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Apple Watch Series 7 vs SE (2021): What’s the Difference?

The new Apple Watch Series 7 may be replacing the Apple Watch Series 6 as the premium smartwatch in the Cupertino brand’s lineup. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Apple Watch Series SE is still the company’s best midrange offering.

Without a doubt, the Watch Series 7 has more features and the better specs. That includes a bigger display, improved durability, and health sensors you’d expect from a top-of-the-line wearable. But needless to say, it’s way more expensive in comparison, which leads to the question of whether or not it’s worth getting over its mid-tier sibling. After all, the Watch SE pretty much delivers a similar user experience, except that it lacks a bit in health tracking.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs SE Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 7Apple Watch SE
 Apple Watch Series 7 vs SEApple Watch SE (GPS, 40mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band
PriceStarts at $399Check Price
Sizes41mm, 45mm40mm, 44mm
DisplayRetina LTPO OLED, always-on supportRetina LTPO OLED
Case MaterialAluminum, stainless steel, titaniumAluminum
Storage32GB32GB
Battery Life18 hours18 hours
ConnectivityGPS or GPS and LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, 5GHz Wi-FiGPS or GPS and LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Water Resistance5ATM5ATM
Dust ResistanceIP6Xn/a
Fall DetectionYesYes
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Blood Oxygen AppYesNo
Electrocardiogram or ECG AppYesNo
ColorsGreen, Blue, (PRODUCT)RED, Starlight, MidnightSilver, Gold, Space Gray

Display and Build

The Apple Watch Series 7’s display is 20 percent bigger than the Apple Watch SE’s screen.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs SE Display and Build
A closer look at the curvature of the Apple Watch Series 7 (in photo).

To start things off, the Watch Series 7 comes in 41mm and 45mm, making it slightly larger than the Watch SE’s 40mm and 44mm options. Similar to the Watch Series 6, it’s available in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium case, while the Watch SE gives users no other choice but aluminum.

Water resistance is the same with both rated at 5ATM, meaning they can be worn while swimming since they can survive depths of up to 50 meters. However, the Watch Series 7 takes durability up a notch with an IP6X dust resistance rating.

According to Apple, the Watch Series 7 is 70 percent brighter than the Watch Series 6 and has 40 percent smaller bezels, which come in at 1.7mm. To put two and two together, its screen is bigger by 20 percent than that of the Watch SE. For the record, both sport a Retina LTPO OLED display, but only the Watch Series 7 has always-on mode support.

Design-wise, the Watch Series 7 boasts what the company refers to as a “unique refractive edge” that makes for a seamless integration with the case. In other words, it looks sleeker. There are also five colors to choose from: Green, Blue, PRODUCT(RED), Starlight, and Midnight. As everyone probably knows by now, the Watch SE comes in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold.

Click here for our Apple Watch SE vs Series 6 comparison.

Health and Activity Tracking

The Apple Watch Series 7 provides more insight into your health than the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs SE Health and Activity Tracking
Both the Apple Watch Series 7 (left) and Apple Watch SE (right) have fall detection.

In terms of activity tracking, both are more or less on par with each other. They keep tabs on the same metrics and offer similar exercises and automatic workout detection. However, the Watch Series 7 has the upper hand when it comes to health tracking. For starters, it’s the only one of the two that has electrocardiogram or ECG and blood oxygen or SpO2 apps.

That said, the Watch SE doesn’t lag behind that far. Like the Watch Series 7, it features automatic fall detection, and it also has a continuous heart rate monitor along with abnormal heart rate alerts and irregular heart rhythm notifications. 

Moreover, Apple isn’t giving the Watch SE the cold shoulder, as it’s included in the watchOS 8 upgrade roadmap. The new software is set to include a Mindfulness app, Tai Chi and Pilates workout modes, and sleep respiratory rate tracking, among other things. 

Battery Life and Other Features

The Apple Watch Series 7 can charge faster than the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs SE Battery Life and Other Features
Here are the QWERTY keyboard and Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch Series 7 (in photo).

Both smartwatches have an estimated battery life of 18 hours. It goes without saying that that largely varies depending on how long GPS is enabled and things like brightness settings. They also have LTE variants too, and keeping cellular connectivity on can use up a lot of power. However, the Watch Series 7 provides 33 percent faster charging when compared to the Watch Series 6’s charging speed, which is thanks to a new USB-C cable. Put differently, it’s the Apple Watch with the fastest charging speed so far.

The two have the same 32GB of storage as well. That can be used for apps, watch faces, and anything else along those lines. It can also store songs from Apple Music or Spotify for offline music playback.

One noteworthy addition Apple gave the Watch Series 7 is a QWERTY keyboard with two larger font sizes for ease of use too. That way, users can tap to type or use QuickPath for glide typing besides scribbling or asking Siri to type out words.

Verdict

If money’s no object, the Apple Watch Series 7 is the way to go, but the Apple Watch SE is a more affordable alternative that’s likely enough for most users.

Again, the Apple Watch Series 7 is definitely the better smartwatch here, but the question is whether its advantages are worth the higher price tag or not. To recap, it has a bigger display, more health-tracking sensors, faster charging, and dust resistance to boot. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch SE can get the job done and offer similar results. It just doesn’t have ECG or SpO2 tracking, but in its defense, it’s getting watchOS 8 too, meaning it isn’t getting left in the dust in features.

Long story short, if all the extras on the Watch Series 7 are important to you, then it’s obviously your best bet here. However, if a simpler and relatively more streamlined user experience is what you’re after, then the Watch SE can go a long way without breaking the bank.

FAQs

📌 What’s the difference between the Apple Watch Series 7 and SE?

The Apple Watch Series 7 has ECG and SpO2 apps, a larger display, and faster charging, to name a few of its unique features. On the other hand, the Apple Watch SE is similar in features and functionality, but it can’t record ECG or SpO2.

📌 Which is better, the Apple Watch Series 7 or SE?

The Apple Watch Series 7 is better than the Watch SE because of its additional health sensors and features, as well as better build quality. However, the latter is still a viable option for an affordable, no-frills smartwatch.

📌 Is the Apple Watch SE still worth the buy?

Yes, the Apple Watch SE remains as an affordable smartwatch that packs plenty of features. That includes automatic fall detection, abnormal heart rate alerts, and a wide variety of workouts.

📌 Is the Apple Watch Series 7 worth the upgrade?

From what we can gather, the Apple Watch Series 7 has plenty of improvements over its predecessors, but they don’t seem enough to justify trading up from the Watch Series 6. However, if you’re coming from, say, the Watch SE or Watch Series 3, then it’s worth the upgrade, especially if health features like ECG and SPo2 tracking are important to you.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.