Why you shouldn't buy an Apple Watch Series 3

Why you shouldn’t buy an Apple Watch Series 3

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Apple Watch Music
Apple Watch Series 3 was a great smartwatch in its day. But that day was in 2017.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Series 3 is still in Apple’s product lineup but you should avoid it. It’s so near the end of its product life that it’s not a good value even at $199.

There’s another Apple wearable that costs just a bit more and isn’t about to ride off into the sunset.

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Apple Watch Series 3 is still available?!

Smartwatches offer a wide range of capabilities to appeal to different buyers. The newest and most expensive ones, like Apple Watch Series 7, deliver advanced fitness and health-tracking capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum, cheaper models offer a more basic set of features.

But even people who’re just looking for a simple smartwatch to count their steps and help with turn-by-turn directions don’t want one that’s old even before they buy it.

The Apple Watch Series 3 has been in Apple’s lineup for five years. It was introduced way back in 2017, and is really showing its age. In recent years, users have had to put up with significant performance and storage constraints. But the nail in the coffin is the official word that Series 3 will not get an upgrade to watchOS 9 when the update is released for newer models this autumn.

Even before that news broke, there have been calls for Apple to kill off Series 3 for months. Nevertheless, it remains in Cupertino’s product lineup today.

It’s not a good situation – Apple is creating a problem for itself. There will be many customers who are disappointed and angry after they realize this fall that a wearable they bought just a few months (or weeks or days) earlier can’t be upgraded.

Try the Apple Watch SE instead

Try the Apple Watch SE instead
Apple Watch SE is a much better option than the Series 3.
Photo: Apple

The appeal of the Series 3 model is the $199 price, but it isn’t the only affordable option in the product lineup. Apple Watch SE costs only $80 more and is better in almost every way.

The SE has a 30% larger display, with smaller screen bezels. It uses a newer processor that’s up to twice as fast, and comes with 32GB of storage instead of 8GB. And there’s fall detection.

Both wearables have heart-rate notifications, and can make emergency SOS calls. And both have 18-hour battery lives.

However, critically, the Apple Watch SE can be upgraded to watchOS 9. It launched in 2020, so years more software updates can be expected.

That’s a lot of additional functionality for $80.

Buy from: Amazon

Old, not obsolete

I’ve been careful to not call the Apple Watch Series 3 obsolete. I have one and am pleased enough with it that I expect to continue using it for another couple of years. But I bought it a year or so ago from a friend for $100. I’d be unhappy if I’d paid twice that for a new one.

The Series 3 meets my simple needs. It might be the right device for you, too, but I strongly recommend you look for a used one at a low price. It’s not worth the $200 Apple is asking. Especially when the Apple Watch SE is so much better for just a bit more money.