Apple Watch SE review: The smartwatch many have been waiting for

Apple Watch SE review (Image: APPLE)

It’s about time gadget fans got a more affordable Watch and now they’re being treated to exactly that. The all-new Watch SE has just arrived in stores and brings some seriously impressive specs to your wrist at a price that won’t make such a massive dent on your credit card. Starting from a very reasonable price of £269 this now a tremendously tempting tech timepiece and could certainly be the nudge you needed to invest in the wearable revolution.

And don’t think for one minute think that the low-cost means bargain-basement features.

When compared to the older Series 3, which until now was the only way of getting a cheaper Apple Watch, this is one mighty update.

The Watch SE even has the same design as the more premium Series 6 which means it boasts a 30 percent bigger OLED display. That basically means there’s more room to view your daily digital life and plenty of space to pack it with useful information such as weather reports, daily diary and health widgets.

It’s also two times faster than the Series 3 as it’s powered by the same S5 chip found in last year’s flagship Series 5 Apple Watch.

With these brains inside, it’s certainly no slouch and you’ll have no problems at all scrolling through messages, changing your playlists or getting direction via Apple Maps.

Apple Watch SE review

The new Apple Watch SE comes in a number of styles and colours (Image: APPLE)

Other features include an in-built compass and there’s all of those fitness tracking features that will keep an eye on how much, or how little, exercise you are getting.

This remains one of the best reasons to own an Apple Watch with it able to check, monitor and record your daily running, bike rides, walks, swims and even dance routines.

It works just as well in the gym with some fitness machines able to link up to Watch SE making it easier to record your time on the treadmill or Cross Trainer.

There’s also those subtle alerts when you’ve been sat down for too long and closing the daily activity, stand and move rings remains highly addictive.

Along with fitness, the SE also has the inclusion of the second-generation optical heart sensor which will alert you if things are too high or too low.

Apple Watch SE review

The Apple Watch SE features an in-built compass (Image: APPLE)

It can also warn you if it spots an irregular rhythm that might need some further investigation from your doctor.

Like all new Apple Watches, the SE is fully waterproof so you can wear it in the pool and there’s now the inclusion of an always-on altimeter which provides real-time elevation so you can see exactly high you’ve climbed on your next hike.

Again, this will be very handy if you enjoy strapping on some boots and walking up a mountain but, living in London during these strange times, it’s not something we’ve been able to test just yet.

If battery life is something you’re worried about then the SE will easily last a day and beyond which is certainly helpful considering it can now track your nightly nap. We tested the cellular model with the network switched on and this definitely drains the battery a little faster than having the standard model strapped to your wrist.

Apple Watch SE review

Apple Watch SE review (Image: APPLE)

So, it’s very positive for the SE but is there anything missing from this device that might convince you to upgrade to the more premium Series 6?

The things you won’t find on the SE include an always-on display and you can’t take a heart-tracing ECG from your wrist.

The new Series 6 can also monitor your blood oxygen levels and it is faster as it now includes the improved S6 chip.

If those things are important to you then it might be worth paying the extra £100 but it’s really hard to fault the SE as it has some impressive features at a very good price.

That low cost isn’t the only thing that might make this device more attractive as Apple now lets all its watches work without the need for the users to have an iPhone.

As long as someone in the household owns an Apple phone you can use Family Setup to get the Apple Watch up and running.

Apple Watch SE review

Like all new Apple Watch wearables, the SE is waterproof (Image: APPLE)

It’s aimed at the young and old who might not want a phone but may still need to stay in touch.

We tried Family Setup via our young 13-year-old reviewer and it works really well. It’s super simple to get up and running with the Apple Watch then performing just like a mini phone.

Once activated our teen tester was able to make calls, send messages and you’ll get alerts if you want know they have arrived at the school gate safely.

If you’re worried about them being tempted to play with this gadget during their maths lesson there’s also a Schooltime mode to stop the device becoming a distraction. This can be unlocked but you can see exactly how many times they’ve accessed the screen via a simple glance at your phone.

Other settings can also be adjusted via an iPhone including limiting who the wearer can call or message.

The only things to be aware of is that you’ll need to buy the more expensive cellular version of the Watch for the call and location settings to work and there is a fee to pay the mobile network to keep it connected. EE charges £7 per month for this service.

Family Setup is a really nice idea from Apple but we’re not entirely convinced who will actually end up using it. Most teenagers aren’t going to ditch their smartphones for a watch and how many parents would want their 5,6 and 7-year-olds wearing a £269 smartwatch to school remains to be seen.

Apple Watch SE review

The new Apple Watch SE starts from a very reasonable £269 (Image: APPLE)


PROS – Great price • Impressive feature list  • Good battery life • Fast performance
CONS – No always-on display • Can’t perform an ECG

The Apple Watch SE is, without doubt, the smartwatch many have been waiting for.

This new wearable comes packed with features, has that bigger display, good battery and it can monitor your fitness levels and health for a price that’s now so much more affordable.

Admittedly, you won’t find the ECG function or always-on screen but there’s plenty tucked inside that make it a very solid purchase.

In fact, the SE might definitely make you think its time to join the smartwatch revolution.

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