Apple Watch SE 2022 Review – Big Upgrade from the Series 3

The new Apple Watch SE 2022 is an exciting upgrade for budget-conscious consumers who want an affordable smartwatch with great features. Released alongside the high-end Series 8, the SE 2022 replaces the previous SE model from 2020.

Compared to the aging Series 3 it replaces in Apple’s lineup, the SE 2022 is a major step up in every way – display, performance, sensors and safety features. It lacks some advanced health sensors like ECG, but overall delivers excellent value.

In this in-depth review, we’ll compare the Apple Watch SE 2022 versus the older Series 3, look at new features, performance, battery life and help you decide if it’s worth upgrading.

Apple Watch SE 2022 Versus Series 3: Key Differences

The SE 2022 model has some significant upgrades compared to the Series 3 which was released back in 2017:

  • Bigger display – Up to 30% larger screen with slimmer bezels. Brighter always-on display.
  • Faster processor – Up to 2x faster with S8 SiP chip vs older S3.
  • Fall detection – New safety feature can detect falls and call emergency services.
  • Crash detection – Another new safety feature unique to the SE and Series 8.
  • Compass – Added compass and more advanced sensors.
  • Better water resistance – Improved to 50m vs Series 3 at 50m.
  • Support for watchOS 9 – Will get all the latest software features. Series 3 stuck on older watchOS.
  • New colors – Fresh color options like Starlight and Midnight vs Series 3 aluminum.

The SE 2022 closes the gap with premium models in areas like display size, safety features and overall performance. It’s a much more capable smartwatch compared to the dated Series 3.

Apple Watch SE 2022: Pricing, Models and Availability

The Apple Watch SE is positioned as an affordable alternative to the flagship Series 8. Here are the key details on pricing and availability:

  • Release date – September 16, 2022
  • Price – Starts at $249 for 40mm GPS model
  • Sizes – 40mm or 44mm
  • Models – GPS only or GPS + Cellular
  • Colors – Midnight, Starlight, Silver
  • Bands – Wide variety of Apple watch bands

It’s $50-$60 cheaper than the equivalent Series 8 model. Cellular models cost $100 more than GPS.

Compared to the Series 3 which started at $199, you’re getting a bigger screen, better design and far improved performance for just $50 more.

Apple Watch SE 2022 Design and Display

The Apple Watch SE 2022 retains the classic squared-off design of the Series 4-7 models with some nice improvements:

Larger, Brighter Display

  • 30% larger screen than Series 3 – 40mm and 44mm vs 38mm/42mm. Provides more content real estate.
  • Brighter always-on display – Up to 500 nits when wrist is down.
  • Crack resistant front crystal – Durable Ion-X glass protection.
  • 1000 nits peak brightness for excellent visibility in sunlight.
  • 44mm model ideal for larger wrists or improved readability.
  • Supports AssistiveTouch for control without touching display.

The bigger screen with always-on capability brings it up to par with Apple’s more expensive watches. The Series 3 lacks always-on and feels dated in comparison.

Slim, Lightweight Design

  • Similar slim 10.5mm thickness as Series 8 aluminum models.
  • Weighs 26.4g for 40mm, 32.2g for 44mm. Extremely lightweight.
  • 100% recycled aluminum case is durable and environmentally friendly.
  • Ion-X strengthened glass crystal face is scratch resistant.
  • Swimproof water resistance up to 50 meters. Safe for swimming and showering.

Apple managed to fit the larger screen in a compact, lightweight chassis that’s comfortable to wear all day and night. The simple, timeless design fits any wrist or outfit.

New Fresh Color Options

The SE is available in these stylish new colors:

  • Midnight – Deep, dark blue looks great on all bands.
  • Starlight – A light silver/gold neutral tone. Very versatile.
  • Silver – Traditional Apple Watch silver aluminum.

Midnight and Starlight provide some great new options beyond the standard Silver. They give the SE a more premium look than the plain Series 3 colors.

Apple Watch SE Performance and Battery Life

Powered by the new S8 processor, the SE 2022 delivers excellent speed and responsiveness while maintaining good battery life:

Up to 2x Faster Processor

  • S8 SiP processor – Same as Series 8. Up to 20% faster than S7.
  • Up to 2x faster than the outdated S3 processor in Series 3.
  • 32GB storage – 2x larger than Series 3 for more apps and music.

With the S8 chip, everything from app launching to navigation is speedy and lag-free. You’ll never be waiting for the SE to catch up thanks to the massive jump in performance from the S3.

All-Day 18 Hour Battery Life

  • Gets nearly 18 hours per charge with normal usage.
  • 33% more battery life vs Series 3.
  • Charges from 0-80% in 45 minutes.
  • Low power mode can extend to 36 hours by limiting features.
  • Fast charger included in the box.

Battery life is solid at around 1.5 days of typical use. The SE will need nightly charging for most people, but won’t be dying halfway through your day. Much better stamina than the aging Series 3.

Supports watchOS 9 Software

A major advantage over the Series 3 is that the SE 2022 will support the latest watchOS 9 platform and get new features over the next years.

This allows it to take full advantage of new capabilities like:

  • Custom workouts
  • Enhanced fitness metrics
  • Medication tracking
  • Sleep stages tracking
  • Car crash detection

The Series 3 is stuck on older watchOS versions, limiting its functionality. The SE 2022 will stay relevant for years and get better over time.

Health, Fitness and Safety Features

The Apple Watch SE may lack ECG and Blood Oxygen sensors, but still provides extensive health, fitness and safety monitoring:

Accurate Heart Rate Tracking

  • Optical heart rate sensor provides continuous measurement 24/7.
  • High and low heart rate notifications alert you to unusual changes.
  • View current and resting heart rate in real-time on watch.
  • Heart rate data enables calories burned, fitness tracking and health insights.

Optical heart rate sensors have become very accurate in recent Apple Watches. The SE provides constant heart monitoring without the need for a chest strap.

Advanced Accelerometer and Gyroscope

  • 50% more motion data from upgraded sensors.
  • Tracks higher intensity activity and motion.
  • Enables fall detection and crash detection safety features.
  • Powerful sensor provides immersive motion experiences.

The highly sensitive motion sensors enable next-gen experiences like Crash Detection. You’ll also get more accurate tracking for sports, runs and workouts.

Crash Detection Feature

  • New feature can detect a severe car crash.
  • Alerts emergency services if unresponsive after 10 seconds.
  • Contacts emergency contacts if unreachable.
  • Works for all types of crashes – car, cycling etc.

Crash Detection is a potentially life-saving feature debuting on the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE. It can automatically dial for help after a crash without any action needed from you.

Fall Detection

  • Automatically detects falls and alerts emergency services.
  • Requests Medical ID info from watch if unresponsive.
  • Provides vital peace of mind for elderly wearers.
  • No activations needed, happens automatically.

Another important safety feature now available on the SE. If you take a bad fall or are immobile, it can provide first responders with critical health data.

High and Low Heart Rate Alerts

  • Get notifications if heart rate goes above or below custom thresholds.
  • Can indicate underlying health conditions.
  • Warn about potential heart problems.

Abnormal heart rate changes can often be the first sign of issues. The SE will actively monitor for unusually high or low rates.

Emergency SOS

  • Press and hold side button to call emergency services.
  • Alerts emergency contacts with location.
  • Shows Medical ID card on watch for responders.

The standard Emergency SOS feature lets you quickly call for help and notify loved ones by long pressing the side button.

Cycle Tracking

  • Logs details like ovulation, period and fertility metrics.
  • View cycle trends over time.
  • Can receive notifications when period is expected to start.

The Cycle Tracking app provides insights into cycles and gynecological health. Available on all Apple Watch models.

Blood Oxygen App

  • Take occasional Spot Checks of blood oxygen saturation.
  • Get alerts on unusually low readings.
  • Enabled by Blood Oxygen sensor on Series 8 only.

Unfortunately the SE lacks the Blood Oxygen sensor, so you can’t perform spot checks like the Series 8. Not critical, but a nice perk on pricier models.

Sleep Tracking

  • Track sleep duration, stages and quality metrics.
  • View nightly breakdowns in Sleep app.
  • Set custom sleep goals and bedtime schedules.
  • Compatible with most sleep positions and pillows.

The Apple Watch offers excellent sleep tracking thanks to its comfortable design and motion sensors. See your sleep patterns over time in detail.

Fitness, Workouts and Activity Tracking

Even without the most advanced health sensors, the SE still provides outstanding activity and workout tracking capabilities:

Detailed Activity Tracking

  • Move goals and alerts keep you active and on your feet throughout the day.
  • Active calories show sustained intensity effort for workouts.
  • View progress toward daily exercise time goal.
  • Stand goal and alerts reduce sedentary time.

The three Activity rings for Move, Exercise and Stand provide a simple, visual way to track daily activity. Personalized goals ensure you stay active.

20 Exercise Modes Tracked

  • Choose from 20 workout types like running, swimming and cycling.
  • Auto-detects common workouts like walks and runs.
  • Shows real-time and post-exercise metrics like pace, heart rate and laps.
  • Tracks workout duration, calories burned and intensity.

The built-in Workout app provides great tracking for everything from weights to pilates. Just start your workout and your stats are captured.

Built-In GPS

  • Leave your phone behind thanks to built-in GPS.
  • Map route during outdoor workouts right on watch.
  • View pace, distance and elevation gain post-workout.
  • Cellular models allow phone-free tracking.

For runners, hikers and cyclists, the SE’s onboard GPS allows tracking routes without a connected phone.

Swim-Proof Design

  • WR50 water resistance makes it safe for swimming, showering and bathing.
  • Automatically tracks swim workouts – laps, distance, pace.
  • Pool and open water swimming supported.

The SE can safely be used to track your swim workouts both in the pool and open water thanks to its excellent water resistance.

GymKit Support

  • Pair with cardio machines at compatible gyms.
  • Sync activity data like calories and heart rate for more accurate workout tracking.
  • Works on most cardio equipment like ellipticals, bikes, treadmills.

GymKit makes the SE work seamlessly with cardio machines so you don’t need multiple apps or wearables.

Smartwatch Features: Notifications, Apps and More

In addition to excellent health and fitness tracking, the SE is a versatile smartwatch with great convenience features:

Notifications and Communication

  • Get notifications from iPhone for calls, texts, calendar events and apps.
  • Send quick replies or take calls directly on watch.
  • Listen to texts, emails, voice memos and more with Siri.
  • Stream music, podcasts and audiobooks untethered from iPhone.

Stay connected on-the-go directly from your wrist. Customizable notifications ensure you only get alerts that matter.

Built-in Apps

  • Make payments with Apple Pay.
  • Listen to Apple Music or Apple Podcasts content offline.
  • Use handy built-in apps like timer, stopwatch, alarms, compass and flashlight.
  • Access your iCloud photos or view Nest cameras.
  • Check weather, stocks, news headlines and more with a tap.

With WiFi and cellular models, you can stream music, make payments, access apps and get notifications all without your phone nearby.

Siri Voice Assistant

  • Voice activate Siri for hands-free help.
  • Set timers, alarms, reminders and calendar events.
  • Reply to or send messages and make phone calls.
  • Ask questions, translate phrases, and more with just your voice.

Siri makes it easy to interact with the SE hands-free. Quickly set reminders, reply to texts, start workouts or launch apps through voice commands.

Extensive App Ecosystem

  • Access a robust library of third-party Watch apps.
  • Apps for productivity, health, finance, social, games, news and more.
  • Apps can provide data like heart rate to the Watch.
  • Download additional apps from the App Store on iPhone.

The SE provides thousands of apps to further customize your experience. Essential apps for tasks like travel, expense tracking, smart home control and meal planning.

Personalization and Faces

  • Millions of watch face combinations in the Face Gallery.
  • Change look instantly from traditional to fun and modern.
  • Match bands and faces to your style or occasion.
  • Photos, Motion, Astronomy and more face types.

Customize the utterly unique watch face to match your outfit, mood or activity. Millions of combinations make this an extremely personal device.

Which Size Apple Watch SE Is Best?

The SE 2022 comes in 40mm and 44mm case sizes. Here’s an overview of the differences:


  • Better suited for smaller wrists under 150mm
  • More compact and lightweight – weighs just 26.4g
  • 296 sq mm display area
  • Up to 18 hour battery life


  • Ideal for larger wrists over 150mm
  • Provides more screen real estate
  • 368 sq mm display, 24% bigger than 40mm
  • Slightly heavier at 32.2g
  • 18 hour battery, but drains faster with larger display

Both sizes have the same features and capabilities. The 44mm is best if you want maximum display space or have a bigger wrist. But the 40mm is more compact and versatile if you have small-medium wrists.

You can’t go wrong with either one – it mainly comes down to personal wrist size and style preference. Try them on at an Apple store to choose what feels best.

Apple Watch SE 2022 vs Series 8 Comparison

The SE is positioned as a lower cost alternative to the flagship Series 8. What are the key differences versus the premium model?

SE Advantages:

  • $130 cheaper than equivalent Series 8
  • Nearly identical design and displays
  • Same S8 processor and performance
  • Extensive fitness tracking capabilities

Series 8 Advantages:

  • ECG and Blood Oxygen sensors
  • Temperature sensor for ovulation and sleep tracking
  • Always-on screen is 2.5x brighter outdoors
  • Durable sapphire crystal vs Ion-X glass face
  • More crack-resistant screen and casing
  • Fast charge to 80% in 45 mins vs 60 mins on SE

Besides slightly better display brightness and durability, the main sensor advantages of the Series 8 are ECG, blood oxygen and temperature.

But for $130 less, the SE still offers the core Apple Watch experience including advanced safety features like Crash Detection and Fall Detection. It’s an excellent value pick with great everyday smartwatch functionality.

Apple Watch SE 2022: Who Should Buy It?

The SE 2022 is a great option for:

  • Budget buyers who still want excellent Apple Watch capabilities.
  • First time smartwatch owners who don’t need the most advanced health sensors.
  • Android switchers who want to test out the Apple Watch ecosystem.
  • Existing Series 3 owners due for an upgrade.
  • Those more interested in communication, convenience, fitness tracking and safety features versus medical-grade health monitoring.

If you can afford it, the Series 8 is worth paying more for the additional sensors, brighter always-on display and higher durability.

But most buyers will be very well served by the SE. It has the core Apple Watch experience at an affordable price point.

Apple Watch SE Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Apple Watch SE need an iPhone?

Yes, the SE needs to be paired with an iPhone for setup. It works best when connected to an iPhone for features like notifications and apps. SE models with Cellular allow using some features untethered from an iPhone.

Is the SE waterproof enough for swimming?

Yes. With a water resistance rating of WR50 for up to 50 meters, the SE can be safely worn swimming, in the shower, bath or hot tub. Apple recommends rinsing it with non-soapy water after exposure to liquids like saltwater or chlorine.

How long does the SE battery last?

Apple claims up to 18 hours of battery life on the SE with typical usage. In practice, it lasts a full day (24 hours) with low-moderate usage, but will need daily charging for most people. The included fast charger can charge to 80% in about an hour.

Does the SE support fast charging?

Yes, the SE comes with a USB-C magnetic fast charger in the box that can charge to

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charge to 80% in about 45 minutes. It charges slightly slower than the Series 8, but much quicker than older models.

Can the SE detect crashes and call emergency services?

Yes, the SE has the new Crash Detection feature that can automatically detect severe crashes and notify emergency services if you are unresponsive. It uses motion sensors to detect the impact pattern of different types of crashes. This feature debuts on the Series 8 and SE models.

Does the SE have ECG or blood oxygen sensors?

No, the SE lacks the medical-grade ECG and Blood Oxygen sensors that are exclusive to Series 8, Series 7 and Series 6 models. But it still provides extensive health tracking like heart rate monitoring, fall detection and Cycle Tracking.

How accurate is the SE at tracking workouts and activity?

With advanced sensors like GPS, accelerometer and heart rate monitor, the SE provides excellent accuracy across a wide range of activities and sports. For casual users, the tracking will be nearly as accurate as more expensive Apple Watch models. Only serious athletes may benefit from the most advanced sensors.

What colors does the SE come in?

The 2022 SE is available in three colors: Midnight (dark blue), Starlight (light silver/gold) and Silver (traditional silver). These new colors provide some fresh options beyond the basic Silver aluminum case.

Does the SE support the new watchOS 9 software?

Yes, the SE can be updated to the latest watchOS 9 platform when it releases in Fall 2022. This allows it to benefit from new capabilities not available on older models like Series 3 stuck on older watchOS versions.

Can you shower with the SE or go swimming?

Yes. With water resistance up to 50 meters, the SE can be safely worn swimming, in the shower or bath. Apple does recommend rinsing it with fresh water after exposure to soaps, chlorine, saltwater or other liquids that can impact water resistance over time.

How do you charge the Apple Watch SE?

The SE comes with a magnetic charging cable that attaches to the back. It’s a simple press-on, snap-in design. The other end plugs into the included 5W USB power adapter or any standard USB port.

Does the SE support Apple Pay and NFC payments?

Yes, all Apple Watch models including the SE allow you to setup Apple Pay to make secure contactless payments using the NFC chip. You can pay right from your wrist anywhere Apple Pay is accepted.

Can you use the SE without an iPhone?

The SE is designed to be paired with an iPhone for the best experience. However, the Cellular models can still receive calls, messages, stream music and more when untethered from iPhone since it has its own cellular data connection. But most features require pairing with an iPhone via Bluetooth.

Is the SE compatible with Android phones?

Unfortunately the Apple Watch is currently only compatible with iPhones. It does not pair with Android devices. You must have an iPhone 6s or newer to use an Apple Watch SE.

Does the SE come in different case materials like steel or titanium?

No, the SE is only available in 100% recycled aluminum. The more expensive Apple Watch models offer premium materials like stainless steel, titanium and ceramic, but the SE only comes in aluminum to keep costs down.

Can you listen to offline music or podcasts on the SE?

Yes, by syncing playlists and content from Apple Music or other audio apps, you can listen untethered from your iPhone. With AirPods or Bluetooth headphones, you have access to entertainment right from your wrist. Cellular models allow streaming without a paired iPhone.

Is the SE good for elderly users?

Yes, the SE is a great smartwatch for seniors thanks to the large, bright display and critical safety features like Fall Detection and Emergency SOS. The simple interface makes it accessible for elderly users while providing a link to family using features like notifications in case they need assistance.

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