Should you get the Apple Watch Series 7 or the Apple Watch SE?

The new flagship

Apple Watch Series 7

From $399 at Apple From $399 at Amazon

Pros

  • Larger display
  • IP6X dust-resistant
  • Always-on display
  • Blood oxygen app
  • Stainless steel and titanium options

Cons

  • Not much of an upgrade over the Series 6
  • Can get very expensive

With a brand new larger display, the Apple Watch Series 7 looks as striking as ever. The new case sizes, 41mm and 45mm, offer the same great features you expect from a flagship Apple Watch — like Blood Oxygen monitoring and an Always-on display. But, they can get quite expensive if you go for the higher-end models.

Tons of value

Apple Watch SE

From $279 at Apple From $270 at Amazon

Pros

  • Great price
  • Comes in true neutral tones
  • Most important features onboard

Cons

  • No support for always-on display
  • No blood oxygen app
  • Small display

While the Apple Watch SE is still rocking the older design, it still packs a punch with Fall Detection, irregular heart rhythm notifications, an always-on altimeter, and most of the health features Apple has to offer. It's an excellent value for anyone who wants an Apple Watch but doesn't want to spend as much cash.

The brand new Apple Watch Series 7 has a beautiful larger display that takes advantage of the newfound space by offering a few unique watch faces and a new QWERTY keyboard for composing messages. However, other than the display, it's not much different than last year's Series 6, which means the Apple Watch SE is still a great cheaper alternative to the flagship Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: Let's break it down

Of course, the new display on the Apple Watch Series 7 sticks out at first glance and will be the top contender for the best Apple Watch, but there's a few differences that can be hard to spot on the surface between the new flagship and the Apple Watch SE. Overall, the differences are mostly cosmetic, but if you look at the spec sheet, there are a few things you'll want to pay attention to when making your selection.

Apple Watch Series 7 Apple Watch SE
Starting price $399 $279
Case materials Aluminum, Stainless steel, Titanium Aluminum
Case sizes 41mm and 45mm 40mm and 44mm
Battery performance Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours
Fast charging Yes No
Display quality Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display (1000 nits) Retina LTPO OLED display (1000 nits)
Processor S7 with 64-bit dual-core processor S5 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor
Wireless chipset W3 W3
Ultra-Wideband U1 None
Water-resistance 50 meters 50 meters
Dust-resistance IP6X No rating
Storage capacity 32GB 32GB

Above you'll notice that the Apple Watch Series 7 is sporting a faster chip. It's not faster than the Apple Watch Series 6 from last year, but Apple claims it's about 20% faster than the Appel Watch SE. As someone who has both watches, the performance increase isn't super noticeable, but the Series 7 does perform slightly better under a heavy load.

If you pick it apart, the Apple Watch SE is missing a few key things from the Apple Watch Series 7, but the few you really want to consider are the missing health features, the screen, the dust resistance, and the fast charging.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: More health features on the Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 offers blood oxygen monitoring just like the Series 6 did last year, and it also has an electrical heart sensor. Both of those features are missing from the Apple Watch SE, but pretty much every other health feature is on the cheaper model.

With the Apple Watch SE, you still get 32GB storage, fall detection, international emergency calling, noise monitoring, support for Family Setup, compass, always-on altimeter, Digital Crown with haptic feedback, second-generation speaker, and mic, a ceramic and sapphire crystal back. It's no slouch when it comes to features; it just doesn't have a few key abilities that Apple has deemed flagship worthy.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: The way it looks

Lets' talk about the screen for a second. The Apple Watch Series 7 has 40% thinner bezels when compared to the Apple Watch SE and a slightly bigger case size — 41mm and 45mm. I'll be the first to admit, it didn't sound like much at first, but after seeing the two side-by-side, you can really notice the difference.

Not only is it bigger, but the Apple Watch Series 7 display wraps around the edges of the watch case just a little bit (as seen in the photo above), which is a neat touch. However, outside of using the new Contour watch face, you're not likely not going to notice it too much.

Another interesting thing to point out is the different finishes and color options on each device. The Apple Watch Series 7 comes in three finishes — aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium — while the Appel Watch Se only comes in aluminum. The Series 7 also comes in more colors with an aluminum finish, including midnight, starlight, (PRODUCT)RED, blue, and green, whereas the SE comes in space gray, silver, and gold.

Also, the Series 7 doesn't quite come in a pure neutral tone. The midnight color is mostly black but does have a bit of blue hue to it, and the starlight finish is a bit more cream-colored than one might expect. So, if you're nitpicky about color and prefer your Apple Watch to be a more standard black or silver finish, you'll have to go up to the stainless steel finish for that.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: Dust resistance

The Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE are water-resistant up to 50 meters. You can jump in the pool with them and swim laps no problem, but the Series 7 is now IP6X against dust. That's the strongest rating a device can have on the Ingress Protection rating you can have for dust, meaning the Series 7 has been proven to be dust-tight.

One thing to keep in mind is while the Apple Watch SE has no IP rating, that doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't protected from dust at all. It just means Apple has never tested it for dust protection. Usually, when a device is water-sealed strong enough, you'll get some protection from dust anyways, but companies don't often test their products for that protection.

Bottom line: if you want the most durable Apple Watch, the series 7 is the way to go; however, as someone who has had the Apple Watch SE since launch, dust or water has never been a problem for me in my experience.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: Battery life and fast charging

Both the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE have the same expected battery life — about 18 hours — but the Apple Watch Series 7 added fast charging this year.

Apple says the Apple Watch Series 7 can charge up to 33% faster than the Apple Watch Series 6 from last year; however, it's important to note that they got those results by charging the Series 7 with Apple's own 20W USB-C charger. The good news is the Apple Watch Series 7 comes with a USB-C cable (rather than the USB-A cable that comes with the SE model), so you can plug it into a 20W USB-C charger if you have one — remember, a charger doesn't come in the box. Another critical thing to remember is that the Series 7 can only seemingly fast charge with this new cable; even Apple's own MagSafe Duo charger can't fast charge the Series 7.

With all that being said, the Apple Watch SE will charge slower than the Apple Watch Series 7, provided you have all the required pieces to make that fast charging work. If you don't, you won't see a difference in charging time.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Apple Watch SE: Which should you buy?

If you're looking for the latest and greatest Apple Watch, the Series 7 is the choice for you. It's the one with the most features and styles. Plus, that bigger screen with an always-on display really does look great on your wrist!

For those new to Apple Watch, the SE could be the model for you. I have adored my Apple Watch SE since it launched, and I believe it offers a perfect blend of features for its price point. If you don't mind missing out on a few things, the SE is a perfect comprise, especially if you're finally upgrading from a much older model. Regardless of the model you select, be sure to check out some of our favorite Watch bands!

Cream of the crop

Apple Watch Series 7

Big beautiful display

From $399 at Apple From $399 at Amazon

While it isn't a huge upgrade over last year's Series 6, the Apple Watch Series 7 is still the top dog when it comes to Apple's line of wearables. With two new sizes, a bigger display, IP6X dust resistance, and all the health features you can want, it's the flagship Apple Watch at its best.

Budget pick

Apple Watch SE

From $279 at Apple From $270 at Amazon $249 at Walmart

Value, value, and value

Skip the Apple Watch Series 3 and get this one instead. It's more like the Series 7 and still has many of the same abilities while being more affordable to pick up. You will miss out on a few health monitoring features and be stuck with the old screen size, but the value is spot on.

Tags
Technology