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Don’t buy the Apple Watch Series 8 on Prime Day


Apps on the Apple Watch SE 2.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you want to grab a smartwatch on Prime Day and you own an iPhone, then the only one you should consider is the Apple Watch.

However, we’re going to tell you not to buy the Apple Watch Series 8. Instead, you should save some money and take Amazon up on its Apple Watch SE 2 offer. Madness? No, absolutely not, and this is why.

How much is the Apple Watch SE 2?

The Apple Watch SE 2 on a mans wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Amazon has a great offer on both Apple Watch SE 2 sizes. The 40mm Apple Watch SE 2 is yours for $199, down from $249, and the 44mm Apple Watch SE 2 is $229, down from $279. Apple products don’t always get heavy discounts, so to see $50 knocked off an Apple Watch is welcome — and makes it a seriously tempting deal. If you want an Apple Watch SE with cellular connectivity, it’ll cost $249 or $279. We’d say it’s worth getting at the reduced price.

Why are we recommending it over the Apple Watch Series 8, which is also discounted on Prime Day? It’s because the Apple Watch SE 2 is already a good buy, but now it’s a great deal, and that makes it the perfect product to snap up on Prime Day. Bringing the Apple Watch below $200 if you want the smallest size drops it below many other non-Apple smartwatches, including the Fitbit Sense 2, and as you don’t really miss out on many of the Series 8’s features, you can feel very smug about your purchase.

What’s missing?

The case back differences between the Apple Watch SE 2 and Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple Watch SE 2 (left) and Apple Watch Series 8 (right) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What do you miss out on? The big feature the SE 2 doesn’t have is the always-on screen. When the watch isn’t in use, the screen is black, but on the Series 8, it shows a power-saving clock screen. The Apple Watch Series 8 definitely looks more watch-like, but don’t let the SE 2’s black screen bother you too much, as the raise-to-wake feature is incredibly fast and accurate, so the time instantly appears with a twist of your wrist.

Otherwise, the Apple Watch SE 2 is based on the Apple Watch Series 6, so the screen is a little smaller than the Series 8, it has a slightly older heart rate sensor array on the back, it doesn’t have an electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood oxygen monitoring feature, and the case back is made of a plastic material and not ceramic. Inside, it uses the same processor, and you can use all the same apps, watch straps, and accessories with either version. It runs the same watchOS software, which will be updated for several years to come, and it has the same fitness and connectivity features too.

This has always been the sensible choice

The side of the Apple Watch SE 2 being worn on a mans wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I love the Apple Watch Series 8 and personally value the always-on screen, but I’m thankfully not in a position to need an ECG on my wrist, plus I find the SE 2’s sensor array just as accurate and reliable as the newer one on the Series 8. The only thing that pulls me to the Apple Watch Series 8 is the always-on screen, but for everyone that doesn’t care about such a feature, the Apple Watch SE 2 is the much more sensible buy. I’ve worn both versions since release, and I never really miss the Series 8 when I wear the SE 2.

Amazon’s offer is available for the Midnight, Starlight, or Silver finish with various choices of Sport Bands attached to it. Because the Apple Watch SE 2 is only made in aluminum (rather than the stainless steel or titanium options provided on the Series 8), there’s no other decision to be made. The Sport Band is comfortable and suitable for most situations, but there are plenty more bands out there should you want to increase your collection, which is something we wholeheartedly recommend.

But I really want the Series 8!

Apple Watch Series 8 running the new Compass app in WatchOS 9.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

If you’re looking at the Apple Watch SE 2 and thinking you’d prefer to have the Series 8 and its always-on screen, there’s good news, as it’s also in Amazon’s Prime Day deals. You’ll just have to dig deeper to get it, and because of this, it doesn’t represent such great value as the Watch SE 2. An aluminum 41mm Apple Watch Series 8 is yours for $299 or $399 with cellular, and a 45mm is $329 or $429 with a cellular connection.

If you can afford it, the Series 8 undoubtedly gives you more, but the Apple Watch SE 2 provides all the core functionality, style, customization, and integration with your iPhone, which makes the Apple Watch the only sensible smartwatch choice for iPhone owners, for a substantial amount less money. Buy it, you won’t regret it.

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