At its “Far out” event this month, Apple announced the second-generation Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 8. The ‌Apple Watch SE‌ is a low-cost option that still offers many of the Apple Watch features that have made the device so popular over the years, while the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ offers a more feature-rich experience with additional health monitoring capabilities.

apple watch, apple watch se, buyers guide

Both the ‌Apple Watch SE‌ and the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ feature the S8 chip, Crash Detection, water resistance, an optical heart sensor, up to 18 hours of battery life, and more, but there are significant differences between the two devices.

The aluminum ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ starts at $399, while the ‌Apple Watch SE‌ is much more competitively priced at just $249. So what exactly do you get by spending the additional $150 and is it worth it? Our guide answers the question of how to decide which of these two Apple Watch models is best for you.

Differences

Apple Watch SE

  • Aluminum casing
  • Ion-X front glass
  • Color-matched nylon composite back case
  • 44mm or 40mm case size
  • Retina display
  • 324 by 394 pixels with 759 sq mm display area (40mm) and 368 by 448 pixels with 977 sq mm display area (44mm)
  • Second-generation optical heart sensor
  • Cycle tracking
  • Available in Midnight, Starlight, and Silver
  • Starts at $249

Apple Watch Series 8

  • Aluminum or stainless steel casing
  • Ion-X front glass (aluminum) or sapphire crystal (stainless steel)
  • Ceramic back case
  • 45mm or 41 mm case size with edge-to-edge display (nearly 20% more screen area than ‌Apple Watch SE‌)
  • Always-On Retina display
  • 352 by 430 pixels with 904 sq mm display area (41mm) or 396 by 484 pixels with 1143 sq mm display area (45mm)
  • Third-generation optical heart sensor
  • Blood oxygen sensor and Blood Oxygen app
  • Electrical heart sensor and ECG app
  • Temperature sensing
  • Cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates
  • U1 chip
  • Fast charging
  • Available in Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and PRODUCT(RED) (aluminum) or Silver, Graphite, or Gold (stainless steel)
  • Starts at $399 (aluminum) and $699 (stainless steel)

The ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ is a minor improvement over the previous Series 7 model, offering Crash Detection and body temperature sensing. Yet compared to the ‌Apple Watch SE‌, the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ is a considerably more feature-rich device with advanced capabilities.

With its larger display, advanced health monitoring features, and range of colors and finishes, the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ will be the model of choice for those who want the most out of their smartwatch. If you feel that the always-on display, additional health monitoring features, or fast charging would be particularly useful to you, or simply like a specific casing and color combination not available with the ‌Apple Watch SE‌, the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌ will be the best model for you.

If you are on a budget and are not particularly attracted to the additional features of the Series 8, the ‌Apple Watch SE‌ is still a very compelling option. As it shares so many features with the ‌Apple Watch Series 8‌, in most cases you should probably choose the more inexpensive model, unless you particularly value features such as the larger, always-on display or advanced health monitoring and can justify the added cost.

The ‌Apple Watch SE‌ is an ideal device for children and senior citizens who do not have an iPhone thanks to Family Setup, but it is also the go-to model for most customers who are new to the Apple Watch and those who are upgrading from a Series 3 or older due to its competitive pricing and generous feature set, allowing users to get an unconstrained Apple Watch experience at a low cost.

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