Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen Review: Brilliantly smart, reasonably priced
There is quite nothing like the Apple Watch! It simply works and nothing in the world can match it for the sheer ease of use and value it offers, no matter which model you pick up. The more you spend, the better your overall experience gets – that is not applicable on the Apple Watch. Unlike other brands, Apple keeps the basic user experience same across the cheapest and the most expensive model, and it is only the health monitoring features that vary. Hence, for someone simply wanting the Apple Watch experience, the new Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen makes the most sense.
Sounds weird? Consider this – you are simply looking for a smartwatch to flaunt and make your life easy in the process, but you don't need a gazillion workout modes, and the durability to withstand the depths of the ocean. An Apple Watch Ultra will simply be an overkill and the same goes for the Series 8. The Watch SE starting at Rs. 29,900 is just what you need – a solid smartwatch with all the essentials. You are not missing out much.
Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen Design
Yes, you aren't missing on anything. The Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen has the same modern-esque Apple Watch design, flaunting the same aesthetics as the Series 6 from two years ago. It has the same kind of bezels as you see on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, or a Fossil Gen 6 but the shape is all square. The 40mm version I have looks tiny and I recommend going for the larger 44mm version, unless you have petite wrists.
I wore the original Apple Watch SE for a while in 2021 and compared to that, the new model feels lighter on the wrist. Apple uses some bio friendly material for the back panel, which feels like a fancy term for plastic. It is softer on the skin but for some reason, the Watch SE 2 became uncomfortable after an hour; not an issue with the Series 8. The fit and finish is top notch, exactly what you expect from Apple.
And then there's the display, which is not the best one from Apple, but it works as advertised. It gets bright enough outdoors, and the touch response is excellent. However, there's no Always On mode here, and next to the Series 8, it looks slightly inferior.
Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen Smartness
This is what the Watch SE is designed for – to be smart unlike anything else in its price range. With watchOS 9 onboard, the Apple Watch SE 2 can literally do almost all of the fancy stuff Apple flaunted on the Series 8. It makes the watch a brilliant extension of your iPhone, which means you can take and make calls, respond to texts, check notifications and even peek at the images, read emails, reach out to fellow Watch users with Walkie Talkie, and register your medications. I have seen the Apple Watch do all these flawlessly over the years and the Watch SE 2 keeps doing it as nicely, if not better.
As for taking calls on it, the Watch SE 2 has a decently loud speaker and a good microphone. If you have the LTE version like I do, you can create a copy of your iPhone's SIM card on the Watch's eSIM. This lets you leave the iPhone behind and still remain connected. You can also pair your AirPods for the same, and even stream from Apple Music.
One big upgrade is the new S8 chip from the Series 8 and Watch Ultra. This guarantees faster performance and the capability to do Crash Detection. I don't see any noticeable gains in performance over the Watch SE 1st Gen, and I am not interested in testing the crash detection anytime soon. It is a nice safety net though.
And lastly, the watchOS 9 has some of the nicest watch faces. The animated ones are quite fun but most of you will like the informational ones with multiple complications. If you set your watch face well, you might not need to dive into the menus.
Even though Apple would want you to buy the Series 8 for a complete health monitoring package, it surprisingly packs enough stuff for fitness lovers to enjoy. The Watch SE 2 only gets the heart rate sensor, and along with the gyroscope, accelerometer and the clever algorithms, the Watch SE can pamper most joggers and exercise junkies. Workout modes like Outdoor Running shows the pace, heart rate, and everything that you may ever need. You miss out on Blood Oxygen saturation, but the rest of the package is there.
The Apple Watch continues to push you though its Activity Rings summary. Female users get to track ovulation but you have to put the data manually; there's no temperature sensor to measure it automatically. You also get to experience Apple's wonky Sleep tracking, which while more detailed now, only tracks sleep if you put it into Sleep mode manually. And if you turn off the Sleep Focus mode accidentally in the middle of the night, the Apple Watch discards all the data. There's also the Mindfulness app to calm the soul, and lower the stress.
Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen Battery
One area where I wish the Apple Watch experience didn't trickle down. The Watch SE 2 is still a one-day watch, whether you do workouts or not. My 40mm variant needs to be charged before the day ends, although I think the 44mm version could fare better. You can use the Low Power mode to extend the battery stamina in case you are dangerously close to the last few digits. The charging happens slowly via the magnetic puck and it is better to leave it for overnight top-up.
I have long maintained it and will continue to say – there is quite nothing like an Apple Watch. Apple's ecosystem benefits alone make the Apple Watch a wholesome experience, and the Watch SE 2nd Gen is a cost effective way to get that. It gets the same spectacular build quality, a modern design, a nice display, a plethora of smart features unlike any other watch, and more than enough fitness tracking modes to try out. If you identify yourself as a rational buyer, you will love the Watch SE 2 more than the Series 8.
At Rs. 30,000 for the base model though, the Watch SE 2nd Gen isn't well equipped, especially when you look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, and even the Fossil Gen 6. Those watches have better designs, and offer more fitness monitoring gimmicks to play with. But then, those watches don't work with the iPhone, which leaves the Watch SE 2nd Gen an unchallenged winner in its category.
- Polished user experience
- Great build quality
- Reasonable price
- Lacks SpO2 tracking
- Limited to iPhone users
Health monitoringHeart rate, sleep, workouts