Apple Watch Series 3 was announced in September 2017 alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and while it didn’t come with a new design, Series 3 brought important enhancements, like a faster processor and the cellular version. Nearly four years later, Series 3 is still available in stores — but perhaps it’s time for Apple to discontinue it for good.
When Apple Watch Series 3 was introduced, it brought a long-awaited feature, which is the ability to receive and make phone calls without an iPhone nearby. Series 3 also features the S3 chip, which is 70% faster than the S2 chip found in the Apple Watch Series 2. While these were great improvements at the time, it doesn’t seem that the Apple Watch Series 3 has aged all that well.
Even after the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE in September last year, Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3 as a cheaper option of its smartwatch — which starts at $199 in the US. However, the decision to keep Series 3 for another year may not have been a good idea.
Why Apple Watch Series 3 is bad in 2021
Despite Apple’s efforts to keep the Apple Watch Series 3 updated with the latest and greatest software, the hardware simply can no longer handle new versions of watchOS. An article from The Verge published on Tuesday highlights exactly what I’m talking about. “Updating an Apple Watch Series 3 is a nightmare in 2021,” says the publication.
Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. As the report points out, it has become nearly impossible to install watchOS updates on Series 3 without having to restore the entire device first. This is because the GPS version of the Series 3 only has 8GB of internal storage, which is not enough to run watchOS 7 with apps, music, and other user content.
I constantly hear from friends who own an Apple Watch Series 3 that they always get the same error when trying to install system updates. watchOS tells them that there isn’t enough storage space, even when they don’t have any third-party apps installed or music stored. According to Apple, the not-so-user-friendly solution is to completely restore all Apple Watch data and settings to install the latest version of watchOS.
And the issue seems to apply whether you’ve installed a pile of apps or not. Apple’s support website doesn’t even recommend that Series 3 owners bother trying to clear up space — it just advocates that they go straight to the aforementioned reset cycle. It’s clear that the current process is untenable.
This only hurts the user experience
In addition to not delivering the experience users expect, Series 3 also upsets some developers who are forced to support the old display form factor in their apps — even if they no longer run reasonably well in terms of performance on Series 3. If the product can barely be updated without relying on tricks and advanced settings, why does Apple still sell it?
Well, it’s hard to say because only Apple has the answer to that, but most likely, the company wanted something to say that you can buy an Apple Watch for just $199. It’s definitely amazing to hear that there’s an Apple Watch that costs this cheap, but you shouldn’t buy a Series 3 in 2021, even with the lower price.
So what should Apple do now? If the company really cares about the user experience, it should discontinue the Apple Watch Series 3 while it can. And by that, I mean before it announces watchOS 8 at WWDC 2021. It makes no sense to keep forcing users into a bad experience just to brag about the $199 price tag or to say that older Apple Watch models can still get software updates.
So what do you think about it? Should Apple discontinue the Apple Watch Series 3 now? Or do you think it is still a good option to keep around for another year? Let me know in the comments below.
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