Don't Buy an Apple Watch Series 3 Right Now: It's About to Be Discontinued
The Apple Watch Series 3 is expected to be discontinued next week, and the device will not run the latest version of Apple's watchOS software, meaning prospective customers should now refrain from buying the device.
The Apple Watch Series 3 was released in September 2017, making it almost five years old. It is the oldest device to support the latest version of watchOS 8, but its S3 chip significantly lags behind the Apple Watch SE's S5 chip and Apple Watch Series 7's S7 chip in terms of performance. The Apple Watch Series 3 is also the only remaining Apple Watch to feature the older, thicker Apple Watch design with large bezels and angular corners around the display.
Following the iOS 14.6 and watchOS 7.5 updates last year, Apple Watch Series 3 users have to unpair and re-pair the device from its linked iPhone when updating watchOS because the Apple Watch does not have enough internal storage to complete an update independently.
In June, Apple previewed watchOS 9, the next-generation operating system for the Apple Watch. The new OS drops support for the Apple Watch Series 3, meaning that the device will be left running watchOS 8. Despite this, the Apple Watch Series 3 is still on sale. Apple is expected to discontinue the device when new Apple Watch models are announced at next week's Apple event, and since it will not support the latest version of watchOS, potential customers should no longer buy the device.
Instead, those looking for a low-cost Apple Watch model should wait for the second-generation Apple Watch SE. The Apple Watch SE debuted in 2020 as a low-cost option for customers. As it nears two years since launch, sources like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expect the the Apple Watch SE to be to be replaced by a second-generation model alongside the Apple Watch Series 8 next month.
Little is known about the new Apple Watch SE, but Gurman says that it may feature the "S8" chip. The S8 chip will reportedly feature the same specifications as the S6 and S7 chips, which may explain why Apple could upgrade the Apple Watch SE to its latest processor. Indeed, since all of the chips that are newer than the Apple Watch SE's current processor are effectively the same, it will make no material difference whether it has the S6, S7, or S8 – all of which offer a moderate performance improvement over the S5.
Coming two years after the previous model, the new Apple Watch SE is likely to bring some other features and improvements, and will almost certainly support the latest version of watchOS for longer, so buyers looking for a low-cost Apple Watch should wait until the new model arrives next week.