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Apple Watch SE 2 vs Apple Watch SE: Is it worth pre-ordering?

Apple launched its latest, sort of affordable, smartwatch, the Apple Watch SE 2 at its Far Out event at the start of September alongside its more premium Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch 8.

But, with the device looking all but identical to its 2020 predecessor and Apple giving woefully little detail on its store page about its specs, you may justifiably be wondering what’s actually new in the Apple Watch SE 2.

Here to help we’ve created this early versus guide detailing the main big differences between the newly launched Apple Watch SE 2 and first generation Apple Watch SE, which earned a place as one of the best Apple Watches that when we first reviewed it. This is an early guide detailing the technical differences between the two. We’ll update it with our real world impressions of how the two compare once we get the Apple Watch SE 2 in for review.


The Apple Watch SE 2 is set to retail for £259/$249 for the GPS model and £319/$299 for the LTE version. This actually makes it cheaper than the now discontinued first generation Apple Watch SE, which carried a £269/$279 starting price when it launched in 2020. The Apple Watch SE 2 is set to go live for pre-order at 1pm (UK) on 9 September and then ship on the 16th alongside the new iPhone 14 phones.

New colours and a more eco-friendly manufacturing process

At first glance the SE 2 and SE are all but identical. They both have the same pebble shaped chassis, digital crown control and OLED screens. But the SE 2 comes in different colours. Specifically you can get the SE 2 in midnight (like the new MacBook Air), Silver and Starlight. The first gen’ SE was available in Silver, Black and Gold.

On top of this, the SE 2 features a new back case made of nylon composite materials and is made using a different manufacturing process. Apple claims this has led to an 80 percent reduction in the new SE 2’s carbon footprint.

Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch SE first gen’

The Apple Watch SE 2 is more powerful

Despite looking all but identical the Apple Watch SE 2 has had a few important under the hood upgrades. The biggest is a move to use the same S8 chip as the Apple Watch Series 8 model.

We haven’t used the chip in either device but Apple claims it’ll offer a 20 percent speed increase over the first-generation Apple Watch SE. We’ll look forward to checking this when we get the new SE 2 in for testing, but considering we never had any serious performance issues with the first generation Watch SE, it hardly seems like a big feature to get excited about.

The SE 2 has a few more wellness and accident tracking features

As well as the new silicon, the Watch SE 2 also features a few features you won’t find on the first gen SE wearable. These include water resistance of 50 metres, emergency SOS, a new heart rate sensor and fall detection. As an added perk it also has the same crash detection you’ll find on the Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, which adds to its allure as an SOS device for cyclists and drivers. You won’t get any of these on the first generation Apple Watch SE.


You can see a full breakdown of the Apple Watch SE 2 and Apple Watch SE’s specs in the table below. In it you’ll see the only real changes are to its CPU and water resistance rating at a hardware level.

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

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