Apple's 'SE’ line of devices has always had an interesting place in the Indian market. Everyone except Apple seems to think of them as ‘more affordable’ alternatives to the company’s flagship devices. And though they are considerably cheaper, affordable is not the word you can use for them.
Yet, the company has been able to establish a position for itself where a slightly cheaper Apple purchase feels like a deal you can’t miss. Analysts have routinely said that the iPhone SE has spurred Apple purchases by consumers in India, and though the Apple Watch SE is yet to get any such achievement under its belt, it ideally fits the same purpose.
The 2022 edition of the Apple Watch SE is, like its predecessor (which was introduced in 2020), a stripped down version of the Series 8. It uses the same Apple S8 dual-core processor, which keeps things fast and zippy, but doesn’t have all the sensors the Series 8 does, or even the Series 7 or 6 do for that matter.
You won’t be taking ECG readings with the SE, and it won’t discreetly measure your body temperature or help women track ovulation cycles. Neither will it let you measure blood oxygen levels. It won’t even show you the time unless you raise your wrist, because it doesn’t have the always-on display, which many more affordable smartwatches have.
The Apple Watch SE is meant to give you the bare essentials of Apple’s smartwatches — fast performance, a nice display, cellular connectivity (if you buy that model), and a bunch of colour and band options to choose from.
If the Apple Watch Ultra is the best smartwatch for an Apple user who is into extreme sports, and the Apple Watch Series 8 is for users who need all the sensors that one carries, the Apple Watch SE is for iPhone users who just want a taste of what a smartwatch can do. A price tag of ₹29,900 is pretty hefty for that, if you ask me.
The glass on the Apple Watch SE’s dial is not as strong as the sapphire crystal glass used on the other models. On paper, the Watch SE’s glass is more susceptible to scratches and even breaking if you bang the watch against a door or any other hard surface. This is worth noting, especially for those who plan to ue the watch during workouts or playing sports. That said, I tried to knock it around a little, against my office desk, and a door, and it didn’t pick up any scratches.
Furthermore, while the Apple Watch SE doesn’t charge as fast as Apple’s other watches, it lives up to the 18-hour battery promise quite easily. I get quite a few texts, emails and calls every day. I usually get by with a full charge every night. Using the sleep tracking feature on Watch OS7 will drain the battery a little more, but I still don’t see much to complain about. The Watch SE takes over an hour and a half to charge fully, which means that most users will be able to charge it while they have their breakfast, get ready for work, and so on.
The new Watch SE also supports Apple’s new ‘crash detection’ mode, which calls emergency services if you’ve been in a car crash. I obviously haven’t been in one, so I can’t really confirm if it works.
What I can confirm, however, is that the fall detection feature on older watches would often be fooled into thinking I fell while a ball hit my hand while playing football, or during a tussle with another player. One should assume that the crash detection feature isn’t triggered with little force, however.
Should you buy it?
There’s no arguing the fact that the Apple Watch SE suits most basic smartwatch users. In a way, it’s the best basic smartwatch for iPhone users. If all you need from a smartwatch is to answer calls and see notifications and perhaps answer tex, the Apple Watch SE fits the bill. However, for those who want specialized tracking, and more features, there are better offerings from companies like Garmin and Samsung, which work fine with the iPhone as well.