By now, you would have known that Apple launched a few products recently, including the Apple Watch Series 6.
It can check your blood oxygen level and notify you if you have an irregular heart rate, among other things.
If the Series 6 is out of your budget, there’s still the new and more affordable Apple Watch SE and the earlier Apple Watch Series 3 still available at the Apple store.
But before you decide which to get, here’s a guide.
Here are the official retail prices for the most basic Apple Watches:
|Apple Watch Series 6||GPS||40mm||$599|
|Apple Watch Series 6||GPS||44mm||$649|
|Apple Watch Series 6||GPS + Cellular||40mm||$749|
|Apple Watch Series 6||GPS + Cellular||44mm||$799|
|Apple Watch SE||GPS||40mm||$419|
|Apple Watch SE||GPS||44mm||$469|
|Apple Watch SE||GPS + Cellular||40mm||$499|
|Apple Watch SE||GPS + Cellular||44mm||$549|
|Apple Watch Series 3||GPS||38mm||$299|
|Apple Watch Series 3||GPS||42mm||$349|
Wondering why the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 4 are not on the list? That’s because last year, Apple discontinued the Series 4 and introduced Series 5, and this year, Series 5 has been replaced by Apple Watch Series 6.
The Apple Watch Series 3 also no longer comes with cellular function.
So right now, Apple has 3 main models: Apple Watch Series 6 (newer and more premium), Apple Watch SE (cheaper) and Apple Watch Series 3 (cheaper and fewer functions). There’s also the branded Apple Watch Nike and Apple Watch Hermès versions
The main factors that affect Apple Watch prices are:
- Series: Apple Watch Series 6 vs SE vs Series 3
- Connectivity: GPS vs GPS + Cellular
- Watch size: Smaller vs bigger
The Apple Watch is similar to a FitBit — its primary purpose is as a wearable fitness tracker.
To that end, the Apple Watch has this snazzy “3 rings” setup which lets you visualise your activity in 3 main areas. The goal is to “close the rings” by making sure you hit your targets in all 3 areas, which you can set yourself.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that there are cheaper fitness trackers out there that do pretty much the same thing, albeit with a less sexy interface and watch design.
So why would you pay $299 or more for an Apple Watch?
Well, because the Apple Watch can be used as an extension of your iPhone (and only iPhone 6S and later). It can perform some basic functions, such as:
- Making contactless payments via Apple Pay
- Getting reminders, alarms and checking your calendar
- Listening to Apple Music, Spotify or podcasts (if you pair with bluetooth earphones)
- Reading and possibly replying SMSes or iMessages (no Whatsapp though)
- Answering emergency phone calls
- Using the Calculator app (okay, you can do this with a $30 Casio watch too, but it’s not as cool)
Now, with the new functions of the Apple Watch Series 6, it’s like having your own personal health companion — in line with Apple heading into the healthcare industry since the past year.
The new features of the Apple Watch Series 6 include:
- A blood oxygen sensor and app that measures your oxygen saturation to better track your fitness goals.
- Reminding you when to wash your hands and how long
- Tracking your sleep
- Customising your watch face and share them with friends
- Tracking new types of workouts (eg. dance, core training)
- Cycling directions with maps that show elevation, road traffic
- Warning if you’re exposed to loud sounds
But unless you’re super into the technicalities of your health, do you really need to know this?
Using the Apple Watch obviously won’t be as easy or full-featured as using a phone — for example, the call quality is limited by the in-built microphone and speaker — but it’s probably really nice to have if you dislike pulling out your phone every two seconds.
Apple has also partnered HPB to launch the LumiHealth programme to encourage us all to be healthier.
Basically the app will be able to give you reminders, lets you customise workout activities and can even remind you to go for health screenings and immunisations based on your age and profile.
The most important part is that this two-year programme offers participants the chance to earn HPB vouchers of up to $380 by participating in fitness and wellness challenges and hit various goals, with a cute little intergalactic explorer. We can expect the vouchers to be from FairPrice and Sheng Siong.
The LumiHealth app will be available from late October 2020.
Both Apple Watch 6 and 3 are able to support the functions I mentioned above to more or less the same extent. But if you looked at the table above, you’ll notice a standard $300 price difference between them.
Here’s another table that makes it easier to understand the price difference between Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 3, comparing the equivalent models:
|Apple Watch||Series 3||Series 6||Price difference|
Granted, the Apple Watch Series 3 is more basic in design. The Apple Watch 6, on the other hand, is decidedly more stylish and customisable, with a whole lot more case and strap options to choose from. See the difference?
So the Apple Watch 6 runs on watchOS7, which includes more customisation of the watch face and new health and fitness features. But unless you’re a health nut, you can live without the extra fancy features.
Supposedly, the best new feature in the Apple Watch 6 is its “always on” display, so the screen is on all the time, as opposed to the Apple Watch 3 screen which only turns on when you lift it up to look at it.
Apart from that, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a slightly larger watch face and more storage than the Series 3.
If you want to upgrade your Apple Watch 3, but are looking for a cheaper option, you can get the Apple Watch SE — from $419, +$120 more — which has the same larger display as Series 6, fall detection, compass and an always-on altimeter.
That said, if you really want to have the latest wearables, Apple has a trade-in programme for older Apple Watches — you can track its trade-in value here.
As mentioned, Apple Singapore no longer carries the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5, preferring you to opt for Series 6 instead. The Series 4 is very similar to Series 5; the key difference is that the Apple Watch 4 does not have an always-on display.
The other big decision is whether you would opt for the GPS only, or the GPS + Cellular version of the Apple Watch.
For every model, you would have to pay an extra $150 (Series 6) or $80 (SE) for Cellular support. Here’s a table to show you the relative price difference in each case:
|Apple Watch version||GPS||GPS + Cellular||Price difference|
|Apple Watch Series 5 (small)||$599||$749||+25%|
|Apple Watch Series 5 (large)||$649||$799||+23%|
|Apple Watch SE (small)||$419||$499||+19%|
|Apple Watch SE (large)||$469||$549||+17%|
Apple has discontinued the cellular version of Series 3, so we’re not comparing that.
So what’s the difference between GPS only, and GPS + Cellular?
First of all, all Apple Watches have GPS built in. It’s there so that your Apple Watch can track your location and speed independently, instead of constantly tapping on your iPhone to do so.
But if your Apple Watch is GPS only, it needs to be physically near your iPhone for phone calls, messages and apps to work. The 2 paired devices are connected by Bluetooth + Wifi (think AirDrop) so they have to be within range.
As for the more expensive GPS + Cellular Apple Watch, it’s able to function as a mini iPhone, even if its paired iPhone is not nearby. This means you can leave your iPhone at home and still be able to use those phone-type functions like calling, texting and accessing apps.
So it all depends on how you plan to use your Apple Watch. If you’re just using it as a day-to-day extension of your iPhone because you’re lazy to dig it out of your backpack, then the cheaper GPS-only version would suffice.
But if you’re prone to leaving your phone at home, then that extra $80 or $150 might be quite worth it.
If you’re tempted to spring for the GPS + Cellular of the Apple Watch — as I am! — it’s important to note that it’ll cost you a bit more than just the $150 “surcharge”.
First, you can’t just purchase a SIM card off the shelf for your Apple Watch. Your iPhone has to be on a Singtel, Starhub or M1 plan, and then you have to activate NumberShare. This allows you to “share” your data, talktime, etc. with your second device, i.e., your Apple Watch, for a monthly fee.
|Telco||NumberShare subscription fee||Other costs|
|Starhub||$6/month (additional 1GB)||—|
|Singtel||First 3 months free, then $6.90/month||$10.70 for eSIM|
|M1||First 6 months free, then $6.90/month||$37.45 for eSIM|
$6 to $7 a month is not really that expensive, but this will add on to your costs — as if the Apple Watch isn’t expensive enough already.
If you’re on Circles.Life, Giga, Gomo or the other new telcos? Tough luck. Even though Giga and Gomo belong to Starhub and Singtel, there’s no way (as far as I know) to activate NumberShare. Urgh.
So to get the most out of the Apple Watch, you’re basically forced to sign up for one of the Singtel/Starhub/M1 plans and then pay them an extra monthly subscription plus whatever “eSIM fees” they tack on.
The final factor that affects the price of an Apple Watch is size. I know, it’s pretty self-explanatory, almost not worth discussing.
But for completeness, here’s the usual comparison table anyway. The 2 prices in each cell are for GPS / GPS + Cellular versions of the Apple Watch.
|Apple Watch||Case size||Wrist size||Price|
|Apple Watch Series 6||40mm||130mm to 200mm||$599 / $749|
|Apple Watch Series 6||44mm||140mm to 220mm||$649 / $799|
|Apple Watch SE||40mm||130mm to 200mm||$419 / $499|
|Apple Watch SE||44mm||140mm to 220mm||$469 / $549|
|Apple Watch Series 3||38mm||130mm to 200mm||$299|
|Apple Watch Series 3||42mm||140mm to 210mm||$349|
Long story short, the larger version of the Apple Watch always costs $50 more. Whichever size you choose, ensure that it fits nicely on your wrist because you wouldn’t want a watch that’s too big or too small.
True, a larger case size also means a slightly larger display area, but the Apple Watch isn’t meant to display much anyway, so pick a size that suits your wrist, not how big your want the display to be.
A version of this article was first published in MoneySmart.