Apple Watch SE 2 review: easy, low-cost, and sensible

Apple Watch SE 2 review: easy, low-cost, and sensible

MSRP $249.00

“The sensible Apple Watch SE 2 may not have all of the headline features of the Series 8, but this simplicity is a component of its appeal, because it does the whole lot else its sibling can for loads less money.”


  • Comfortable to wear 24 hours a day
  • Comprehensive, yet simple-to-use fitness tracking
  • Excellent smartwatch software and support
  • Latest processor provides all the ability needed
  • Two-day battery


  • No always-on screen
  • Slow battery charging

The Apple Watch SE 2 is the most affordable way into Apple wearable ownership. It’s surrounded by technically more advanced models at higher prices, meaning it’s susceptible to being missed. This might be a mistake, as what it needs to be doing is reminding you to actually take into consideration what you wish out of your smartwatch before deciding on which model to purchase. Whenever you do that, there’s an excellent likelihood you’ll find the Apple Watch SE 2 is a stronger proposition than the others. Here’s why the Apple Watch SE 2 may very well be the smartwatch for you.

Apple Watch SE 2 design

The Apple Watch SE 2 (or 2nd generation, because it’s also known) is made out of aluminum and is formed and sized exactly just like the 1st-generation Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6. It is available in Midnight, Starlight, or Silver colours, and has Apple’s tough Ion-X glass over the screen. There’s a selection of either 40mm or 44mm case sizes, and it’s the 44mm version in Silver you see in our photos.

The front of the Apple Watch SE 2.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s the back where things change in comparison with the older model. On the SE 2, the case back is fabricated from a nylon composite in a color that matches the aluminum case, and although that seems like a fancy way of claiming it’s fabricated from plastic, it’s warmer and smoother to the touch than atypical plastic — and that’s vital when it’s against your skin.

The raised sensor array houses the second-generation optical heart rate sensor, which is similar one fitted to the primary SE and the Series 5 watch, however it’s different from the third-generation sensor on the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. Should you own either the primary SE or the Series 5, you won’t notice any difference when putting on the SE 2. It’s so light and cozy that you just forget it’s there until the splendidly judged haptics tap your wrist. I’ve worn it day and night without it getting sweaty or irritating.

The nylon composite case back on the Apple Watch SE 2.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

During my time wearing the SE 2, I’ve struggled to provide you with negative points concerning the design and feeling while you wear it. The Series 4 shape was when Apple hit its stride with the Watch, and we gave it an ideal 10/10 rating in 2018. The SE 2 takes that very same winning design and squeezes in the newest technology. You possibly can fit any Apple Watch band to the SE 2, and it really works with any of the Apple Watch charging accessories you possibly can buy. There’s no downside to the Apple Watch SE 2 when checked out from this attitude.

The form, size, and screen haven’t drastically modified over the past 4 years, but they didn’t should. The Apple Watch SE 2 has not only some of the recognizable smartwatch designs on the market, but can also be one among the simplest and most comfortable watches to wear. It’s watch-like, but not a lot that ergonomics take a back seat and it becomes fatiguing to wear or unattainable to maintain on overnight. Should you need a smartwatch designed for the office, the gym, sleeping, or casually hanging out on the weekend, the Apple Watch SE 2 is it.

The thing is, that very same statement applies to the Apple Watch Series 8, so shouldn’t you only buy that one?

Apple Watch SE 2 screen and performance

Apple uses the identical S8 processor across all its latest smartwatches, so that you get the similar level of performance whether you purchase the most affordable SE 2 or the costliest Apple Watch Ultra. The software is similar, too, with watchOS 9 installed on all three. Each uses the W3 wireless chip to connect with your phone, and the link is rock solid with an enormous range. The SE 2 misses out on the ultra-wideband U1 chip, but since its functionality continues to be limited, you’re not likely losing much in the mean time.

The side of the Apple Watch SE 2 showing the Digital Crown.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The side of the Apple Watch SE 2 showing the speakers.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The front of the Apple Watch SE 2.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nevertheless, the massive difference most will notice between the SE 2 and the Series 8 is the dearth of an always-on screen. The SE 2’s display stays black until you lift your wrist or a notification comes through, while the Series 8 shows a watch face in any respect times. The always-on screen stays some of the compelling reasons to spend more to get the Series 8.

It looks glorious, however it doesn’t really add much outside of that visual punch and having the ability to all the time see the time at whatever angle your wrist is at. Raise your wrist, nevertheless, and the Apple Watch SE 2’s dark screen prompts immediately, so that you’re never waiting that long to see the time. You only have to simply accept the screen will go dark in any respect other times.

The app grid view on the Apple Watch SE 2.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

My Apple Watch is frequently hidden under a sleeve. Not because I don’t like the best way it looks, but since it’s coming into winter, so it doesn’t matter whether the screen is all the time energetic or not. My point is, take into consideration the way you will wear the Apple Watch, your usual selection of clothing, and even whether you’ve worn a Fitbit or other often screen-less fitness tracker up to now. By doing so, chances are you’ll realize the dearth of an always-on screen isn’t something you’ll actually notice.

Notifications reliably appear on the screen after a flick of your wrist when the delightful haptics provide you with a warning to an incoming message. You possibly can see images from tweets, reply to some messages, read text in emails easily, and dismiss individual notifications with a straightforward swipe. Set the Apple Watch SE 2 up rigorously, and also you’re never bombarded with unwanted information. Calls are immediately recognizable, and the speaker is loud enough to be heard outside.

Notifications on the Apple Watch SE 2.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Notification actions on the Apple Watch SE 2.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Quick Settings on the Apple Watch SE 2.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Dock view on the Apple Watch SE 2.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apps are fast to download from the App Store, and the selection is surprisingly large. All of this is straightforward to administer either within the accompanying Watch app in your phone, or the Grid view on the watch. The one annoyance with watchOS 9 is how the ability controls at the moment are an additional step away. Whenever you long-press the side button, you might have to now press an awkwardly small icon in the highest corner to access them, whereas the ability slider previously appeared immediately. You possibly can read more about how watchOS 9 functions in our Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 reviews — and, remember, it’s all the exact same.

Apple Watch SE 2 health and fitness tracking

The Apple Watch SE 2’s second-generation heart rate sensor doesn’t have an electrocardiogram feature, and it doesn’t track your blood oxygen either. The brand new temperature sensor isn’t on board here, so detailed ovulation estimates aren’t possible. You continue to get notifications for abnormally high or low heart rate, cycle tracking, fall and noise detection, crash detection, and basic sleep tracking. The smartwatch is swimproof to 50 meters, it handles the Backtrack feature adequately, and it supports the wonderful recent redesigned compass app. It also has the identical altimeter, accelerometer, and gyroscope because the Series 8.

Workout mode on the Apple Watch SE 2.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Tracking a workout couldn’t be easier. Press the Digital Crown to open the menu, select the Workout app, and tap your preference. The app highlights workouts you employ often, so there’s rarely any must scroll through the extensive list. Heart rate, energetic calorie burn, and time elapsed are all clearly shown, and all of your music controls are only a swipe away. GPS connects within the background with none must wait around before starting out in your walk, run, or cycle. It’s all fast, informative, and crucially, frictionless.

It’s where the Apple Watch, on the whole, excels. There’s no must sync it along with your iPhone — it just does all of it for you. I haven’t questioned if recent data has been uploaded from the Apple Watch SE 2 since it’s all the time completely up so far. You don’t should give it some thought in any respect, and combined with the very comfortable design, it means the Watch SE 2 blends perfectly in along with your life with no fuss. This needs to be a given, however it’s in no way on the earth of smartwatches.

Apple's Fitness app on the iPhone 14 Pro.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple's Health app on the iPhone 14 Pro.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple's Watch app on the iPhone 14 Pro.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Apple Health and Apple Fitness apps have some data overlap that makes finding what you would like somewhat frustrating, plus you don’t get the identical level of detail in the info as you do with a Garmin, Polar, or Fitbit product. By itself, the Apple Watch SE 2 is good for the casual exerciser and isn’t really for the marathon runner who demands masses of knowledge — but third-party apps are there to offer more information do you have to want it. Tracking workouts back-to-back with the Apple Watch Ultra, I couldn’t see any meaningful differences in heart rate, calorie burn, or ease of use.

Apple’s Ring-based motivational system to achieve your each day activity goals may be very clear, but don’t expect the Watch or Apple’s apps to offer deep insight into where you possibly can improve. If the smartwatch was pitched at hardcore exercisers, then this might be a priority, however it’s really not. The Apple Watch SE 2 suits individuals who aren’t fascinated about pushing any physical limits, and is as an alternative ideal for people concerned about their overall health and wish an accurate, easy-to-use tracker complete with an informative, not overly complex app platform behind it. If you desire to see how rather more accurate the Apple Watch Ultra’s GPS is over the SE 2, we cover it intimately within the Apple Watch Ultra review.

Apple Watch SE 2 battery and charging

There shall be times you miss the always-on screen for those who buy the Apple Watch SE 2, but there shall be others while you’ll be thankful it’s not there, using somewhat bit more power from the battery. Apple states the Watch SE 2 gets the identical 18 hours of use because the Series 8, but in my experience, unless you’re tracking GPS workouts each day, that is on the conservative side.

The Apple Watch SE 2 on charge.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

With a single non-GPS tracked workout, all the same old notifications, a everlasting connection to your phone, and sleep tracking, the Apple Watch SE 2’s battery will last two full days. It might have Apple’s Low Power mode at the top of the second day, which deactivates certain features to increase remaining power, but not for those who didn’t track your sleep.

Sleep tracking is something chances are you’ll want to provide up too, because the Apple Watch SE 2’s charging is slow, and doing so overnight is preferable. It uses the identical magnetic puck as other Apple Watch models, but there’s no fast charging, and it takes greater than two hours to go from just a few percent to full capability. It takes an hour less to completely charge the Series 8.

Apple Watch SE 2 price and availability

The Apple Watch SE 2 starts at $249 for the 40mm model with a Sport Loop, Solo Loop, or Sport Band. The 44mm SE 2 starts at $279 with the identical band options. Add cellular connectivity, and the value goes as much as $299 for the 40mm and $329 for the 44mm SE 2. Within the U.K., the Apple Watch SE 2 starts at 259 British kilos for the 40mm version and 299 kilos for the 44mm model, while adding cellular will take the value to 319 kilos for the 40mm and 349 kilos for the 44mm.

Wondering for those who need cellular? How often do you allow home, or want to depart home, without your phone? If the reply is rarely, you then probably don’t need it. If you desire to go on a run without your phone, but still wish to keep in touch, it’s helpful. Remember you’ll pay about $10 per 30 days extra so as to add it onto your phone contract.

How less expensive is the Apple Watch SE 2 than the Series 8? Should you want the 41mm version with a straightforward band, then it’s $399, or $429 for the 45mm version, making it $150 cheaper.

The Apple Watch SE 2 might be all of the Apple Watch you wish

Don’t even take into consideration buying a non-Apple Watch to your iPhone. Not one of the others that may go with iOS have the identical level of integration — from replying to Messages to the usage of the App Store tothe simplicity of setup. It makes wearables that aren’t the Apple Watch less helpful and, often, more annoying.

The Apple Watch SE 2 on a mans wrist.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The selection comes right down to which of the Apple Watches you must buy, and for once, the most affordable may thoroughly be the very best one for you. The ECG, blood oxygen monitoring, and always-on screen are superb features and do justify the extra cost of the Series 8 over the SE 2. But ask yourself in the event that they are features you possibly can justify for yourself. The ECG may very well be a lifesaver for some people, while blood oxygen monitoring only really becomes informative if you desire to track sleep, but many individuals will simply never use them in any respect.

Don’t get caught up considering the missing features make the Apple Watch SE 2 too basic either. The simplicity, and the way a lot happens within the background, is an enormous a part of its appeal. Should you’ve looked hard and might’t see how the additional Series 8 features would fit into your life, then save your money and buy the Apple Watch SE 2. It does absolutely the whole lot else the Series 8 can do almost faultlessly, and is a joy to wear and own.

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