Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: The key differences

The Apple Watch is bound to be a popular gift this holiday season, and we’re already seeing notable deals on the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE as we approach Black Friday. If you’re trying to make a decision on which model to buy, head below for more details on the Apple Watch Series 6 vs the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE were both introduced in September, headlining Apple’s special event that also saw the introduction of a new iPad Air. There are quite a few similarities between the Apple Watch SE and the Series 6, but the differences are very important to note as well.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone else this holiday season, the decision between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE can be a tricky one. Here’s everything you need to know.

Design

The design of the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE is nearly identical. They are both available in 40mm and 44mm sizes with slim bezels, rounded corners, and compatibility with Apple’s entire lineup of watch bands.

One of the differences, however, is that the Apple Watch Series 6 is available in different materials and colors, including aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE is only available in three different aluminum finishes: silver, space gray, and gold.

apple watch series 6

Apple Watch Series 6 colors and finishes:

  • Aluminum: (PRODUCT)RED, blue, silver, space gray, gold
  • Stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold
  • Titanium: space black, silver

So while the physical design of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE is similar, the former is available in a much wider array of colors and finishes. Depending on who you’re shopping for, this could be a deciding factor in your decision.

Display

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch Series SE 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. The difference, however, is that the Apple Watch Series 6 features an always-on display.

The Apple Watch Series 6’s always-on display means you don’t have to tap the screen or raise your wrist in order to see the time. As such, many apps and watch faces have been adjusted to take advantage of the new always-on display. This means when the display is dimmed, you can still see the time and certain complications on your watch face. When you raise your wrist or tap the display, it will come back to full brightness.

For example, the Workouts app on Apple Watch has been optimized for the always-on display. This allows you to easily see your time, calories, and other data without having to raise your wrist or awkwardly tap the screen while working out.

Meanwhile, on the Apple Watch SE, you have to raise your wrist or tap the screen in order to see the time and your watch face. This should be familiar to anyone who has used an Apple Watch and is the way it worked until the introduction of the Apple Series 5 last year.

Another display difference worth noting is that the Apple Watch Series 6 titanium and stainless steel models feature sapphire crystal displays, which are more durable than the Ion-X glass display used in the aluminum models of the Series 6 and the SE.

Performance and battery life

The Apple Watch Series 6 is powered by Apple’s newest dual-core S6 processor, which the company says is up to 20% faster than the S5 processor found in the Apple Watch SE. In fact, Apple says that the new Apple Silicon S6 processor is based on the A13 Bionic processor used in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.

In real-world use, whether or not you’re able to notice a difference between the processor in the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE depends on how you use it. For most people using their Apple Watch mainly for fitness tracking and as a complement to your iPhone, the S5 processor is likely powerful enough.

As for battery life, Apple says that the Apple Watch Series SE and Apple Watch Series 6 can both run for up to 18 hours on a single charge. Actual battery life will always vary, but this 18-hour benchmark is a good way to shape your expectations.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is able to charge slightly faster than the Apple Watch SE, with Apple saying it can go from completely dead to fully charged in under 1.5 hours.

Best Apple Watch charging docks:

Health features

Another major differentiator in this comparison is that the Apple Watch Series 6 features several notable health features not available on the Apple Watch SE.

The headlining feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 is its blood oxygen sensor, which allows you to monitor your oxygen saturation from your wrist. Oxygen saturation represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body.

Through the blood oxygen app on the Apple Watch Series 6, you can measure blood oxygen between 70% and 100%. You can manually take a reading in just 15 seconds, and periodic background measurements occur when you’re inactive, including during sleep.

The Apple Watch Series 6 also includes support for taking an electrocardiogram from your wrist. You can then view the results of your ECG from the Health app. The Apple Watch SE does not support taking an ECG or monitoring blood oxygen levels.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE include support for high and low heart rate notifications, as well as irregular heart rhyme notifications. Other health features of both devices include:

  • Emergency SOS
  • International emergency calling
  • Fall detection
  • Noise monitoring

Other tidbits

A few other tidbits worth noting include that the Apple Watch Series 6 includes 5GHz Wi-Fi support, which should provide faster and more reliable performance when your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch SE is limited to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks.

Both Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE include the following features:

  • Dual-core S6 SiP
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback
  • Cellular connectivity on GPS + Cellular models
  • Compass
  • Always-on altimeter
  • Second-generation speaker and mic
  • Family Setup support

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: Pricing

The Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm configurations, with the former regularly going for $279 and the latter going for $309. If you opt for cellular, you’re looking at $329 for the 40mm size and $359 for the 44mm size.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 6 regularly starts at $399 for the 40mm model and $429 for the 44mm model. If you want cellular connectivity, that’ll bump the starting price up to $499 and $529, respectively.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE: The verdict

For many people, the Apple Watch SE is an excellent way to enter the Apple Watch SE is a great way to enter the Apple Watch ecosystem. It features top-of-the-line fitness tracking capabilities, deep integration with other Apple services and products, heart monitoring features, and more.

Apple boosting Chinese production of Apple Watch

But with that having been said, if you can justify the price jump to the Apple Watch Series 6, it features notable additional health tracking features, including blood oxygen and ECG capabilities. There’s also an always-on display that will be useful for many people.

What do you think of the differences between the Apple Watch Series SE vs. the Apple Watch Series 6? Which are you planning to buy? Let us know down in the comments!

Throughout the holiday season, be sure to keep an eye on 9to5Toys for the best Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE deals.

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