Just the basics
The Watch SE 2 does a good job nailing the basics, and is a great entrant into Apple's smartwatch ecosystem if you're just getting started. While it doesn't have quite the same thin-bezel screen or an always-on mode like the Series 8, it is powered by the same hardware, and you get the latest watchOS 9.1. If you're looking for value, there is a lot to like here.
- Larger screen
- Powerful hardware
- Versatile software features
- Works well for activity monitoring
- Good value
- No always-on screen
- Misses out on ECG and blood oxygen sensor
- Large bezels around the screen
The Galaxy Watch 5 includes more in the way of features, and it has a sleeker design that looks good. Wear OS 3 has a lot to offer on the software side as well, and the battery lasts longer. You also get a few extras if you have a Samsung phone, and for Android users, it is the best overall choice right now.
- Gorgeous design
- Plenty of useful sensors
- Good at activity and health monitoring
- Decent connectivity options
- No rotating bezel
- Not a huge upgrade over Galaxy Watch 4
Apple Watch SE 2 (2022) vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Design
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The Apple Watch SE 2 (2022) has a design that's immediately familiar if you've seen an Apple Watch. That's one way Apple is able to sell the smartwatch for just $249 — it uses the same design as the Apple Watch Series 4, in a move that's similar to the iPhone SE 2022. That said, this is a mature design that looks great, and you'll only notice the fact that it has large bezels around the screen when seen next to an Apple Watch Series 7.
For its part, Samsung hasn't changed a whole lot here, with the Galaxy Watch 5 looking largely identical to its predecessor. That said, there's no rotating bezel this time around, and that's bound to be a deal-breaker for some users; the bezel was pretty unique and felt great to use. That said, the lack of a bezel makes the Galaxy Watch 5 lighter, and that's always a good thing.
The one area where the Galaxy Watch 5 stands out is the screen; it has a smaller 1.4-inch panel versus 1.78-inch on the Watch SE 2 (2022), but it is vibrant and has thin bezels, making it look just that little bit more striking. My biggest issue with the Watch SE 2 (2022) is that it misses out on always-on screen; this is an essential feature on a smartwatch, and not having it feels like a glaring omission. Of course, adding it here would have cannibalized sales of the Series 7 and Series 8, so Apple chose to omit the feature.
You can pick up the smartwatches in various finishes and colors, and while the Watch SE 2 (2022) doesn't look as modern as the Galaxy Watch 5, the design still holds up just fine.
Apple Watch SE 2 (2022) vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Hardware
As for the hardware, the Watch SE 2 (2022) is powered by the Apple S8 — which is also used in the Apple Watch Series 8 — and that gives the budget smartwatch a huge leg up over just about every other smartwatch in this category. Again, this is similar to the iPhone SE 2022, and the Watch SE 2 (2022) absolutely delivers in this area, handily beating the Galaxy Watch 5.
Samsung is using the same Exynos W920 platform it went with last year on the Galaxy Watch 4, and while you won't see any lag or slowdowns on the Galaxy Watch 5, it isn't quite as smooth as the Watch SE 2 (2022) in daily use. But where the Galaxy Watch 5 redeems itself is with the sheer number of hardware features on offer: you'll find an ECG monitor, blood pressure sensor, and blood oxygen monitoring. There isn't quite as much on the Watch SE 2 (2022), with the smartwatch limited to a standard heart rate monitor — you don't even get blood oxygen monitoring.
As for battery life, the Watch SE 2 (2022) manages to last a day on average, but you may need to charge it before hitting the bed. There's no such anxiety with the Galaxy Watch 5, with Samsung's smartwatch lasting well over a day with ease.
Apple Watch SE 2 (2022) vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Software
Apple is in a dominant position in the smartwatch segment thanks to its focus on software, and watchOS 9 is still the standard for smartwatches. Wear OS 3 has a lot to offer and is a much more polished take on the interface than previous iterations, but it doesn't quite have the same set of integrations, and it doesn't feel as intuitive to use.
Both smartwatches do a fantastic job with activity monitoring, and you'll find plenty of workout modes. If you're looking for guided workouts, Apple's Fitness Plus is the obvious frontrunner, offering an extensive catalog of fitness courses as well as yoga and meditation for $9.99 a month.
Apple Watch SE 2 (2022) vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Which should you buy?
The Watch SE 2 (2022) is a good value at just $249; you get a lot of hardware for your money, and while it doesn't include all the features that you get with the Series 7 or Series 8, it does a brilliant job at the basics.
In a similar vein, Samsung got a lot right with the Galaxy Watch 5. It is very similar to its predecessor, but you get a gorgeous design, boatload of features, and Wear OS 3 feels good in daily use. You also get a better battery life here, and more health monitoring features, but you're also paying more at $349.
Ultimately, the decision is down to what phone you use. The Galaxy Watch 5 is the best smartwatch if you use an Android phone, and the Watch SE 2 (2022) is a great starting point for iPhone owners looking for a smartwatch.
Just the basics
The Watch SE 2 (2022) is a great choice if you're just getting started with a wearable and need a smartwatch that excels at the basics. The caveat is that you will need an iPhone.
The Galaxy Watch 5 has a gorgeous design and plenty of features, and is the ideal option for Android users looking to get their hands on a reliable smartwatch.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.