WE GADGET LABBIES all agree: If you have an iPhone, the Apple Watch is the best wearable to go with it. This year, Apple released two versions, the series 6 & SE. It’s also continuing to sell the old series 3. All these watches look the same, more or less. So … which one should you get?
Below, we’ll take a look at all the models that Apple currently sells. We’ll also go over which older models are still worth the price and which ones you should avoid.
Still, stuck? Be sure to check out our other buying guides, especially our guides to the Best iPad, the Best Smartwatch, and Best iPhone.
The Bare-Bones Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 3
For three years, we’ve recommended the Watch Series 3 as a very well-priced option if you want a basic fitness tracker that will work well with an iPhone. Apple listened and continues to sell it. It also regularly goes on sale for much less than the list price of an already affordable $199.
It’s older. If you’ve tried the newer watches, you’ll notice that this one is slightly and doesn’t have some of the flashy new features like electrocardiograms or fall detection. (We’ve also heard stories of random, annoying reboots and other delays). But it melds seamlessly with your phone and delivers notifications; it’s waterproof and has Apple’s addictive fitness rings feature. On sale, it’s one of the best basic fitness trackers around.
The Better Apple Watch
Apple Watch SE
The SE is the James Marsden character in The Notebook: a handsome placeholder lurking in the background, hoping that Ryan Gosling was killed in the war. It looks exactly like a Series 5 or a Series 6. I have all three lined up here, and I’m mildly worried about mixing them up. Apple has removed a few popular features, like the always-on display and ECG readings.
It’s definitely a better watch than the Series 3, with features like the upgraded Retina display, a newer processor, a fall detector, more memory, and a louder speaker. I really miss the always-on display, though, and removing important health features makes this watch a less useful pick for older relatives with Family Setup. If you can find the older Series 5 for a similar price, go for it. If you can’t, the SE is a still a handsome choice.
The Best Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 6
This year, the newest feature on the Series 6 is blood oxygen measuring. This isn’t necessarily a “new” feature—you’ve been able to take optical wrist-based SpO2 measurements on fitness trackers like Garmins for years—but it’s one step closer to making the Series 6 a more comprehensive and capable fitness tracker, whether you want to detect sleep apnea, keep track of early-warning Covid19 signs, or start altitude training for your sport.
If you own a Series 5, one single measurement might not be worth the upgrade. But if this is your first Apple Watch, I like being able to take my SpO2 measurements. The watch monitors your SpO2 continuously while you sleep, and you can also take measurements during the day. You’ll also need its slightly faster charging times if you use your watch to track your sleep, because battery life still sucks for that.