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Which Apple Watch and strap is right for you? Series 6, Watch SE, Series 3, Nike+, Hermès or Edition?

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(Pocket-lint) - The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE are available alongside the Apple Watch Series 3, while the Series 5, Series 4, Series 2, Series 1 and original Apple Watch have all been discontinued. Luckily, all the straps remain compatible across all the generations.

With three ranges, GPS and GPS and Cellular models, two different sizes, plus all the straps that can be mixed and matched, as well as the extra Nike, Hermès and Watch Edition models, choosing the right Apple Watch for you is trickier than it first seems.

This feature explains what models are available, how much they cost and what the differences are between them all in order to find the right one for you and your budget.

You can also read our Apple Watch Series 6 vs Watch SE vs Series 3 feature, if you want to know a more in-depth comparison between the two models.

Apple Watch Series 6

  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
  • Models: GPS only and GPS and Cellular
  • Material: Aluminium, Stainless Steel
  • Colours: Five aluminium, three stainless steel
  • Straps included: Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band, Sport Loop, Leather Link, Milanese Loop, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers all the same features as Series 3 including waterproofing and built-in GPS but it has an upgraded S6 processor with W3 wireless chip, an electrical heart sensor on the Digital Crown and a bigger display within a similar footprint to the Series 3, resulting in a bolder design.

It also comes in different size options to the Series 3 at 40mm and 44mm, and it offers an Always-On Display, built-in compass, always-on altimeter and a blood oxygen sensor, as well as a U1 chip.

There are 23 standard models available - ignoring the specialist ranges like Nike, Hermès and Watch Edition for now - we'll go into those further down.

The aluminium models come in Silver, Blue, Gold, Space Grey and Product(RED) colour options with either a Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band or Sport Loop strap as standard. There are several colours available in each, which you can read all about in the strap section below. The aluminium models also come in GPS and GPS and Cellular connectivity options.

The stainless steel models are a good chunk more expensive, and they come in Graphite, Silver and Gold colour options with Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band, Sport Loop, Leather or Stainless Steel straps, with prices varying depending on your strap choice.

The Leather strap options are made up of Leather Link, Modern Buckle and Leather Loop styles, while the stainless steel straps come in a Link Bracelet and a Milanese Loop option. It's worth noting the Leather Loop is only available for the 42mm and 44mm models and the Modern Buckle is only available for the 38mm and 40mm models. The Stainless Steel Watch models all come with GPS and Cellular as standard, with no GPS only models.

You can of course buy an additional strap separately - we'll go into more detail about those further down - or you can use the Apple Watch Studio to create your perfect Apple Watch but you'll pay extra.

Apple Watch SE

  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
  • Models: GPS only and GPS and Cellular
  • Material: Aluminium
  • Colours: Three aluminium
  • Straps included: Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band, Sport Loop

The Apple Watch SE sits in between the Series 6 and the Series 3, offering the same design as the Series 6 with the larger display, along with a number of its features. It has everything the Series 3 has including waterproofing and built-in GPS, but it also offers an always-on altimeter for real-time elevation tracking, a built-in compass and fall detection.

It misses out on the Always-On Display from the Series 6, as well as blood oxygen monitoring and the electrical heart rate sensor for taking an ECG, plus there aren't as many finish options as the Series 6 - 10 models instead of 23 - but otherwise, the Watch SE is a feature-packed smartwatch.

It has the S5 processor under its hood - which is a step up from the older Series 5 but a step down from the Series 6 - and it has the W2 chip like the Series 3. Unlike the Series 3 though, the Watch SE comes in GPS only and GPS and Cellular models and there are Nike models too.

The Watch SE is only available in aluminium and there are no leather or stainless steel straps offered as standard, though again, you can buy the straps separately or use the Apple Watch Studio to create your perfect device.

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Sizes: 38mm, 42mm
  • Models: GPS only and GPS and Cellular
  • Material: Aluminium body
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey
  • Strap included: Sport Band

The Apple Watch Series 3 offers a S3 processor, coupled with built-in GPS, a waterproof body and a barometric altimeter, all of which were added over the older Series 1 model. The S3 processor is combined with a W2 wireless chip that enables Siri to work on the Watch itself rather than passing over to your iPhone. 

There are two standard models available, both of which have an aluminium casing and there are only two colours available rather than three like the Watch SE. There are also no GPS and Cellular models available in the Series 3 so neither will work with Apple's Family Setup feature.

Your options for the Series 3 model are therefore a Silver aluminium case with a White Sport Band or a Space Grey aluminium case with a Black Sport Band.

Like the Series 6 and Watch SE models, you can buy an additional Sport Band, Solo Loop or different strap separately.

Apple Watch Nike

  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
  • Models: GPS only and GPS and Cellular
  • Material: Aluminium body only
  • Colours: Silver or Space Grey aluminium casings
  • Strap included: Nike Sport Band or Nike Sport Loop

The Apple Watch Nike is one of the special edition ranges of the Apple Watch, created in association with Nike, as you probably guessed from its name. The Nike model is available in both Series 6 and Watch SE models, with 11 models in total.

The Series 6 Nike models have the same specifications as the Apple Watch Series 6, meaning they have the latest processor, always-on altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, U1 chip, larger display design, electric heart sensor in the Digital Crown, built-in compass and Always On Display.

The Watch SE Nike models have the same hardware as the Apple Watch Watch SE so no Always-On Display, blood oxygen monitoring or ECG, but still features like fall detection, always-on altimeter and a built-in compass. The difference between the Nike models and the standard Apple Watch models is the special Nike Sport Band or Nike Sport Loop strap rather than the plain Solo Loop, Sport Band, Braided Solo Loop or plain Sport Loop strap.

The Apple Watch Series 6 Nike models and the Watch SE Nike models are both available in 40mm and 44mm size options, as well as GPS only and GPS and Cellular models. There are Space Grey and Silver colour options with either a Nike Sport Band or Nike Sport Loop strap. The Watch Series 6 Nike models come in six options, while the Watch SE Nike models come in five.

As with Series 6 and Watch SE models, alternative straps can be bought separately for the Series 6 Nike models or Watch SE Nike models for an additional cost.

  • Apple Watch Nike+ review

Apple Watch Hermès

  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm (both sizes not available in all styles)
  • Models: GPS and Cellular only
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Colours: Silver or Space Black 
  • Strap included: Hermès leather strap

The Apple Watch Hermès is another of the specialist ranges, this time created in collaboration with Paris fashion brand Hermès. The collaboration was first seen on the original 2015 Apple Watch but it is now only available on the Series 6 models.

The Apple Watch Hermès models have a special Hermès watch face, leather straps handmade by the fashion company's artisans in France and the Hermès logo on the underside of the watch body, as well as on the strap. Not all models are available in both 40mm and 44mm sizes, but all offer GPS and Cellular connectivity as standard.

There are 12 Apple Watch Hermès models in total. The Space Black Stainless Steel model comes with a Double Tour leather strap for the 40mm model and a Single Tour leather strap for the 44mm model. The Silver Stainless Steel model meanwhile, comes with various strap options, including the Single Tour strap in seven colour options for both 40mm and 44mm, the Double Tour strap in two colour options for the 40mm model, the Attelage Double Tour strap in one colour for the 40mm model and the Single Tour Deployment Buckle in two colours for the 44mm model.

Prices for the Apple Watch Hermès are huge, and significantly pricier than the standard Series 6 models.


Gallery: Nanoleaf Shapes (TechRadar)

Apple Watch Edition

  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
  • Models: GPS and Cellular only
  • Material: Titanium
  • Colours: Brushed natural Titanium, Space Black Titanium
  • Strap included: Braided Solo Loop, Sport Loop or Leather Link

The Apple Watch Edition range introduces Titanium as a case material option. The Apple Watch Edition models are only available for the Series 6 models and they offer the same features and specifications as the Series 6 but in a different casing.

The Titanium options come in two colours of Space Black and brushed natural Titanium. The natural Titanium comes with a Leather Link strap, Sport Loop strap or Braided Solo Loop strap - all of which come in different colour options. The Space Black Titanium comes with either a Leather Link strap or a Braided Solo Strap, again in different colour options.

As with the other Apple Watch models, you can use the Apple Watch Studio to select a different strap for extra, or you can buy an additional strap separately.

Apple Watch Straps

There are numerous straps available for the Apple Watch, each of which is compatible with all of the ranges.

As we mentioned above, you can buy any of the straps below separately to give you an alternative option to the strap included with the Apple Watch model you pick, or you can use the Apple Watch Studio creator to build your ideal Apple Watch. 

For those with a Series 1, 2 or 3 Apple Watch, you'll notice the sizes are now 40mm and 44mm instead of 38mm and 42mm. When choosing a strap, choose the 40mm size for the 38mm model and 44mm size for the 42mm models.

Solo Loop

The Solo Loop is made from stretchable liquid silicone rubber that has been designed for extra comfort. There are no buckles or clasps, with just a seamless loop instead. The Solo Loop comes in seven colours, all of which are available in 40mm and 44mm size options.

The colours: Pink Citrus, Deep Navy, Cyprus Green, Ginger, Black, White, Product(RED)

Sport Band

The Sport Band is made from fluoroelastomer and it is fastened with a pin and tuck closure. It comes in 12 colour options in both 40mm and 44mm size options.

The colours: Ginger, Cyprus Green, Deep Navy, Pink Citrus, Pink Sand, Cactus, Grapefruit, Surf Blue, Pride Edition, White, Black, Product(RED). 

Braided Solo Loop

The Braided Solo Loop is made from stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicone threads. Like the Solo Loop, it has been designed for comfort and features no buckles or clasps. The Braided Solo Loop comes in five colour options, all of which come in 40mm and 44mm sizes.

The colours: Atlantic Blue, Inverness Green, Pink Punch, Charcoal, Product(RED).

Sport Loop Band

The Sport Loop Band is made from woven nylon with dense loops on the skin side for cushioning and allowing moisture to escape. It is fastened with a hook-and-loop closure for quick adjustment. The Sport Loop Band comes in 10 colours, all of which are available in 40mm and 44mm size options.

The colours: Kumquat, Deep Navy, Plum, Inverness Green, Surf Blue, Neon Lime, Anchor Grey, Charcoal, Cream, Product(RED).

Nike Sport Band

The Nike Sport Band is also made from fluoroelastomer like the Sport Band, but it has compression-moulded perforations for breathability. It is fastened with a pin and tuck enclosure and there are six colour options in both 40mm and 44mm size options.

The colours: Blue Black/Bright Mango, Obsidian Mist/Black, Spruce Aura/Vapor Green, Pride Edition, Anthracite/Black, Pure Platinum/Black

Nike Sport Loop Band

The Nike Sport Loop Band is made from a nylon weave with reflective thread, secured with a hook and loop fastener. There are five colour options, all of which are available in both 40mm and 44mm size options. 

The colours: Purple Pulse, Obsidian Mist, Spruce Aura, Summit White, Black

Leather Link

The Leather Link features handcrafted Roux Granada leather made in France. It wraps around the wrist and attaches with flexible molded magnets that gently flex for a secure, comfortable fit. The Leather Link comes in four colours, all available for 40mm and 44mm size options.

The colours: Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, Black

Leather Loop

The Leather Loop strap is made from Venezia leather handcrafted in Italy to deliver a pebbled texture. It is fastened with magnets concealed within the software, quilted leather, allowing you to wrap it around your wrist. The Leather Loop comes in three colours but it is only available in the 42mm/44mm size option.

The colours: Diver Blue, Black, Saddle Brown

Modern Buckle 

The Modern Buckle is made from Granada leather for a refined textured finish. It features an inner layer of Vectran weave for strength and it is fastened by magnets, though it looks like a buckle. The Modern Buckle comes in four colours but it is only available in the 38mm/40mm size option.

The colours: Garnet, Scarlet, Pink Citrus, Saddle Brown

Hermès Leather Single Tour

The Hermès Leather Single Tour strap offers the classic Hermès design, made from smooth Barenia leather or supple Swift leather, depending on the colour and style you pick. There's a standard Single Tour strap, available in one colour option, Swift model, available in seven colours, Attelage model, available in one colour, or Deployment Buckle that comes in two colour options. Not all come in both 40mm and 44mm sizes either.

The Single Tour standard colours: Fauve Barénia (both sizes)

The Single Tour Attelage colours: Fauve Barénia (44mm only)

The Single Tour Swift colours: Rouge Pinment (both sizes), Orange (both sizes), Jaune Ambre (40mm only), Bambou (44mm only), Navy (both sizes), Anémone (40mm only), Noir (both sizes)

The Single Tour Deployment Buckle colours: Noir Swift (44mm only), Ébène Barenia (44mm only)

Hermès Leather Double Tour

The Hermès Leather Double Tour wraps twice around the wrist and is again made from smooth Barenia leather or supple Swift leather, depending on the colour. There are three options in total, all of which are only available for the 38mm/40mm Watch.

The Double Tour Swift colours: Noir

The Double Tour Attelage colours: Fauve

The Double Tour Barenia colours: Fauve

Milanese Loop

The Milanese Loop is made up of smooth stainless steel mesh which wraps around your wrist and fastens magnetically. There are three colours available for both the 40mm and 44mm Watch.

The colours: Silver, Graphite, Gold

Link Bracelet

The Link Bracelet is crafted from the same 316L stainless steel as the Apple Watch case and it features over 100 components, fastened with a butterfly closure. There are two colours available for both the 38mm and 42mm Watch, though it also works with the Series 6 and Watch SE models.

The colours: Silver, Space Black

Best Apple Watch and strap combinations

Let's quickly do the maths: the cheapest Apple Watch Series 3 is the 38mm version, which ends up much cheaper than the most affordable Apple Watch Series 6, which has the same bands and aluminium case. You lose out on the bigger display, improved processor, electrical heart sensor, blood oxygen monitoring, Always On display and built-in compass though.

If you can live with the aluminium body rather than stainless steel, then the Watch SE GPS only model is slightly more expensive than the Series 3 but still cheaper than the Series 6 and you get a choice of three aluminium colours, plus the bigger display, improved processor compared to the Series 3, built-in compass and always-on altimeter so it's a great middle option, especially if you use the extra cash to smarten it up.

For example, you could get the 40mm blue Apple Watch SE and treat yourself to the Leather Link strap. You could also opt for the aluminium Series 6 and whack a Hermès Single Tour strap on it for a fashionable look without having the expense of the Hermès body. Choose the Series 3 models instead and the prices would be much lower but you sacrafice features.

Another good combination is the aluminium Space Grey Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm) with the Graphite Milanese Loop strap. The Graphite stainless steel option (44mm) costs a lot more with the Space Black Milanese Loop strap, so you save solid a mount by opting for aluminium over stainless steel, and you'll get a Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band or Sport Loop in the price too. Alternatively, you could use the Apple Watch Studio to build an aluminium case with the strap you want if you don't want the extra strap.

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