One of the new Apple Watch models could be cheaper than the $279 Apple Watch SE

Apple on Wednesday could introduce a new smartwatch costing less than the most affordable model in the lineup, the $279 Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch SE with a white sports band on a kid's wrist
Could Apple launch a kids-focused smartwatch? | Image: Luke Chesser / Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Apple is rumored to unveil a new Apple Watch model at its “Far Out” event on Wednesday that’s said to undercut the Apple Watch SE.
  • Why care? At just $279, the Apple Watch SE is the most affordable model in the family. But with an even less expensive model, Apple would target parents who are in the market for an inexpensive smartwatch for their kids.
  • What to do? If you’re planning to upgrade your Apple Watch, now is the worst time to do it. Wait until Apple shows its cards tomorrow before making your move.

A budget Apple Watch is coming

When it comes to smartwatches, the Apple Watch SE, which starts at $279, is a budget model. However, that could soon change, it would seem.

A new report by The New York Times alleges that Wednesday’s “Far Out” press event will also serve as a launchpad for a brand-new budget Apple Watch model.

Apple plans to compete more aggressively soon for young smart watch customers. At an event on Wednesday, it is set to release a new version of the Apple Watch that is cheaper than the Apple Watch SE, the two people said.

The report makes it clear this is going to be an entirely new model.

The model will be introduced alongside other new versions of the watch, including a high-end wearable for serious athletes that will rival fitness trackers made by its competitor Garmin, they said.

US kids are heaving smartwatch users than adults

The numbers don’t lie—major demand exists for inexpensive smartwatches aimed at kids. This is in large part due to the rising popularity of Apple’s smartwatch. Read: How to limit kids’ screen time on iPhone and iPad

Surveys indicate that children as young as five years are now a very lucrative market for smartwatches. Investment bank Piper Sandler surveyed American teenagers in 2020, finding that 31 percent owned a smartwatch. That same year, Pew Research Center found that 21 percent of US adults owned one.

Across the United States, parents are increasingly buying Apple Watches and strapping them onto the wrists of children as young as 5. The goal: to use the devices as a stopgap cellphone for the kids. With the watch’s cellular abilities, parents can use it to reach and track their children, while the miniature screens mitigate issues like internet addiction.

It helps that a smartwatch is harder to break and lose than a smartphone.

Would an Apple Watch for kids make sense?

On Wednesday, Apple will introduce new smartwatches of its own. This time around, there will be multiple models catering to different users. In addition to the Apple Watch Series 8 models, Apple will introduce a high-end rugged watch aimed at athletes, extreme sports fans and the like.

On top of that, there will be a new Apple Watch SE model.

With that in mind, could this cheaper-than-Apple-Watch-SE be the current Apple Watch SE sold at a discounted price when a third-generation model becomes available? We doubt it. When the second-generation iPhone SE launched in 2020, it replaced the first one as Apple’s new low-cost model in the family.

On his Twitter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman pointed out that the Apple Watch Series 3 is getting discontinued this year. He suggested that the current Apple Watch would take its place as a new budget model.

Given that Apple will discontinue the $199 Apple Watch Series 3 this week, lowering the price of the new Apple Watch SE from $279 sounds plausible. But I don’t believe there is a new, ultra cheap kids-focused Watch coming as some have said.

But he also doesn’t think the original Apple Watch SE will be offered at a lower price.

Another possibility is Apple keeps the SE price for the SE 2 and then retains the original Watch SE at a lower price. But given the similarities that seems unlikely. It would also be odd if Apple doesn’t discontinue the regular iPhone 13 given the similarities to the regular 14.

Imagining a kids-focused Apple Watch

If you ask us, we tend to lean on the side of this watch becoming a brand-new model aimed specifically at children and young customers. Such a device might even use a plastic casing and skimp on some features to make it as affordable as possible.

A lack of official Apple Watch apps from the likes of TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others would make an affordable, children-focused Apple Watch even more appealing, sort of like training wheels for a smartphone.

And with features like Family Setup, Apple already lets parents set up a smartwatch for their juniors to track their locations, manage their contacts list and limit their notifications. Read: How to use Schooltime on Apple Watch to eliminate distractions