CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Apple Watch SE: If you've been holding out on buying a smartwatch, now could be the time

The Apple Watch SE could make it easier for the budget-conscious to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

A less expensive Apple Watch is here.


Ever since Apple launched its first smartwatch, back in 2015, the Apple Watch has been a highly prized wearable across many different demographics -- even though the price tag made it unaffordable for some. That changed on Tuesday, when the company announced the Watch SE, a more affordable watch for those whose budgets previously didn't stretch to Apple smartwatch ownership.

Read: Here's how to install iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 when it's available tomorrow and how to prep your device now.

With the Watch SE starting at $279 (£269, AU$429), Apple is looking to appeal to a new audience of smartwatch wearers -- including children. The new Apple Watch Family Setup feature lets people connect multiple watches to one iPhone, and Apple is clearly hoping parents can be convinced to invest in a smartwatch for their beloved offspring.

Though it's much like the current Series 3 watch in appearance, the Watch SE contains a more powerful processor than Apple's older timepiece. The Series 3 dates back to 2017, so customers may well be reassured to know Apple is doing more than rebadging an old product; the company has given the gadget a much-needed internal refresh to make it relevant in 2020 and beyond.

Watch this: Apple unveils lower-priced Apple Watch SE

As you might expect from a less expensive model, the SE doesn't have all the advanced features of Apple's higher-end watches, such as the FDA-cleared ECG app, but it still has a number of fitness-tracking capabilities and the fall-detection feature introduced in the Series 4. These include the same accelerometer, gyroscope and always-on altimeter as the new Apple Watch Series 6. The company also promises larger and easier to read metrics on its "most advanced" watch display, which is actually 30% bigger than the screen on the Series 3.

Apple's September event is usually an opportunity for the company to show off its latest iPhones , but with no phones making an appearance Tuesday, watches were able to take center stage. We're expecting to see Apple unveil the iPhone 12 in just a few weeks, but until then, the company has offered up some things to get excited about.

Among the announcements Apple made at Tuesday's event, the unveiling of the Apple Watch SE stands out for potentially bringing a much-loved (and lusted-after) product to a fresh audience. Though seasoned smartwatch owners or those who require deeper insights into their health metrics still may be drawn to the more expensive, top-of-the-range Apple Watch, the SE may do a fine job of serving the majority of people looking for an attractive and capable smartwatch.

The Watch SE could also benefit Apple by allowing it to hold on to its position as market leader in global sales of wearables. A less expensive smartwatch might allow the company to lure in buyers who might otherwise have opted for a budget fitness tracker from rivals such as  Fitbit .