The Apple Watch Series 3 is on sale for and it comes with a $50 gift card as part of the Apple Cyber Monday deals. You’ll also be able to find it on sale from certain other retailers like Best Buy for $170. On paper, this makes it the cheapest Apple Watch you can buy, and a full $80 less than the Apple Watch SE, which might seem like a great deal. We’re here to tell you not to fall for this ruse.
We wrote when Apple announced that Apple Watch Series 7 that you shouldn’t consider buying the Apple Watch Series 3, and our opinion hasn’t changed since then, despite the offer of a $50 gift card and ongoing sale.
Like seriously, don't buy the Series 3 (left). Not only have people had trouble updating it to both watchOS 7 and watchOS 8, but there's also no point in living with bezels like that 2021. Not when you look at the Series 6 and 7. Don't do this to yourself. pic.twitter.com/YXk5s2zsJ4
— Victoria Song (@vicmsong) September 14, 2021
The Apple Watch Series 3 has a lot weighing against it from the perspective of a modern wearable. Placed next to the Apple Watch Series 7 or Apple Watch SE, it’s bound by a chunky black bezel, has a thicker body, and less screen real estate. It’s a device that looks and feels old and weighs a hefty 52.8 grams compared to the 36.4 grams of the SE. Comfort is probably the single most important factor for a device that you’ll wear all day — and night, if you do sleep tracking — and in this regard, the Series 3 just doesn’t measure up.
There’s also the specs sides of things. The Series 3 has the oldest and slowest processor of the available Apple Watch models. The Apple Watch Series 4, which notably isn’t sold anymore, actually had a two-fold speed increase over the Series 3, so you can imagine how much faster the Apple Watch Series 7 is. The older hardware also means you won’t get the latest and greatest features like the compass, improved cellular capabilities, ECG tracking, SPO2 sensor, and more.
The Series 3 also uses an older Retina OLED, rather than LTPO OLED, that comes with new Apple Watch models, meaning it won’t vary the refresh rate dynamically based on the content that’s on the screen. Not only does that mean that things look worse, it means that your battery life isn’t as good as newer models, since the screen sucks more juice.
Now, one caveat to all this is that we did end up testing the Apple Watch Series 3 with WatchOS 8 and it ran fine, contrary to what we expected and some people reported. So, the good news is that if you decide to throw caution to the wind and buy the Apple Watch Series 3 anyway, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the newer software.
Regardless, that doesn’t change our overall opinion that buying the Apple Watch Series 3 isn’t worth it when you could pay $80 more for the Cyber Monday Apple Watch Series 7 deal that has dropped the price to $380 down from the original $399. A modest discount, but a discount nonetheless. Either Apple Watch will give you a better experience than the Series 3., get the vast majority of the newer features, and still take advantage of Apple’s $50 gift card offer. And there is also a