If you’re looking at current Apple Watch models, there is also an SE, which is cheaper, has fewer sensors, and whose watch face is a bit smaller than the other models.
That’s probably good for me - if it is a recent model.
Most of Citizen’s watches have a feature they brand “EcoDrive”. This is, at its core, a solar cell mounted beneath the watch face. They use a light pipe (usually around the perimeter of the face) to direct ambient light onto the solar cell, which charges an internal rechargeable battery.
They claim that after a full charge (which can be reached after a few hours in direct sunlight), it can run months in complete darkness, and ambient light is sufficient to keep its charged topped-off as you wear it. My experience (I’ve been wearing one for several years) is that these claims are accurate. When the watch gets old (15-20 years), the battery may need to be replaced in order to hold a useful amount of charge, and that may require a visit to a Citizen dealer, but it is infrequent enough that it shouldn’t be a big deal for most people.
I don’t know if other watch makers have similar tech - watches from other manufacturers seem to prefer to use a large disposable lithium battery, which typically lasts 1-2 years for an analog/mechanical watch or a very long time for a digital watch.
Apple charges about $100 for a Watch battery replacement.
According to iFixit an after market battery costs under $20, but it’s a very difficult installation procedure. Not something I would ever attempt on my own Watch.
There have been two different SE’s released. The second-generation SE (the one currently being sold by Apple) has the same S8/W3 processor as the Series 8.
So you should expect performance to be similar to a series 8, but with fewer sensors and without ultra-wideband wireless connectivity.
Battery life on the SE(2) should be at least as good as on the numbered series, as it is missing a few power-sucking features, such as always-on capability and severe sensors. Here’s a comprehensive review:
The review is over a year old and compares the watch to the Series 8. Also, the operating system features changed quite a bit when Watch OS 9 was replaced by Watch OS 10.
I wrote about upgrading from a Series 2 to a Series 5 some years ago. It was a big win for the larger screen and better performance—just overall a better experience.
I moved from the Series 5 to a Series 9 this year, and the main difference I’ve noticed is that it’s brighter and easier to read. And the battery life is much better, it being new. I also liked using the blood-oxygen sensor recently to see if I was having issues that way (I wasn’t). The double-tap gesture hasn’t been helpful to me.
Honestly, as several others have said, don’t put money into a Series 2. It’s just not worth it because even an Apple Watch SE is so much better in every way.
Yeah…that was our thought as well on upgrading from the 5 to the 10. There are new features but the O2 sensor is really the only one we even care much about other than the obvious of brighter, faster, and new battery so longer life.
What you say makes sense, but considering (1) I got this Watch for free and (2) my warranty is just $2.49/month, I thought it was worth the warranty.
I do like using the Watch though. There is more to it than I first imagined. I used to use a regular Casio watch but stopped wearing it after I got an iPhone because I could see the time on my iPhone.
Among the features I like on the Watch series 2 are the iPhone camera remote control (I have used that a few times to take group photos and be a part of the picture), seeing notifications, and a couple of times I have even done a quick response to a message or answered the phone (if it was just in another room).
I guess I’ll look at them and consider upgrading to either an SE or a larger 9. I don’t need blood oxygen numbers though.
If I do get a Watch I wonder if it’s worth getting the cellular version. I always have my iPhone with me. I’ve just forgotten to take it on walks twice in over four years.
There is a 10? I thought the 9 was the latest.
In the article you wrote: “Speaking of which, battery life wasn’t a problem on my Series 2 despite its age.”
That’s exactly what I’m wondering about!
Also you wrote about not being impressed by the always on display. That seems not needed for me as well.
So does this suggest SE rather than 9?
Neil is actually Tim Cook in disguise, so he gets access to the secret stuff.
That’s a great article. And leads me to think that maybe a new SE would be a good fit for me. This battery life part of the review is particularly impressive. 50% after 24 hours instead of 50% by lunchtime would be a world of difference!
"The Apple Watch SE 2 gave me a great surprise here – the battery life is way beyond Apple’s claims, based on my experience so far. Apple says the SE 2 gives “up to 18 hours” of battery life, which is basically the company’s standard claim for its watches. Apple’s figures for battery life are often on the conservative side, but this is just straight up under-selling things.
During a full 24-hour period of wearing the Watch SE 2, I’m only seeing the battery drop to about 50%. Obviously this varies day-by-day, but to give you one specific day: I put it on, fully charged, at 9am; I wore it all day, including on a seven-mile walk that I tracked with the Outdoor Walk workout, so the heart-rate sensor and GPS were more active for over two hours; I wore it all night for sleep tracking; I took it off for 20 minutes to shower (but didn’t charge it); and then I tracked my two-mile bike commute to the office with an Outdoor Cycle workout.
At exactly 9am the next day, 24 hours later, I had 47% of the battery remaining. In practice, this thing is just about good for two entire days of real-world use, including overnight sleep tracking. If you turn it off overnight, you could get the best part of three days of use from it."
One thing to think about is that you can get the cellular version but not activate cellular. One advantage with the cellular version, even if you don’t activate it, is that you may be able to make calls to emergency services (e.g., 911 in the US) if you are without your phone, or the phone dies, is lost, etc. (It’s up to the carrier if you can make emergency calls without service, but I believe in the US it is required for carriers to provide 911 service to phones that don’t have a service contract.)
Or the watch can make the call if you have the fall detection turned on and a fall is detected but you are unconscious (or crash detection with the SE 2, Series 8, Series 9, Ultra, or Ultra 2; if the phone is broken during the crash but the watch is not, it can make the call to emergency services). You cannot do this with the GPS watch unless the phone is with you and is turned on, or you somehow have WiFi connectivity at the time of the fall/crash.
Also, you can always decide to try cellular service and cancel it later - as far as I know, it is always month-to-month. You can never add cellular service to the GPS watch.
I had the cellular Series 5 (I bought the stainless steel version, which only comes with the cellular radio) and did not activate it for 2.5 years.
So you like work for Apple or what?
But you make good points. I think I’ll take a break and go over to Yodobashi Camera (just 3 stops from my station!) and check out the Apple corner and see what’s what.
I’d say no, assuming it’s also $10 per month for service for you too.
It was too long ago for me to remember for sure, but I think that was partly because the Series 2 wasn’t useful enough to use for anything. I asked much more of the Series 5 and even more of the Series 9 because the experience is better. For instance, I never used the Series 2 to track workouts, and I didn’t do much of that on the Series 5 because of its weakening battery life, but I use the Series 9 for that regularly.
Toward the end of the Series 5 time, I had to turn off the Always-On display to get the battery to survive the day, and while it works fine in that mode, once I got the Series 9, I turned it back on and prefer it enough to leave it on.
The Always-On display in the Apple Watch is better than the Always-On display for the iPhone for me. I want to look at my watch instantly so if the Always-On display gets me that a quarter-second faster, that’s good; whereas the iPhone showing me things was just distracting.
If there’s an Apple Store convenient to you, that would be the best place to see variations, check out different sizes, and get questions answered.
Now this is interesting. I’m going to call Softbank (my carrier) to confirm, but it appears the first 4 years of Watch cellular service is free, and then it’s just 385 yen ($2.60) a month after 48 months. In that case it seems worth it.
Apple Watch モバイル通信サービス | スマートフォン・携帯電話 | ソフトバンク (in Japanese, but you can get the idea from the pictures).
It’s actually an Apple store inside the big electronics store here.
I got a series 8 this spring to replace my 4 (both the larger size of their series). The 4 battery was still ok (about 80%) and still lasted about a day and half, but I wanted the oxygen meter and sleep tracking. I don’t do workouts, wifi is almost always off, and I get more than two days of battery life for the 8 even with the sleep tracking (about 52 hours).
I kind of wanted the cellular for the emergency services possibility, but I got it on a good costco sale and they were all out of cellular versions. Now I’m wondering how much battery the cell would have eaten.
I called Softbank and confirmed it. Yes - if I get a cellular model Apple Watch then with my current carrier plan the Watch cellular service is free for the first 4 years and then just 385 yen/month ($2.60/month) after 48 months.
I would think that would make it a no-brainer to do that if I get, say, a new SE Watch to replace my Watch Series 2.
And maybe I’ll even have more battery life.
Well, that was somewhat disappointing. I went to the store and checked out the Series 9 45 mm and 2nd Gen SE 44 mm watches.
I don’t know if the battery life is longer (which is really the only issue I have with my Series 2 Watch) but I’ll say this: the display is absolutely, definitely, positively, obviously brighter than either the Series 9 or SE. I don’t care what they say the “nits” are or whatever. My Series 2 is just brighter. And the store person tweaked the settings and made sure they were on the brightest setting.
I would have considered getting one and testing the battery life during the 14 day return period, but the dimmer display would bother me too much. So I’m not going to upgrade.
Meanwhile my Watch is at 34% even though I was out and about most of the day (it’s 3:30 pm) even with one hour long Workout. My iPhone 15 Pro dropped to 14% during this time.
We need nuclear fusion power for these devices.
I did look at the iPhone 15 Pro Max though. Very nice display, overall size, and weight. And it fits into my pocket. I might go Max for my next upgrade - maybe the 17 in a couple of years. In the meantime, my iPhone 13 Pro is just fine.