches are available to preorder right now, with full availability coming this Friday.