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Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: Which should you buy?

The Series 9 offers more features, if you can afford them.
By

Published onMay 9, 2024

Apple Watch Series 9
MSRP: $399.00
Check price
Positives
Powerful new S9 chipset
Brighter AMOLED display
Expanded Find My Phone feature
Onboard Siri query processing
Excellent WatchOS 10 updates
Negatives
Key new features not available at launch
Battery life still unimproved
Apple Watch SE (2022)
MSRP: $249.00
Check price
Positives
Great value
Speedy S8 processor
Handy Low Power Mode
A lot to like in watchOS 9
Negatives
No always-on display
Limited screen real estate
No SpO2 sensor
No advanced health tracking features

Apple’s ninth series wearable is here in all its familiar glory. Though the smartwatch looks largely the same as the previous generation, it introduced a few features compared to older models. Compared to Apple’s budget-friendly SE 2, the Apple Watch Series 9 stands out even more. So, which device is best for you? Read this Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2 to find out.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: At a glance

Apple's wearables may look similar, but a few significant differences exist. Below is a quick summary of the biggest distinguishers between the Apple Watch Series 9 and SE 2.

  • The Apple Watch SE 2 is significantly cheaper than the Apple Watch Series 9.
  • The Series 9 offers a more powerful processing chip and other internal hardware improvements.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 devices feature larger case sizes with brighter, optional always-on displays.
  • The Apple Watch Series 9 also offers a more durable build in various materials and colors, including pink.
  • The Apple Watch SE 2 lacks the ECG, temperature sensor, and SpO2 monitor found on the Series 9.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2 specs

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch SE 2
Display
Apple Watch Series 9
LTPO OLED Retina
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)

352 x 430 pixels (41 mm)
Always-on display

Up to 2000 nit brightness
1 nit minimum brightness
Apple Watch SE 2
LTPO OLED Retina
368 x 448 pixels (44mm)

324 x 394 pixels (40mm)

Up to 1000 nit brightness
Dimensions and weight
Apple Watch Series 9
45mm:
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 38.8g
Stainless steel: 51.5g

41mm:
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 32g
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Apple Watch SE 2
44mm:
44 x 38 x 10.7mm
33g

40mm:
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
26.4g

Durability
Apple Watch Series 9
WR50
IP6X-certified
Apple Watch SE 2
WR50
SoC
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple S9 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U2 chip (Ultra-wideband)
4-core Neural Engine
Apple Watch SE 2
Apple S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
RAM
Apple Watch Series 9
1GB
Apple Watch SE 2
1GB
Storage
Apple Watch Series 9
32GB
Apple Watch SE 2
32GB
Battery
Apple Watch Series 9
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Apple Watch SE 2
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Software
Apple Watch Series 9
WatchOS 10
Apple Watch SE 2
WatchOS 9
Case materials and colors
Apple Watch Series 9
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red, and Pink

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Apple Watch SE 2
Aluminum
Midnight, Starlight, Silver

Connectivity
Apple Watch Series 9
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2475 (41mm)
Model A2477 (45mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Apple Watch SE 2
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Sensors
Apple Watch Series 9
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Apple Watch SE 2
Always-on altimeter
Second-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Compatibility
Apple Watch Series 9
iOS 17 or later
Apple Watch SE 2
iOS 17 or later

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: Features

Apple Watch Series 9 Activity Analog
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

There is much more common ground between the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch SE 2 than you may think. Both models offer seamless iPhone integration, unmatched third-party app support, and plenty of first-party tools. Since the SE 2 is eligible for a watchOS 10 update, the devices also share similar software experiences.

However, Apple did significantly update the Series 9 with a more powerful S9 chipset than the S8 found in the SE 2. During my Series 9 review, this translated to faster processing speeds and an overall smoother smartwatch experience. The S9 silicon also features a four-core neural engine that processes Siri commands on-device, so Series 9 users don’t need a data connection to control their devices via voice assistant. Users can ask Siri to access general health data or prompt workouts.

Similarly, the Series 9 also features Double Tap gesture control which allows users to perform actions with just one hand. Thanks to the device’s powerful processor, it leverages data from its motion and heart rate sensors to identify when users tap their fingers together. I used Double Tap for everything from starting a phone call to snoozing an alarm to swiping through Smart Stacks. It’s responsive and helpful in more situations than I anticipated. Meanwhile, the upgraded ultra-wideband (U2) broadens the Apple Watch Series 9’s Find My device capabilities. Now, users can ping their iPhone from their wrist, and the device will navigate to any location within 20 feet. In short, the Series 9 is a powerful device.

Though the two devices are very similar in basic feature sets, the Series 9 offers a few advanced health sensors not found on the cheaper SE 2 and a more powerful chipset.

Another area where the devices truly deviate is health tracking. Both watches cover the basics, offering everything from activity and step tracking to sleep and heart rate monitoring. During both my Series 9 and SE 2 reviews, heart rate tracking, in particular, was highly reliable on both devices. They also provide potentially life-saving crash detection, fall detection, and menstrual cycle tracking.

For more advanced health monitoring, though, the Series 9 pulls ahead. The pricier model packs ECG capabilities, an SpO2 sensor, and a useful body temperature sensor that offers more detailed sleep tracking and cycle tracking capabilities. The temperature sensor is fantastic for women’s health tracking purposes, and I’ve personally grown to depend on it. It also features a newer heart rate sensor than the SE’s 2nd gen sensor.

Both devices claim of 18 hours of battery life per charge, with low-power mode extending run time by another 18 hours. Notably, we typically find Apple products outperform their quoted battery specs. The Series 9 offers faster charging speeds than the SE 2, powering from zero to 80% in just 45 minutes compared to the SE 2 model’s 90-minute lag.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: Design

An Apple Watch Series 9 and SE 2 rest face down side by side, displaying their different sensors.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

At first glance, the Apple Watch Series 9 and SE 2 are hard to distinguish. They both feature the same rounded rectangle shape, shared bands, and colorful displays. They each rely on a single back button, a digital crown, and a responsive touchscreen.

The company’s most affordable device, the Apple Watch SE 2, is available in 44mm and 40mm cases made of a nylon composite material. This helps the line cut production costs as well as weight. It does not feel cheap, though, and certainly looks refined. The SE 2 does not feature sapphire glass protection. The display also has a lower resolution than the Series 9 and doesn’t offer always-on capabilities. The lack of an always-on display is disappointing, especially during workouts.

The Series 9, meanwhile, is available in stainless steel or aluminum, each in various colors. Shoppers can find the flagship device in 45mm and 41mm cases with Sapphire glass protection and IP6X certification.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: Price and colors

  • Apple Watch SE 2 (GPS): Starts at $249
  • Apple Watch SE 2 (LTE): Starts at $299
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (GPS): Launched at $399
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (LTE): Launched at $499

The Apple Watch Series 9 launched on September 12, 2023, with a starting price of $399. Prices vary depending on case size and material, and adding LTE to the lineup will cost shoppers an extra $100 upcharge. As for colorways, the series includes aluminum options in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, Product Red, and Pink and stainless steel picks in Silver, Graphite, and Gold.

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 9
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful processor • Upgraded display with 2000 nit brightness • Gesture controls and Siri features
MSRP: $399.00
Apple's most convenient smartwatch
The new S9 chip makes the Apple Watch Series 9 the most capable, and battery friendly Apple watch to date. Enjoy improved security, improved functionality in low-connectivity situations, and improved health tracking. Introducing new Double-Tap gesture.

The Apple Watch SE 2 debuted in 2022 alongside the Apple Watch Series 8. The device starts at $249. It’s also available with LTE support for an extra $50. Both Apple Watch SE 2 sizes are available in Starlight, Midnight, and Silver.

Apple Watch SE (2022)Apple Watch SE (2022)
AA Recommended
Apple Watch SE (2022)
Great value • Handy Low Power Mode • Excellent processor and software
MSRP: $249.00
Apple's budget-friendly lineup packs all the tools the average user really needs
With unrivaled app support, detailed fitness tracking, and improved sleep monitoring, the SE 2022 is a great entry point into the Apple ecosystem. It trades a few advanced health sensor for a more affordable price tag, but still offers all the essential features most shoppers want.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2: Which should you buy?

Apple Watch Series 9 SE 2
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch line is a story of interactive change. With a few exceptions, shoppers often find very similar devices year after year. That’s not necessarily bad, as the company offers the best smartwatch experience for iOS users. However, it also means that upgrading isn’t always necessary. When comparing the Apple Watch Series 9 vs SE 2, the decision is more nuanced. The SE 2 represents Apple’s budget offering, sacrificing a few features for a cheaper price tag. It forces shoppers to ask, do I want more or to pay less?

The Apple Watch Series 9 represents the best of the best when it comes to Apple's standard lineup, but the SE 2 is still a fantastic entry-level device.

Boiled down, the SE 2 doesn’t offer the same protection, display features, or advanced sensors. We think there are tremendous benefits to the temperature sensor, ECG, and SpO2 monitoring on the Series 9, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely necessary. Sure, if you want the best of the best, the pricier device is the right choice. If you don’t need these health tools and are willing to make a few sacrifices for your wallet, I highly recommend the SE 2. It’s a great entry-level device for any iOS user.


That’s it for our Apple Watch Series 9 vs Watch SE 2 comparison. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the poll below.

Do you prefer the Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch SE 2?

357 votes

FAQs

The Apple Watch SE 2 landed alongside the Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra in September 2022.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch SE 2 feature water resistance ratings of 50 ATM. This means they are safe for swimming at depths up to 50 meters. The Apple Watch Series 9 and SE 2 are safe to wear while showering, however, steam can be damaging over time.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and SE 2 both feature 18-hour battery life claims. We often find Apple Watches outlast these claims.

Yes, both Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch SE 2 come with a charging cable. You will need to purchase a power adapter.

Unfortunately, neither the Apple Watch Series 9 nor the Apple Watch SE 2 can measure blood pressure.

Yes! The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch SE 2 each track overnight stats, including sleep stages, duration, and more. Thanks to its advanced health sensors, the Series 9 offers more sleep-tracking details such as skin temperature and SpO2.

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