Apple Watch Series 8 vs Apple Watch SE: An In-Depth Comparison

The Apple Watch continues breaking sales records as the world‘s most loved smartwatch with its seamless connectivity, fitness tracking capabilities and intuitive user experience. Those looking to pick from Apple‘s latest 2023 Watch portfolio are spoiled for choice.

The flagship Apple Watch Series 8 pushes the boundaries on premium build, innovative health sensors and safety assurances. While the Apple Watch SE finds the sweet spot blending core Apple Watch functionality at an affordable price point.

This comprehensive feature comparison guide will arm you with insights to make the perfect Apple Watch buying decision based on budget, usage and personal preferences. We evaluate specs, real-world performance, health tracking capabilities and overall value across 10 categories.

Let‘s dive in!

Quick Comparison

MetricApple Watch Series 8Apple Watch SE
Starting Price$399$249
Sizes41mm & 45mm40mm & 44mm
Dimensions41 x 35 x 10.7 mm
45 x 38 x 10.7 mm
MaterialsAluminum or SteelRecycled Aluminum
Display352 x 430 px (41mm)
396 x 484 px (45mm)
324 x 394 px (40mm)
368 x 448 px (44mm)
ProcessorApple S8 SiPApple S8 SiP
Battery LifeUpto 18 hoursUpto 18 hours

Size, Form and Wearability

With a smartwatch meant for 24/7 wear, dimensions, weight and ergonomics are vital considerations.

The Apple Watch Series 8 retains the characteristic squarish Watch design with softer rounded edges across four models. The larger 45mm variant best suits wider wrists with its 1.9 inch screen while the 41mm caters to slimmer wrists.

The Apple Watch SE borrows design cues from older Series 4-5 generations. The 44mm model is identifies as best for men while the 40mm size works for most women.

Compact Body

Thanks to slimmer bezels and integrated rear sensors, current models appear more compact than older variants with same screen size. The pure rectangular screen with curved edges blends smoothly into the casing.

All models measure just 10.7mm in depth making them inconspicuous and comfortable for sleeping. The Series 8 and SE are also swimproof with 50 meters water resistance rating.

Strong Yet Lightweight

In terms of weight, the lighter aluminum 40mm SE tips the scales at just 26.4g while the mid-sized stainless steel Series 8 45mm weighs 36.5g. The durable aerospace grade materials ensure ruggedness amidst daily wear.

The 100% recycled aluminum used gives the SE featherlight portability. Premium materials like stainless steel and sapphire crystal make select Series 8 variants more resilient to scrapes.

Both models strike a balance between durable build and lightweight comfort. But those with slimmer wrists or wanting a more pocketable device find the SE‘s smaller dimensions a better fit.

Display Size and Quality

The Watch display is crucial for interactions and Apple has worked on improving viewing experience. Let‘s compare the screen sizes, resolution, brightness and features across models.

Comparable Display Sizes

The 45mm Series 8 offers the maximum display real estate at 1.9 inches followed by 1.79 inches on the 41mm model. The SE isn‘t far behind with 44mm and 40mm options having 1.78 inch and 1.57 inch screens respectively.

The wraparound thin-bezel design keeps overall chassis compactness similar across models with just display dimensions varying based on personal preference.

Retinagrade Resolutions

Thanks to Retina displays with high pixel density, images and text appear uniformly sharp no matter the model. The software also dynamically scales user interface elements and app layout based on display.

The 44mm SE renders visuals at 368 x 448 pixels, which equals 326 ppi just like 1125 x 1242 pixels on 41mm Series 8 working out to 326 ppi.

Adequate Brightness

With peak brightness of up to 1000 nits, using any model in bright sunlight is not an issue. Adaptive display algorithms also optimize contrast and color temperature responding to ambient conditions. OLED panels render inky blacks on virtual watch faces for distraction-free time reading.

The always-on mode exclusive to Series 8 does constrain brightness levels to 500 nits. But responsiveness resumes to full brightness on gesture wake.

Display Protection

The durable Ion-X front glass protects SE displays from scratches and is tested to handle scrapes from steel. If damage does occur, the fully recyclable aluminum enclosure means sustainable repairs or recycling.

The Display Zoom setting also allows adjusting app density for legibility without strain. Those in their mid-40s might prefer this density boost pairing perfectly with larger 44-45mm dials.

On the whole for typical notification glances or tracking data visualization, either Retina display delivers. But intensive users wanting maximum estate and resilience find the 45mm Series 8 a better fit.

Matching Computational Power

Let‘s assess the engine room powering these masterpieces – the S8 SoC silicon along with memory, storage and sensors available.

Blazing Fast S8 Chip

The key element powering both models is the bleeding edge Apple S8 chip. Fabbed on efficient 5nm transistor process, it houses the dual core processor, GPU, Neural Engine along with wireless and sensor hub.

This allows lag-free app loading or navigation coupled with contextual awareness of environmental inputs. Response is snappy with haptics adding tactility to tap interactions.

According to Apple, the S8 enables upto 20% quicker workouts and fitness tracking compared to older models. This covers metrics calculation, GPS mapping and heart rate variability.

Identical Hardware

Both models come with 32GB usable storage for music, photos and apps. The exact RAM capacity is not revealed but suffices for smartwatch functionality.

Connectivity technology is also at par with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3 LE, NFC and LTE on cellular models. UWB allows spatial awareness through precision locating abilities.

The optical heart rate sensor forms the basis for health tracking. Accelerometers, altimeter, compass and improved gyroscope complete motion sensing capabilities.

Crash detection is a highlight of this hardware arsenal that smartly uses audio, barometer along with motion data to detect road accidents and initiate emergency protocols.

When it comes to core hardware powering responsiveness, sensory perception and phone-free functionality, Series 8 and SE deliver identically. The differentiation comes from additional health tracking specialization.

Health Tracking and Diagnostics Ability

The Apple Watch‘s trump card is its intimate health insights generation enabled by advanced sensor fusion. Let‘s analyze key differentiators.

Robust Heart Rate Tracking

Both models continuously track heart rate variability using the optical sensors at the back. This powers sleep, stress, respiration and workout intensity estimation critical for overall cardiac health.

ECG Capability

The Series 8 pushes diagnosis power with its ECG app that can identify atrial fibrillation based on studying electrical impulses. Do note medical advice supersedes any smartwatch findings.

Wrist Blood Oxygen Monitoring

The SpO2 app exclusive to Series 8 uses infrared light for blood oxygen saturation trend tracking. This helps gauge respiration effectiveness and oxygen perfusion critical to fitness levels.

Skin Temperature Sensing

A first of its kind temperature sensor sits just under the display on Series 8. It detects minute 0.1 degree Celsius nighttime changes which reveal variations signaling cycle events or impending fever/illness.

Over two weeks, you have sufficient symptom-temperature data for actionable health insights.

Women‘s Cycle Tracking

Combining heart rate variability, temperature detection and period history allows retrospective ovulation and fertility window estimation. This helps family planning without the need for external sensors or effort.

Such intimate health knowledge generation separates the Series 8 as the perfect personalized diagnostic hub. The SE still covers activity pacing, sleep quality or heart rate tracking but misses out on granular diagnostics.

Matching Activity and Workout Motivation

Fitness journeys thrive thanks to motivation which both models offer through move reminders, goal setting and progress visualization. Let‘s evaluate their tracking similiarities.

All Day Activity Tracking

The SE and Series 8 can continuously track steps, distance, active calories burnt and standing minutes. Reminders to close three activity rings keep you constantly on the move.

Dedicated Workout Tracking

You have various indoor, outdoor and gym activity modes to track real-time metrics mapped to relevant goals. This covers running, cycling, swimming to tennis, golf and dancing.

Advanced config options for pace alerts, auto pause and form correction coupled with metrics galore cater to amateur athletes. The SE delivers nearly as comprehensive tracking minus just Blood Oxygen data.

Multi-Metric Fitness Tracking

Both devices record granular workout statistics like splits, intensity, heart rate zones, cadence, strides or even elevation gain. These appear neatly on the iPhone Fitness app making it easy to share logs with trainers or doctors.

Badges motivate consistency while curated recommendations nudge continual improvement. Visualization of trends makes balancing workout loads simpler.

Be it all-day activity pacing or optimizing each training session at the gym, the Series 8 and SE prove equally capable coaches. The differentiator remains the diagnostics-led health supplementation present only in Series 8.

Safety and Emergency Assist

One of the prime reasons for gifting Apple Watch across age groups is 24/7 safety assurances. Both models truly shine here.

Fall Detection

If you remain motionless for at least a minute post a suspected hard fall, the Watch initiates Emergency SOS protocol without requiring input. This shares location with designated contacts or services improving outcomes.

Manual Emergency Triggering

If mobile post-fall or in any unsafe situation, a long press of the side key activates emergency services contact and location broadcast to enable timely assistance.

Road Crash Response (Series 8 Exclusive)

The improved gyroscope, accelerometer and microphone feed data streams to crash detection machine learning models. On predicting a collision, they notify emergency contacts and offer to dial services if immobile post-crash.

This feature complements existing protection by covering road accident scenarios leading to immobilization. When every second counts, the Series 8 promises additional peace of mind to users most at risk from driving.

Battery Life and Charging

Any wearable device is only as capable as its endurance when taken off the charger. Let‘s assess how the Series 8 and SE compare.

All Day Endurance

Thanks to the frugal S8 SiP, both devices last about 18 hours with features like notifications, tracking and heart rate monitoring enabled. In practice, you get sleep to sleep usage but will require overnight recharging.

Low Power Mode

Both models offer a low power mode that disables select features like always-on display or automatic workout detection. The Series 8 promises upto 36 hours usage through this mode while Apple remains vague about exact SE runtime elongation.

Anecdotal estimates put it between 24-30 hours perhaps highlighting the power savings from lacking Always-On. You still retain basic widgets, messaging, activity and safety capabilities in this mode.

Charging Efficiency

While proprietary magnetic wireless charging limits third-party charger availability, they offer good peak power.

Apple estimates 45 minutes from zero can charge Series 8 upto 80% thanks to fast charging support. The SE likely takes over an hour for a complete recharge.

So while both provide daily usage runtime, the Series 8 promises better longevity reserves through faster charging and conservative modes.

Cost Considerations

With wearables having shorter upgrade cycles, getting premium features without overspending is crucial. Let‘s analyze how pricing compares.

Apple Watch Series 8Apple Watch SE
ConnectivityGPS / Cellular
41mm Size
GPS model$399
GPS + Cellular$499
45mm Size
GPS model$429
GPS + Cellular$529

Series 8 Pricing

The latest Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for the smaller 41mm size having GPS connectivity and aluminum frame. Sizing up and opting for 4G LTE cellular connectivity instead adds a premium.

The most expensive stainless steel 45mm Watch with cellular goes all the way to $799. Additional expenditure happens for accessories like charging docks, screen protectors or bands if needed.

SE Attractive Value

In contrast the SE comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes starting at just $249 for non-cellular GPS model. This makes it almost half the price of flagship Series 8. Adding cellular on SE costs just $50 more making connected mobility cheaper.

It lacks premium builds but has essential smart features covered at significant savings to suit youngsters. With the SE targeted as mass market model, seasonal discounts further aid value.

Finding the Right Fit

We‘ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to comparing the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE for differences that matter. Let‘s simplify the decision process based on individual user profiles.

The Apple Watch SE fits best for:

  • Smartwatch beginners wanting a solid budget model
  • Those focused more on activity tracking and motivation elements
  • Individuals who just need basic notifications and alerts
  • Students looking for safety features like fall detection
  • First time technology adopters in general

The Apple Watch Series 8 hits the mark for:

  • Existing Apple Watch owners upgrading older models
  • Health and workout warriors wanting deeper insights
  • Anyone diagnosed with heart conditions
  • Women desiring ovulation or cycle tracking
  • Outdoor adventurers needing mapping integration
  • Frequent drivers who value Crash Detection alerts

In most cases, the Apple Watch SE satisfies needs for casual users wanting a starter Apple wearable to evaluate smartwatches. While the Series 8 shines for demanding users wanting specialization around safety, health diagnostics and resilience. Unless key capabilities exclusive to Series 8 benefit you, the SE gives you bang for buck!

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