Apple launched three Apple Watches during its Special Event held on 7 September 2022. These are the 2nd-generation Apple Watch SE, the 8th-generation Apple Watch Series 8, and the newest Apple Watch Ultra.
Similarities and Differences: A Comparison of Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra
The entire lineup might confuse first-time buyers. Even previous owners of Apple Watches might wonder about the difference between the Series 8 and the Ultra and how the SE fits into the entire picture. These smartwatches have notable similarities but are differentiated by their respective positioning and exclusive features.
• Same Apple S8 Chip: All three smartwatches use the 8th-generation Apple S8 chip. It is a dual-core processor based on the Apple A13 Bionic chip used in the iPhone 11 lineup and manufactured using the 7nm process node of TSMC. It is a powerful and capable chip for powering smaller smart devices such as wearables.
• Runs watchOS 9: The three smartwatches also ship with the newest watchOS 9 that includes an improved Workout app, the new Medications app, better sleep insights, more watch faces with more personalization options, a redesigned Compass app, a Low Power mode, and all other established apps and features of the operating system.
• Heart Rate Sensor: A sensor for monitoring and recording heart rate has become a standard feature of the Apple Watch line. The newer models come with this sensor to support health and fitness applications such as the newer Workout app. The Heart Rate Zones feature records heart rate at different intensity levels.
• Communication: These smartwatches are paired with an iPhone for making and answering calls, sending and receiving messages, using social media, and checking notifications. Cellular versions have standalone capabilities that work as wireless communication devices independent of a smartphone.
• Water Resistant: Another similarity between the Watch SE, the Series 8, and the Ultra is that all of them are labeled as swim-proof. The SE and Series 8 have a water resistance rating of up to 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010 for shallow-water activities while the Ultra has a rating of 100 meters under ISO standard 22810.
• Crash and Fall Detection: These devices also have crash detection and fall detection feature that automatically dials a designated emergency number after a traffic collision or a hard fall. The non-cellular models communicate with a nearby paired iPhone or connect to a recognized Wi-Fi network to place Emergency SOS.
• Positioning and Branding: The Apple Watch SE is positioned as an entry-level and budget smartwatch while the Apple Watch Series 8 is more of a mid-range smartwatch. The Apple Watch Ultra is a ruggedized premium smartwatch positioned for sports-oriented and outdoor-loving users.
• Difference in Pricing: Apple applies the same pricing strategy used in products such as the iPhone and iPad. The SE is the cheapest and it retails for USD 249.00 while the Series 8 is at the middle ground and is priced at USD 399.00. The Ultra is the most expensive among the three retailing at USD 799.00.
• Sensors and Tracking: Both the Series 8 and the Ultra have sensors for tracking blood oxygen, recording ECG, and skin temperature sensing. The Ultra has an additional sensor for its Depth Gauge functionalities. The SE has none of these although it also has a heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope.
• OLED Display Quality: The Ultra has the best OLED screen. It is larger and brighter with a maximum brightness peaking at 2000 nits. Note that the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max of the iPhone 14 line have the same peak brightness. The other two have 1200-nit peak brightness. The SE does not have an Always-On feature.
• Durability and Built Quality: All three smartwatches have metal enclosures. The Ultra uses a titanium chassis. It is more durable with a MIL-STD-810H certification to attest to its resistance from dust, moisture and water, shock, and extreme temperature on top of its IP6X dust-resistance rating. The SE is only swim-proof.
• Overall Look and Feel: Both the SE and Series 8 comes in two case sizes. The former is available in 44mm and 40mm, as well as in 3 colors, while the latter is available in 45mm and 41mm and in 8 colors. The Ultra is the bulkier one at 49mm. It is relatively heavier and thicker. It is only available in 1 color.
• Additional Functionalities: The Ultra is the only smartwatch that comes with a programmable Action button, as well as dual-frequency GPS for better location accuracy. It also comes with an LTE radio by default. The other two do not have these added features although both are also available in LTE cellular models.
Which One Is Better: Choosing Between Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra
There is no better option among the three Apple Watches launched in 2022. Remember that each has its own selling points and positioning. The SE is one of the most affordable smartwatches on the market and it is ideal for budget-conscious consumers who want a decent smartwatch that they can pair with their iPhones.
On the other hand, the Series 8 sits between the SE and the Ultra. It is a true mid-ranger and a perfect all-around smartwatch that does a decent job as a health and fitness companion, as well as a smart wearable device. It has features and functionalities not found in the SE.
The Ultra is the most advanced and feature-packed smartwatch among the three. It has dedicated features and functionalities that make it a smartwatch and sports watch hybrid. This does not mean it is the best. It is the most expensive. Furthermore, its large size means that it might not be suitable for individuals with smaller wrists.