Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 – the big differences laid bare

Apple has announced the Apple Watch SE as a lower-cost, high-featured alternative to the Apple Watch Series 6. However, the old Apple Watch Series 3 remains on sale. Here’s our guide to picking an Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 winner.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 design

The Apple Watch SE is the looker here. It boasts an almost identical design to the Apple Watch Series 6 model released today. This bezel-less design offers greater screen real estate, meaning more complications. The Apple Watch SE offers the choice of larger 44mm or 40mm, compared to the 40mm or 38mm cases available for the Series 3

Both offer a Retina display, but the SE is 30% larger (368 by 448 pixels) than the Series 3 (312 by 390 pixels). Neither has an always-on display, so it’s a case of raising your wrist to wake.

Related: Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch 6

The Apple Watch SE is compatible with the new single loop bands, whereas the Series 3 is not. Both are only available in an aluminium finish, while the SE has an additional gold colour option to match the Silver and Space Grey options.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 features

The Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 are both a compromise compared to the Series 6. Neither has the fancy new blood oxygen sensor and neither has the ECG within the Digital Crown. The latter enables a check for Afib and could potentially save your life. If you’re concerned about heart health, get the Series 6.

However, Both models promise the high and low heart rate and irregular hearth rhythm notifications and, for fitness enthusiasts, both models are suitable for swimming and have water resistance to 50m. However, the Series 3 lacks the SE’s fall detection feature, as well as the emergency SOS feature that’ll put you in touch with the emergency services.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 specs

The Apple Watch SE is powered by a 64-bit S5 processor, last seen within the now-discontinued Apple Watch Series 5. It’s up to 2x faster than the S3 chip that ships within the Series 3. The W3 wireless chip within the SE also beats the second-generation chip in the Series 3, which adds support for Bluetooth 5.0.

Both models have GPS connectivity and built-in Wi-Fi, but the Series 3 lacks the Cellular option in the available on the Apple Watch SE. That could be a dealbreaker if you want connectivity on the go, independently of the companion iPhone.

Both are fitted with an optical heart rate sensor, but further down the spec sheet there are further differences. The Apple Watch SE has a compass, the Series 3 does not. Both have an altimeter for detecting your elevation but the Apple Watch SE’s is always-on. The SE also has a newer speaker and mic array.

Battery life for both both is rated at up to 18-hours, while the Apple Watch SE has Bluetooth 5.0 compared with Bluetooth 4.2 on the Series 3.

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 software

Both the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 are compatible with the new watchOS 7 operating system, which rolls out on September 16. Not all features will be available on all watches, Apple says, and we’re still figuring out which will drip down to the Series 3. It’s unclear whether the Series 3 will have access to features like Sleep Tracking, Fitness+ and other headline watchOS 7 features.

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 cost

The Series 3 remains Apple’s entry level option. It is priced from £199/$199, while the Apple Watch SE is tantalisingly priced from £269/$279. The additional features and power available here make Apple Watch SE hard to ignore if you’re snapping up your first Apple Watch.

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I'm Malkit singh rataul.

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