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Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE (2021): Which One Should You Buy?

As if 2020 isn’t already full of surprises, Apple recently shocked everyone by releasing not one but two new Apple Watches. We were only anticipating the Apple Watch Series 6 and so the launch of the Apple Watch SE threw us in for a loop. We’re not complaining though because the SE is a much more affordable way to get your hands on an Apple Watch. Given its cheaper price tag though, you’re probably wondering how it’s different from the Series 6 and if it’s actually any good. To help you decide which one you should get, here’s an in-depth comparison of the two new models, taking their design, display, features, and price into consideration.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6Apple Watch SE
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Display Area759 sqmm2 (40mm version)
977 sqmm2 (44mm version)
759 sqmm2 (40mm version)
977 sqmm2 (44mm version)
Material OptionsAluminum, stainless steel, titaniumAluminum
Always-On Retina DisplayYesNo
Electrical Heart Rate SensorYesNo
Second Generation Optical Heart SensorYesYes
Blood Oxygen SensorYesNo
Always-On AltimeterYesYes
Fall DetectionYesYes
Water Resistance5ATM5ATM
Battery Life18 hours18 hours

Design and Display

The Apple Watch Series 6 has an always-on retina display and is offered in more design options than the SE.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 (left) and SE (right) are offered in 40mm and 44mm versions.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and the SE are quite similar in appearance, both taking after the design of previous Apple Watch models. They do, however, have much larger screen displays than their predecessors which gives them a bolder, more impressive look. The 40mm options of these two new models will give you 759 sqmm2 of display area while the 44mm versions measure in at 977 sqmm2.

Display-wise, the Series 6 has the upper hand over the SE, thanks to its always-on retina display. While you’d have to raise your wrist to activate the screen on the SE, the Series 6’s display is always visible and accessible to you. If you do raise your wrist while you’re wearing the Series 6, its screen will brighten up so that you can see its display better. Also, the Series 6 is equipped with sensors that are missing on the SE. It has, for example, an electrical heart rate sensor that’s incorporated into its Digital Crown. Of course, we can’t forget about the blood oxygen sensor, the most exciting feature on the Series 6.

Another advantage that the Series 6 has over the SE is its wide variety of design options. The Series 6 is offered in a bunch of materials and colors, namely aluminum (red, blue, silver, gold, and space grey), stainless steel (graphite, silver, and gold), and titanium (natural and space black). It even has Nike and Hermes models if you want to look extra sporty or posh. As for the SE, you’re limited to aluminum in space grey, silver, or gold.

Features

The Apple Watch Series 6 has powerful wellness capabilities that are missing on the SE.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 (left) and SE (right) run on watchOS 7.

First, let’s get the similarities out of the way. The Series 6 and the SE have an optical heart sensor, always-on altimeter, fall detection, built-in GPS, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, 50-meter water resistance, Apple Pay, and emergency SOS. Both run on watchOS 7 and even have the same 18-hour battery life. While they do have plenty of features in common, the Series 6 has a big edge over the SE because of its powerful health and wellness capabilities. The fact that it can read your blood oxygen level and take your ECG brings it to a whole different level.

The Series 6’s blood oxygen sensor, made up of 4 LED clusters and 4 photodiodes, can calculate the amount of oxygen present in your blood. All it needs is 15 seconds to give you your results which you can view on the new Blood Oxygen app. Aside from taking on-demand readings, it also keeps track of things in the background, making sure that you’re covered all around the clock. It’s especially important for COVID-19 patients to be aware of their blood oxygen level because it’s an indication of how severely the virus is affecting their body.

As for the Series 6’s electrical heart rate sensor, it measures your heart’s electric signals, able to determine if it’s beating in a normal pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation. So if you’re looking for a smart watch that’s able to give you important insights into your respiratory and cardiac health, you can count on the Series 6 to deliver in ways that the SE can’t.

Price

Purchasing the Apple Watch SE over the Series 6 lets you save at least $100.

The price of the Apple Watch 6 increases if you choose more premium materials.

We all already know that the Apple Watch SE is more affordable than the Series 6 but by how much? Well, the SE has a base price of $299 while the Series 6 starts at $399, and that’s only for the GPS model. If you want the version with both GPS and cellular, that’s an additional hundred bucks. You’re going to have to shell out even more if you’re eyeing more premium materials such as stainless steel and titanium, priced respectively at $699 and $799. As if that’s not pricey enough, there’s the Hermes model which is on the market for a whopping $1,249. So if you’re purchasing the SE, it’s safe to say that you’ll get to save at least $100.

Verdict

It’s worth splurging on the Apple Watch Series 6 if you need advanced health and wellness insights.

Apple Watch Series 6

Best for those who need advanced health insights

Apple Watch SE

Best for those who need to stick to a budget

If you don’t need advanced insights and don’t mind the lack of design options, the Apple Watch SE is the better pick. While its capabilities may not be as robust as those of the Series 6, it still boasts of the latest features such as a second-generation optical heart sensor, an always-on altimeter, and fall detection. The best part is, you won’t completely devastate your wallet if you do decide to purchase the SE.

As for the Apple Watch Series 6, not only are its health and wellness features impressive but they might actually be a necessity to some. If you think that having ready access to your respiratory and cardiac health data will help abate your worries, it might be better to go with the Series 6 even if it does mean shelling out more. To boot, the Series 6 is offered in a bunch of different materials and colors so you’re sure to find one that perfectly suits your taste.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ How much are the Apple Watch Series 6 and SE?

The Apple Watch SE has a base price of $299 while the Series 6 starts at $399, and that’s only for the GPS model. If you want the version with both GPS and cellular, that’s an additional hundred bucks.

๐Ÿ“Œ What are the best features of the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Apple Watch Series 6 has powerful wellness capabilities that are missing on the SE. It can, for example, measure your blood oxygen level as well as take your ECG.

๐Ÿ“Œ What are the best features of the Apple Watch SE?

While the Apple Watch SE’s capabilities may not be as robust as those of the Series 6, it still boasts of the latest features such as a second generation optical heart sensor, an always-on altimeter, and fall detection.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which one should you buy, the Apple Watch Series 6 or SE?

If you need advanced health and wellness insights and don’t mind splurging, go for the Apple Watch Series 6. But if you want a more cost-effective option, pick the SE.

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.