Apple Watch SE 2

Apple’s latest update to its entry-level wristwear comes in the form of the Apple Watch SE 2 (also called the Watch SE (2022) by some people).

This is a smartwatch that’s all about the cost – given that the Watch SE 2 price has been announced as $249/£259/AU$399 for the GPS model and $299/£299/AU$479 for the cellular model (which is a shame in the UK, where prices have quietly risen due to inflation). At this relatively low price point, this is a great device to pick up if you want the base-model Apple Watch and nothing else.

The fact that it’s now cheaper than the previous model (again, except in the UK) and yet still packs the new S8 chip found in the Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra means it gets some fancy new features. There’s no temperature sensing, but low power mode and crash detection are in there as standard.

The Watch SE 2 release date has been set for September 16, although you can pre-order one already, should you be desperate to get your hands on it.

Apple Watch SE 2 design

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The shape of the Watch SE 2 will be hugely familiar to anyone that’s ever seen an Apple Watch in the past: coming in 40mm and 44mm flavors, this is the smallest watch in Apple’s collection.

It uses the familiar combination of the Digital Crown and power / app button on the right-hand side, and has the crystal-covered heart rate sensor on the rear – although this is somewhere that’s been improved with the Watch SE 2.

Using a ‘nylon infused’ material, Apple has made the rear of the Watch SE 2 match the coloring of the aluminum chassis around it, making it look more unified when off the wrist. Given you won’t be doing that much, it’s not a huge change, but it’ll certainly look nicer when taking it out the box.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Wearing the Watch SE 2 on the wrist is a pretty standard affair for anyone that’s used an Apple Watch: it’s lightweight, the screen is legible (and capable of running as bright as the Watch 8), and although it has the large bezel around the display, it’s perfectly easy to swipe through and interact with apps on the go.

The Apple Watch Se 2 has a thicker bezel and smaller screen than the Apple Watch 7 / 8 (Image credit: TechRadar)

If you’re choosing between the Watch SE 2 and the Watch 8, you’re really just losing a few key things: no extra sensors for temperature, blood oxygen or ECG monitoring, the screen is a little smaller and doesn’t have the always-on display… but for many, these won’t be huge losses, especially given the lower price.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You are, however, getting the automatic car crash detection, where your Watch can tell if you’ve been in an auto accident and will alert the emergency services. 

Again, this isn’t something we could test, but this is made possible by the addition of the improved gyroscope and accelerometer that are also found in the more expensive watches.

Apple Watch SE 2 battery life

(Image credit: TechRadar)

By plugging in the new S8 chip, Apple has played a bit of a masterstroke here: the ‘cheap’ Apple Watch is now imbued with fast charging as well as low-power mode (although that latter function, which switches off some key sensors like auto-detection of workouts, is coming to all Apple Watch devices past Series 4.

That means while the Watch SE 2 is supposed to only last 18 hours on a single charge, you’ll probably be able to easily stretch it out to a couple of days if you’re not working out every day – and even if you are, a quick top-up will be easier with the faster charger.

Early verdict

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s hard to get too excited about the Watch SE 2, but Apple doesn’t necessarily want or need you to. All it’s after is offering a smartwatch that’s more affordable for some people but still brings access to the ecosystem of apps and services that developers (and Apple) can make money from.

For the user, it’s a cheaper way to enter the connected Apple world and still get most of the key functionality that owning an Apple Watch can bring. If you don’t care about health metrics and aren’t intending to head up a mountain or go deep-sea diving with this strapped to the wrist, the Watch SE 2 should be the Apple smartwatch that you check out.

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