Apple took the stage at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6 to unveil watchOS 9, the next big update to the operating system for the Apple Watch. Currently available as a developer beta, watchOS 9 is expected to be released to the public in the fall and will bring significant improvements to sleep tracking, heart health, and running workouts — plus some new watch faces and interesting UI improvements.
This will also mark the first time in two years that Apple is dropping support for an older Apple Watch model in a new watchOS release. The Apple Watch Series 3, which made its debut alongside the iPhone 7 in 2017, isn’t making the cut this year. So, if you plan to upgrade to watchOS 9, you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later. This includes the Apple Watch SE, released alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the last of the original era of the Apple Watch. From 2014 to 2017, every series of Apple Watch came in the same two sizes: 38mm and 42mm. In 2018, the Apple Watch Series 4 bumped the wearable to 40mm and 44mm versions while shrinking the bezels to make room for an even larger screen.
However, even as new Apple Watch models came out each year, Apple kept the Series 3 around as an affordable version, ensuring that it would continue to run the latest watchOS releases, even if it didn’t support features like the Series 4 ECG, Series 5 always-on display, or Series 6 blood oxygen sensors.
Nevertheless, the slower chip and lower storage capacity of the Apple Watch Series 3 proved to be a challenge even for watchOS 7, and the older Apple Watch model has been on our “don’t buy” list for a while. It was only a matter of time before Apple gave up and pulled the plug rather than trying to shoehorn another watchOS update into the aging wearable.
Even though Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3, rumors of its demise have already been making the rounds. WatchOS 9 hasn’t been released yet, but it’s fair to say when it comes out alongside this year’s Apple Watch in the Fall, the Series 3 will finally be put out to pasture. It had a good run. Apple has never sold any other Apple Watch model for more than two years, yet the Series 3 has been on the market for five.
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