Apple Watch SE (2022) first impressions: Best of the bunch?

Apple has released three new Watch models that cover all budgets and features. The Apple Watch Ultra is the most expensive model in the lineup, while the Watch Series 8 is in the middle. The Watch SE is at the low end of the price spectrum (2022). It’s the successor to the original – and excellent – Watch SE, which debuted in 2020, providing an option for those who don’t require all of the Series 8’s features. Is the Apple Watch SE the one to get? Here are our initial thoughts.

Same Design

The second generation of the Apple Watch SE has a nearly identical design to its predecessor as well as the Watch Series 6, which is not surprising given that the Series 8 is the same as the Watch Series 7.

With the exception of the Watch Ultra, the Watch SE has the same rectangular casing with rounded corners as well as curved edges that we’ve seen on the Apple Watch since its debut in 2015. The Watch SE is water resistant to 50 metres and has a Digital Crown with Haptic Touch as well as a button on the right edge. In contrast to the Watch Series 8, the Watch SE lacks an electrical heart rate sensor within the Digital Crown.

The optical heart rate sensor, along with the buttons for switching out the Watch straps, are located on the underside of an aluminium casing – the Watch SE is only available in aluminium, with no stainless steel options. However, the underside of the casing has been re – design for the Watch SE this year, with new production processes to reduce carbon emissions, and it now matches the rest of the casing, which looks fantastic in person.

Same Display

The Apple Watch SE’s display may not be as close to the edge as the Watch Series 8 – or Series 7 – but it still has 30% more screen than the Series 3, making it a good replacement for the entry-level Apple Watch. The border around the SE’s display is 3mm versus 1.7mm on the Series 8, but you probably wouldn’t notice unless you compared the two models side by side. The difference between the Watch Series 3 as well as Watch SE is immediately noticeable, so anyone upgrading would notice it.

In addition to having the same real estate as the original SE, the next generation Watch SE has the same Retina LTPO OLED screen and resolutions as its predecessor. The 44mm model has a display resolution of 368 x 448 pixels, while the 40mm has a resolution of 324 x 394 pixels.

Unfortunately, the 2022 Watch SE lacks the ability to switch to an Always-On Retina display, which the older model also lacked. Instead of a black screen when the display is turned off, the Always-On display allows you to see specific bits of information all the time, such as the time or Activity Rings.

Hardware and Battery

The Apple Watch SE (2022) features the same chip as the Watch Series 8 in terms of performance. That’s the dual-core S8 chip, which was also found in the Series 6 and Series 7. The older Watch SE is powered by the dual-core S5 chipset, so the new generation should provide a 20% performance boost, according to Apple. It’s also the only new Apple Watch with an upgraded processor.

The Watch SE, like the Watch Series 8, has 32GB of storage and is available in GPS only and GPS and Cellular models, with the latter enabling you to use your Watch independently of your Watch. International Roaming is also available on the cellular models, as it is on the Series 8, but the Watch SE lacks the body temperature sensor and SpO2 sensor. The Watch SE does have a second-generation optical heart-rate sensor, as well as built-in GPS, a Compass, an always-on altimeter, an upgraded accelerometer, gyroscope, and an ambient light sensor.

The upgraded accelerometer, which can detect up to 256 g-forces as opposed to 32 g-forces on the Series 8 and Watch Ultra, allows the Watch SE to give the Crash Detection feature found on the Series 8 and Watch Ultra. The accelerometer, barometer, GPS, and microphone are used to detect if you have been in a car accident. You can learn more about what it does in our completely separate feature, but hopefully you’ll never need it.


The Apple Watch SE runs watchOS 9, the most recent software release, with which the Apple Watch Series 3 is incompatible. It includes a slew of new features, such as more advanced sleep tracking, enhancements to the Workout and Health apps, and much more. WatchOS 9 is cover in depth in our separate feature. It’s important to note that the software is not exclusive to the Watch SE, Watch Series 8, or Watch Ultra, so the majority of features will be available on the Watch Series 4 and later.

Because the Watch SE lacks the skin temperature sensor, SpO2 sensor, and electrical heart rate sensor found on the Watch Series 8 and Watch Ultra, you won’t get those features, but the customer experience will be very similar across the models. The Watch Ultra has a few extra features, but it still has the same overall interface.

The Watch SE, like the Watch Series 8 and Watch Ultra, supports smartphone notifications, GymKit, Apple Pay (one of the best features on an Apple Watch), Emergency SOS, International emergency calling, Fall detection, and noise monitoring. It also has notifications for high and low heart rates, as well as irregular heart rhythms. There’s also multi-sport tracking, which includes running, swimming, and cycling, among other activities, and the Apple Watch App Store contains a variety of great apps.


The Apple Watch SE improves on its predecessor, primarily in terms of a faster processor, as well as a colour-matched casing that is gentler on the environment and some extra features like Car Crash Detection. It lacks the latest display design, such as the Series 8, as well as the Always-On Display, and it is nowhere near as tough and durable or feature-rich as the Watch Ultra. It also lacks a body temperature sensor, which can help women track their ovulation, but as an entry point into Apple Watch, the Watch SE is sufficient.

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