Apple Watch SE Review
Compare to Similar Products
Apple Watch SE
$234.97 at Amazon
$56.42 at Amazon
$79.99 at Amazon
$49.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Feature rich, larger screen, sleek, smart notifications, lots of apps||Easy to use, accurate step counter, excellent smartphone app||Easy to use, great display, fun variety of appearances||Lots of trackable activities, decent heart rate monitor, solid sleeping trackability||Very inexpensive, minimalistic, available in multiple colors|
|Cons||Poor sleep tracking, expensive, poor battery life||Not the most comfortable, so-so cycling tracking||Mediocre set of fitness tracking abilities, limited health impact||No internal GPS, no altimeter, difficult to put on||Limited fitness/health tracking abilities, display can be hard to read in direct sunlight|
|Bottom Line||High cost, but in return, you get great health and fitness recordings along with an app-rich menu for versatility||Offering great all-around performance on a budget, we think this wearable tracker is a fantastic option for any bargain-conscious shopper||This fun fitness tracker is a great way to introduce exercise regimes and help kids and teens establish healthy habits||There are a couple of key features missing and poor fitness tracking that made this product miss the mark in our testing||This bare-bones model can't do too much but it is one of the least expensive trackers we have tested to date|
|Rating Categories||Apple Watch SE||Fitbit Inspire 2||Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2||Xiaomi Mi Band 6||Lintelek ID115HR|
|Fitness Impact (30%)|
|Health Impact (25%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Apple Watch SE||Fitbit Inspire 2||Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2||Xiaomi Mi Band 6||Lintelek ID115HR|
|Heart Rate Monitor||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Altimeter (stair tracking)||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Battery life||Up to 18 hours||Up to 10 days||Up to 1 year||Up to 14 days||5 days with HR on
8 days with HR off
|Charge time||2.5 hours||1-2 hours||Watch battery powered||2 hours||1-2 hours|
|Memory||32 GB||7 days of detailed motion - minute by minute; daily totals 30 days||4 weeks of activity data||N/A||N/A|
|Water Resistance||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM||IP67|
|Operating Temp||32 - 95 F||-4 - 140 F||14 - 140 F||32 - 113 F||N/A|
|Notifications||Text, call, push notifications||Text, call, push notifications||None||Text, call, push notifications||Text, call, push notifications|
|Silent Alarm||Yes||Yes||No, audible alarm||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Apple Watch SE is certainly the cream of the crop, earning high marks for all of our metrics. The most notable aspect of this tracker is its 32 Gb storage and wide app selection.
We began our tests by analyzing this tracker's performance across various fitness metrics. Our overall score was reached by ranking the accuracy of the step tracker, cycling monitoring, stair climbing altimeter, workout activities, and the quality of its community features. After compiling all these measurements, our testers determined this to be one of the best performers in this metric.
Our first test evaluated steps counted and distance traveled. We performed three different 1-mile trials in which we compared the SE step counter with a mechanical counter. After completion, our testers compared both and averaged the difference across the three trials. The SE did not disappoint and only had an average difference of eight steps.
Our cycling and stair climbing trials produced remarkable results as well. We were particularly impressed with the stair climbing tracker. The cycling test likewise produced great results, providing accuracy and great analytics. We were disappointed that the cycling analytics did not carry max speed which slightly affected this metric's ranking.
We also felt that the workout options on the SE were worthy of recognition. There are plenty of activities to choose from, including boxing, climbing, HITT, rugby, and even archery. It can track essential metrics such as heart rate (HR), time active calories, and even the weather.
However, we did feel that the community features lacked the quality of the other metrics. The Apple Watch SE does remarkably well in terms of analytics and functionality. It provides ample information and meaningful badges when you reach certain goals. Unfortunately, you can only share amongst other Apple Watch users.
Our next series of tests rated and ranked the health features of the SE. This test evaluated the quality of the heart rate monitor, dieting features, lifestyle add-ons, sleep tracking, and efficiency of the waking alarm. This metric scored similarly to the last, performing remarkably well on most sub-metrics.
To ascertain the level of quality of the heart rate monitor, we compared the SE in-built monitor to a wearable chest strap monitor. With an average difference of 1.8 bpm, this tracker easily has one of the best performances of any tracker we have tested. It is consistently efficient and even able to accurately record micro adjustments with little to no lag.
On the other hand, we were not as impressed with the dieting feature. Firstly, even to access this health feature, the user has to go to the settings, which seems to be a rather obscure location for such an important feature. Under the nutrition sections, the user can input various information such as caffeine, fiber, etc. We didn't love that the interface prompts the user to input mg of caffeine taken, as most folks probably don't know their average caffeine intake in such a metric. Although, caffeine intake is a good feature to have. Lastly, there is no way to input meals or even scan bar codes to log items into a journal, rendering this particular feature useless for average users.
Things start to get better once we look at lifestyle features. The Apple Watch SE has many lifestyle add-ons such as mindfulness, respiratory rate monitoring, menstrual rate tracking, and many others. There is even a feature to set up a medical ID that first responders can use during an emergency. In addition, there is lifestyle coaching that sets up notifications to remind and track monthly or weekly goals.
Sleep tracking left a bit to be desired since it cannot show time in REM sleep, and one of our trials added an extra hour of sleep. For the most part, this tracker will be able to track hours of sleep fairly well. Fortunately, the alarm works great and can bring some solace to those who are deep sleepers to wake up on time.
Ease of Use
Here we test the SE user-friendless and ease of use. For this metric, we scored and ranked the performance in battery life, syncing/pairing, quality of the companion app, ease of navigating the menus, ease of putting on, and water resistance. In this respect, too, the Apple Watch SE delivers excellent results.
Given the plethora of smart notifications and applications, it is unreasonable to expect this tracker to have top-tier battery life. Indeed this tracker has a battery of 18 hours for 2.5 hours of charge which is quite abysmal compared to any other tracker on the market. This device likely has to be charged every night. Not very useful for a backpacking trip.
The companion app and menus on the SE are distinctive. The companion app, MyFitnesspal, can be downloaded on the app store, providing the user with comprehensible analytics. MyFitnessPal also has third-party compatibility, enabling it to read the information on other trackers such as the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The menus on the watch itself are rich, colorful, and easy to navigate.
This watch takes about 6-9 seconds to pair and is water resistant to prevent sweat or rain from ruining the device. The sleek style also makes this wearable easy to strap on and off.
For our ergonomics metric, we ranked and scored the comfortability, aesthetic quality, and profile design of the Apple Watch SE.
The integration of the band into the device makes a streamlined look that is modern and comfortable. The screen is big enough to be visible and easy to read but not too bulky.
The SE is a rectangular watch about 44 x 36 x 10.4 mm with smooth edges and a clean profile. We found that the smooth edges of the watch make it very easy to take backpacks and jackets on and off.
Our last series of tests evaluated the quality of the SE display. We measured responsiveness, screen quality, and also smart notifications. The display metric accounts for 10% of each fitness tracker's overall score.
The colorful bright display is a delight to look at indoors and outdoors, making it practical for running on a bright summer day. The user can easily navigate the menus of the smartwatch with fluidity and ease. Compared to other fitness trackers, this device has a slightly larger screen, so have no fear if you have larger thumbs. Given that this is technically a smartwatch, it is no wonder it has the best displays of any tracker on the market.
Should you buy the Apple Watch SE?
The Apple Watch SE is the product for you if you are an iPhone user in the market for a top-notched fitness tracker with extensive smart features. If you are new to the fitness tracker community and want to dip your toes in before jumping in, it is probably better to go for a cheaper alternative. This watch is certainly expensive but worth every penny.
What other fitness trackers should you consider?
Maybe the Apple SE watch is too expensive for you, but you still need a solid tracker that can get the job done. We recommend that you check out the Fitbit Inspire 2 if you are searching for a more affordable option or the Garmin Vivoactive 4 for incredibly accurate fitness results.
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