Apple Watch 5 vs SE

Apple Watch 5 vs Apple Watch SE: Who has the edge here?

Updated on 11 August 2023

We've tested both watches to help you decide which Apple Watch you should buy.


The Apple Watch is one of the most popular smartwatches on the market. Before you choose a model, it's a good idea to compare different models. Apple's smartwatch has been on the market for a number of years, so it's not necessary to invest in the latest model. You can also choose a refurbished Apple Watch and save a lot of money. 

Nevertheless, the functions of the different generations are diverse. You can also choose a watch with a stylish design that is both a sports watch and a heart rate monitor. The Apple Watch offers you various health functions with which you can monitor body functions and evaluate them on your iPhone. For when you're on the move, the watches have a built-in GPS signal and an altimeter. However, other features depend on the model and differ between generations. The Apple Watch works with a specially developed operating system called WatchOS, which is why you can unfortunately only pair it with an iPhone so far.

Apple Watch Series 5 or SE - models compared

You've decided in principle to buy an Apple Watch. But now you want to know which model is the right choice for you? The differences to the previous models lie in the details. For example, unlike its predecessors, the Series 7 has a slightly larger case and a faster processor. The changes are only marginal, so find out more in our Apple Watch 7 review.

Since the latest Apple Watches are generally always expensive, it's worth including the previous models in your decision-making. At Back Market you can also find models from previous years, all the way down to the Apple Watch 3, all of which have impressive features. 

As an alternative to the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple offers the Apple Watch SE, for example. This is a low-priced entry-level model from 2020 that offers many functions but does without some extras due to its low price. But what does "low price" actually mean? Because the Apple Watch SE came onto the market at the same time as the Apple Watch Series 6 and, unlike the Apple Watch 6, it is definitely cheaper. But how does it compare with the premium Apple Watch 5 from 2019? Who beats who in performance here and who is cheaper in the end?

Apple Watch 5 - monitor your health with sensors

The Apple Watch Series 5 was introduced in September 2019 as the successor to the Series 4. The model offers a revised processor, the S5 64-bit Dual Core. However, you will also find this in the Apple Watch SE. 

Many of the familiar functions are retained: The device has a heart sensor and the option to record an ECG. When buying, you can choose between three cases (aluminium, stainless steel and titanium) and two sizes (40 mm and 44 mm). Note that the Apple Watch 5 cannot yet measure blood oxygen. Blood oxygen measurement was only introduced with the sixth generation of the Apple Watch. If you want this feature, you'll need to buy an Apple Watch Series 6 or an Apple Watch Series 7.

However, a compass, fall detection and an accelerometer are built into the Apple Watch 5. The same goes for the high-resolution and scratch-resistant Retina display. And on top of that, you get an always-on display: that means you can see the time on the display all the time. Thanks to the high-resolution OLED technology, reading the content on the watch is no problem even in direct sunlight.

👉 You might also be interested in this: The Apple Watch Series 7 review

What does Apple Watch 5 Cellular mean?

If you want to use the Apple Watch independently from your iPhone, choose the model with its own LTE feature. The LTE models have an integrated e-SIM. With this built-in SIM, you can sign up for a contract and use the Apple Watch to make calls, surf the web and communicate without your iPhone.

The model without LTE is cheaper in price. Here, however, access to the internet is only possible via Bluetooth with the paired iPhone. If you move away from the iPhone, you cannot use the internet.

What can the Apple Watch SE do?

Strictly speaking, the Apple Watch SE does not belong to just one "generation" of the watch. The so-called "Second Edition" is a model that Apple is launching parallel to the new introductions. You decide on an Apple Watch with modern technology, which is, however, significantly cheaper than the Series 6. In return, you have to do without some functions: For example, the Apple Watch SE cannot write an ECG or measure blood oxygen.

Also, there is no SE model with LTE, so you can only use it together with your iPhone. But you can still use all the other functions, such as measuring heart rate, recording training sessions or sleep patterns. On top of that, the SE model is waterproof, has the classic design and a Retina display with OLED.

What are the basic functions of an Apple Watch?

There are some functions that all models offer. These include making calls, writing messages, monitoring fitness levels and keeping a permanent record of your pulse and heart rate. When you do a workout, the Apple Watch records various parameters such as speed, calories burned and distance travelled. You can use navigation on the Apple Watch and surf the web, either with LTE (Apple Watch 5) or with Wi-Fi connection (both models).

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series SE


LTE availability

Heart rate / pulse measurement

ECG recording

Blood oxygen measurement

Recording of training sessions


Battery life

up to 18 hours

up to 18 hours

Scratch resistant display

Individual watch faces

Which smartphones can the Apple Watch be paired with?

Before you decide to buy an Apple Watch, you should know that the smartwatch only works with an iPhone. You don't necessarily have to have the latest model. You can use all iPhones from the 6s onwards with the Apple Watch. It doesn't matter if you choose the latest model of the Apple Watch or not.

The new watches are also compatible with older generation iPhones. You can use a new iPhone with an older model of the Apple Watch and vice versa. Smartphones with an operating system other than iOS are unfortunately not compatible, as the Apple Watch works with WatchOS only.

Can I write an ECG with the Apple Watch SE?

If you want to regularly write an ECG with your Apple Watch, this is possible from the Series 4 model onwards. Note that this function is only supported from Series 4 to 7. This also applies to the Apple Watch 5. 

If you choose the Apple Watch SE, the functions are limited. For example, writing an ECG is not possible with the SE. If you value this feature, the Apple Watch SE is not the right model for you.

👉 You might also be interested in this: Apple Watch SE vs 6

How do you pair the Apple Watch with the iPhone?

Pairing and unpairing the Apple Watch with the iPhone is quick and easy. iPhones from model 6s are equipped with an app. This is called "Watch". It is pre-installed on the operating system. Switch on the Apple Watch and open the Watch app. The iPhone and the Watch establish a connection via Bluetooth. On the display of the iPhone you will see a graphic in a circle that is moving. Hold the Watch case against the iPhone to establish the connection. 

Both devices connect to each other. If necessary, software is installed on the Apple Watch. This may take a moment. As soon as the installation is complete, the Apple Watch is started and you can use the watch. The individual set-up is done conveniently via the Apple Watch.

Our final thoughts on the Apple Watch Series 5 vs SE comparison

The bottom line is that the Apple Watch SE is a slightly expanded and updated version of the Apple Watch 5, because with the launch of the Apple Watch SE, its predecessor was no longer available in the Apple Shop. Both watches have very similar features with an optical sensor for measuring heart rate, GPS, compass, altimeter and gyroscope. In addition, the battery life of both watches is 18 hours - so no difference here either!

However, there are three points where they differ: with the Apple Watch Series 5 you can record your ECG and you have an always-on display. In addition, the Apple Watch 5 is slightly cheaper than the Apple Watch SE. 

  • Apple Watch SE 44mm (GPS + Cellular) - Aluminium: from £220

  • Apple Watch SE 44mm (without cellular) - Aluminium: from £193.75

Further comparisons:


Written by HaziqTech Expert for Back Market UK, Ireland & Australia

When not fighting the good fight for environmental sustainability, Haziq loves making reviews of everything and anything tech-related.

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