Apple Watch Series 3 and SE, which is the best cheap watch? — 2022

The launch of the Apple Watch SE 2020 and having kept the Series 3 in the catalog at a lower price has made many wonder which is better to buy. The price difference between them is not really high and a priori they seem to be two very similar devices because they do not have sensors such as ECG or functions such as Always On Display. But are they really that similar? Which one is more worth it? We analyze it.

Technical specifications of the watches

It is true that experience is a degree and being able to tell how each of these watches behaves is key and we will do so in the following sections. However, we believe it is important to know in advance what specifications these two devices have, since in the end they are also decisive in some points and it can be used at least to have a first idea of ​​what both watches offer. In this table you can already find these technical characteristics.

Apple Watch SE y Apple Watch Series 3

CharacteristicApple Watch SEApple Watch Series 3
Size-40 mm
-44 mm
-38 mm
-42 mm
-Space Gray
-Space Gray
MaterialsAluminum with Ion-X glass shadeAluminum with Ion-X glass shade
ChipApple S5 SiP 2 coreApple S3 SiP dual core
Always On Display OptionDo notDo not
heart rate sensorYesYes
ECG sensorDo notDo not
blood oxygen level sensorDo notDo not
fall detectorYesDo not
Other sensors and features-Altimeter always active
-Noise control
-Emergency calls
-International emergency calls
-Compatible with Family Settings on GPS + Cellular models
-Emergency calls
Digital crown with haptic feedbackYesDo not
Waterproof50 meters deep50 meters deep
Do you have LTE version?YesYes
Wi-Fi connections802.11b/g/n a 2,4 GHz802.11b/g/n a 2,4 GHz
Bluetooth connectionBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 4.2
Base prices at AppleFrom 299 eurosFrom 219 euros

Most important differences

Although in subsequent sections of this post we will make a more exhaustive comparison of the differences and similarities of these watches, at first it seems important to highlight the key aspects in which they differ.


Although both smartwatches support different configurations for the case in terms of color, it is the Apple Watch SE that offers a gold color variant that is not available for the Series 3. It should be noted that, in addition, many have been reduced over time. of the options for this, including the Nike versions.


There are two generations of difference between the chips in each of these watches. The S5 for the Apple Watch SE model and an S3 chip for the Series 3. This distance represents at first an important difference between the two that we will analyze in its corresponding point and we already tell you that, although it is not something insane, the difference between the two it is more than patent in daily use.


The Apple Watch SE lacks some health sensors that were already available in others when it was released. However, it has some that the Series 3 does not have, such as the fall detector, the environmental noise control or the compass.

haptic feedback

The crown of the Apple Watch Series 3 does not have this type of haptic response, being a feature that is present in the 'SE'. And well, it is not that it is a compelling reason to opt for one watch or another, but it is one of those small elements that end up making a difference in the total accumulation when we make a complete comparison.

Bluetooth technology

Don't get us wrong, both devices have this essential connectivity for their use. However, it is the Apple Watch SE that has a Bluetooth 5.0 technology superior to the 4.2 that the Series 3 has. You will not experience huge differences in this section, but in the end it gives a greater advantage to the 'SE' of towards better and faster connectivity.


This factor, which ends up being very decisive in the purchase decision, plays in favor of the Series 3, although not too much. There is a difference of 80 euros between them and we assure you that, by virtue of what you will read throughout this post, it is a difference that can even be considered short and the 'SE' being a more balanced model in that important value for money.

Similar but not identical designs

Although design is not everything, we cannot deny that it is an important factor. If a device does not enter your eyes, it is likely that you will not finish buying it, just as if you love it aesthetically, you will end up finding more reasons to get it. These two smartwatches import the classic form factor of Apple watches, which has not changed since the first generation. Of course, it has some changes on the screen or at the bottom that are worth noting and are not exactly a minor issue. We tell you more in these next sections focused precisely on design.

More optimized display on the SE

As we already told you, Apple has maintained a very continuous aesthetic in its watches since the launch of the original Apple Watch. It has, however, made some notable changes as far as screen dimensions it means. From Series 4 onwards, including the SE, you can enjoy a larger screen without having changed the actual size of the box, reaching a Series 7 which is the one that optimizes this part the most.

For this, the edges of the screen were reduced and this is something that is very noticeable. In the case of the Series 3, the same screen format is still maintained as in the original model. And this, beyond the purely visual, affects some spheres not available for this one for occupying a space on the screen that it does not have. In addition to that you can find more information on screen or larger text in other parts of the system.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

Does this mean that the Series 3 is worse in this section? Absolutely. The screen of this watch looks really good and has identical technology that of the SE, only that in this case everything looks smaller and gives the feeling that much of the front is missing to take advantage of. The latter is especially noticeable if we put them side by side. Both are watches that look really good in practically any light circumstance, so in that sense you will not have any problem with it.

Now, let's put everything in its proper context. We are talking about smartwatch and not smartphone, tablets or computers. The screen is an important aspect and although we have already warned that the SE is a more optimized and more recommended model at this point, we must not forget that they are not devices designed to be used continuously, basically for a matter of comfort.

Back and sensors

Perhaps this is the least interesting point to compare between the watches because the back will be invisible practically all the time, since it is the one that is attached to the wrist. However, it is another differentiating factor between the watches and that beyond having been designed with the aim of looking beautiful, they have their reason for being in the sensors that integrate .

Apple Watch SE and Series 3 Sensors

In both cases we find shared elements such as the upper and lower buttons to remove the straps. The speakers or loudspeakers are located in both cases on the right side, although in the Series 3 in the lower part, while in the SE it tends to be placed more on the side. Regarding the heart rate sensor, in the Series 3 it is integrated into a circular element on the right, while the SE integrates it right in the central part.

Straps compatible with both smartwatches

Another important design point in these devices, beyond the watch body itself, is what we find in the straps. Although in the case of the Series 3 we have 38 and 42 mm versions as opposed to the 40 and 44 mm of the SE, the truth is that the sizes are equivalent to each other (the 38 with the 40 and the 42 with the 44). This size ultimately refers to the size of the screen and not the chassis, which is identical.

That is why we are going to find a multitude of straps that are compatible with both watches. Apple offers an interesting variety of these and in different styles: silicone, nylon, leather... However, the catalog of straps is very extensive and we can find accessories of this type in many stores. And yes, also with the same materials, with numerous colors and sometimes even with lower prices than the official ones. Therefore there is a technical tie in this section for these watches.

Apple Watch offer straps

Performance, software and health sensors

In the end, the most important thing about these watches and what will become more important on a day-to-day basis is the use that we will make of them. They can be used as a simple watch to see the time, but given their benefits it would be absurd and therefore knowing how they behave in our day to day and how they can help us even improve our physical health becomes more relevant.

Fluidity when moving the software

Going from an S3 chip in the case of the Series 3 to an S5 in the SE is a notable change. It is not that the difference is very brutal, but in the day to day it is very noticeable. actions like open applications or scroll through the system they are the most everyday thing that is done with the watch and although it is true that in the Series 3 it works very well, the times in the SE have accelerated considerably. It is not a drama, we insist, but it is something to keep in mind if you want to have great fluency.

watchOS 7

Of course, with the versions of watchOS 7 It must be said that some Apple Watch Series 3 have suffered numerous problems such as unexpected restarts and other bugs that were not corrected until very advanced versions, so it is recommended more than ever that it is updated in order to enjoy a good experience with the smartwatch and not have unpleasant surprises.

More watchOS updates on the SE

Precisely in reference to all of the above and to the very design of the processor that mounts the Apple Watch Series 3, this could end up being its main burden to update to more recent versions of watchOS, the operating system of these watches. At the time of writing these lines, it is impossible to know if it is going to be updated to watchOS 8, which would not be ruled out, but even if it were, it will be a device that is outdated before.

GM watchOS 7

In the case of the Apple Watch SE, already finding a good performance in its latest versions and, except for surprise, it will be a Watch longest lived as far as software is concerned. Although keeping accounts in this case is somewhat difficult, we can observe the trend set by Apple and guarantee at least 3 or 4 more years of updates. Unless they want to leave him out before due to the lack of sensors.

Sensors in the Apple Watch SE and Series 3

First of all, it must be said that some very outstanding functions such as performing electrocardiograms or blood oxygen saturation are not available in any of these devices. If you think you need them, the Series 6 will be your watch. However, counting on what this Series 3 and SE have, we see that there are small but notable differences.

The fall detector It is possibly the most prominent if the device is used for sports or if it is focused on an elderly person. This will help to make contact with emergency services immediate and it has been seen over the years that it has been essential in many cases to save a person's life. Therefore, the Apple Watch SE charges in full in this section and more if it focuses on an elderly person or who performs sports daily with the risk of falling.

Apple Watch Beats

Other functions like compass or the altimeter improved are also interesting. Although if we focus again on health aspects, we must bear in mind that with the Apple Watch SE it is possible to have noise control , so that you can also take care of your ears by avoiding noisy areas or music volumes that are too high. In any case the pulse meter It is present in both and therefore they are ideal for keeping track of it and avoiding possible stress situations, as well as using the data as a guide, since we cannot forget that they are not considered medical instruments despite their demonstrated high precision.

Important differences also in autonomy

Already the change of processor from the Series 3 to the SE is an advantage regarding resource optimization, but the 2020 model also includes a larger battery. This in what finally results is a better autonomy of the watch. Although exact figures cannot be given because this is a factor that depends a lot on use, the truth is that the difference with the 3 today is considerable. As a general rule, the Series 3 can last a day, while the SE will allow you to even have it on at night and still have some battery in the morning. Therefore, in this field, the Apple Watch SE also takes the point over the Series 3.

Watch battery


In accordance with what has been seen in previous sections and taking into account the price difference, we proceed to make a final balance of this comparison by putting ourselves in different situations.

The difference in prices tips the balance

These Apple Watches, like the others, can be configured by size, colors, straps, special versions and more. This causes the price to vary, but under equal conditions and starting from the base price in Apple they have a difference of only 80 euros . Obviously that is only relative for each person, but if we make a disbursement for a device, we believe that perhaps it is worth paying a little more and getting an Apple Watch SE. And yes, as you were probably already guessing after reading previous sections, this is undoubtedly the winner of this comparison.

Apple Watch in water

Although it is true that in advance it was known better for its benefits, the truth is that this does not have to be definitive to give a winner. In fact, in this medium we make comparisons of other products and sometimes the one that is a priori inferior compensates more. In this case, we believe that the differences in all fields between the watches are more than defining to say that the model launched in 2020 can be considered a much better purchase than the other.

Apple Watch Series 3 buy it at Amazon Logo EUR 198.00 Apple Watch Series 3 and SE Apple Watch SE buy it at Consult

And if you already have a Series 3, is it worth taking the leap?

Based on all of the above, we could say that yes, it will be worth buying the SE because you will find differences in screen, performance and new features. However, you should then also assess the purchase of other models such as the Series 6 or Series 7, which are already more expensive but incorporate other new features that may be of interest to you. If you know them and you think they are not worth it, you will notice a leap in quality when buying an Apple Watch SE.

Now, if you are still happy with your Series 3 and the Apple Watch SE, even if it is not one of the most expensive, it is an economic effort for you, consider the change well. We emphasize again that there are more than notable differences in performance, screen and health sensors, although if they are not vital for you it may be a problem. In any case, you can always choose to put your current watch up for sale and thus amortize part of the payment you were going to make for the SE.

Is it worth waiting for an 'SE' 2?

In February 2022, the date on which this post was last updated, there are strong rumors that the Apple Watch SE is going to have a second generation this coming September. This would come to incorporate novelties with respect to the first and would maintain a very similar price (or even identical to the current one). However, it is not known with certainty if this will happen and, if so, what those developments would be.

Therefore, knowing that rumors do not always come true in the end, what we recommend is that you make a decision based on what you feel like at the moment. We make use of that already mythical dogma of carpe diem to tell you that if you have decided on an 'SE', go for it now. You are going to be able to make the most of it for years in which you will also continue to receive updates, making it a very good option beyond any doubt.