New Apple Watch SE could star in Apple's all-new affordable catalog of devices

Apple Watch SE
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple products are known for two things: their excellent craftsmanship, design, and use of quality components, and a price tag that reminds you of exactly that.

However, with purse string tightening across the globe, Apple plans to breathe new life into its SE (Special Edition) catalog — which offers more affordable and accessible versions of its more popular devices, powered by the same impressive software and touting many of the features of their more premium models.

See also: The best Amazon Prime Day Apple Watch deals

The Apple Watch is the latest device rumored to be receiving an SE refresh, with Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reporting that the company is looking to get competitive on pricing with its wearable's low-cost competition, the $199 Samsung Galaxy Watch FE.

Apple Watch SE (3rd Generation): Everything we know so far

According to oft-in-the-know Apple scribe Mark Gurman, Apple is reportedly prototyping a new third-generation Apple Watch SE that seeks to further reduce its $249 price to rival the $199 offering of its Galaxy Watch FE contemporary.

To do this, Gurman reports the new iPhone SE could ditch its aluminum chassis for a rigid plastic shell. While this could be a potential step down in terms of durability and premium aesthetics, it's a method that Apple could use to shave a considerable amount of dollars from the cost of its wearable — especially if it plans to use the same cost-cutting in-house 3D printing methods used for the Apple Watch Ultra 2's titanium components.

Beyond this, little is known about what to expect from Apple's latest Watch SE device. However, it would be a safe bet that the wearable will feature a new processor, allowing it to take advantage of Apple Intelligence features heading to watchOS.

There's also no word on what to expect from the health and fitness tracker's sensors. However, it's unlikely we'll see high blood pressure/hypertension or sleep apnea detection features as Gurman states testing has hit the wall on the former, and legal disputes relating to Apple's infringement of Masimo Corp patents for blood oxygen measurements are preventing the latter. 

Apple's SE generation: Affordability 

Word of an Apple Watch SE refresh is more than welcome. The wearable's last refresh arrived in 2022 and brought with it a solid wearable experience — even if its low cost saw it missing the temperature, blood oxygen, and ECG sensors of its Apple Watch Series 8 counterpart.

However, with Apple's catalog in a constant state of refresh (spanning Macs, iPhones, iPads, AirPods, Watch, and now even spatial computing with the Vision Pro), an affordable model to keep up with the times that doesn't break the bank is vital.

Thankfully, the Apple Watch isn't the only Apple device said to be receiving a more budget-friendly option. Recent rumors have suggested that similar SE models or affordable alternatives are to be expected, with the following devices reportedly in the works.

iPhone SE 4

iPhone SE 4 in blue. Render based on leaked information and reports.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

One of the more concrete releases you can expect to see over the next 12 months is the iPhone SE 4. A series of leaks and prototype models have appeared online, with the affordable iPhone now seemingly adopting the more modern iPhone 12-like design of the company's recent smartphone offerings.

Not only that, the iPhone SE 4 could feature an OLED display, an A16 Bionic processor, and the iPhone 15's all-new Action Button. It's an entire roster of upgrades for the iPhone SE, whose last refresh came in 2022, offering a more retro iPhone 8-inspired design.

While there's been no solid word on pricing for the iPhone SE 4, previous releases would suggest a $450-500 opening, making it a serious midrange challenger for devices like the Google Pixel 8a.

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Bloomberg / Contributor)

In April we learned that a direct follow-up to the Apple Vision Pro had been postponed, with news of a cheaper Vision model being in the works surfacing in June.

Apple's ultra-premium $3,500 spatial computing headset is a celebration of the most premium tech in the AR/VR headset space, but it hasn't had the impact many would have hoped for — especially when its competition is the far cheaper and more established Meta Quest 3.

Those hoping for a similar $499 price tag for the next Vision device shouldn't hold their breath. From what we know so far, Apple plans to slash the price of its more modest future model to a more "affordable" $1,600 — a price tag more in line with Meta's premium Quest Pro headset at launch.

MacBook SE

MacBook Air models

(Image credit: Apple)

One of the more interesting rumors to spring up in 2023 was a report from Digitimes claiming that Apple is currently working towards developing a low-cost MacBook. However, while most Macs seek to challenge Windows for desktop and laptop market share, this one would have an entirely new target in its cross hairs: the Chromebook.

Seeking to provide an affordable MacBook option to the educational sector, Apple is apparently prepared to develop a MacBook at minimum cost — foregoing premium material and components to remain competitive with Chromebooks in terms of price and performance.

Digitimes indicated that an announcement could be made in the latter half of 2024, though with little word following from the initial report, it's hard to say whether Apple's ambitions have fizzled, or the project has been delayed.

More from Laptop Mag

Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.