Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE — upgrades we hope to see

An Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE comparison is a must if you’re thinking of buying a smartwatch, because rumors suggest a second-generation Apple Watch SE could launch alongside the flagship Apple Watch Series 8 in September.

As a reminder, the Apple Watch SE (released in 2020) offered a “stripped down” Apple Watch experience starting at $279, rather than $399. The biggest Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE differences were the former’s always-on display, ECG reader and SpO2.

So what could the Apple Watch SE 2 offer compared to the Apple Watch SE? Well, some compelling upgrades could be on the cards, with an updated design, added health sensor and more all tipped. With the Apple Watch 3 not making the cut of watchOS 9 supported devices, the Apple Watch SE 2 might need to step up the value if it’s going to be the best Apple Watch for those on a budget.

Here are the changes we’re hoping to see between the Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE: Price

The Apple Watch SE launched at $279 for the 40mm and $309 for the 44mm GPS-only versions. For LTE, the 40mm model started at $329 and the 44mm version is $359. These days, you can find the Apple Watch SE on sale with the best Apple Watch deals.

We have little reason to suspect a price change for the Apple Watch SE 2, despite a rumor about it going up to $299. $279 is actually the same price as the full-featured Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, and it’s a substantial saving compared to the flagship’s $399 starting price. That said, a lower price would be certainly be welcome, as the $199 Apple Watch Series 3 is presumed to be discontinued.

Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE: New features

The Apple Watch SE’s design was basically identical to that of the Apple Watch Series 6 (and Series 5, and Series 4.) But for the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple introduced a curvier chassis, slimmer bezels and new Apple Watch 7 sizes

We expect the Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch 7 to be pretty similar in terms of appearance, but it’s less certain the Apple Watch SE 2 will get the design upgrade. Instead, the mid-range smartwatch could continue with the older design, perhaps borrowing elements from the Series 6. 

The biggest visual upgrade in question is the addition of an always-on display. Introduced with the Apple Watch Series 5, we’ve found the always-on display makes the Apple Watch more useable on a daily basis; it lets you see the time at a subtle glance without needing to raise your wrist. We sincerely hope the Apple Watch SE 2 gets the always-on option, as it could help make it the best smartwatch under $300 to rival the new Fitbit Sense 2. Time will tell. 

While the Apple Watch SE 2 would run watchOS 9 and have a number of familiar features like fitness tracking, Apple Pay and support for the best Apple Watch apps, it should also have new interval features. Unlike the Apple Watch SE, the Apple Watch SE 2 might get the Blood Oxygen app and SpO2 readings; however, leaker LeaksApplePro (opens in new tab) (writing for iDropNews (opens in new tab)) said that SpO2 isn’t happening. Instead, the SE 2 is tipped to get an ECG sensor.

That would be a bit disappointing, as SpO2 is good for informing sleep-tracking. Don’t get us wrong — ECG has incredible health value, but SpO2 isn’t a feature that warrants exclusivity. Even the new Fitbit Inspire 3 ($99) will have a blood oxygen reader. It makes more sense that the rumored Apple Watch 8 body temperature sensor won’t make it into the Apple Watch SE, but again, we’ll have to see. 

Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE: Battery life

LeaksApplePro also said that the Apple Watch SE 2 would get the fast-charging tech found in the Apple Watch Series 7. Beyond that, we don’t anticipate a battery life upgrade for the next-generation Apple Watch SE. Unless it gets the low power mode, one of the biggest Apple Watch 8 rumors so far, it should last 18 hours, or “all day.”

This year’s Apple Watch battery life upgrade could come from the Apple Watch 8 Pro, a new premium Apple Watch Blomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported on since before the Apple Watch 7 announcement in 2021. One of the key differences between the Apple Watch 8 vs. Apple Watch 8 Pro might be the Pro-brand device’s ability to last longer on a full charge. This would make it suitable for outdoor sports, especially if it could challenge the 80-hour battery life found in the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

Apple Watch SE 2 vs. Apple Watch SE: Outlook

The Apple Watch SE has remained a great value in the Apple Watch lineup. We usually recommend it for first-time users, or for people who plan to leverage Family Setup to manage an Apple Watch worn by an older parent or child. At $279, the Apple Watch SE has lots of perks with less stress on you wallet — much like the iPhone SE 2022 compared to the iPhone 13.

As long as the Apple Watch SE 2 stays at $279 and gets at least some of the rumored upgrades we discussed, it could be the most attractive Apple Watch model for many customers this year. We think an always-on display and new health sensor would truly narrow the gap between the Apple Watch SE 2 and Apple Watch 8.

It’s not long now until we know what’s in store for this year’s Apple Watch lineup. The Apple Watch 8, Apple Watch SE 2 and Apple Watch 8 Pro could all be announced at the Far Out Apple event confirmed to be taking place on September 7.

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