Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3: Which One Should You Buy?

Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3

Apple has launched two new smartwatches this week, the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE. Along with these two smartwatches, Apple will also be selling the Apple Watch Series 3. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399, the Apple Watch SE starts at $279, and the Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $199. If you want an affordable Apple Watch, you’ll have to choose between the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 3. So, what’s the difference between these two smartwatches, and which one suits you better? Have a look for yourself.

What’s the Difference Between Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3?

Design

  • Apple Watch SE: Available in 40mm and 44mm case sizes; One finish – Aluminum; Water resistant up to 50 meters; no always-on display
  • Apple Watch Series 3: Available in 38mm and 42mm case sizes; One finish – Aluminum; Water resistant up to 50 meters; no always-on display

The Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 look similar but they have different case sizes. Both the case size variants of the Apple Watch SE are larger than that of the Apple Watch Series 3. While the Apple Watch Series 3 may suit better on smaller wrists, the Apple Watch SE will look better on larger wrists. The Apple Watch SE also enjoys a wider and more modern-looking collection of watch bands.

Display

  • Apple Watch SE: 1.78-inch LTPO OLED with 448 x 368 pixels resolution in 44mm variant, and 1.57-inch LTPO OLED with 394 x 324 pixels resolution in 40mm variant, 1000 nits brightness
  • Apple Watch Series 3: 1.65-inch OLED with 390 x 312 pixels resolution in 42mm variant, and 1.5-inch OLED with 340 x 272 pixels resolution in 38mm variant, 1000 nits brightness

The Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 3 feature totally different displays. The Apple Watch SE basically has the same display as the now-discontinued Apple Watch Series 5. Hence, the display of the Apple Watch SE is larger than that of the Apple Watch Series 3. The display has a higher resolution and it also uses LTPO OLED technology, which is superior to the standard OLED technology used in the display of the Apple Watch Series 3.

Processor

  • Apple Watch SE: S5 processor, dual-core 64-bit CPU, 2x faster than Apple S3
  • Apple Watch Series 3: S3 processor, dual-core 64-bit CPU

The Apple Watch SE is twice as fast as the Apple Watch Series 3, thanks to the S5 SoC. If you want a better performing Apple Watch, there are no two ways about it; just get the Apple Watch SE.

While the Apple Watch Series 3 will get all your day to day tasks done without any hiccups, the S3 SoC in it is showing its age and you might want to get Apple Watch SE if you want to keep your smartwatch for longer.

Sensors

  • Apple Watch SE: Accelerometer (32g), gyroscope, compass, always-on altimeter, GPS/GNSS, ambient light sensor, fall detection, second-generation optical heart rate sensor
  • Apple Watch Series 3: Accelerometer (16g), gyroscope, altimeter, altimeter, GPS/GNSS, ambient light sensor, optical rate sensor

While there doesn’t seem to be a big difference in the sensor set of both smartwatches, the 32g accelerometer in the Apple Watch SE enables fall detection, which has saved many lives to date. This feature alone is worth the price difference between both watches.

The Apple Watch SE also has an always-on altimeter, which enables watch faces to show altimeter statistics in real-time. Moreover, the Apple Watch SE shows more accurate heart rate readings compared to the Apple Watch Series 3 thanks to its advanced heart rate sensor.

Connectivity

  • Apple Watch SE: Single-band (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS, W3 wireless chip, cellular connectivity with eSIM (optional)
  • Apple Watch Series 3: Single-band (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, W2 wireless chip

One of the biggest differences between the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 3 can be seen in their connectivity options. The Apple Watch SE can be had with cellular connectivity option but the Apple Watch Series 3 is available in GPS-only option. The Apple Watch SE also uses Bluetooth v5.0, which uses much lesser power and offers a more stable connection compared to Bluetooth v4.2 that is in the Apple Watch Series 3.

Storage

  • Apple Watch SE: 32GB storage
  • Apple Watch Series 3: 8GB storage

8GB of storage seemed adequate when the Apple Watch Series 3 came out. But with an ever-increasing collection of apps and their sizes, the 8GB storage of the Apple Watch Series 3 might fill up quickly.

The Apple Watch SE, on the other hand, offers four times more storage compared to the Apple Watch Series 3. It is more than enough for all your storage needs. And if you are planning on storing music on your Apple Watch, you should definitely go for the Apple Watch SE.

Battery

  • Apple Watch SE: 18 hours battery backup
  • Apple Watch Series 3: 18 hours battery backup

The brand is claiming the Apple Watch SE to offer the same 18-hour battery backup as the Apple Watch Series 3. And that is disappointing. With the new processor under the hood, Apple should have offered a longer battery backup. That being said, an 18-hour battery backup is enough to get you through the day.

Price

  • Apple Watch SE: Start at $279 for the GPS-only variant and $329 for GPS + Cellular variant
  • Apple Watch Series 3: Start at $199 for the GPS-only variant

Compared to the Apple Watch Series 3, the Apple Watch SE offers a bolder look, a larger and better display, twice the performance, four times the storage, life-saving fall detection feature, and better connectivity options for a premium of just $80. And we think it is totally worth spending the extra money on the Apple Watch SE. After all, a smartwatch isn’t a gadget that you change every year. So buy one that doesn’t feel outdated for the next 2-3 years.

Buy Apple Watch SE


We wish that the Apple Watch SE came with a blood oxygen monitor; this feature would have made the smartwatch a complete package. That being said, the Apple Watch SE is still a great smartwatch for its price.

Which smartwatch would you choose between the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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