Apple has not one, but two smartwatches to choose from this year. Our Apple Watch 6 review and Apple Watch SE review offer individual looks at both, while this Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE face-off explains the differences between the two.
The Apple Watch SE is a mid-tier model that will replace the Apple Watch Series 5 in the company's lineup. However, the Apple Watch 6 has new features such as blood oxygen monitoring and a brighter always-on display, while the more affordable Apple Watch SE has lower-end specs while retaining some key features. We even pointed a reader to the SE for diabetes monitoring.
But which Apple Watch is best for you? We'll compare the Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE to help you make the best decision.
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Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Specs at a glance
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Apple Watch 6
|Apple Watch SE
|Heart rate monitor
Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Price
The Apple Watch 6 will start at $399 for the GPS version, while the Apple Watch SE will cost $279.
If you want a watch with LTE built in, the Apple Watch 6 will start at $499, while the Apple Watch SE will start at $329.
Both models are available in a 40mm and 44mm case size.
Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Design
While both of the new Apple Watches retain the rounded square design as all other models, the Apple Watch 6 will have a brighter display with an always-on feature. It should be especially noticeable outdoors, as Apple says it's 2.5 times brighter.
Additionally, the Series 6 will come in a few new colors, including blue and red, and will be available in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium, whereas the Apple Watch SE will come only in aluminum.
Inside, the Apple Watch 6 will have a faster processor that's up to 20 percent faster than the S5 chip in the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch 5. However, both devices will share an always-on altimeter, gyroscope, compass, and GPS.
Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Health features
The biggest difference in terms of health features between the Apple Watch 6 and the SE is the SpO2 sensor, which measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. Low levels could be an indicator of issues such as sleep apnea, and has also been linked to Covid-19. SpO2 sensors are already in other sports watches from Garmin and others, but have been used primarily for fitness-related functions. Its inclusion in the Apple Watch 6 means that Apple is looking at it more as a health-related indicator.
The Apple Watch 6 also has an ECG monitor, while the SE does not. Shared health and fitness features include fall detection, noise level detection, emergency SOS, and international emergency calling.
Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Battery life
The Apple Watch 6 and SE both to have 18 hour of battery life, just like the Series 5. However, the Series 6 has fast charging, so you'll be able to fully juice the watch in about 90 minutes. You also get an always-on display for 18 hours, rather than a raise-to-wake one, with the premium model.
Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE: Key differences
When choosing between the Apple Watch 6 and the Apple Watch SE, your ultimate decision will be if you want to spend an extra $120 for a brighter display with an always-on option, an ECG monitor and an SpO2 sensor.
Still, the Apple Watch SE feels like an odd compromise between the $399 Apple Watch Series 6 and the $199 Apple Watch 3, which has fewer features but the right price for someone looking for a budget smartwatch. Check out our Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch 3 and Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch 3 face-offs for more on how the newest Apple Watches compare to the Series 3.
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.