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

The Apple Watch SE Is the Best Smartwatch Gift for iPhone Owners

It has all the best Apple Watch features for significantly less than the $400 Series 8.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple, Samsung, Google, smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
2 min read

The 2022 Apple Watch SE may not be the flashiest new Apple Watch alongside the new temperature-sensing Series 8 and souped-up Ultra. But with a $249 starting price, it's easily the most practical Apple Watch for most people. 

Why it's a great gift: The Apple Watch SE doesn't have temperature sensing, the ability to take an ECG from your wrist or a blood oxygen sensor like the Series 8. Nor does it have the Apple Watch Ultra's beefier exterior, programmable Action Button or longer battery life. But these are mostly extras that many people will be fine without. 

What matters is everything you're getting for the Apple Watch SE's $249 price tag, which is considerably lower than the Series 8's $400 starting price and the Ultra's $800 cost. The Apple Watch SE has many of the same software-based features as its pricier siblings, including workout tracking, sleep monitoring, Apple Pay support and the ability to get iPhone notifications on your wrist. Plus, it runs on the same new processor that's inside the Series 8, meaning it's likely to last for a long time before it needs an upgrade. If you're buying for someone who's upgrading from an older Apple Watch like the Series 3 and earlier, they'll also appreciate the SE's larger display. 

The only downside is that the new Apple Watch SE still doesn't have an always-on display, which makes it possible to show your watch face even when the watch is idle on your wrist. But overall, the 2022 Apple Watch SE is an excellent choice for anyone on your holiday shopping list who's a first-time Apple Watch user or is upgrading from an older watch.

What you'll pay: Apple prices the Apple Watch SE at $249 for the GPS-only version and $299 for the cellular model. It's available in 40mm or 44mm sizes, and you can choose from midnight, starlight and silver colors. Unlike the pricier Series 8, it's available only in an aluminum finish. Since the second-gen Apple Watch SE is new, there haven't been many deals yet. But Best Buy is offering up to $125 off when you trade in a similar device. 

🎁 More 84 Days of Holiday 

⬅️ Day 14: Curology Is the Only Skin Care Product You'll Ever Need
➡️ Day 16: The AeroGarden Harvest Is the Mini Garden Gift That Keeps on Giving