Compared: New Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch SE 2020

in Apple Watch edited November 2022
Apple unveiled the second generation of the Apple Watch SE at Wednesday's "Far Out" event. Here's how it compares to its predecessor.

Apple Watch SE (left) and 2022 Apple Watch SE (right)
Original Apple Watch SE (left) and 2022 Apple Watch SE (right)

The Apple Watch SE is still aimed at people new to Apple Watch, existing customers on a budget, or parents wanting to purchase an Apple Watch for their children. Apple highlighted Family Setup, a feature in watchOS 7 and later to let family members without an iPhone still enjoy an Apple Watch. This requires an Apple Watch with LTE.

The two models are nearly identical externally, as the Apple Watch SE 2022 is an iterative update. Nevertheless, it is still an attractive option for some people.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Specifications

SpecificationsApple Watch SE 2020Apple Watch SE 2022
Price (starting)$279.00$249.00
Sizes40mm, 44mm40mm, 44mm
DisplayRetina LTPO OLED display
Up to 1,000 nits
Retina LTPO OLED display
Up to 1,000 nits
Case MaterialsAluminumAluminum
ProcessorS5 SiPS8 SiP
Health SensorsSecond-generation optical heart sensorSecond-generation optical heart sensor
Water Resistance50 meters50 meters
Dust Resistance--
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.3
Other SensorsEmergency SOS
Fall Detection
Always-on altimeter
Emergency SOS
Fall Detection
Crash Detection
Always-on altimeter
Colors (Aluminum)Gold
Space Gray

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Case sizes

Both models keep the 40mm and 44mm options that existed on the Apple Watch since the very first model. However, Apple changed this for specific models starting with the Apple Watch Series 7.

The larger screen on that model necessitated a larger case, with options of 41mm and 45mm, and the Apple Watch Series 8 also has these sizes.

Apple redesigned the back case on the Apple Watch SE 2022. It's made with a new production process that reduces carbon emissions by over 80%.

As for the physical size, there's no difference between the generations. The 40mm version is 40mm by 34mm and 10.7mm thick, while the 44mm is 44mm by 38mm and 10.7mm thick.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Materials and Weight

Both Apple Watch SE models have the same materials and weight. The only material available is aluminum to keep it an affordable product.

Redesigned backing on Apple Watch SE 2022
Redesigned backing on Apple Watch SE 2022

The 40mm 2022 model weighs 26.4 grams for the GPS variant and 27.8 grams for the GPS + cellular model. The 44mm versions are 32.9 grams for the GPS, 33 grams with cellular.

The 2020 40mm models were 30.49 grams and 30.68 grams for the GPS and the GPS + Cellular respectively, heavier than the latest models. Likewise, the 44mm weighed 36.2 grams without cellular, 36.36 with.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Display

The two models share the same display, reaching up to 1,000 nits of brightness. The screen is Retina low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) OLED, but neither generation has the Always-On display that the Apple Watch Series 5 introduced.

The resolutions haven't changed over the years, with the 40mm in each case being 324 pixels by 394 pixels, and the 44mm at 368 by 448 pixels.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Processor

Despite being a low-budget mode, the Apple Watch SE 2022 received the latest S8 processor found inside the Apple Watch Series 8. As a result, it's up to 20% faster than the Apple Watch SE 2020.

The Apple Watch SE 2020 has the same S5 system-in-package found inside the Apple Watch Series 5. In addition, it's a 64-bit dual-core chip, although the S8 SiP is too.

Both SE models include the W3 wireless chip first introduced in the Apple Watch Series 4. In addition, it enables Bluetooth 5.0 on each model.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Health and Fitness

The two models feature the same water resistance of up to 50 meters, so swimmers can track sets and see metrics in the Workout app. These metrics include Heart Rate Zones, Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation, and both work with Fitness+.

Customers get three free months of Apple's fitness program upon purchase of the Apple Watch SE 2022 and other new models.

2022 Apple Watch SE
2022 Apple Watch SE

Each model features a second-generation optical heart sensor to check heart rates at any time with the Heart Rate app. People can receive notifications for high or low heart rates or irregular rhythm.

Neither model has a blood oxygen sensor nor the electrical heart sensor that the ECG app uses in the other Apple Watch variants.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Battery

Battery life is the same on both Apple Watch SE models, up to 18 hours. Although both models includes a USB-C magnetic charging cable, neither model has a fast charging capability.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Other Features

Both Apple Watch SE models include Fall Detection. Introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018, it uses the accelerometer to detect if a person has experienced a severe fall and asks what happened.

If it was a false positive, or the wearer fell but isn't hurt, they can tap the "I'm OK" button on display. If the person doesn't tap I'm OK, the Apple Watch automatically contacts emergency services after a certain amount of time, around one minute.

Crash Detection on Apple Watch SE 2022
Crash Detection on Apple Watch SE 2022

Once it's made that call, it also sends a message to emergency contacts.

The Apple Watch SE 2022 has another emergency feature along with other new models. Crash Detection uses various sensors and a microphone to detect if the wearer was in a severe car crash.

This feature found within watchOS 9 can also automatically notify emergency services if the wearer is unresponsive.

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - Pricing, Storage, and Colors

The Apple Watch SE 2020 colors include silver, space gray, and gold. The Apple Watch SE 2022 is available in midnight, starlight, and silver.

When it was introduced, the Apple Watch SE 2020 cost $279. Unlike previous generations of Apple Watch, and some iPhones, Apple has not kept the older version on sale, it has entirely replaced it with the new one.

Colors and bands on Apple Watch SE 2022
Colors and bands on Apple Watch SE 2022

The company lowered the starting price of the Apple Watch SE 2022, now starting at $249 for the smaller 40mm size with only Wi-Fi conectivity.

  • Apple Watch SE 40mm (GPS): $249

  • Apple Watch SE 40mm (GPS + Cellular): $299

  • Apple Watch SE 44mm (GPS): $279

  • Apple Watch SE 44mm (GPS + Cellular): $329

Apple Watch SE 2020 vs Apple Watch SE 2022 - What to Buy

The Apple Watch SE 2022's main advantage over the first generation is a faster processor. The new model also has Crash Detection. Otherwise, they share the same specs, except for colors.

It's not a significant upgrade for existing owners of an Apple Watch SE 2020. However, the Apple Watch SE 2022 is a great, affordable option for new buyers.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 5
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 1,263member
    I usually upgrade my AW annually but not this time. I’ll stick with the 7 until next year’s model.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,783member
    Looks like Apple did drop the AW3, and reduced the price of the SE to fill the gap. A very good move. 
  • Reply 3 of 5
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,942member
    I just bought my father the old SE on sale for AUD$100 off. Seems the only thing missing really compared with the 2022 model is crash detection.
    If people wanting a budget AW can get the old SE even cheaper it seems a no brainer.
    edited September 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 5
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,431member
    Wait. $279 for the 44mm?    That’s almost half the 44mm series 8.  55% as a matter of fact.  

  • Reply 5 of 5
    petripetri Posts: 112member
    Realistically this is by far the best watch and the best value for most people; really quite generous by Apple standards.

    The only annoyance for me is the USB-C cable.  It has no practical advantage for this model (no fast charging) and just means a lot of people like me will have to find a new charger to plug it into.
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