Apple has announced the Apple Watch SE, a successor to the three-year-old Apple Watch Series 3. The device starts at $279; cellular models start at $329. It’s available this Friday, but you can order it today.
The model shares some of the features of the new Apple Watch Series 6, including a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter, as well as sleep tracking, fall detection, and hand-washing detection. Cellular models can be used to make emergency calls, even internationally, with the Emergency SOS feature. There’s no always-on display, which was a highlight of the Series 5, ECG functionality, which arrived with the Series 4, or the blood oxygen monitor that’s coming to the Series 6.
The watch uses the S5 System in Package (SiP) and dual-core processor, which also powers the Series 5. Apple says this will deliver up to two times better performance than we saw from the Series 3.
The SE looks similar to the Series 4, which Apple discontinued with the launch of the Series 5 last year. The Series 4 came with 40mm and 44mm displays — the Series 3 held 42mm and 38mm displays in the same case size. Apple says the SE’s Retina display is 30 percent larger than that of the Series 3. It’s also compatible with all Apple Watch bands, including the new silicone Solo Loop and yarn braided Solo Loop that Apple announced today. And it comes with three different cases (all made from recycled aluminum) so you can mix and match.
Similarly to its namesake iPhone SE, the Watch SE is Apple’s first dedicated affordable Apple Watch. It’s meant to compete with the likes of Fitbit and other budget smartwatch models. In the past, the Apple alternatives to products like the $159 Versa Lite and $199 Versa 2 have been older Apple Watch models with discounted prices. (The Watch Series 3 is still being sold for $199, if you’d prefer an older model that uses the older S3 processor.)
The SE will run watchOS 7, which Apple unveiled at WWDC. The update comes loaded with a new activity app (Fitness Plus), which includes workout tracking and virtual classes. It’s the first fitness service built for Apple Watch, and you’ll get three free months with the purchase of a watch (it’s $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after that).
The Watch SE will also support Apple’s new Family Setup, which allows parents to set up and manage Apple Watches for their kids, including features like message monitoring and location alerts. And you’ll be able to share watchfaces with others, using Apple’s new Face Sharing feature. watchOS 7 comes with seven new watchface options.