The Apple Watch SE debuts for $279 with Series 5 design and speed

Apple hosted a virtual keynote today where it debuted the Apple Watch Series 6. That watch will retail for $399 when it goes on sale this Friday. However, as the leaks predicted, Apple also revealed a second version of the watch called the Apple Watch SE. It takes the best qualities of the previous-gen Apple Watch and blends it with some new tech at an affordable price point.

That price point is $279, $80 more than the Series 3 from 2017 which will still be sold. This positions the SE as an extraordinary value proposition when you consider what you get for the money.

For starters, Apple is adopting the Series 4 and 5’s nearly bezel-less look on the front for both the 42mm and 44mm models. The screen remains the same Retina display you’d find on any Apple Watch, and it’ll give you 30 perfect more real estate compared to the Series 3. You don’t get an always-on display unfortunately, but that’s to be expected on a “cheap” Apple Watch.

Under the hood, the Apple Watch SE sports the S5 SiP, the same processor in the Series 5. That means it’s twice as fast as the Series 3 which will certainly be appealing to Series 3 owners looking to upgrade (myself included). It also packs the new Digital Crown which uses haptic feedback to simulate a real click.

Apple also includes improved speakers, microphones, Bluetooth, and fitness features. That last focal point is thanks to watchOS 7 which ships out of the box with the SE. You also get Apple’s new always-on altimeter to provide elevation stats in the Health app throughout your day. Fall detection, Emergency SOS, and the Noise app are also included.

To coincide with the new watch, Apple is also introducing Fitness+, a new subscription service. It’ll include live workout classes and prerecorded ones so you can get your workout in however and whenever you want. It’ll cost $9.99/month, and if you buy a new Apple Watch the company will throw in three free months. You can learn more about the service here.

All in all, the Apple Watch SE looks to be a really solid offering for those who just want an Apple Watch. If you don’t need blood oxygen monitoring, the absolute fastest performance you can get from an Apple Watch, or an always-on display, you can probably get by with the SE. I’m super tempted to buy one and I’m sure at some point I’ll cave.

The Apple Watch SE starts at $279 for the standard Wi-Fi/Bluetooth models and $329 for the cellular models. It’ll launch this Friday, September 18th.