Apple Watch SE 2024 — Apple is reportedly switching from metal to all-plastic

 Apple Watch SE (2022) shown in hand.
Credit: Tom's Guide

Despite a shortage of rumors or leaks regarding a third-generation Apple Watch SE, we are coming up on the two-year mark since the last SE smartwatch was released. A new report suggests that Apple is toying with several ideas to reduce the costs of the budget-friendly watch.

Apple is looking for ways to use less material, speed up production and lower costs, as reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

The Apple Whisperer first reported last year that Apple was testing 3D-printing the chassis of Apple Watches. He claims the company is still looking into that ability, but it doesn't sound like that manufacturing capability is anywhere close to being ready yet.

The other switch-up affects the lower-cost Apple Watch SE model, which was last upgraded in 2022. Gurman claims that Apple is looking into swapping out the aluminum shell for rigid plastic.

The 2022 update already changed the case to a color-matched "nylon composite" plastic, so it's not entirely surprising that Apple might keep that trend going. It would make the device less environmentally friendly, something tech companies with their rush to AI have struggled with in 2024.

It could be speculated that Apple is looking into an all-plastic version of the next Watch SE to compete with Samsung's newly announced $199 Galaxy Watch FE. It's the first Samsung watch to join the Galaxy FE line of budget-friendly devices.

Currently, the Apple Watch SE starts at $249 — a lower price than the original Watch SE, which launched at $279. With prices on technology rising across the board this year, it may be enough if Apple can knock the price down even to $219 or $199 without significant upgrades.

Since launching in 2020, the SE model has not seen a yearly upgrade. Apple is pretty consistent with its off-year models in that they tend to update around the same time. We expect a new SE model this year, perhaps at Apple's annual fall event in September. However, the only watch rumors that have come out so far are regarding the Apple Watch 10 and the Apple Watch Ultra 3.

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