The Apple Watch SE may be the newest member of Apple’s wearable family, but like the iPhone SE, it’s not a new device. Not exactly, anyway. The Apple Watch SE is a little Series 4, a little Series 5, and a little Series 6, all wrapped up in a lower-priced aluminum body. Here are five surprising things Apple delivered in its newest affordable device.
Apple Watch SE has the same display as Series 6
With the $199 Series 3 watch using the older square watch face, we fully expected the Apple Watch SE to go retro as well to cut costs. That’s not the case. The Apple Watch SE has the same 40mm and 44mm bodies and larger retina 368×448 displays as the Series 6, just without the always-on option. That alone makes the SE a worthy upgrade over the $199 Series 3.
It has the Series 6’s always-on altimeter
While the Apple Watch has had an altimeter for measuring altitude since the Series 3, you could only see it during workouts. Otherwise, you would only get a general picture of how much you climbed throughout the day. On the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple has introduced an always-on altimeter for tracking elevation in real time and Apple Watch SE has the same feature.
It’s way faster than the Series 3
The Apple Watch SE doesn’t have the latest S6 chip, so it’s about 20 percent slower than the Series 6, according to Apple. However, it’s way faster than the S3 in the Series 3. Apple previously rated the S4 to be twice as fast as the S3 chip and the S5 is even faster, so the SE will be noticeably quicker than the S3 in the Series 3.
Apple Watch SE supports Family Setup
Apple’s newest Apple Watch feature is built with families in mind, letting you set up an independent Apple Watch for a kid or a parent who doesn’t have an iPhone. You’ll need a cellular connection to get it all working so it’ll cost at least $379, but it’s not even an option on the Series 3, since it’s only available with Bluetooth and GPS.
It has fall detection and noise monitoring
While Apple cut some features from the Series 5 in order to bring the price down so low, safety wasn’t one of them. The Apple Watch SE features fall detection and noise monitoring, as well as Emergency SOS—potentially life-saving features that were previously only available on the flagship models. Now more people will be able to enjoy these important features.
Apple Watch SE has the latest heart-rate sensor
While it doesn’t have the ECG sensor that’s built into the Digital Crown on the Series 6, the Apple Watch SE has the same second-gen sensor that Apple introduced with the Series 4 watch to deliver faster and more accurate readings than the first-gen model. Apple could have easily gotten away with a first-gen sensor in the SE and no one would have noticed, but it’s nice to get the latest and greatest hardware.
It has the best new Series 6 face
The Apple Watch SE doesn’t have all of the same faces as the Series 6, but it does include the best one: Stripes. Simple but extremely fashionable, the new face lets you create a combination of colors that will add a touch of flair to your Apple Watch to show off your pride or just match your outfit. Even without any complications, it’s one of the Apple Watch’s more customizable faces and is sure to be one of the most popular options.
Apple Watch SE cheaper than its looks suggest
While we were hoping the Apple Watch SE would start at $199, Apple instead priced it between the Series 3 and the Series 6 at $279 for 40mm and $309 for 44mm. That’s still a great price for everything you get and if you want a cellular model it gets even better. While the Series 6 costs the usual $100 extra for cellular models, the SE is just $50 more: $329 for the 40mm and $359 for the 44mm model. That makes nearly $200 cheaper than the cellular Series 6 and an all-around fantastic deal.
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Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.