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Apple Watch SE vs Series 6: In-Depth Comparison to Decide Which Model is Best For You

Apple unveiled its brand new Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 models in September 2020, giving fans updated and more affordable options from the tech giant.

On paper, the SE and Series 6 share a lot in common – but look closer and you‘ll notice some key differences that may make one model a smarter selection depending on your needs and budget.

Below I‘ll compare these two awesome smartwatches across all the categories that matter most:

  • Pricing and value
  • Design and display
  • Performance and speed
  • Health and fitness features
  • Battery life
  • Pros and cons of each model

My goal is to give you all the details so you can decide whether the lower-cost SE or pricier Series 6 better fits your lifestyle. Let‘s dive in!

Pricing and Value Comparison

First, let‘s look at how the SE and Series 6 are priced:

Apple Watch SE Pricing

  • 40mm size starts at $279
  • Cellular models start at $329

Apple Watch Series 6 Pricing

  • 40mm size starts at $399
  • Cellular models start at $499

You‘ll notice right away a sizable price difference between the SE and Series 6 models.

The question becomes: does the Series 6 give you an extra $120+ in value compared to the SE? Or is the SE packed with enough features for most smartwatch users?

We‘ll analyze the pros and cons of each model later on. But generally the SE aimed to deliver core Apple Watch features at a friendlier price point, while the Series 6 justifies its higher cost with extras like an always-on display, ECG and blood oxygen sensors.

For now, let‘s see how else they compare.

Design and Display Comparison


In terms of design, the Apple Watch SE and Series 6 look nearly identical at first glance. A few notes:

  • Both models come in 40mm and 44mm case size options
  • You get rectangular shape with rounded corners and edges on both
  • Swappable Apple watch bands work with both SE and Series 6

The most obvious design difference is the Series 6 gives you way more color and case material choices including:

  • Aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium casings
  • Sleek colors like red, blue, graphite, gold, and silver

Meanwhile the Apple Watch SE only comes in:

  • Aluminum casing
  • Silver, gold, and space gray colors

For many buyers, having their preferred color and case material could make the Series 6 the better (albeit more expensive) option.


Both the SE and Series 6 watches actually share the same display resolution:

  • 368 x 448 pixels (44mm model)
  • 324 x 394 pixels (40mm model)

But the Series 6 display has two clear advantages:

  1. It includes Apple‘s signature always-on tech so your screen stays visible for quick glances rather than going dark
  2. The Series 6 stainless steel and titanium models get a more durable sapphire crystal display covering (vs Ion-X glass on SE and Series 6 aluminum)

That always-on display makes a bigger impact than you‘d expect, allowing you to quickly check the time, your activity progress, notifications, and more without moving your wrist or tapping the screen.

Between the enhanced display and far greater style/color choices, the Series 6 pulls ahead of the SE for design.

Performance and Speed Comparison

Let‘s move onto the performance and processing power packed into these watches…

Both models are incredibly capable timepieces. But Apple did include its latest S6 chip inside Series 6 for a performance upgrade.

Series 6 Performance Features:

  • Apple S6 processor
  • Claimed 20% speed boost over SE‘s S5 chip
  • Supports 5GHz WiFi for faster connectivity

SE Performance Features:

  • Apple S5 processor
  • Capable performer but trails Series 6
  • Limited to 2.4GHz WiFi networks

Honestly most smartwatch users won‘t notice much speed difference in everyday use between the S5 and S6 chips. Both processors are responsive. Apps launch quickly. And using core features feels fluid.

But for those seriously future-proofing and wanting maximum speed, the Series 6 does pull ahead performance-wise.

Health & Fitness Features Comparison

Health and activity tracking are two major reasons people buy smartwatches like the Apple Watch SE and Series 6. Apple packed tons of sensors and tracking capabilities into both models.

Let‘s compare what health metrics you can monitor on the SE and Series 6:

Standard Health Sensors on BOTH Watches

  • High and low heart rate alerts
  • Irregular heart rhythm notifications
  • Emergency SOS
  • Sleep tracking
  • Fall detection
  • Noise monitoring
  • Activity and workout tracking

Additional Health Sensors EXCLUSIVE to Series 6

  • Blood Oxygen app
  • ECG app
  • Always-on altimeter

The Apple Watch SE actually does pack quite a breadth of health metrics for a more affordable smartwatch. Monitoring your heart health, sleep, noise, workouts and more is really impressive!

But the Series 6 takes it a leap further with the new blood oxygen and ECG apps. Those provide deeper insights into your overall wellbeing.

So while the SE handles the fitness tracking basics quite well, the Series 6 better justifies its higher price for those obsessed with health stats.

Battery Life Comparison

No smartwatch would be complete without solid battery life to keep you powered through the day and workouts. Here‘s how Apple Watch SE and Series 6 battery performance stacks up:

Both Watches

  • Up to 18 hours battery in a single charge
  • Enough for full day and workouts
  • Sleep tracking drains faster

Series 6 Edge

  • Faster 1.5 hour charge time

So battery duration is virtually the same on both models – right around 18 hours. That should get you through a full day‘s use and workouts without issue.

The one battery advantage the Series 6 does have is slightly faster 1.5 hour recharge times, beating the SE. So if you want quicker 0-100% power-ups, go Series 6!

Apple Watch SE Pros & Cons

Apple Watch SE Pros:

  • Cheaper $279 starting price
  • Great middle-ground pick
  • Core health & fitness features
  • Modern rectangular design
  • Crisp, bright display
  • Huge app ecosystem & watch faces

Apple Watch SE Cons:

  • No always-on display
  • Lacks advanced health sensors
  • Aluminum case only
  • Fewer color options

Apple Watch Series 6 Pros & Cons

Apple Watch Series 6 Pros:

  • Top-notch bright, always-on display
  • Advanced health & fitness tracking
  • Blood oxygen & ECG apps
  • Upgraded S6 processor
  • More style & color options

Apple Watch Series 6 Cons:

  • Expensive $399+ pricing
  • Battery life still just 18 hours

Which Model is Better For You?

So should you choose the affordable Apple Watch SE that nails all the smartwatch basics? Or splurge on the feature-loaded Series 6?

Here are my quick recommendations on which model fits you best:

Good for SE Buyers:

  • First-time smartwatch owners
  • Teens
  • Casual users not needing advanced health tracking
  • Anyone wanting to save $120+ over Series 6

Good for Series 6 Buyers:

  • Prior Apple Watch owners upgrading
  • Serious athletes & health nuts
  • People who always buy top-of-the-line Apple gadgets
  • Anyone who knows they‘ll use the new health sensors

Both the Apple Watch SE and Series 6 are amazing smartwatches packed with helpful tech. The SE handles the core features at a friendly price point. While the Series 6 justifies its higher sticker price with extras like blood oxygen tracking, ECG sensors and a vibrant always-on display.

Hopefully this detailed comparison helped you decide which one best fits your wants, needs and budget! Both are awesome models in my book.