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Apple Watch Series 6 vs. SE: What's the difference?

Lucie Spraggs's picture

At Apple's virtual event last week, the company launched two new smartwatches: The Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. Both devices run WatchOS 7, but because the Watch SE is a more affordable version of Apple's flagship Watch line, it has fewer features and a less advanced S5 chipset. The devices have cellular and Wi-Fi only variants and began shipping out Sept. 18.

Need help picking?

To make matters simple, we've compared the Apple Watch Series 6 to the Watch SE and Watch Series 3 here so you can see exactly what the differences and similarities are, whether you're looking to upgrade or take the smartwatch plunge.

 

Design: Similar looks, but a few differences

Both the Watch Series 6 and the SE have the same display and resolution, so you'll get the same viewing experience. They are also water resistant so you can swim with them, and they work with Apple's two new bands, the Solo and Braided loops. The Watch Series 6, however, has more design and colour choices. In addition to the standard silver, grey and gold aluminium colours, the Series 6 comes in blue and red. It also has steel and titanium variants, with different colour options in both materials. Hermès, the luxury fashion company and long-time partner of Apple Watch also has new bands of its own for the Series 6. Lastly, the Series 6 has an Always-on display. Originally introduced in the Watch Series 5 last year, it means that the display is constantly on and you don't need to raise your wrist or tap the screen to look at the time or check for notifications.

Hardware

The Watch SE has a dual-core processor called the S5 - said to be 2x faster than the S3 (in the Series 3) - though it is coupled with the same wireless chip as the Series 3 - the W2. The Apple Watch Series 6 has an upgraded processor claimed to be 20 per cent faster than the S5, called the S6. It also has the next generation wireless chip called the W3. Both the GPS only and GPS and Cellular models of both the Watch SE and Series 6 have 32GB of memory, though of course the GPS and Cellular model has LTE connectivity. The LTE connectivity means you can make and receive calls and text messages, as well as perform all the tasks you'd want to on your Watch without your iPhone in range. It also works for Family Setup. All the Watch models being compared here have built-in GPS, optical heart rate sensor, speaker, microphone, water resistance up to 50 metres, emergency SOS, gyroscope and an ambient light sensor. They also all offer Apple Pay. The Watch SE and Series 6 add an always-on altimeter - the Series 3 has a standard altimeter - a built in compass, second generation optical heart rate sensor, international emergency calling and fall detection thanks to the improved accelerometer that offers up to 32 g-forces instead of up to 16 g-forces as found in the Series 3. On top of those additions, the Series 6 also adds a blood oxygen sensor and an electrical heart rate sensor for ECG.