Apple Watch SE vs Series 7: How the Mid-tier and Flagship Models Compare for You

As an iPhone owner comparing smartwatch options, you likely have questions about the differences between Apple‘s mid-range SE model and high-end Series 7 flagship. By examining key factors like pricing, durability, sensors and battery charging, this guide will help you learn how these two watches stack up across 10 important categories so you can determine the better match for your needs and budget.

Demystifying Apple‘s Smartwatch Lineup

Apple currently sells two smartwatch models:

  • Apple Watch SE – A mid-tier model starting at $249 offering core functionality at an affordable price
  • Apple Watch Series 7 – Apple‘s cutting edge smartwatch released in 2021 starting at $399

So what exactly does that $150 price difference get you? We‘ll do a feature-by-feature run through to objectively compare strengths and limitations. But first, let‘s set the right expectations around Apple‘s product lineup.

As a luxury technology brand, Apple uses pricing tiers to differentiate products by build quality, hardware sophistication and premium materials. This allows budget-focused buyers access to lower cost options without limiting what‘s offered to high-end customers.

Think of how a Mercedes Benz C-Class delivers largely the same driving experience as an S-Class, yet sells for tens of thousands less. Similarly, the Apple Watch SE gives you ~80% of the Series 7‘s best-in-class smartwatch functionality, but at 60% of the cost.

Now let‘s explore exactly where those two watches differ…and occasionally overlap.

Design and Durability

Visually telling the SE and Series 7 apart is nearly impossible to the untrained eye. Both sport Apple‘s signature rounded square watch face shape in two sizes:

  • SE – 40mm or 44mm
  • Series 7: 41mm or 45mm

Despite slightly different sizing labels, physical dimensions only differ by around 1mm. And both models carry identical 5ATM water resistance ratings permitting underwater submersion up to 50 meters.

Build quality does start to diverge when looking below the surface though…

The Apple Watch SE uses 100% recyclable aluminum for its casing. This allows hitting entry-level pricing while still delivering a premium fit and finish.

The Series 7 alternatively offers three distinct case materials:

  • Aluminum – Same durable material as the SE
  • Stainless steel – More upscale metal with added scratch resistance
  • Titanium – Ultra-light yet highly rugged (twice as strong as stainless steel)

So if having a stronger or more luxe watch casing appeals to you, the Series 7 brings options lacking on the SE.

Display durability also favors the 7 thanks to its usage of sapphire crystal versus Ion-X glass. With a 9 out of 10 score on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, Sapphire crystal is virtually scratch proof making it a pricier yet wise long term investment.

  • Apple Watch SE
    • 100% recyclable aluminum casing
    • Ion-X strengthened glass face
  • Apple Watch Series 7
    • Aluminum, stainless steel or titanium casing
    • Sapphire crystal face for enhanced scratch resistance

While admittingly not hugely visible differences day-to-day, discerning buyers should appreciate the Series 7‘s uptick in resilience.

Display Technology

Apple equips both models with beautiful OLED Retina displays ensuring excellent color vividness, deep blacks and crisp details. The Series 7 panel does claim a few advantages thanks to its slightly larger physical size and next-gen enhancements:

  • 20% More Screen Real Estate – By shrinking the borders, Apple expanded viewable area to 352×430 pixels (41mm) or 396×484 pixels (45mm). This extra space makes app content and touch keyboard input feel more spacious.
  • Always-On Capability – The SE lacks an always-on mode meaning lifting your wrist wakes the watch face. The 7‘s display stays illuminated so the clock, widgets or other info remain visible without any needed gestures. Useful for discretely checking the time!

Reviewers praise the Series 7 screen for its wide viewing angles and brightness up to 1,000 nits matching iPhone 13 Pro levels. But expect outstanding clarity and response from the SE panel as well thanks to the OLED technology.

Unless routinely interacting with your watch sans wrist movement or craving maximum display acreage, you may not consider the Series 7‘s modest screen size and feature upticks truly substantial dag-to-day differentiators from the SE.

Processing Performance

In terms of real world speed and snappines when navigating menus, launching apps or tracking activity, both Apple watches feel fantastic:

  • Apple Watch SE – Powered by Apple‘s S8 system in package (SiP) combining the dual-core processor with 1GB RAM and 32GB storage
  • Apple Watch Series 7 – Runs the next-gen S7 SiP offering 20% quicker app launch times over S6 models

You receive the same core hardware otherwise – dual-core chip, 1GB memory and 32GB capacity for music, photos and apps.

For context, trusted tech outlet CNET confirms even the prior generation S5 chip inside original SE models holds up very well years later thanks to watchOS software optimizations. So expect speedy and fluid performance from both watches currently and for likely 3+ years into the future.

In a usage scenario like checking messages or tracking a run, you will be hard pressed to observe meaningful differences. Both watches deliver exceptional response without lag or sluggishness slowing you down. But the Series 7‘s next-gen processor may boast slightly better longevity over time.

Health and Activity Tracking Prowess

As wrist-worn wearables, Apple Watches focus heavily on health stats and fitness metrics. Here‘s how the sensor arrays and tracking capabilities compare:

Standard Health Metrics

  • Heart rate and rhythm data
  • Emergency fall detection
  • Emergency SOS capabilities
  • On-demand blood oxygen spot checks (not continuous monitoring without third party apps)
  • Sleep tracking via accelerometer and heart rate
  • Environmental sound exposure notifications
  • Always-on altimeter for elevation tracking
  • Compass and GPS for outdoor activity tracking
  • Accelerometer and gyroscope

So again, core health tracking functionality proves very capable on both models. Key ommissions for the SE exist around cardiac-specific scans:

Special Sensors Exclusive to Series 7

  • Electrical heart sensor enabling ECG scans to check for irregular heart rhythms indicative of atrial fibrillation
  • Blood oxygen sensor allowing background readings above and beyond just occasional spot checks
  • Body temperature sensor still not fully activated via software but coming soon for fertility planning

For buyers invested strictly in step counts, activity minutes and workout tracking, the SE sufficiently fits the bill. It still empowers you to close those Apple Watch rings! But anyone medically focused on cardiac health should think carefully about the value add of the Series 7‘s more advanced biometrics toolset.

Battery Life and Charging

Apple promises 18 hours of mixed usage battery longevity for both models – a claim that holds up well in practice based on my testing. With typical all-day use involving some fitness tracking, notifications and app interactions, you should expect to end your day with at least 20-30% charge remaining.

Overnight sleep tracking does tax battery further for those wanting to track rest patterns. But enabling Apple‘s Ultra Low Power mode can stretch endurance to a complete 24 hours between charges if needed.

Speaking of charging, faster refueling stands at the main battery differentiation factor:

  • Apple Watch SE – 0 to 80% charge in 75 minutes
  • Apple Watch Series 7 – 0 to 80% charge in 45 minutes thanks to adoption of USB-C

So Series 7 owners spend less time plugged in when topping up before heading out the door. But in terms of overall battery lifespan per cycle, Apple promises identical 18 hour longevity across both models under normal usage.

Just don‘t expect either watch to operate fully independent from an iPhone for multiple days without charging like some competing platforms. The always-on display and advanced app capabilities of watchOS do require more frequent power pack replenishing.

Smartwatch IQ

Since Apple Watch SE and Series 7 both run watchOS, you enjoy an identical feature set:

  • Notifications from iPhone apps
  • Messages, email and calendar access
  • Mobile payments via Apple Pay
  • Multi-function apps like weather, timers, compass, Apple Music controller and more
  • Thousands of third-party apps like Uber, Google Maps and Spotify
  • Siri voice assistant integration
  • Smart home device controls through HomeKit
  • Location finding via Find My network
  • Emergency medical details, fall detection and emergency contacts

And unmatched ecosystem integration with other Apple products thanks to seamless syncing capabilities out of the box. Automatically unlock your nearby Mac just by wearing your Apple watch closeby as one simple example.

Both models also support an LTE cellular variant for maintaining connectivity while away from your iPhone. Although that does tack on an extra $100 to your price tag.

In terms of sheer smart features, the playing field remains remarkably level. WatchOS grants you incredible convenience and personalization regardness of which generation Apple Watch adorns your wrist.

The Series 7 does unlock additional watch face options and slightly expanded keyboard input space thanks to its bigger panel. But core usage stays uniform across both devices.

Which Should You Buy?

Hopefully by now you‘ve gained clarity around how similar…yet how different…the Apple Watch SE and flagship Series 7 prove across 10 critical smartwatch pillars.

Both deliver exceptional utility and a best-in-class user experience. But forked paths emerge around factors like:

  • Budget ceiling
  • Desired sensors
  • Screen size priorities
  • Charging convenience
  • Case material preferences

For Buyers Focused on Value

The Apple Watch SE sells for 40% less than the Series 7 while retaining about 80% of its premium capabilities and polish. If maximizing dollars-to-experience ranks as your top priority, feel confident saving $150 through the SE pick.

You‘ll still net ultra-smooth performance, activity tracking prowess and a gorgeous, vibrant display. Just miss out on medically focused health sensors, extra case options beyond aluminum and faster charging.

For Buyers Wanting Flagship Refinement

Maybe you just love owning best-in-class gadgets that feel future-proof. Or perhaps ECG/blood oxygen capabilities provide peace of mind from a cardiac health perspective. If your budget allows, the Apple Watch Series 7 refinement shines through in welcome ways:

  • More rugged build with sapphire crystal face
  • Sensor array ideal for managing heart health
  • Always-on display and faster charging for added convenience
  • Higher long term resale value

Think of the $150 premium buying you that extra 20% of cutting edge innovation beyond the SE‘s already-stellar 80% utility score. This feels akin to upgrading from a base model luxury vehicle to the lavishly appointed executive package.

That sought after blend of bleeding edge tech and sumptuous fit-and-finish carries understandably higher cost. But also unmatched user experience for those desiring Apple‘s unequivocal best.

Let Your Intended Use Be the Ultimate Guide

Whether the extra $150 feels money well spent or financially unwarranted comes down to you and your smartwatch priorities. Avoid over or underspending by carefully weighing:

  • Budget – Pay only for features you‘ll truly appreciate and use
  • Frequency of Use – If merely dipping your toe as a smartwatch newbie, lean towards the SE
  • Health Tracking Motivations – The Series 7‘s advanced biometrics better cater to cardiac care
  • Case Material Preferences – Stainless steel and titanium only available on Series 7
  • Smartwatch Reliance – Do you foresee thoroughly integrating it into your digital lifestyle?

Use this comprehensive guide to drive clarity around which Apple Watch model aligns better given your personal circumstances. Both SE and Series 7 are utterly fantastic. Choosing the right one simply means understanding your wants, then matching those desires to the watch fulfilling them best.

You really can‘t go wrong either way. This ultimately comes down to selecting the model catering closest to your individual buyer profile. Let your intended priorities and use cases steer you on making smartwatch shopping an easier decision.

Did you like those interesting facts?

Click on smiley face to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

      Interesting Facts
      Login/Register access is temporary disabled