Apple Watch Series 6, SE, or Series 3 - Which Apple Watch to buy in 2020

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited September 2020
As Apple's watch lineup continues to expand, it can be hard to decipher the subtle differences and choose which Apple Watch is right for you. We go through all of Apple's 2020 models and break down which one is suited to each type of user.

Several Apple Watch Series 6 models
Several Apple Watch Series 6 models

Apple Watch Series 3

For the third year in a row Apple is offering the Apple Watch Series 3 alongside the new option. It is the cheapest watch in Apple's lineup, coming in at $199.

It is the only Apple Watch with the original design as the Series 4 was overhauled to have a larger display with rounded corners. It's display measures 38mm or 42mm depending on the size you choose which is 2mm smaller than the 40mm and 44mm sizes offered with the Series 4 and on.






It comes in silver and space gray with either a white or black Sports Band.

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 3?

Unless you're looking for a basic fitness tracker and simple iPhone to Apple Watch communications, the Apple Watch Series 3 should be off the table. It doesn't support some of Apple's newest bands, it doesn't support some of the latest watch faces, as you can't get a LTE version it doesn't support Family Setup.

While it runs watchOS 7, future update support is going to end before any of the other options on this list. It may be the cheapest Apple Watch, but there are better options.

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE is a new low-cost option that bundles new features with a lower price. It has the design of the Series 4 with the S5 processor of the Series 5 Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch SE


Many core features of the Apple Watch experience are present. The only differences between the SE and the Series 6 is that the Series 6 has an always-on display, the blood oxygen app, an always-on altimeter, faster S6 processor, quicker-charging battery, and different case materials.

Apple Watch SE can be picked up silver, space gray, and gold aluminum paired with almost any band and starts at $279. A cellular option is available too which is required when using Family Setup.

Should you buy the Apple Watch SE?

For the vast majority of people, this may absolutely be the Apple Watch to own. It is a great value in terms of features and performance with a lower price tag.

You lose out on a few Series 6 features and have limited color and material choices, but for average daily use, this may be the best choice.

Apple Watch Series 6 -- Aluminum

The aluminum Apple Watch Series 6 will be the one most people will choose. It has all features Apple Watch has to offer, including those mentioned above when discussing the Apple Watch SE. That's the S6 processor, new always-on altimeter, brighter always-on display, faster-charging battery, blood oxygen app, and the new case colors.

Apple Watch Series 6 in red with black Solo Loop
Apple Watch Series 6 in red with black Solo Loop


For the Series 6, Apple has debuted a (PRODUCT)RED version for the first time as well as a new dark blue.

Apple Watch Series 6 starts off at $399 and be customized with any of Apple's band offerings. That includes the new Leather Link, Solo Loop, and Braided Solo Loop.

Should you buy the aluminum Apple Watch Series 6?

Apple Watch Series 6 in blue with black Solo Loop
Apple Watch Series 6 in blue


If you are looking for something above the Apple Watch SE, then this is the Apple Watch to own. You've got some great new colors to choose from which are clear signs you are sporting the latest wearable Apple has to offer. It is also more capable with additional sensors and features.

If you want the flagship new wearable, but aren't interested in shelling out for premium finishes, this is the Apple Watch to get.

Apple Watch Series 6 -- Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the step up model from the mass-appeal aluminum. The stainless steel finish is far more durable than the aluminum and the display is protected by sapphire glass rather than the IonX glass that is on the aluminum and SE variants.

Graphite Apple Watch Series 6
Graphite Apple Watch Series 6


Aluminum is also quite light compared to the steel which is much heftier. Steel comes off more as a piece of jewelry rather than a techy wearable.

For the Apple Watch Series 6 lineup, Apple discontinued the Space Black color and instead exchanged it for a new Graphite colorway. The difference is subtle but is slightly lighter than the last generation. It is also available in gold and silver, starting at $699.

This model also comes with a steel-covered Apple Watch charging puck.

Should you buy the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 6?

There are a couple of specific reasons to opt for the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 6. Perhaps you want the more durable design with the stronger steel body and sapphire glass. Alternatively, you may be ok to pay the premium for the more watch-like glossy exterior rather than the matte finish on the aluminum.

Apple Watch Edition Series 6 -- Titanium

Apple has, once more, killed-off the ceramic Apple Watch, making the titanium the most premium case material. It comes in space black as well as "natural" colors that are extremely durable and light. It starts at $799.

Natural titanium Apple Watch Series 6
Natural titanium Apple Watch Series 6


This model is also one of the few that still comes with a power adapter bundled in the box.

Should you buy the titanium Apple Watch Edition Series 6?

Titanium is the Apple Watch for you if you want the most durable watch, but you also want a lightweight watch. It is the most premium case material Apple has to offer this time around.

Apple Watch Series 6 -- Hermes

Rounding out Apple's 2020 Apple Watch lineup is the Hermes Apple Watch. When you choose the Hermes version, it comes with special packaging denoting the Hermes designation. As a small token, Hermes includes an orange Sports Band alongside whichever luxury leather band you bundle with the watch. It also comes with the stainless steel charging puck.

Hermes Apple Watch Series 6
Hermes Apple Watch Series 6


The Hermes model is special because it comes with custom Hermes Apple Watch faces which adds a bit of additional value to the watch but not enough to necessarily warrant its price for your average user.

Apple still puts a high value on the style of Apple Watch and wants it to be a fashion item. Because of that Hermes name, Apple Watch Series 6 Hermes starts at $1399. There are a number of Hermes bands to choose from including a new thinner double and single tour Attelage band.

Should you buy the Hermes Apple Watch Series 6?

We are confident that you know who you are if you are considering the Hermes Apple Watch Series 6. There are few who are strongly on the fence between a stainless steel Apple Watch and the Hermes model. It carries that elevated price tag and comes bundled with an Hermes band that fashionistas swear by.

Apple Watch deals

Discounts are readily available on a variety of styles, from new deals on the Apple Watch Series 6 to blowout savings on closeout Series 5 models.

Check out our Price Guide for the lowest Apple Watch prices across leading Apple resellers.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Thanks this helps. 
    edited September 2020
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Love my Titanium(s). Just sold my Series 5 Ti. Got the Series 6 Titanium on launch day. Not sure I would recommend them except to someone who knows what they are getting and paying for but I love how they look and feel.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,125member

    Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 3?

    Unless you're looking for a basic fitness tracker and simple iPhone to Apple Watch communications, the Apple Watch Series 3 should be off the table. It doesn't support some of Apple's newest bands, it doesn't support some of the latest watch faces, as you can't get a LTE version it doesn't support Family Setup.


    Please explain about the bands. Always thought the 42mm/44mm bands were exactly the same size.
    razorpit
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Unless you're looking for a basic fitness tracker and simple iPhone to Apple Watch communications, the Apple Watch Series 3 should be off the table. It doesn't support some of Apple's newest bands, it doesn't support some of the latest watch faces, as you can't get a LTE version it doesn't support Family Setup

    So Apple discontinued the the cellular version of the series 3, to further separate it from the other models and keep it basic. I currently have the 3 cellular version and still don't think the 6 has enough to warrant an upgrade.
    razorpit
  • Reply 5 of 15
    I bought BLUE Series 6 because blue is my favorite color. I have a GOLD Aluminum Series 5. I’m advancing to Series 6 because I love BLUE. Simple as that. If BLUE hadn’t been added to the new lineup, I wouldn’t have advanced to Series 6. So while Series 6 has a few better specs than Series 5, I’m buying the Series 6 because of the new color BLUE not the specs. I can afford it.

    I’m also going to buy a new 512GB BLUE iPhone 12 Pro Max in November. I am currently running a 512GB GOLD Xs Max. But my reason for buying the 12 Pro Max is because of the 802.11ax WiFi 6 specification that nobody’s writing about and the A14 7nm specification.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Apple Watch Series 3 is now $169 on Amazon and makes a delightful Apple Watch for first time buyers.  It was a great Apple Watch 3 years ago and still is.

    What's amazing about Apple Watch is how it got to be so good so quickly.  Most of the great Apple Watch features are still there including: fitness, messages, notifications, Siri, Apple Pay (without unlocking your phone), navigation, music, sleep tracking, unlock your Mac, etc.

    If you're not sure Apple Watch is for you, this is the one to try unless cost doesn't matter.  You can always upgrade in a year or two.
    wby5
  • Reply 7 of 15
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,555member
    mike1 said:

    Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 3?

    Unless you're looking for a basic fitness tracker and simple iPhone to Apple Watch communications, the Apple Watch Series 3 should be off the table. It doesn't support some of Apple's newest bands, it doesn't support some of the latest watch faces, as you can't get a LTE version it doesn't support Family Setup.


    Please explain about the bands. Always thought the 42mm/44mm bands were exactly the same size.
    Yes, I thought the deal was all watches could attach to all bands. An AW band is an AW band. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 8 of 15
     But my reason for buying the 12 Pro Max is because of the 802.11ax WiFi 6 specification that nobody’s writing about....
    Nobody is writing about it because the iPhone 11 Pro already has 802.11ax so it is old news.
  • Reply 9 of 15

    DAalseth said:
    mike1 said:

    Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 3?

    Unless you're looking for a basic fitness tracker and simple iPhone to Apple Watch communications, the Apple Watch Series 3 should be off the table. It doesn't support some of Apple's newest bands, it doesn't support some of the latest watch faces, as you can't get a LTE version it doesn't support Family Setup.


    Please explain about the bands. Always thought the 42mm/44mm bands were exactly the same size.
    Yes, I thought the deal was all watches could attach to all bands. An AW band is an AW band. 
    Not sure if it physically isn't possible however Apple state:
    The Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop straps are only compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer.
    razorpit
  • Reply 10 of 15
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,783member
    The question is, Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch series 5 on clearance?
    ozzieboy
  • Reply 11 of 15
    My parents faced that same question and ended up getting (both of them, and an old friend who was also switching from a fitbit) s.5's last week.

    If you can get a color/size you want in an s.5 for $20 more than an SE, I think it's a no-brainer.
    entropys said:
    The question is, Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch series 5 on clearance?
    ozzieboy
  • Reply 12 of 15
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,569moderator
    The one not mentioned is the one I’ll be getting: series 6 Nike edition.  
    edited September 2020
  • Reply 13 of 15
    Neither. They’re all ugly. The ugliest apple product. 
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Tried to post but it wouldn't load for some reason. Another major diff of Watch SE is no ECG. This is big for endurance athletes, especially those over 40. I have searched and not found a third-party app that provides ECG on Watch. Very odd as there are options on iPhone for that. But I'm new to Watch ecosystem (deciding which to buy right now, my first Watch) so maybe I'm missing something?
  • Reply 15 of 15
    My parents faced that same question and ended up getting (both of them, and an old friend who was also switching from a fitbit) s.5's last week.

    If you can get a color/size you want in an s.5 for $20 more than an SE, I think it's a no-brainer.
    entropys said:
    The question is, Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch series 5 on clearance?

    Where did they find a 5 for $20 more than SE?
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