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The Apple Watch SE 2 is a basic, affordable and very good smartwatch for iOS users.


  • Plenty of the best Apple Watch features in a cheaper package
  • Excellent software
  • Wide customisation options
  • Accurate tracking


  • Slow charging
  • No always-on display


  • UKRRP: £259
  • USARRP: $249
  • EuropeRRP: €292
  • CanadaRRP: CA$329
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$399

Key Features

  • Plenty of sensorsHRM, GPS but no temperature sensor
  • WatchOSPlenty of apps and frequent updates
  • Two size and multiple colour options40mm and 44mm sizes plus Midnight, Silver and Starlight hues


The Apple Watch SE 2 is the latest Apple Watch from the SE range, which caters to those who can’t quite stretch their budget to the Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra.

Despite being available at a far more affordable price, the Apple Watch SE 2 shares many of the same fantastic features as the standard Series 8 watch. This makes it ideal for those buying a smartwatch for the first time, or if you’re upgrading from the likes of the Apple Watch Series 3 and don’t fancy spending a fortune.

However, you will miss out on a few features by opting for the cheaper SE 2 over the Series 8. These include fall detection, blood oxygen tracking, fast charging and a larger screen. So is the Apple Watch SE 2 still worth a buy? Here are my thoughts.

Design and Screen

  • Classic Apple Watch design with many strap options
  • Two case sizes: 40mm and 44mm
  • Sharp screen but no always-on display

The design of the SE 2 is basically the same as the original Apple Watch SE and sticks to the Apple Watch blueprint that has barely changed since the very first edition of the wearable.

There are two available sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and aside from the larger model having slightly better battery life and a larger display, there are no obvious differences between the two. If you prefer a smaller watch, the 40mm is the best bet while those who want a larger watch with an easier-to-read screen should go for the 44mm version.

One of the benefits of Apple sticking to the same Apple Watch shape for so long is the absolutely massive amount of strap options out there. While the basic SE 2 comes with a nice, soft and sport-focussed silicone strap, there are metal, leather and other styles available from multiple sources. I’m a big fan of Apple’s loop bands, which remove any clasps for a clean look that’s easy to slip on and off.

Apple has switched up some of the materials used in this generation of Apple Watch SE. The rear is constructed from a tweaked material and it now matches the colouring of the watch as a whole. More importantly, this new material makes for a lighter watch that I found a little comfier to wear than both the heavier Series 8 and original SE.

Apple Watch SE 2 on wrist
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I’ve been wearing the Watch SE 2 for a few months now, and it remains in good condition with very few scratches picked up in everyday use. It does lack the IPX8 rating for dust resistance found on the Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, but it’s still swim-proof (Apple says up to 50m) so can be worn in the shower or pool. There’s also toughened Ion-X glass on the screen which is the same as the base Series 8 models.

The layout of the buttons remains the same as all the Apple Watch models aside from the higher-end Ultra. While the screen can be interacted with to navigate the UI, I much prefer using the responsive Digital Crown to zip around apps and menu. There’s a shortcut button below it too, for quickly accessing things like your digital wallet.

Apple Watch SE 2 angled

Having spent a lot of time with the Apple Watch Ultra, I really hope the very useful Action Button filters down to the SE in future years. This additional shortcut has different uses depending on which app it’s connected to, so it can, for instance, start a workout and then perform differing functions once the workout has started. 

The display is arguably the area where the SE 2 disappoints most when compared to the Series 8. The bezel around the OLED display is larger here, removing a little of the immersion you get with the Series 8. I found the chunky surround of the display a little offputting having come directly from reviewing the Series 8, however I quickly got used to it and it wasn’t much of an issue in the long run.

Apple Watch SE 2 side profile
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Far more of a downgrade is the lack of an always-on display. This means that when you’re not looking directly at the watch it’s completely off, without showing glanceable information like the time. To see the time, you need to interact with the watch to get it to kick into life.

With an always-on display, you can glance at the time in a much more subtle way than you can do here. For instance, with the Series 8, I could look down at my wrist while typing to see the time, whereas with the SE 2 I need to pull my wrist up and look directly at it. To some, this might seem like a pointless moan but I feel the Watch SE 2 feels less like a traditional watch because of it and something I have to physically interact with.

The always-on display isn’t just for the time on other versions of the Apple Watch – during a workout it keeps your stats visible at all times, which it handy if you need to keep an eye on your heart rate.

Still, the screen itself is great. Bright (Apple claims up to 1000 nits) enough to comfortably see outdoors while running in bright sunlight and dim enough so it won’t wake up your partner if the watch accidentally goes off at night.

Fitness Tracking and Performance

  • Accurate data collected from runs
  • HRM, GPS but no ECG
  • Improved sleep tracking

If you were hoping the Apple Watch SE 2 would come with a bevvy of upgrades to its fitness tracking hardware then prepare to be a little disappointed. There are very few new features here and certainly not enough to warrant an upgrade.

The biggest improvement is to the accelerometer inside, with it now being more accurate. This ties into the new Car Crash Detection feature which requires an upgraded sensor.

If the watch detects you’ve been in a car accident, it’ll first try to confirm whether you’re ok and then contact emergency services. Thankfully I haven’t been able to properly test this feature (for obvious reasons) but it’s certainly welcome to see the Apple Watch become a more general wellbeing tool.

Apple Watch SE 2 back
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Watch SE 2 features the same array of sensors as the previous model, with things like GPS, HRM and the like all accounted for. However, it pales in comparison to the Series 8 which adds an ECG, blood oxygen sensor and temperature sensor into the mix. The lack of an ECG monitor – a sensor designed to alert you to any issues with heart rhythms – is the biggest miss and it’s a shame Apple hasn’t trickled this important feature down to its cheaper wearables.

The lack of a temperature sensor – one of the Series 8’s biggest additions – stops the SE 2 from being able to be used for female cycle tracking or giving an overview of body temperature when the watch is worn during sleep.

While the fitness features haven’t seen huge upgrades, I have still found the Apple Watch SE 2 to be an excellent wearable for accurately keeping track of runs, gym sessions or just daily movement. I have found the GPS accuracy on par with the pricier Series 8 and the Garmin Forerunner 955  – and more reliable than the Google Pixel Watch.

As the base Apple Watch, this is an excellent first smartwatch. There’s the Workout app for those who want to track runs or HIIT sessions, while the Activity app is great at encouraging movements and reaching a step goal throughout the day. Apple’s simple trick of asking you – and constantly badgering you – to fill in three rings remains one of the most addictive methods of encouragement I have found on a smartwatch.

Apple Watch SE 2 app on iPhone
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The watch does a good job at automatically noticing when you’ve started to exercise so even if you forget to log it, the data will still be captured. Throughout my time reviewing this watch, this has worked well – especially for longer walks I hadn’t thought worthy of heading into the Workouts app to configure. It’s a little less accurate in the gym, so I tended to set it manually in these situations just to make sure all the data was being captured correctly.

A lot of the newer health and fitness features actually come from the watchOS software that launched alongside the SE 2. There’s improved sleep tracking with sleep stages, deeper running data and heart rate zones. Of course, this software brings the same advances to the previous Watch SE, so they’re not a reason to upgrade.

The S8 chip inside ensures good performance; rarely is there anything slow or laggy about the general UI experience.

Battery Life

  • Charges slower than the Series 8
  • Average battery life, but can easily get through a day

Battery life on Apple Watch models has always been a sore point, especially for those used to Garmin, Fitbit and even Huawei watches that can go days and often weeks between charges. Apple claims the Watch SE 2 will run for about 18 hours per charge but really it depends on how you use it as to how often you’ll need to charge it up.

For example, on numerous days wearing this watch I have gone a full two days between charges. That’s with sleep tracking enabled nightly, auto-workout picking up tracking longer walks and the usual day-to-day activities like checking notifications. If these are your main use cases, you should get past that 18 hour mark, although you might need to enable the Low Power Mode as you enter the final hours of day two,

On days when I was interacting more with the watch – streaming music through Apple Music to a connected pair of AirPods Pro, tracking gym sessions or walking the dog for a couple of miles then the battery drops noticeably. On these days I would end the day with 10-15% left in the tank and would usually charge the watch before I went to sleep so I would then be able to track my slumber without fear of waking up with a dead watch.

The Watch SE 2 lacks the speedy charging of the Watch Series 8 and Ultra, which is a real shame – especially when you want to track your sleep after a busy day of use.

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Should you buy it?

You want the basic Apple Watch for everyday tracking: All the important features are here – excellent software, GPS and plenty of workout modes – meaning this is a great first smartwatch for iOS users.

An always-on display is a must: Out of all the missing features, the always-on display feels like the most obvious. If this is a vital feature for you, go for the Apple Watch Series 8 instead.

Final Thoughts

The Apple Watch SE 2 is a very minor update – similar to the jump from the iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 – yet it remains an excellent wearable for iOS users who don’t want, or need, some of the flashier features of the pricier models.

If you’re on the hunt for a first smartwatch to keep an eye on your movements or gym sessions, or just to stay up to date on your daily notifications, then this is a great choice. Those who demand a little more, like an always-on display and a more modern design, should look at the Apple Watch Series 8.

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How we test

We thoroughly test every fitness tracker we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Worn as our main tracker for three months

Used in the gym, pool and elsewhere


Will this work with an Android phone or an iPad?

The Apple Watch SE 2 requires an iPhone 6S or newer, running the latest available version of iOS.

Is there a charger included in the box?

There is no charger included with the Apple Watch, you’ll need to buy one separately. A USB-C cable is included.

Will the Apple Watch SE 2 work with older straps?

Yes, as long as the sizes match up. If you get the 45mm one, look for compatible straps with the size, Same for the 41mm version.

Full specs

Screen Size
IP rating
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date

Jargon buster


An abbreviation of the Global Positioning System, which uses satellite communication to pinpoint your location. Some smartwatches are able to achieve this communication without the use of a smartphone.

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