If you’re looking for a new smartwatch with a slick design, great options for fitness tracking and clever software then Apple’s smartwatches are a great choice.
However, deciding on the right model can be tricky. You don’t want to pay for features you don’t need, but on the other hand, you don’t want to miss out on the exciting additions that come with the flagship model.
In September 2020 Apple released the Apple Watch 6 and the Apple Watch SE. But how do you decide which is the right model for you?
We’ve tested both devices thoroughly and we’ll run you through the key features of both models, including how they differ in terms of features, design, battery life and fitness skills.
In this article, we’ll specifically look at the differences between the Apple Watch 6 vs Apple Watch SE, but if you’re interested in other smartwatch brands and models check out our article on the best smartwatches we’ve reviewed for 2021.
The first thing that many consider when buying a new piece of tech is the price – and this is where the Apple Watch SE wins hands-down.
Like the iPhone SE range, the Watch SE line is designed for those who want to save a little extra cash and aren’t so fussed about having all the high-end features.
However, the Apple Watch 6 does include a lot more than the SE, especially when it comes to fitness. If fitness tracking and health monitoring is a deal-breaker for you, then you’ll want to spend that bit extra. You’ll benefit in the long run.
You can see below the RRP of the cheapest model in the range and check out the deals widget to see live prices.
|||Price UK (£)||Price US ($)||Price EU (€)|
|Apple Watch 6||£379||$399||€429|
|Apple Watch SE||£269||$279||€299|
At first glance, both the smartwatches have a similar look and feel. They each have an OLED display (a kind of panel that uses pixels that produce their own light for brighter colours and better contrast than an LCD display) and both include the Digital Crown. This is the small rotating dial on the side that’s used for smooth navigation and saves you from prodding through the UI with your finger.
One difference you’ll notice is that the Apple Watch SE doesn’t have a display that stays on all the time – often called an always-on display or AOD. If you want to see the time, then you’ll need to flick your wrist up.
The Apple Watch 6 has this always-on display so you just need to glance down at your wrist to see time, notifications and more.
The lack of an always-on display is one of the bigger reasons to plump for the pricier wearable and it’s a feature that can be hard to live without if you’ve used it before. The blank display of the SE can make it feel more like a computer on your wrist than an actual watch.
If you’re keen to customise the look of your watch then the Apple Watch 6 has a wider variety of finishes and materials available, including a lovely blue and higher-end metals.
Both models allow you to add different coloured straps and there are plenty of these available, again in multiple material options, from Apple and many third-party options.
The Apple SE may be the cheaper option, but in terms of design, it still looks great.
Both the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE come in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm.
40mm vs 44mm
When it comes to choosing between the two sizing options the most important factor is which will feel more comfortable on your wrist.
The 44mm is bigger, but not huge and will fit most people. However, if you have smaller wrists, then the 40mm version may be a more comfortable fit.
There’s no difference in thickness between the two sizes, so neither version should feel too bulky to wear. Because there’s more room to play with the 44mm watch then there is a larger battery, hence more battery life which is a plus and something we definitely noticed.
If you do decide to go for the 44mm version of either watch, then it will be a bit more expensive.
Both watches come with a vast array of features. However, if tracking your fitness and monitoring your health is important to you, then the Apple Watch 6 outperforms the Apple Watch SE.
The headline feature of the Apple Watch 6 for fitness lovers is a sensor that measures blood oxygen levels. You can have this running in the background or launch it manually. It usually takes around 15 seconds to get a reading.
There’s also an ECG monitor which keeps an eye on your heart rhythm and looks for signs of arrhythmia in your heartbeat. If the readings look worrying, then you look at seeing a doctor.
Neither of these features are available on the Apple Watch SE. However, that’s not to say that the Apple Watch SE won’t appeal to people who need to track their health and step up their fitness regimes.
Both watches have GPS tracking and are water-resistant so you can wear them when you go swimming. You can use both watches to track your sleep (a feature that has long been missing from Apple watches) and measure your heart rate throughout the day. They can also detect when the wearer falls over and send a notification to either a chosen contact or emergency service. This is a feature that we love as it isn’t just helpful and clever, it could save someone’s life.
Another handy addition available on both models is a reminder to wash your hands, alongside a timer to make sure you wash them for at least 20 seconds. A clever feature that’s especially relevant today. We found that while this is a nice touch, it doesn’t always kick in action when you want it to.
If you’re more interested in tracking your exercise, whether walking, running, hiking or swimming, then the SE will suit your needs. However, if you want to go a little deeper and monitor your health in more detail, then it’s worth upgrading to the Apple Watch 6 for the ECG monitor and blood oxygen level sensor.
|Features||Apple Watch 6||Apple Watch SE|
|Blood oxygen level sensor?||Yes||No|
|Heart rate monitor?||Yes||Yes|
With both models, we found that you need to charge your Apple smartwatch at least once a day. You’ll need a dedicated charger and using certain features heavily such as GPS or music streaming will wear the battery down faster.
The Apple Watch 6 takes an hour to charge to 80% and 1.5 hours to charge to 100%. Apple says that you’ll get up to 18 hours of all-day battery life, and this includes 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback.
The Apple Watch SE offers the same all-day battery life (18 hours with the same checks, notifications, and app use) but it does take a little longer to charge. It takes 1.5 hours to charge this watch to 80%, and 2.5 hours to charge it to 100%.
If you want to stretch the battery life of your watch you could reduce the time spent on the apps and trackers. Unfortunately, if you’re a heavy user then you will need to charge both of these watches every day to get the most out of all the features.
Fitness tracking comparison
Both watches offer a range of options for fitness tracking and will help you keep active.
You can use the GPS function to track your runs and Activity and Workout apps will allow you to measure your movement, steps climbed and calories burned each day. Because the GPS is built into both watches, this means that you can go for a run without taking your phone. Handy if your running outfit is light on pockets.
You can also track how long you’ve been active each day, and set yourself fitness goals.
Both are very accurate with their trackers and we found the stats matched up to other wearables we compared them with.
If you’re keen to get in shape and want to look at other fitness trackers available then we have another article on the best fitness trackers available in 2021.
You might like…
The Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch 6 have a lot of similar features, and if you’re looking for a smartwatch that can track your exercise then the SE is a great watch.
However, if you want to measure your health in more detail and take advantage of the blood oxygen level sensor and ECG monitor, then the Apple Watch 6 is the right model for you.