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Apple Watch SE Review

High cost, but in return, you get great health and fitness recordings along with an app-rich menu for versatility
Apple Watch SE
Credit: Apple
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $280 List | $249.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Feature rich, larger screen, sleek, smart notifications, lots of apps
Cons:  Poor sleep tracking, expensive, poor battery life
Manufacturer:   Apple
By Jared Eastlick and Jessica Riconscente  ⋅  Sep 12, 2022
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Fitness Impact - 30% 7.3
  • Health Impact - 25% 7.5
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7.9
  • Ergonomics - 15% 7.6
  • Display - 10% 8.9

Our Verdict

One of the best overall on our top fitness tracker list, the Apple Watch SE has supreme performance with stellar versatility. This high-tech wearable includes a rich app selection and smart notifications, allowing the user to reliably receive calls and text messages while jogging through the neighborhood. Since this is an Apple product, you can expect a crisp display that is visually appealing and visible in bright places. To top it off, this wearable is also comfortable and quite fashionable. This watch is expensive compared to others on the market, but given its all-around nature, you will certainly be getting your money's worth.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Apple Watch SE
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award   
Price $280 List
$249.00 at Amazon
$100 List
$61.75 at Amazon
$230 List
$154.50 at Amazon
$45 List
$37.99 at Amazon
$31 List
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Pros Feature rich, larger screen, sleek, smart notifications, lots of appsEasy to use, accurate step counter, excellent smartphone appGood value, great fitness tracking ability, excellent battery lifeLots of trackable activities, decent heart rate monitor, solid sleeping trackabilityVery inexpensive, minimalistic, available in multiple colors
Cons Poor sleep tracking, expensive, poor battery lifeNot the most comfortable, so-so cycling trackingCould be more convenient to use, doesn't have the most smart functionsNo internal GPS, no altimeter, difficult to put onLimited 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 versatilityOffering great all-around performance on a budget, we think this wearable tracker is a fantastic option for any bargain-conscious shopperThe fitness features packed into this wearable make it an excellent choice for the priceThere are a couple of key features missing and poor fitness tracking that made this product miss the mark in our testingThis 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 Fitbit Versa 3 Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Lintelek ID115HR
Fitness Impact (30%)
7.3
6.8
7.4
4.6
3.6
Health Impact (25%)
7.5
6.9
6.7
5.5
4.8
Ease of Use (20%)
7.9
7.8
7.0
6.3
8.0
Ergonomics (15%)
7.6
6.2
6.0
5.6
4.8
Display (10%)
8.9
7.3
6.6
6.6
5.5
Specs Apple Watch SE Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitbit Versa 3 Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Lintelek ID115HR
Heart Rate Monitor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Altimeter (stair tracking) Yes No Yes No No
Battery life Up to 18 hours Up to 10 days 2-5 days Up to 14 days 5 days with HR on
8 days with HR off
Charge time 2.5 hours 1-2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 1-2 hours
Memory 32 GB 7 days of detailed motion - minute by minute; daily totals 30 days Saves 7 days of detailed motion data; Saves daily totals for past 30 days N/A N/A
Water Resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM IP67
Operating Temp 32 - 95 F -4 - 140 F -4 - 140 F 32 - 113 F N/A
Notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications
Vibration Motor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
GPS Tracking Yes No Yes No No
Multi-Sport Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Music Control Yes No Yes Yes No
Sleep Tracking Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Silent Alarm Yes Yes Yes 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.

Performance Comparison


Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the se is a jack of all trades. the display, tracking capabilities...
The SE is a jack of all trades. The display, tracking capabilities, and app selection do not disappoint.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Fitness Impact


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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the apple watch se has top-tier step tracking abilities.
The Apple Watch SE has top-tier step tracking abilities.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the se also comes with loads of trackable activities.
The SE also comes with loads of trackable activities.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Health Impact


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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the health features are, for the most part, top tier. however, we...
The health features are, for the most part, top tier. However, we were hoping for more from the dieting feature.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - charging the apple se is as easy as charging an iphone.
Charging the Apple SE is as easy as charging an iPhone.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - we thought that the myfitnesspal app was top notch.
We thought that the MyFitnessPal app was top notch.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Ergonomics


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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the profile of the se is smooth and modern.
The profile of the SE is smooth and modern.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - this tracker will likely not be an issue when putting on a jacket or...
This tracker will likely not be an issue when putting on a jacket or a backpack.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Display


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.

Apple Watch SE fitness tracker - the se has a top-quality display. as expected for being an apple...
The SE has a top-quality display. As expected for being an Apple product.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Jared Eastlick and Jessica Riconscente
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