what is the best apple watch?

Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE on September 16, 2020. They replace the Apple Watch Series 5 released a year earlier. They take up many aesthetic and technical aspects. Fortunately, there are a few novelties that separate all these watches. What are they ? Should Watch Series 5 owners ever give up their watch? And if so, where to go? Here are some answers.

From left to right: Watch Series 6, Watch SE and Watch Series 5

On the occasion of its back-to-school keynote, released on September 16, 2020, Apple announced two new watches: the Watch Series 6 and the Watch SE. The Watch Series 6 is simply the replacement for the Watch Series 5. The Watch SE, on the other hand, is to Watch Series 6 what iPhone SE is to iPhone 11: a smaller platform, based on a previous generation, but based on excellent value for money.

Here are two products with very different positioning. Their target is different. Their price is different. And sometimes their services are different. In this file, we are going to compare the two watches with each other, to advise you one or the other, but also with the Apple Watch Series 5. So the owners of the latter will have all the elements to know whether they should already change accessories and which model to choose according to their needs.

🎦 Our video unboxing

💶 Price and availability

Launched last year, the Watch Series 5 is officially no longer available in the Apple catalog after only a year of loyal service (a situation the Watch Series 4 has also experienced). But you can still find this model at brands such as Darty, Boulanger or Amazon. You will simply have less choice than at Apple in terms of color, size and connectivity.

Apple watch series 6
Apple Watch Series 6

The new models, meanwhile, are officially available since September 18. Note, however, that the day after the Watch product sheets go live on the Apple Store, delivery times and availability stretch until the end of September, regardless of the model. At the time of writing (September 24, 2020), some models are no longer available until October.

The price of the Watch Series 6 starts at 429 euros. Of course, that’s the base price, with the 40mm aluminum case and sport buckle strap. If you want to go for another bracelet or another finish, you will have to increase your budget. The Apple Watch Series 6 in stainless steel starts at 700 euros. For titanium cases, it starts at over 800 euros. Also count around thirty euros to go from 40 mm to 44 mm.

The Watch SE is much more affordable. It is offered at 299 euros in a 40 mm version with sport buckle. No titanium or stainless steel version here. This price difference is justified by the reuse of the platform of an old model and a few missing sensors, as we will see in the rest of this comparison.

The Watch Series 5 was offered at launch at 449 euros in 40 mm aluminum version with sport strap. That’s 20 euros more than the Watch Series 6. The lower price is therefore good news, especially as the Watch Series 6 is better equipped. You will also note that the Watch SE, which takes almost all the attributes of the Watch Series 5, is sold for 150 euros cheaper. Sacred devaluation in a year!

⚙️ Technical sheets

Apple Watch Series 6 Apple Watch SE Apple Watch Series 5
Dimensions 44 x 38 x 10.4 mm (44 mm)
40 x 34 x 10.4 mm (40 mm)
44 x 38 x 10.4 mm (44 mm)
40 x 34 x 10.4 mm (40 mm)
44 x 38 x 10.7 mm (44 mm)
40 x 34 x 10.7 mm (40 mm)
Weight 47.1 grams (44 mm)
39.7 grams (40 mm)
36.4 grams (44 mm)
30.7 grams (40 mm)
47.8 grams (44 mm)
39.8 grams (40 mm)
Screen 1.78 inch (44 mm)
1.57 inch (40 mm)
Always-On Display
1.78 inch (44 mm)
1.57 inch (40 mm)
Always-On Display
1.78 inch (44 mm)
1.57 inch (40 mm)
Definition 448 x 386 pixels (44 mm)
394 x 324 pixels (40 mm)
448 x 386 pixels (44 mm)
394 x 324 pixels (40 mm)
448 x 386 pixels (44 mm)
394 x 324 pixels (40 mm)
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi n dual band, 4G (optional Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi n dual band, 4G (optional Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi n dual band, 4G (optional
Functions GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, altimeter, heart rate monitor, ECG and oximeter GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, altimeter and heart rate monitor GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, heart rate monitor and ECG
SoC Apple S6 (dual-core)
Apple W3 (wireless connection)
Apple U1 Ultrawide Band
Apple S5 (dual-core)
Apple W3 (wireless connection)
Apple S5 (dual-core)
Apple W3 (wireless connection)
RAM 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB
Storage 8 GB 8 GB 8 GB
Water resistance waterproof 5 ATM, IP68 waterproof 5 ATM, IP68 waterproof 5 ATM, IP68
Audio Microphone and speaker Microphone and speaker Microphone and speaker
Drums 303.8 mAh (44 mm)
265.9 mAh (40 mm)
Autonomy announced: 18 hours
n.c.
Autonomy announced: 18 hours
296 mAh (44 mm)
245 mAh (40 mm)
Autonomy announced: 18 hours
Wireless charging Yes Yes Yes
Materials Case: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
Screen: synthetic sapphire
Back: sapphire and ceramic
Housing: aluminum
Screen: ionized glass
Back: sapphire and ceramic
Case: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
Screen: synthetic sapphire
Back: sapphire and ceramic

⌚️ Design: an identical base and some small alterations

Even more than for smartphones, the aesthetics of a connected watch is particularly important. And in this area, Apple has remained on the same basis since the first Apple Watch. Of course, the design has evolved over time (especially the screen size). But, since the Apple Watch Series 4, no real changes can be noted.

Aesthetically, Apple Watch Series 5 is the basis for its two replacements. You will find the rectangular case inherited from the Watch Series 4 (a little bit of recycling from Apple designers). The regulars are not disoriented. Both new watches measure the same size in width and length, but they are very slightly thicker (0.3mm more).

apple watch se official
Apple Watch SE

The materials of Series 6 are the same as those of Series 5. Aluminum, stainless steel and titanium for the case. Synthetic sapphire to protect the screen. Ceramic or synthetic sapphire depending on the version to protect the biometric sensors. The Watch SE doesn’t offer as much finesse. The case is aluminum only. The protection at the front is not sapphire, but a more classic mineral crystal (like on iPhone screens).

The three watches take up the historic digital crown of the range. They are equipped with the attachment system for the usual bracelets (with a keying system to avoid fixing them upside down). The Watch Series 6 is compatible with the bracelets offered in previous years, reversing the rumors which suggested that Apple would deport antennas in the bracelet.

🖥 AMOLED screen and almost identical display

Screen side, Watch Series 6 is identical to Watch Series 5. It measures 1.57 inches for the 40 mm version and 1.78 inches for the 44 mm version. The brightness is identical to other recent Apple Watches: 1000 nits (according to information from Apple). The touch screen is still 3D Touch compatible.

Apple Watch Series 6 best price comparison

Like Watch Series 5, Watch Series 6 is compatible Always-On. This means that the watch displays the time all the time (and no longer just when you turn your wrist). Of course, it consumes power, but thanks to AMOLED technology, the impact should be negligible. Note that this setting is configurable. You can switch back to a temporary display.

Ostensibly, Watch SE’s screen is also identical to that of Watch Series 5. Same size. Same definition (and same resolution). Same backlight technology. 3D Touch touchscreen. 1000 nits brightness here too. However, no permanent display.

❤️ Biometric sensor: advantage over novelty

We are discussing an important part here: that of biometric and environmental sensors. A connected watch is now used to monitor health-related information and support the user in his physical efforts. The biometric sensors of the three Apple Watches compared here are not exactly the same.

The least well equipped is the Apple Watch SE. It is provided with a heart rate monitor which allows to analyze the heart rate and the phases of sleep. Added to this is accelerometer, compass and gyroscope. You also have a altimeter, novelty of the two watches this year.

Apple Watch: covid-19

The Apple Watch Series 5 offers almost the same. Two differences are to be noted. First, the altimeter was not available with models prior to 2020. So, no altimeter in Watch Series 5. On the other hand, like the Apple Watch Series 4, the Series 5 benefits from ECG, or electrocardiogram. This is used to measure the electrical voltage of the heart. Thanks to this, it is possible to analyze cardiac activity and, potentially, to detect abnormalities.

The Apple Watch Series 6 takes it all: heart rate monitor, altimeter, electrocardiogram and the usual array of environmental sensors. In addition, there is another sensor: oximeter. It is used to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. The green light emitted by the back of the Apple Watch reveals elements that allow this measurement. With the oximeter, you get two measurements: SPO2 and VO2 Max. The first is oxygen saturation. The second is the maximum volume of oxygen consumed.

💪 Performance and equipment: small advantages for the Series 6

A smartwatch’s processor and RAM are not yet among the things consumers look at before buying. And yet, like smartphones 10 years ago, smartwatches are becoming more complex. In addition to the management of biometric sensors and the permanent connection with a smartphone (especially for models without 4G), Apple Watches are set to become new compact computers. And the applications are more and more complex and demanding.

watchOS 7

As with a smartphone, the power of the platform indicates how long the connected watch will remain fluid and efficient. It is also for this reason that Apple updates the SoC of its watches every year. The Watch Series 6 is equipped with a new dual-core processor called Apple S6. According to Apple, the hearts of the S6 are 20% more powerful than those of the Apple S5, the chipset that powers the Series 5 and the SE. There is therefore theoretically no difference between the latter two, apart from software optimizations.

All three watches are also equipped with the same volume of RAM (1 GB) and storage (32 GB). Connectivity does not change: WiFi n (Dual Band for Series 6), Bluetooth 5.0 (improved with the W3 chipset), NFC and, optionally, LTE. The three watches are available with or without LTE. Another point in common between the three watches: the W3 chipset, which manages the customized Bluetooth connection. It remains unchanged. The Series 6 therefore consumes just as much as the other two watches in this comparison when it is connected to a smartphone.

Note that the Series 6 is also equipped with a chipset called Ultra Wideband U1 that other watches do not have. Also integrated into the iPhone 11 series, this chip allows the watch to be more alert vis-à-vis its environment. The applications related to this component have not been detailed by Apple, but one of them could be the dematerialized key presented in June 2020.

🔋 Autonomy: officially, no change

On the autonomy side, Apple announces a similar autonomy between the three Apple Watches compared here: 18 hours in mixed use. This means that the battery life may be longer if you use less of the advanced functions of the watch. But that also means that it can also be lower if you don’t turn on GPS or launch a hungry app.

apple watch series 6 official

A priori, the Apple Watch Series 6 could be less autonomous than the Watch SE. First, because the Watch Series 6 display is Always-On compatible. It is therefore always on. Even though an OLED display consumes very little power on a still image, it consumes more power than a turned off screen. Then because the Series 6 has a more powerful and therefore more greedy chipset.

However, two details can offset this. First, rumors claim that theApple Watch Series 6 benefits from improved battery : 265 mAh for the 40 mm version and 303 mAh for the 44 mm version. The improvement is, in percentage, stronger for the 40 mm version (8% against 2%). Then, Series 6 benefits from software enhancements (which Apple has the secret) to counterbalance a slight gluttony of the components.

Conclusion: a choice that does not depend only on the price

We have seen three Apple watches from all angles. The Watch Series 6, which offers the most complete experience to date for an Apple Watch. The Watch SE, which offers a very interesting value for money, well below the Watch Series 6 (but without the cosmetic attire, of course). And the Watch Series 5, an old model that Apple has decided not to sell. And for good reason: it would compete with the Watch Series 6.

However, while you might be tempted, we do not recommend taking the Watch Series 5. And this even if you can always find it at Boulanger, Amazon, Materiel.net or Conforama for example. The reason is simple: its price has not fallen much. And as we have seen, the Watch Series 6 is, for the same performance (material, size and strap) less expensive and more complete (Always-on screen, Ultrawide Band U1 chipset, altimeter and oximeter).

And between the other two, which one to choose? If you need a health monitoring device on your wrist, the Watch Series 6 is the most obvious choice, since the Watch SE does not have all the technologies of its big sister (heart pressure, volume of oxygen in the blood). On the other hand, if you are seduced by the design and a connected watch is mainly used for receiving notifications, the Watch SE is quite sufficient.

As for those who already own an Apple Watch, here are our tips. If you have a Watch Series 5, don’t change it. The intakes are not worth the price. Wait at least a generation, if not two. If you have a Watch Series 4 and want to “really” change your watch, go for the Watch Series 6 instead, as the Watch SE might disappoint you a bit. If you have a Watch Series 3 or lower, you will experience real changes (especially screen size) regardless of the model. It all depends on your budget and your needs.

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