Skip to main content

Apple Watch SE 2 — everything we know so far

Gift ideas 2020: Best tech gifts of the year: Apple Watch SE
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch SE 2 could be one of Apple's next smartwatch launches. As a follow up to the first Apple Watch SE, the SE 2 would extend the company's offerings in the midrange wearable market.

While the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch every year, it's also expensive. What if there was a more affordable version with most of the same features? Enter the Apple Watch SE, a $279 device and good choice for first-time smartwatch users and those on a tighter budget alike. 

Two years after the original SE debuted, Apple could be ready to release a second-generation version. It would likely upgrade from the chipset found in the Apple Watch 5 to the one in the Apple Watch 6 or Apple Watch 7. Meanwhile, a newer chipset could be reserved for the flagship Apple Watch 8

Beyond that, we don't know much about what the Apple Watch SE will offer in terms of design and specs. But here's what we do know about the rumored smartwatch, and what we hope to see.

Apple Watch SE 2 possible release date and price

We’ve don't know a possible Apple Watch SE release date yet. But going by previous Apple Watch launches, we’re expecting to see the next Apple Watch debut in September 2022. Now, will that that launch only include the Apple Watch 8? Or will we also see the Apple Watch SE? That's the big question posed by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in a recent newsletter. According to Gurman, the Apple Watch SE 2 could be one of three new Apple Watch versions coming in 2022, along with the Apple Watch 8 and a rugged Apple Watch variant.

Similarly, there's no credible rumors about the Apple Watch SE price right now. But Apple has maintained the same Apple Watch price structure throughout all the best Apple Watch models, so we expect the second-generation SE will match the price of the original. The Apple Watch SE starts at $279 for the 40mm model before the best Apple Watch deals, with premiums for the larger 44mm model and cellular connectivity.

Apple Watch SE 2 design

The original Apple Watch SE design Is basically an aesthetic recreation of the Apple Watch 4. Even though it doesn't pack an ECG reader, it's still more like the Series 4 than Apple Watch 5 since there's no always-on display. 

We're guessing the Apple Watch SE 2 won't get an always-on display, either — that's a feature that could remain exclusive to the flagship Apple Watch. That said, the next Apple Watch SE might adopt the Apple Watch 7 sizes and larger display. Comparing the Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6, the Series 7 has a curvier chassis and 20% larger screen.

After using the Apple Watch 7, it's hard to go back to the previous Apple Watch displays. So, we'd want Apple to deliver the updated screen experience to the midrange market. 

Apple Watch SE 2 specs and features

Of course, if the Apple Watch SE 2 were to look like the Apple Watch 7, there's a question of what will be inside. We doubt it would get all the Apple Watch 7's tools, like the Apple Watch Blood Oxygen app and ECG tests. But it should maintain sensors necessary to fitness tracking, like a heart rate readings and GPS. 

The first Apple Watch SE also had an always-on altimeter, compass and fall detection, so we expect the SE 2 would, too. The same can be said for a Cellular option — since the Apple Watch 3 isn't sold in a Cellular version anymore, the Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular the most affordable way to free an Apple Watch from any of the best iPhones. That makes the Apple Watch SE a good choice for Family Setup, if you want to outfit your child or parent with a smartwatch for communication and safety controls.

Then there's Apple Watch SE 2 battery life to consider. Apple's 18-hour "all day" battery life shows no signs of letting up, so we're confident that the next Apple Watch SE will provide the same daily-charge experience. No clue whether that'll include the Apple Watch 7's faster charging, though. 

Apple Watch SE 2: What we want to see

Much of the Apple Watch performance is centered around watchOS. The first Apple Watch SE can be updated to watchOS 8 (here's how to download watchOS 8 if you haven't already), the latest version of Apple's wearable software improving the messaging options, adding support for digital keys and welcoming the Mindfulness app. When watchOS 9 is teased at the next WWDC, we'll have a better sense at what the Apple Watch SE 2 experience could look like.

For now, our biggest wishlist item for the Apple Watch SE is the Apple Watch 7's larger display. It makes a huge difference for day-to-day use, in our opinion. Plus, the Apple Watch is currently sold in three different designs — it would help shoppers to consolidate, even if the SE 2 didn't get an always-on display.

We also hope the next Apple Watch SE marks the end of the Apple Watch 3. Four years later, it's time to retire the third-generation Apple Watch. For $80 more, the Apple Watch SE is already stronger sell. Let the SE 2 be the sole and true equivalent of the iPhone SE in Apple's handset lineup.

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.