What Do You Lose by Buying the Apple Watch SE?


What Do You Lose by Buying the Apple Watch SE?

Save a little, give up very little


Apple Watch ECG screenshot by author

I won’t be buying new Apple watches this year. My wife and I are still happy with our Series 5 watches — the battery life is not what it was but between COVID and retirement we are almost always at home, so charging twice a day is not annoying.

We didn’t buy the Series 6 because we felt the addition of the blood oxygen sensor was not anything we need; we have the finger clip sensor which is more accurate anyway.

The Series 7 is slightly more interesting, but fast charging is not important for our lives and dust-proof doesn’t matter either. Neither of us have ever broken our watches, so extra crack resistance didn’t attract us. That leaves us waiting for Series 8 next year.

The SE

The Apple Watch SE is something I have ignored since its introduction. I’m now wondering if I should consider that model next year. If we bought that this year, we’d be giving up the ECG ability and the blood oxygen sensor. We’d be saving $120 over the price of the 7. As we buy the cellular models, we’d save even more: adding cellular is $100 extra on the 7 but only $50 more on the SE.

We don’t buy a cellular plan. This may seem silly or worse but the reason is that as of Series 5 and beyond Apple cellular models can call emergency services even if not connected to a cellular plan. That’s a safety feature worth paying for, we think.

Quoting Apple:

“.. if you have Apple Watch Series 5 or later (GPS + Cellular), or Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular), your watch can also call local emergency services when you’re traveling in other countries or regions.”

What else would we lose?

We’d lose Always On Display but we have that disabled already.

As noted above, we’d lose ECG and AFIB tracking, but we’d still have irregular rhythm and high/low heart rate notifications.

The SE is smaller but no smaller than our current watches. If our watches died today, I am quite sure we’d be happy with this year’s SE model. It’s not a perfect replacement but it would match our needs.

You can compare Apple Watch versions at Apple.

But the series 8?

Yeah, that’s the question. What health-related features might the Series 8 have? Will the rumored blood sugar sensing finally make an appearance? Temperature sensing seems strange to have left out this long.

And what about Apple’s purchase of Rockley Photonics? Supposedly they have a chip that can “monitor multiple biomarkers, including core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate, and glucose trends, and more”(from Mac Rumors).

Is that chip developed enough and small enough to be in a future Apple Watch? The above article seems to imply that. If so, I think we’d want to once again ignore the SE version and go for the full-featured model. We are both in our mid-seventies; health is our primary concern at this time.

I don’t think we can last until a Series 9, so this is a decision we will almost certainly need to make.

Let me know what you think in the comments or, if you have subscribed to receive these posts by email, you can respond privately from your mailbox.

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