Rumor: Apple Watch ‘SE’ could launch alongside Apple Watch 6

Apple Watch 4
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

While we’ve been expecting the Apple Watch 6 to be announced out at the just-confirmed Apple Event on September 15, it might not launch alone: a leaker has claimed that a lower-specced Apple Watch ‘SE’ will come out alongside it.

To be clear, the leaker in question is Jon Prosser, whose predictions haven’t always been on the nose – his estimation of an Apple product announcement on September 8 was, instead, official confirmation that the product announcements would come out a week later – at the September 15 Apple Event. 

But the prospect is tantalizing: a lower-specced Apple Watch that would assumedly be cheaper than the leading smartwatch. Per Prosser, the Apple Watch ‘SE’ (quotes his) comes in both 40mm and 44mm sizes, in both GPS-only and cellular versions of each size, and will notably have fewer features than Apple’s flagship smartwatches: no ECG (introduced in the Apple Watch 4) and no always-on display (introduced in the Apple Watch 5). Its design will look like the Series 4, which is curious, since it’s virtually identical to the newest Series 5 design.

Note: The M9 chip, as Apple researcher Rene Ritchie explains in a tweet response, seems to be referring to the M9 sensor fusion co-processor from the A9 system-on-a-chip...which launched on 2016-era iPhones and iPads. It's unclear how this would end up on an Apple Watch.

Prosser goes on to note that ‘Apple Watch SE’ is not the name given to hardware engineers – for them, the watch's names are split into Apple Watch and Apple Watch Pro. It's unclear which configurations this dual-title applies to, or whether the Apple Watches could be split between leading (Pro) and lower-specced (standard) models.

It’s unclear which of these, if any, will be the final name, assuming the device is even launching on September 15. But it could follow Apple’s method of renaming its budget devices to overlap with its old ones: the iPhone SE 2020 is listed as ‘iPhone SE’ on Apple’s website, ignoring the original 2016 model.

  • We're also expecting the iPad Air 4 at the September Apple Event
  • And perhaps the long-rumored Apple AirTags
  • What aren't we expecting? The iPhone 12, which is rumored to launch in October

Role of a cheap watch?

Until now, consumers have had two options with Apple’s smartwatches: buy the brand-new one or pick up a now-discounted older model for cheap that has most of the latest watch’s features. For instance, pay for the Apple Watch 5, which starts at $399 / £399 / AU$649, or go hunting for deals on older Apple Watch 3, which goes for half those prices these days.

But adding an Apple Watch SE (or just plain ‘Apple Watch’) could give a clearer option to consumers who don’t need all the bells and whistles but still want an up-to-date device that plays well with their other Apple products. Not everyone needs an SpO2 sensor to check their blood oxygen levels – a feature highly rumored to come in the Apple Watch 6. 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.