The Apple Watch SE is a first-time buyer’s smartwatch

2 months ago 37

When I reviewed the archetypal Apple Watch SE successful 2020, I was definite it was the champion enactment for astir people. In fact, my SE reappraisal was titled, “Just get the Apple Watch SE.” Back then, the always-on show was comparatively new, the bigger surface with thinner bezels hadn’t arrived yet, and precocious features similar EKG and humor oxygen monitoring weren’t need-to-haves for astir people. (They inactive aren’t.) But things person changed since then. I nary longer judge the SE is the champion enactment for astir people. And it’s not that the SE has gotten worse. It’s much that the SE’s relation successful the Apple Watch lineup has changed. 

The archetypal SE was the sensible midrange compromise: faster than the aged, entry-level Series 3 but a much affordable alternate than the then-flagship Series 6 watches. It muddied the waters successful the Apple Watch lineup because, really, you weren’t giving up precise much. Functionally, it filled the aforesaid relation arsenic past year’s iPhone model: cheaper, without arsenic galore features arsenic the latest phone, but inactive a beauteous large bargain that would fulfill astir people. 

That changed this twelvemonth erstwhile Apple wholly refreshed its lineup. The past Series 3 has yet been put retired to pasture. There’s besides a flashy caller premium exemplary successful the $799 Apple Watch Ultra. The excellent-but-not-particularly-exciting Series 8 has replaced the SE arsenic the underappreciated mediate kid of the Apple Watch family. And the second-gen SE? It’s present the wearable equivalent of the 2022 iPhone SE.

Slightly amended than before

I similar a batch astir the second-generation SE. It gets the aforesaid S8 spot arsenic the Series 8 and Ultra, arsenic good arsenic the aforesaid high-g accelerometer and improved gyroscope. Its performance, according to Apple, is 20 percent faster than the archetypal SE, and those caller question sensors mean it’s got clang detection. It besides gets newer features successful watchOS 9 similar medicine reminders, the caller low-power mode, the redesigned compass app (plus Waypoints and Backtrack), workout views, moving metrics — beauteous overmuch the full shebang. Besides the always-on display, the lone hardware it’s missing is precocious wellness sensors similar the caller temperature, EKG, and humor oxygen sensors. 

The sensor arrays of the 2nd gen SE and Series 8 broadside  by side.

The SE has a nylon composite back, portion the Series 8 (right) has much precocious wellness sensors.

Oh, and I conjecture the backs are made of a caller nylon composite worldly that matches the colour of the case. You’ll astir ne'er look astatine it because… it’ll beryllium connected your wrist, but Apple’s property merchandise says it makes the ticker lighter than before. And it is very, precise lightweight — particularly the 40mm version. Not lone is it much lighter than the Ultra, but it’s besides 5–18 grams lighter than the Series 8, depending connected which size oregon lawsuit worldly you buy. That nylon composite backing is besides astir apt wherefore Apple was capable to little the terms by $30 to $249 for the 40mm and $279 for the 44mm despite these inflationary times

The caller S8 spot makes it faster than older watches, but you astir apt won’t announcement a large quality unless you’re coming from a Series 4 oregon earlier. When it comes to artillery beingness and fittingness tracking, the caller 40mm SE kept up beauteous good with my 45mm Series 8 reappraisal portion (likely due to the fact that there’s nary always-on display). The caller low-power artillery mode besides helps to widen artillery beingness by rather a bit. How overmuch you get volition beryllium connected your artillery level erstwhile you flip it on, but it got maine done a nighttime of slumber tracking erstwhile I didn’t consciousness similar topping up the SE earlier bed. Overall, I was capable to get astir the aforesaid mileage arsenic the Series 8 — astir 24 hours, with mundane usage.

Man successful  yellowish  garment  with manus  successful  pouch  wearing 2nd  gen Apple Watch SE with a yellowish  watchface

The second-gen SE has the aforesaid spot and question sensors arsenic the Series 8 and Ultra.

Bottom line: if you’re going to bargain an SE, get the second-gen. It’s a much future-proof purchase. The lone clip I’d marque an objection is if you find the archetypal refurbished for $180 oregon less. 

The question is who should get the SE successful the archetypal place.

The SE works champion for first-time buyers

To nary one’s surprise, Apple said astatine its Far Out lawsuit that astir 80 percent of first-time Apple Watch buyers opt for the SE. 

Man successful  yellowish  overgarment   models Apple Watch SE (2022)

At $249, the SE is simply a little risky investment.

Woman successful  floral formal  with manus  connected  hep  modeling Apple ticker  SE (2022)

You can’t truly archer if it’s an SE oregon a regular Series ticker astatine a distance, either.

Buying immoderate Series ticker caller costs astatine slightest $400, which is simply a large concern if you’re not sold connected smartwatches. Smartwatches are connected the rise, but they’re inactive not rather need-to-have devices successful the mode a smartphone is. For folks connected the fence, the SE is simply a little risky experiment. Not lone bash you get the gist of what the Apple Watch is each about, but it besides gives you the abstraction to spot whether the fancier features are thing you really want. Maybe the surface is excessively tiny for your liking. You mightiness observe you really privation AOD. Perhaps you hatred charging daily, and different instrumentality with a longer artillery is much suited to your needs. Or, possibly the SE is precisely what you privation — fancier features, beryllium damned. Whatever ends up happening, you’re successful a much educated presumption to fig retired if this is the level for you. 

It’s besides a large enactment for younger radical connected a budget. Advanced features similar EKG and on-demand humor oxygen monitoring aren’t each that utile for folks with a cleanable measure of health. Plus, the SE tin inactive observe whether you person an abnormally precocious oregon debased bosom rate. 

Family Setup

If you’re buying a caller ticker to usage with Family Setup, particularly for a child, the cellular mentation of the SE makes the astir sense. (If you’re unsure whether Family Setup is worthy it for you, read our review.) It’s the slightest costly Watch to regenerate if necessary, and you won’t consciousness rather arsenic atrocious if it doesn’t enactment out. Plus, children are improbable to request the precocious wellness sensors you’ll find successful the flagship Series watches. The SE’s wellness and information features volition beryllium conscionable fine.

Woman looking astatine  the app grid connected  the Apple Watch SE (2022).

The smaller surface was hard to set to aft spending clip with the 45mm Series 8 and the 49mm Ultra.

The SE is besides marketed arsenic a Family Setup enactment for the elderly, arsenic it supports exigency calling, autumn detection, and precocious and debased bosom complaint notifications. But I’d reason that spending $30 much connected a refurbished Series 7 with LTE is the amended choice. Take it from me: if your imaginativeness isn’t what it utilized to be, a larger surface wherever you tin crank up the font size is simply a godsend. And portion there’s limited evidence astir the efficacy of Apple Watches successful improving cardiac health, older radical basal to payment the astir from flagship wellness and information features. For example, neither the archetypal oregon second-gen SE is susceptible of detecting AFib, if that’s a concern. (Though, reminder, nary Apple Watch is susceptible of officially diagnosing a condition, nor is it a aesculapian device.) 

It’s up to each household to determine what’s best. But if you’re readying connected utilizing Family Setup for an older loved one, it’s besides important to sermon consent and what they’re comfy with. But if it helps to stock my experience, I had this nonstop speech with my ma erstwhile her wellness declined. Her imaginativeness was failing, she had bosom wellness concerns, and ALS meant she was astatine a heightened hazard of falling. Ultimately, she didn’t privation to prosecute Family Setup and has since passed on. But if she had been unfastened to the idea, I would person bought her a Series 7. She wouldn’t person needed the Series 8’s somesthesia sensing oregon clang detection. However, the bigger screen, much precocious bosom wellness sensor, positive autumn detection would’ve been worthy the other cost.

The bezels are overmuch much noticeable if you don’t usage a watchface with a achromatic border.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge and Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Few radical should upgrade to a caller SE

After a twelvemonth of wearing the 41mm Series 7, followed by investigating the 45mm Series 8 and the 49mm Ultra, switching backmost to the second-gen SE gave my eyes whiplash. What is this, I asked myself, a surface for ants? Unfortunately, the caller SE sports the aforesaid show arsenic the Series 4–6.

I cannot unsee the thicker bezels. You won’t announcement it arsenic overmuch if you usage watchfaces with a achromatic background, but it’s nary amusive to bounds your already constricted watchface options. It nerfs the caller colour backgrounds successful watchOS 9, too. 

The Apple Watch SE (2022) and the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 utilizing the aforesaid  watchface, broadside  by side.

The thinner bezels connected the Series 8 mightiness beryllium worthy it.

Likewise, I’ve gotten utilized to ever seeing the clip connected my wrist. Giving up the AOD wasn’t truthful atrocious backmost erstwhile I went from investigating the Series 5 to investigating the archetypal SE. But successful the 2 years since then, I’ve grown accustomed to lone needing a speedy downward glimpse astatine my wrist mid-run. I similar that I tin portion out. I lone request to bring it up if I privation to presumption a antithetic screen, power my music, oregon pause. Now, looking down to spot a blank surface is annoying. 

These are first-world reviewer problems. (Cue the world’s teeniest violin.) In fact, I’m lone annoyed due to the fact that past time, I lone had to springiness up the AOD. This time, I person to springiness up the AOD and the bigger display. I’ve travel to trust connected those features, and it isn’t worthy it. But if you’re coming from an older Apple Watch? Hell, sticking with the caller SE is simply a large mode to prevention $150. After all, it’s harder to miss what you’ve ne'er had. 

The Apple Watch SE (2022) adjacent  to the Apple Watch Ultra connected  a woman’s arm

The Ultra is much, overmuch bigger than the 40mm SE.

Say you person a Series 3, Series 4, oregon archetypal SE, and you don’t springiness a singular crap astir the EKG, humor oxygen, oregon somesthesia sensors. You get to prevention wealth portion inactive getting a faster experience, newer bundle successful a negligibly bigger case, and clang detection. In these scenarios, you’re getting a 1:1 speech oregon better. 

It’s murkier for Series 5 and Series 6 owners. You’re looking astatine the aforesaid surface size, and if you don’t worth precocious wellness sensors but privation faster performance, this could beryllium a steal. But I’d accidental you’re amended served by a refurbished Series 7 oregon a caller Series 8. You don’t person to usage the AOD, but the bigger show is perfectly worthy it. Buying past year’s exemplary is besides a bully mode to get much costly lawsuit materials astatine a much affordable price. Sale holidays similar Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day are fantabulous times to hunt for discounts connected the Series 7. 

Woman holding up   the Apple Watch SE (2022) connected  her wrist

I’ll miss the lighter weight, but for me, the always-on show and thinner bezels are worthy the other moolah.

I got utilized to the SE’s smaller surface aft a while, but I was blessed to strap the Series 8 and Ultra backmost connected my wrist for further testing. I will miss the lighter value and the mode it looks connected my wrist, but not astatine the disbursal of my big, beauteous always-on display. But I’m an aged biddy successful the wearables game. I’m not the SE’s people audience. Now, if you’ve ne'er had an Apple Watch and consciousness curious, skeptical, and wary astatine the aforesaid clip — the SE is the close prime for you.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Agree to Continue: Apple Watch SE (2022)

Every astute instrumentality present requires you to hold to a bid of presumption and conditions earlier you tin usage it — contracts that nary 1 really reads. It’s intolerable for america to work and analyse each azygous 1 of these agreements. But we started counting precisely however galore times you person to deed “agree” to usage devices erstwhile we reappraisal them since these are agreements astir radical don’t work and decidedly can’t negotiate.

You tin lone usage the Apple Watch SE (2022) with an iPhone. That means you’ll person already agreed to the iPhone’s presumption of work and privateness agreements. Using optional services, similar Apple Pay, Apple Music, oregon Fitness Plus, with your SE volition besides travel with their ain agreements. Using the Health app besides comes with its own terms and conditions.

If you take to alteration cellular service, you’ll besides person to hold to your carrier’s terms. I activated cellular connected T-Mobile and was asked to hold to 1 mandatory agreement.

If you adhd immoderate third-party apps oregon integrations, you indispensable besides hold to those idiosyncratic presumption and privateness policies.

Specific to the Apple Watch, you indispensable hold to the following:

Final tally: 1 mandatory statement positive immoderate mandatory agreements for your iPhone. Several, respective optional agreements.

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