Today, Apple sells three Apple Watch models – the three-year-old Apple Watch Series 3 starting at $ 199, and the recently released Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 models, starting at $ 279 and $ 399 respectively.
With these options in mind, which Apple Watch should you buy? Are you going to go all out on our Apple Watch Series 6, or should you take the more cost-conscious route with Series 3 or SE? Watch our hands-on video review as we explore Apple’s portable range as it stands today.
Apple Watch Series 3
We are talking about someone who has owned every single Apple Watch since its debut in 201
First, Apple no longer sells Series 3 models with a mobile connection. If you like the idea of keeping in touch with the Apple Watch while away from Wi-Fi and your Bluetooth-paired iPhone, remove the Series 3 from your review.
Video Review: Apple Watch Series 6 Review
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Besides the lack of mobile, there are more important reasons to skip Apple’s cheapest watch. Series 3 Apple Watch models have smaller cases with noticeably smaller screen properties for dials and apps. Series 3 has inferior microphones and speakers compared to Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6.
Most importantly, the Series 3 is stuck with the Apple S3 System in Package (SiP), which includes a relatively turtle-like 32-bit dual-core CPU. Series 3 is usable, otherwise Apple would not continue to sell it, but the experience of navigating around the operating system is often hampered by delays and lost frames.
I could go on naming features that the Apple Watch Series 3 lacks, but there’s really no need. Across the board, the Apple Watch Series 3 delivers a worse experience than more recently released hardware.
The biggest selling point for the Apple Watch Series 3 is the $ 199 price tag. Admittedly, this is an attractive price point, but save up and save an extra $ 79 and choose the Apple Watch SE instead.
Apple Watch SE
At a starting price of $ 279, the Apple Watch SE is $ 120 less than the cheapest Apple Watch Series 6. If you’re looking for a wallet-friendly laptop but don’t want to make big sacrifices for the features, then the Apple Watch SE is the smart choice for those most users.
Like the 6 Series, the Apple Watch SE comes with larger 42mm or 44mm cover options, with more generous screen sizes in tow. And with Apple Watch SE, you do not bring big speed sacrifices. SE comes with S5 SiP, which makes it twice as fast as Series 3, a very noticeable increase in performance.
Apple Watch SE can be configured with mobile connection for only $ 50 extra, which is $ 50 cheaper than the mobile charge for Apple Watch Series 6. In other words, the cheapest Apple Watch SE with mobile costs only $ 329, while the cheapest mobile-enabled Apple Watch Series 6 , to $ 499, jumps far beyond the impulse buying territory.
Also included with the Apple Watch SE is an always on altimeter for measuring altitude. This feature, which gives SE users something that the latest generation of Series 5 users lack, paves the way for a new Altitude complication on the dial.
Like the Apple Watch Series 3, users do not have a large selection of case colors or surfaces to choose from. The iPhone SE has an alternative in aluminum case that is not offered in Series 3, but nothing beyond that. But unlike Series 3, the SE can be configured during the build-to-order process with the new Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop tapes. More on these excellent new band options later.
Apple Watch SE rejects the ECG features and the flagship Blood Oxygen measurement features in Series 6. Depending on the reasons why you purchase an Apple Watch, you may consider these wellness-related features useful.
In my opinion, the biggest drawback between the iPhone SE and the Apple Watch Series 6 is the lack of always on display offered on the more expensive model. Debuts with last year’s flagship fifth generation Apple Watch, allowing the screen to remain continuous so you can quickly tell the time without lifting your wrist hard.
Although I do not consider it always appear on the screen to be an absolute necessity for every user, now that I have experienced it in the last year, it is a luxury that I do not want to go without. In fact, if you find a used Apple Watch Series 5 in good condition, it may be the more desirable option for those who always want it on screen.
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6 is basically an Apple Watch Series 5 / Apple Watch SE with a 20% faster S6 SiP, always improved on-screen, along with oxygen measurement and ECG capabilities.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is the only new watch that Apple sells that can be configured in a variety of aluminum colors (blue and red!), Titanium and stainless steel. It is the watch that gives you the most customization options in terms of case finish and band selection.
Of all the advantages that the Apple Watch Series 6 has compared to the two cheaper models, it is always on the display the one that will have the most effect on daily use. That’s the main reason why I recommend choosing the Apple Watch Series 6 over the iPhone SE if you are waffling between the two.
As I explained in my Apple Watch Series 5 review, it makes the Apple Watch feel more like a regular watch to have one always on the screen. It only allows you to look down at your wrist to learn the time and gather information from dial complications.
Series 6 Performance Upgrades
The S6 SiP inside the Apple Watch Series 6 is based on the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11, and can thus run up to 20% faster than its predecessor. Although it does not provide the same shot-in-the-arm-like boost as the jump from Series 3, the speed increase results in slightly faster implementations and restarts.
Although there is no widespread program for it now, the Series 6 comes with a built-in U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas. It’s the same chip found on the iPhone 11 for short-range wireless connectivity to support features such as next-generation digital car keys.
The Apple Watch Series 6 also has an up to 2.5 times brighter screen. While in sunlight with your wrist down, the screen becomes brighter to make it easier to view the contents of the screen.
Of course, the big new feature of the Series 6 is the inclusion of a blood acid sensor and similar blood oxygen app. Oxygen saturation (SpO2) represents the percentage of oxygen carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body. Measurement of oxygen in the blood is possible with a new Apple Watch Series 6-exclusive sensor.
The sensor uses four clusters of green, red and infrared LEDs, in addition to the four photodiodes on the device’s rear crystal to measure the light reflected from the blood. The Blood Oxygen app then uses this data to measure levels between 70 percent and 100 percent.
SpO2 readings on request are possible by launching the Blood Oxygen app, but passive readings will also take place while the user is sleeping. All measurements are stored in the Health app for further tracking and analysis.
Unlike the ECG features, which are also exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 6, the blood acid measurement features have not been approved by the FDA, and the accuracy has been discussed.
Apple clearly states that measurements of oxygen in the blood are not intended for medical use, but they note in the marketing material that such a function provides further insight into the general well-being. Translation: Measurements of oxygen in the blood are for entertainment / information purposes only and should not be used to diagnose health problems.
I think helping users stay aware of their well-being can only be a good thing, and as technology grows, it can actually be life-saving. That said, I would not buy the Apple Watch Series 6 because of the Blood Oxygen sensor, as this technology will undoubtedly be better in future hardware and software versions.
Two new notable bands
In addition to the release of Series 6 and SE, Apple introduced two new notable band options – Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop. Both straps are completely devoid of buckles or buckles for a super comfortable fit that is easy to put on and take off.
Solo Loop is like an elastic and more flexible Sport Band, while Braided Solo Loop consists of recycled yarn and silicone threads. Both straps attach to the Apple Watch to form a continuous loop, and both require the user to stretch the strap over their hands to take off and on.
There are questions about the durability of these tapes after prolonged use, but so far so good. As long as you make sure you order the right size, and Apple has recently made it easier to measure, you’ll be fine.
Although I particularly love the Braided Solo Loop, especially the look and feel of the material on my wrist, I’m a fan of how simple both bands are in general. Not having to deal with buckles and buckles resonates with me, because it’s so easy to put on and take off, while increasing the comfort of prolonged wear.
As I presented in my overview of the best watchOS 7 features, all three Apple Watch models get a software upgrade, but only the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 get the most benefits from the annual release. For example, the Apple Watch Series 3 only gets one out of the seven new dials from the watchOS 7 upgrade. With this in mind, it probably won’t be long before Apple drops future software release support for the Apple Watch Series 3 altogether.
Remember to read and see our complete overview of watchOS 7 top features to learn more.
If you come from an Apple Watch Series 5, a watch that Apple no longer sells, I would definitely recommend sticking to it for at least a generation. While the Series 6 oxygen sensor and some of the other improvements are nice, it’s not yet worth the upgrade in my opinion. With the Series 5, you have a fast watch with an always on screen, so it’s an even better watch than the Apple Watch SE if you ask me.
Series 4 owners have a harder decision. The Apple Watch Series 4 for the Apple Watch SE is almost a lateral feature in some respects. In fact, the Apple Watch SE lacks the ECG app and the various Series 4 case options. Upgrading from an Apple Watch Series 4 to the Apple Watch Series 6, however, not only provides an increase in speed and features, but you always get the shelf on the screen. While it would definitely not hurt to wait for a new generation, I can see why an Apple Watch Series 4 owner would be tempted to upgrade.
If you come from an Apple Watch Series 3 or lower, there is a simple choice: upgrade. You get a much, much faster watch, a bigger case with a bigger screen, better speakers and a microphone and so much more. In addition, you can take advantage of all the great new improvements that watchOS 7 and future upgrades of watchOS bring to the table. In my opinion it is a no-brainer decision to upgrade to either an SE or Series 6 if you are coming from an Apple Watch Series 1, 2 or 3.
Do you have or are you planning to upgrade your Apple Watch? Are you a first-time Apple Watch user? What do you think of the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6? Sound off below in the comments with your thoughts.
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