Deciding on the new Apple Watch can be tricky business. And when it comes to the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE, there are a couple of things worth considering.
Obviously, the price should be taken into consideration, but there are other aspects to these devices that can help you determine which one suits you best.
Let’s discuss the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE to see how they stack up and which one may be right for you!
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE: A Side-by-Side Comparison
|Apple Watch Series 8
|Apple Watch SE
|Optional ($100 premium)
|Optional ($50 premium)
|Aluminum, stainless steel
|Temperature sensing, ECG,
heart rate, blood oxygen
|Emergency SOS, fall detection,
|Emergency SOS, fall detection,
|NFC, Wi-Fi, LTE,
|NFC, Wi-Fi, LTE,
|Up to 18 hours
(36 with low power mode)
|Up to 18 hours
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE: What’s Different?
What distinguishes these timekeeping technology examples, though, besides the price? Let’s get into the breakdown.
Both devices follow the aesthetic playbook Apple established with its first Apple smart timepiece in 2015 — they have a very similar design. These similarities stem from the fact that Apple has been recycling its previous designs with its SE product line.
This design recycling is actually pleasing to some customers who were fans of previous models. And this is the reason why the Apple Watch SE closely resembles the design of the Apple Watch Series 4.
Both feature similar rounded edges, fitness-tracking sensors on the back, and the Digital Crown control dial and a button on the right. These similarities in the appearance of both devices aren’t necessarily a bad thing either. Comparable designs allow users to switch interchangeable wristbands and base the purchase decision on functions rather than the design itself.
However, some subtle differences are mostly related to size and display functionality. For instance, Apple Watch Series 8 comes in two sizes: 45mm and 41mm. Besides the difference in size, the casing can be made of either stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Of course, the former is a pricier variant, costing approximately $800.
The Apple Watch Series 8 with anodized aluminum housing costs approximately $400, which is the watch’s starting price. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch SE also comes in two sizes: 44mm and 40mm. However, its casing is limited to anodized aluminum only.
The Series 8 and SE are both 50-meter “water-resistant” devices. This indicates that your Apple Watch can withstand being submerged in water up to 50 meters. Apple simply advises against using the Watch in “high-velocity” water, like rafting or water skiing. The same applies to scuba diving.
Additionally, they caution that the Watch’s water resistance may deteriorate over time. This is particularly true if the device comes into contact with soap, extremely hot temperatures, acids, or oils. Apple cannot fix water resistance issues, even if your Watch is still covered under warranty.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is “IP6X dust-resistant” in addition to being water-resistant. Dust resistance makes it nearly impossible for dust to enter the Watch’s internal components. Dust resistance also fades with time, although it usually lasts far longer, unlike water resistance.
The display is where things get complicated due to the size variance across both devices. So, let’s start with the largest.
The 45 mm Apple Watch Series 8 features a 1.9-inch OLED display at 369 x 484 pixels with 326 PPI. On the other hand, the 41mm Apple Watch Series 8 features a 1.9-inch OLED display at 352 x 430 pixels with 326 PPI. In addition, the bezels are incredibly thin and unparalleled by any other device on the current market.
However, the 44mm Apple Watch SE features a 1.78-inch OLED display at 368 x 448 pixels with 326 PPI. The 40mm Apple Watch SE features a 1.53-inch OLED display at 324 x 394 pixels with 326 PPI. With this data in mind, the difference in screen size shouldn’t be so significant. That said, the bezels on Apple Watch SE are considerably thicker.
In either case, you’ll receive a vibrant, clear display with a crisp, clear image. Image quality, sharpness, and color reproduction are the same across all four models — only the size is different. They’re all incredibly bright, maxing out at 1,000 nits, which easily defeats any glare caused by the sun.
On top of that, the screens on both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE are incredibly tough. Stainless steel models feature more premium sapphire glass, while aluminum models feature ion-X glass. Unfortunately, the stainless-steel models’ sapphire glass screen cover also contributes to a higher price tag.
However, there’s some difference in the display’s functionality that has more to do with the software rather than screen specs — the Apple Watch Series 8 features an Always-On Display. The feature is self-explanatory and eliminates the need to activate the panel by raising your wrist.
Though it’s a nice addition, the Apple Watch managed just fine without an Always-On Display, and the Apple Watch SE shouldn’t be ruled out just for the lack of said feature.
CPU and Performance
Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE come equipped with the same dual-core S8 CPU. Thus, the performance metrics should be comparable across all of this year’s Apple Watch models. In addition, you will receive GPS, an always-on altimeter, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, fall and crash detection, and the typical ways to monitor your activities, heart rate, and steps.
Health and Fitness Features
The Apple Watch’s ability to track exercise and health is often considered to be its best feature. Both the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 8 include some of the same essential fitness-tracking capabilities. However, you’ll need to invest in the more expensive model if you want anything more sophisticated.
Let’s begin with the parallels. Both devices include basic heart rate monitoring and can utilize that information to monitor sleep and exercise. The latter may, and most likely will, use the integrated GPS for particular abilities.
Both devices also feature a new accelerometer and gyroscope. These two components were implemented to support the new crash detection feature, which notifies emergency services if you’ve been in a car accident. Of course, there’s always the aforementioned always-on altimeter and a built-in compass.
With the parallels covered, let’s talk about differences. The Apple Watch Series 8 has more sophisticated sensors, and one of them is an ECG sensor. The sensor can detect and notify you of signs of atrial fibrillation — a severe medical issue.
The Apple Watch Series 8 also features a new temperature sensor that tracks your body temperature. It measures your temperature even while sleeping and warns you about significant body temperature variations. This feature can be a useful indicator of impending seasonal sickness. The sensor also helps the Apple Watch monitor the monthly cycle of menstruating people better.
Although Apple Health won’t forecast ovulation, keeping track of the monthly cycle can be rather beneficial for family planning.
As mentioned before, both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SEE use Apple’s S8 chip. This means that they’re both equally power-efficient. Despite the Apple Watch SE lacking an Always-On Display, both devices provide up to 18 hours of battery life. This functionality is enabled by the Apple Watch Series 8's display, which features a scalable refresh rate.
Simply put, when not in use, the display scales its refresh rate to 1Hz per second, which preserves battery life. The aforementioned 18 hours of battery life imply typical use across both devices. However, you can easily get up to 36 hours with the Apple Watch Series 8, thanks to its new low-power mode.
The same doesn’t apply to the less expensive Apple Watch SE. According to Apple, the low-power mode doesn’t affect the device in the same way. Fortunately, the option is still available on Apple Watch SE as part of the watchOS 9. Although most users would often use the Watch in the usual mode, we’ll declare a draw as both can conserve battery using watchOS 9.
Price is often a pretty important factor when choosing a new wearable device. The Apple Watch SE is considerably less expensive than the Apple Watch Series 8. For comparison, the base price of the Apple Watch Series 8 is around $400, while the Apple Watch SE costs only $250. That’s a considerable price gap.
There are a few points to consider regarding the pricing, though. First of all, they represent the costs for base versions, which are the cheaper, non-cellular metal models. Larger models and cellular connectivity will boost the price. The same applies to the Apple Watch Series 8: you’ll spend more if you prefer stainless steel housing.
Nevertheless, regardless of the model you purchase, price hikes remain constant. That is to say, whether you choose the SE or the Series 8, you will pay extra if you want cellular. However, the Apple Watch SE is much less expensive if you only look for basic functionality.
You can buy either Apple Watch variation directly from Apple or on Amazon.
- Up to 20 percent faster
- Comes with enhanced workout metrics
- Available in a range of sizes and colors, with dozens of bands to choose from and watch faces with complications tailored to whatever you’re into.
- Get help when you need it with Crash Detection, Fall Detection, and Emergency SOS
- Get deep insights into your health, including notifications if you have an irregular rhythm or an unusually high or low heart rate
- Works seamlessly with your Apple devices and services. Unlock your Mac automatically. Find your devices with a tap. Pay and send money with Apple Pay. Apple Watch requires an iPhone 8 or later with the latest iOS version.
- Water-resistant to 50 meters
- Three finishes available and a redesigned, color-matched back case made with a new production process that reduces its carbon emissions by over 80 percent
- Small/medium size
- Midnight aluminium case and sport band
- Sleep and fitness trackers
- Crash detection and fall detection
- Temperature sensing, ECG, blood oximeter apps
- Always-On Retina display
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE: 5 Must-Know Facts
Here are some interesting facts about the newest Apple Watch series:
- All device models use Apple’s Retina display with the same pixel density.
- Besides the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE, Apple also launched the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a 49mm watch made of aerospace titanium.
- The Apple Watch SE has the least number of built-in features. For example, it lacks oxygen saturation, ECG, and temperature sensors.
- Despite numerous finishes, Apple Watch Series 8 is the only product with a Product Red finish—purchasing this product contributes to the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS and COVID-19.
- The Apple Watch 8 requires 45 minutes to charge from 0% to 80%.
Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE: Which is Better?
In conclusion, despite their numerous similarities, Apple Watch Series 8 is simply a better product. It offers a larger screen, a little bit more durability, and a few extra health-tracking options.
The Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) is the ideal option if all you intend to do with your Apple Watch is send or receive texts and calls, monitor your steps, and check the clock. The Apple Watch Series 8 is probably worth the price if you want all of that in addition to a more detailed look at your health stats — for the aluminum version, at least.
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©Hadrian/Shutterstock.com.