Apple Still Sells the Ancient Apple Watch Series 3 (But Not for Long)

The Apple Watch Series 3 was introduced way back in 2017.
Apple Watch Series 3 Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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It looks like Apple’s longest-selling Apple Watch may soon be riding off into the sunset. Following yesterday’s announcement of watchOS 9, it became apparent that Apple’s now-legacy 2017 Apple Watch has been left out of the party.

The cutoff for watchOS 9 now sits at the Apple Watch Series 4, released in 2018. This was the first model to sport a larger display and more advanced health features like an ECG for detecting Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

This means that whatever point release of watchOS 8 that Apple comes out with this year will be the last for Apple Watch Series 3 owners.

Nevertheless, you can still buy the aging Apple Watch on Apple’s website and in Apple retail stores. That will likely continue until watchOS 9 is released later this year. At that point, Apple is expected to discontinue the Series 3 in favor of its 2022 Apple Watch lineup.

Reports of the Series 3’s demise have been making the rounds already; the lack of support in watchOS 9 confirms them.

Among Apple’s wearables, the Apple Watch Series 3 already holds the record for being sold the longest — and by a wide margin. Most Apple Watch models have only remained on the market for a single year, although the Series 1, released in 2016 as a slightly upgraded version of the original Apple Watch, lasted until the Series 4 came along in 2018 — a year after the Series 2 was discontinued.

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Similarly, the Apple Watch SE has now been on the market for nearly two years, although if the rumors are true, it’s likely to be replaced by a new model this fall.

By comparison, the Apple Watch Series 3 was introduced in 2017 as the first cellular-capable Apple Watch model. Five years later, it’s still being sold by Apple as an affordable $199 option. However, that doesn’t mean you should buy it.

In fact, the Apple Watch Series 3 has been on our “don’t buy” list for a while now. It was marginally recommendable in 2019, and today it’s downright absurd when you consider that the 2020 Apple Watch SE is only $80 more when you can’t find it on sale, and it delivers significantly more value for that price.

If, as we expect, Apple has a new Apple Watch SE in the works for this year, that margin will get even broader, to the point of making the Apple Watch Series 3 seem ludicrous. There are also rumors of a third, smaller Apple Watch in this year’s Series 8 lineup, which would also eliminate one of the few other advantages of the Series 3.

Add to this the fact that the Apple Watch Series 3 has been struggling with updates since watchOS 7, and it’s clear that the wearable’s day has long since passed.

If you’re still wearing an Apple Watch Series 3, this doesn’t mean you can’t continue using it. Apple will also keep supporting it for at least five more years, but you won’t be getting any future watchOS updates. Instead, you’ll be stuck on watchOS 8.x and miss out on the new features coming in watchOS 9. You also won’t be able to take advantage of some of the features on your Apple Watch that integrate with iOS 16, such as the new medication reminders and call control features.

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