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Apple Watch 6 vs Apple Watch SE: 2 key similarities and 3 big differences

Apple has unveiled not one but two new Apple Watches at its latest 15 September event and boy do they both look cool.

But with both the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE both looking nearly identical at first glance, you may justifiably be wondering, what’s the difference?

Well as it turns out, if you look under the hood, while both devices are fairly similar there are a few key differences. Here’s what you need to know when comparing the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE.

1. The Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE have near identical designs

The Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE have near identical designs. Both come with the same iconic pebble shaped metallic design as the Apple Watches of yore, which is no bad thing. Both feature the easy to use digital crown control system and come with identical band options. These include the new “solo band” option. This is a new type of Apple Watch band designed for sports and fitness fans that stretches over your wrist. Outside of this both offer equivalent fitness tracking, GPS connectivity and optional LTE.

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2. The Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE run the same software

Both the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE will launch running Apple’s latest WatchOS 7 software. The OS upgrades the watches to add new faces, including a memoji option, plus a few more useful features. The biggest is Apple’s new “family setup”. This lets parents setup, monitor and control their children’s Apple Watch using their iPhone. The service includes GPS location, fall alert and numerous parent control options that will let any worried mum or dad keep tabs on the kids using either Apple Watch.

Other additions include improved app and watch face sharing functionality, a new sleep app with more advanced tracking metrics and custom “hand washing detection” service designed to help combat Covid’s spread.

3. The Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE have different hearts

Despite looking similar, under the hood, both the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE have fairly different hardware. The Watch 6 is the only one of the two to run on Apple’s new dual-core S6 chip. The SE runs using the older S5 chip used on the Series 5. Apple claims the A6 is 20% faster than its predecessor, though we haven’t had a chance to confirm this yet.

4. Only one of them has a key healthcare feature

The Apple Watch 6 is also the only one of the two to feature a new “health sensor”. The sensor sits on the Watch 6’s bottom and is used to let users track their SpO2 levels. SpO2 is a key metric used by athletes to track fitness performance and medical professionals to identify potential respiratory problems.

The sensor works by shooting red light at the user’s wrist to estimate how much oxygen is in their blood. The feature has been a staple part of top end fitness trackers from the likes of Garmin for a while now.

The 6 is also the only one of the two to feature ECG support. This is a feature seen on the Series 5 that tracks the wearer’s heart rate and offers early warnings when it spots signs of heart disease.

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5. The Apple Watch 6 is a lot more expensive than the Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE follows the pattern set by Apple’s iPhone SE 2 handsets and is significantly more cheaper than the Apple Watch 6. The base model of the Watch SE will retail for £269. The lowest configuration of the Apple Watch 6 will retail for a heftier £379.