RIP? The Apple Watch Series 3 May Finally Be Put Out to Pasture

Apple Watch Series 3 Workout App Credit: EKATERINA MESILOVA / Shutterstock
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Released in 2017, the Apple Watch Series 3 is now one of the oldest surviving products in Apple’s current lineup, but it looks like it may soon be ready for its swan song.

According to the often reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, however, the next major update to Apple’s wearable operating system may well be too much for the nearly five-year-old Apple Watch.

This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Apple Watch Series 3 owners began to struggle with OS updates as far back as watchOS 7 — to the point where some folks could only install the latest updates by wiping their wearable and restoring it from scratch.

It’s fair to say that the Apple Watch Series 3 is already well past its prime. The smaller wearable was marginally recommendable against the Series 5 in 2019, but it’s been on our “don’t buy” list for at least a year now.

In fact, it’s probably telling that the only product in Apple’s current lineup that’s older than the Apple Watch Series 3 is the 2015 Apple TV HD — the existence of which is even more ludicrous when you consider that the 2021 Apple TV 4K costs only $30 more.

Although we can’t think of any good reason why the 2015 Apple TV HD still needs to exist, the Apple Watch Series 3 presumably caters to a niche group of folks — those either looking for a bargain-basement Apple Watch or simply desiring the smallest size possible.

So, it’s understandable why Apple wanted to keep this one around for as long as it possibly could. While Apple likely doesn’t care that much about catering to those looking for a smaller Apple Watch, the $199 price tag gives the perception that Apple is attempting to compete in the same market as others like Fitbit.

Nevertheless, it’s only an $80 jump from the 2017 Apple Watch Series 3 to the 2020 Apple Watch SE. Apple describes the newer model as “a lot of watch for a lot less than you expected,” and it’s right. As we’ve already mentioned, the value of an Apple Watch SE over the Series 3 is worth far more than the price difference between the two models.

The 2022 Apple Watch Lineup

While Kuo suggests that watchOS 9 may be the main reason for the demise of the Series 3, there are plenty of other reasons why it may be a good time for it to ride off into the sunset.

First among these are that Apple is expected to unveil its biggest Apple Watch lineup ever this fall, including not only the mainstream Apple Watch Series 8, but also a new Apple Watch SE and the rumoured ruggedized Apple Watch “Explorer Edition.”

If that’s all true, it’s going to be a pretty extensive lineup, and keeping the Series 3 around is just going to make it seem more cluttered.

Plus, the debut of a new Apple Watch SE could easily allow Apple to drop the 2020 SE version into the $199 price point currently occupied by the Series 3. That would certainly make a lot more sense than discontinuing that considerably more functional model in favour of a five-year-old Apple Watch that can barely handle watchOS 8 as it is.

There are also reports that Apple could be working on a third, smaller Apple Watch for this year’s Series 8 lineup, eliminating another reason for the Series 3 to stick around.

What Will Happen to My Series 3?

To be clear, even if this rumour is true, this doesn’t mean that Apple is going to stop supporting the Apple Watch Series 3 — merely that it won’t get the latest watchOS 9 update.

Even that’s not a sure thing, however. While Kuo believes Apple’s reason for dropping the Series 3 from the lineup will be problems with watchOS 9, as we already noted, it has plenty of other reasons to retire the aging Apple Watch model. The Apple Watch Series 4 has been discontinued since the Series 5 arrived in 2019, and yet it still runs watchOS 8 to this day — and that’s true with most Apple devices.

If anything, it’s far more unusual for Apple to continue selling a product until it runs out of supported OS updates. Apple typically continues providing updates for at least two to three years after a product goes off the market — however, it’s also rare to find Apple still selling a product five years after it was introduced.

Even the full-sized HomePod is still getting the same software updates as the newer HomePod mini, more than a year after it was discontinued entirely.

Nonetheless, even if the Apple Watch Series 3 is discontinued, and even if it doesn’t support watchOS 9, it will still continue to run just as well with watchOS 8.5 as it does right now. It’s also extremely unlikely that Apple will cut it off from services like Apple Fitness+.

Lastly, it’s Apple’s policy to keep supporting all its products for at least five years after they were last sold. This means that even if Apple stopped selling the Apple Watch Series 3 tomorrow, you’d still be able to get service and support for it from Apple until at least early 2026.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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