Apple Watch Series 6 & SE vs Series 5 & 3 Compared – What’s changed and is it worth upgrading?

Yesterday, Apple announced its much-anticipated Series 6 watch and the affordable Apple Watch SE.

While the Apple Watch Series 6 will supersede the Series 5, Apple will continue to sell the Series 3, indicating that it is still more than capable for most users.

Price Comparison

This will then leave three price points of

  • Watch Series 6 – £379 / $399
  • Watch Series SE – £269 / $279
  • Watch Series 3 – £199 / $199

The Apple Watch Series 5 launched at the same price, so no sneaky increases. It is also still selling for full RRP on Amazon, so at the moment there is no point buying it. I would expect it to drop a bit in price to clear stock over the next few weeks.

What’s changed

Apple Watch Series SE basically a series 5 with some features removed

First of all, is the new affordable Apple Watch Series SE priced at £269.

This uses the same S5 processor as the Series 5, but it has the improved altimeter and related sensors of the Series 6. The chipset inside this is claimed to be twice as fast as the chipset inside the Series 3.

However, they have stripped out the always-on display feature, and it does not have the SPO2 or ECG features.

Beyond that, it is basically the same, which is pretty good considering the price.

Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 is more interesting, but it is not massively different from the Series 5

The watch features a new S6 chipset, this is a dual-core chipset like the S5 it replaces, but Apple claims it is up to 20% faster.

Integrated in the S6 platform is a U1 chip that has Ultra Wideband antennas that enable short-range wireless location that can allow you to use the Watch Series 6 as a digital key for your car.

Beyond the chipset, Apple has improved the optical heart rate sensor to now include SPO2 monitoring. Then the Series 6 gets a new altimeter that’s apparently more real-time than the past barometric altimeters Apple Watch enabled units. This sensor can now feed real-time altitude data (second by second) to the watch face.

Apple Watch Series 6 & SE vs Series 5 & 3 Compared – What's changed and is it worth upgrading? 4
New HRM with SPO2

The chassis of the watch remains the same, so the overall display and dimensions are identical. However, the display itself has been improved, offering an improved always-on display mode that’s two and a half times brighter.

It looks like the watch can now also use Wi-Fi 5 on 5Ghz offering faster data transfer.

Battery Life – Stays the same

Apple claims the Apple Watch Series 6 maintains the Series 5’s up to 18-hour battery life while featuring faster charging – a full charge takes under an hour and a half.

I’d say this is the worst bit about it. In my opinion, which I think is shared by many, the worst part of a smartwatch is the battery life. If Apple improved this considerably, it will widen the gap with other smartwatch brands (specifically anything using WearOS).

Colours and New watch bands

For the S6 you now have Blue and Product Red aluminium finishes. There are two stainless steel variants – Graphite and Classic Yellow Gold.

Then there are new loop bands which lack a buckle, there is a braided one and the solo loop, which is a bit like a rubber band.

WatchOS 7

Most of the upgrades Apple are rolling out comes in the form of WatchOS 7 itself, this will therefore apply to all watches going down to the Series 3.

The biggest upgrade here is sleep tracking, something most wearables have been doing for years.

You also get automatic handwashing detection, four new workout types, cycling directions and various other tweaks.

Should I upgrade my Apple Watch?

The launch is a bit meh. While I am not a massive Apple fan, I would have liked to see them launch something more impressive, specifically an improvement in the battery performance.

I don’t think Series 4 or Series 5 users need to think about the new watch, but Series 3 users could certainly benefit from either the S6 or SE.

With a £110 price difference between the S6 and SE, you pay 40% more, and I really don’t think the S6 is bringing 40% more worth of features to the table here. However, Apple knows its audience, fans will buy the S6 regardless of its poor value in relation to the more affordable model.

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