Unboxed: Apple Watch SE

Can Apple's new budget-friendly watch work for triathletes? Senior editor Chris Foster shares his initial impressions.

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Though this isn’t a major update to the Apple Watch line, it serves as a current budget model that’ll get triathletes into a very nice “lifestyle smartwatch” for under $300. That said, it’s important to note that lifestyle watches like the Apple Watch SE are not necessarily the solution for data-driven triathletes who need things like power on the bike or other ANT+/Bluetooth connected external devices. You’ll find only the most basic data analysis on the various exercise options in the Apple Watch SE, but you’ll still have just enough to get by: swimming (both pool and open water, which is rare in a lifestyle smartwatch), biking, running, and a host of other fitness activities. The SE will also have Apple’s new Fitness+ program when it rolls out later in the year that acts similar to a service like Peloton, but without the bike.

First Impressions

Apple Watch SE: $280; apple.com

What I Like About The Apple Watch SE

  1. Open-water swimming functions (and FORM HUD goggles connectivity) for under $300 is a very good value.
  2. Obviously if you have an iPhone, the compatibility for music/notifications/etc. is unparalleled.
  3. If you’re a big cross trainer, the Fitness+ and gym equipment connectivity could be a boon.

What Makes Me Worried About The Apple Watch SE

  1. The fact that it won’t connect to external sensors is limiting, but not a surprise in a lifestyle smartwatch.
  2. 18 hours of battery life in watch mode and six hours in GPS mode is very low for most long-course triathletes who work out often.
  3. No dedicated multisport/tri sport mode

Final Thoughts

  1. The Apple Watch SE is an affordable way to get a decently sized Apple Watch with some pretty solid functions like open-water swimming.
  2. For day-to-day use, the SE is obviously a great choice when it comes to monitoring your health, being productive/connected, and doing basic workouts.
  3. Some triathletes might be able to squeak by with the SE for all of their training needs, while others will find themselves reaching for a Garmin, Polar, Suunto, or Coros once they become more data-focused.

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