A cheaper Apple Watch SE being "worked on"

Apple Watch SE could hark back to the colourful plastic of the iPhone 5C

Apple Watch SE 2 review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Quick Summary

Apple may change the casing of the Apple Watch SE 3 from aluminium to plastic in order to reduce costs.

The SE 3 may have a lower price as a result. It's expected to launch in late 2024.

Apple's next Apple Watch SE could come with a very different case. Where the current Apple Watch SE 2 has an Aluminium backing, Apple is reportedly working on a version that swaps the metal for rigid plastic instead. 

The use of plastic instead of metal would cut the cost of making Apple's budget smartwatch, and that in turn could mean a lower price.

According to Bloomberg, whose story revealed Apple's possible plans, that could mean a more competitive price that would be closer to that of the Samsung Galaxy Watch FE. That's £199; the Apple Watch SE 2 is £249.

The Apple Watch SE has already experimented with different materials to cut costs: it has a nylon composite back rather than the ceramic and crystal you'll find on the Apple Watch Series 8 and 9.

What to expect from the Apple Watch SE 3

The use of a plastic casing isn't definite yet; Bloomberg says it's "one idea that the company has tested".

Previous reports have suggested that the SE 3 will get the same display sizes as the Apple Watch Series 8 and 9, taking the size of the watch up very slightly by 1mm in both versions. A newer S-series chip is pretty much certain too. The current Apple Watch SE 2 has an S8 chip but the standard Apple Watch series 9 has an S9.

Another likely upgrade is to the Watch SE 2's heart rate sensor. That's a second-generation version, but the normal Apple Watch has had a third-generation sensor since 2020's Apple Watch Series 6. Similarly the fast charging that was introduced in the Apple Watch Series 7 is long overdue in Apple's more affordable wearable.

If Apple sticks to its previous upgrade cycle, the next generation of the Apple Watch SE should appear later this year: the first and second generations of the Apple Watch SE launched in September 2020 and September 2020 respectively. Bloomberg has previously predicted a similar autumnal release date for the third generation model.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).