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Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE: Which device is the right fit for you?

Find out how the Series 6 compares to Apple's original budget buy.
By

Published onMarch 19, 2024

A user displays the time on his Apple Watch Series 6 highlighting the device's always on display on wrist.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

We’ve said it before: Apple smartwatches are hard to beat. Even the Apple Watch Series 6 and original SE, though older models, are still powerful devices. The Apple Watch SE was originally launched to offer an overall excellent value for anyone on a budget. Since then, the Apple Watch SE 2 has replaced the SE as a mainstay on Apple’s website, but the original generation still sells elsewhere.

Likewise, now outdone by the Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, and Series 9, the Series 6 can also typically be found on sale from third-party retailers. It doesn’t have everything you’ll find on the newest model, but a Series 6 vs Series 9 shows a lot of similarities. If you are happy to stick with one of the older devices, we’re here to help you choose which one. Read what the watches have in common and what sets them apart.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE

The specs

Apple Watch SEApple Watch Series 6
Display
Apple Watch SE
LTPO OLED Retina
368 x 448 pixels


Apple Watch Series 6
LTPO OLED Retina
368 x 448 pixels
Always-on display
Dimensions and weight
Apple Watch SE
44mm:
44 x 38 x 10.7mm
GPS: 36.2g
GPS+Cellular: 36.36g

40mm:
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
GPS: 30.49g
GPS+Cellular: 30.68g


Apple Watch Series 6
44mm:
44 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 36.5g
Stainless steel: 47.1g
Titanium: 41.3g

40mm:
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 30.5g
Stainless steel: 39.7g
Titanium: 34.6g
Durability
Apple Watch SE
WR50

Apple Watch Series 6
WR50

SoC
Apple Watch SE
Apple S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple S6 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U1
RAM
Apple Watch SE
1GB
Apple Watch Series 6
1GB
Storage
Apple Watch SE
32GB
Apple Watch Series 6
32GB
Battery
Apple Watch SE
18 hours

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Apple Watch Series 6
18 hours

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Software
Apple Watch SE
WatchOS 8.1
Apple Watch Series 6
WatchOS 8.1
Case materials and colors
Apple Watch SE
Aluminum

Space Gray, Silver, Gold
Apple Watch Series 6
Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium

Aluminum: Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, Product Red

Stainless steel: Silver, Graphite, Gold

Titanium: Titanium, Space Black
Connectivity
Apple Watch SE
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2353 (40mm)
Model A2354 (44mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Apple Watch Series 6
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2293 (40mm)
Model A2294 (44mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Sensors
Apple Watch SE
Always-on altimeter
Second-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Apple Watch Series 6
Always-on altimeter
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Compatibility
Apple Watch SE
iOS 14 or later
Apple Watch Series 6
iOS 14 or later

The features

An SE in Space Gray with a a red band rests on a white table.
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Apple Watch SE and Series 6 are very similar in design. The only differences between the smartwatches are case materials and available colorways. Users will find the SE in aluminum only, while the Series 6 comes in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. If you opt for a higher-end Series 6, you can upgrade your device with sapphire glass. The Apple Watch SE is limited to Ion-X Glass, which is more susceptible to scratches.

Color-wise, the Series 6 comes in Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, and Red cases, but you will only find the SE in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold cases. Luckily, Apple Watch bands are interchangeable across the lineup, so there are plenty of opportunities to add color to either pick.

As far as display, only the Series 6 offers always-on functionality. The SE, meanwhile, will turn on whenever you raise your wrist. Both have 32GB of internal storage and house internal microphones and speakers. The Series 6 uses a newer system on a chip than the SE, which Apple claims is up to 20% faster than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the SE sticks with the same specs as the Series 5. We have no complaints about the SE regarding speedy performance, but it is a differentiating data point.

Above all, the major health and fitness features to consider when comparing the Apple Watch SE vs the Apple Watch Series 6 are sensors. The SE model lacks blood oxygen monitoring and an electrocardiogram sensor. During our Apple Watch Series 6 review, we found these sensors accurate, but not tools every user necessarily needs.

That being said, the Apple Watch SE offers all-day heart rate monitoring. Like the Series 6, it can identify abnormally high or low heart rates, and both devices will notify you if they detect irregular heart rates. The Series 6 uses an upgraded heart rate sensor, so it’s the leader if you want the best in terms of accuracy.

An Apple Watch Series 6 user reviews his average time in bed and average time asleep in the Apple Health app on his paired phone.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

After hours, differences in sleep tracking are also worth considering. If you choose the Series 6, you can use the SpO2 sensor to track your blood oxygen while you snooze. Unfortunately, it’s not a clinically validated sensor, so it can’t alert you to any potential signs of sleep apnea. The Apple Watch SE, meanwhile, doesn’t offer SpO2 monitoring.

As for fitness tracking, both devices automatically track various workouts and can manually track many others. Both track steps, resting and active heart rate, active and resting energy burn, standing minutes, distance, floors climbed, and more. Apple’s fitness tracking has also received major software updates since the launch of these products, and both devices are compatible with the newest features.

A user with a Space Gray Apple Watch Series 6 on his on wrist displays Siri voice assistant.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Overall, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t make any real sacrifices in smartwatch features compared to the Series 6. Both feature the same library of watch faces and allow users to share faces with friends. Both provide access to unmatched third-party app support, Siri, Apple Pay, smart home controls, and more. Family Setup is also available on both models, allowing you to set up one of the best smartwatches for kids even if they don’t have an iPhone.

The price

Originally, it was hard not to get excited about the price tag of the Apple Watch SE. It launched at $279, falling right between the $199 Series 3 and the Series 6 at $399. In other words, users could cash in on an improved processor and better display for just $80 more than the cost of a Series 3. Apple no longer supports the Series 3, making the SE an even more valuable buy. By ditching a few sensors, shoppers can save over $100. Now, the original SE can be found for even cheaper, given the launch of the 2022 SE model.

Apple Watch SEApple Watch SE
AA Recommended
Apple Watch SE
Excellent hardware • Plentiful features • Affordable
MSRP: $49.00
The Apple Watch SE is the smartwatch most people should buy.
Powerful features keep you connected, active, healthy, and safe. Advanced sensors to track all the ways you move and to measure your favorite workouts. The Apple Watch SE is a lot of watch for a lot less than you expected.
See price at Amazon
GPS & Cellular (40mm)
See price at Amazon
Save $19.99
GPS (44mm)
See price at Amazon
GPS & Cellular (44mm)

The Apple Watch Series 6 launched at $399 for the 40mm Bluetooth-only model and $499 for the LTE model. When the  Apple Watch Series 7 launched, Apple stopped selling the older model directly, but you can still find one from retailers such as Amazon. We think the Series 6 stands up to the Series 7, with many of the same specs and features. The Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 9 each add a few more unique features to the line, making either of those devices a more worthwhile upgrade.

Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series 6
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 6
Bright OLED display • Accurate GPS • Excellent health monitoring
MSRP: $399.99
One of the best smartwatches on the market
The Apple Watch Series 6 is a powerful smartwatch with a pulse oximeter, a bright always-on display, and a fast and smooth software experience.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE: Which should you buy?

An Apple Watch rests on stone displaying a standard analog watch face
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

We consistently rank the latest Apple Watch as the best smartwatch you can buy. With its competitive price point, the SE is the lower tier of Apple Watches, so you will undoubtedly be making a few trade-offs. However, it’s a very capable smartphone companion offering most of the features people actually want. For example, blood oxygen monitoring is a hot-ticket item in wearables, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for the average user.

With its competitive price point, the Apple Watch SE is still a great smartwatch for most shoppers.

The Series 6 is the right pick for anyone with a little more cash to spare. It is especially helpful for anyone with a medical history of heart conditions or users specifically interested in advanced health monitoring. It’s a little pricey for an older device, but if you can’t live without its premium features, it’s not a mistake to buy. It’s a solid choice for added sensors without paying the premium price of the latest model.

With all that being said, both devices are growing increasingly old. The SE 2 was launched at a lower price point than the original, so unless you find the older model on sale, you are better off grabbing the newest option. It’s also worth shopping around to see if a Series 7 or Series 8 can be found for a comparable price as each of these boasts a larger displays and other generational upgrades.

Which Apple Watch are you considering?

1126 votes

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