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Don’t buy this Apple Watch model anymore — here’s why

watchOS 9 at WWDC 2022
(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Despite the Apple Watch Series 3 still being sold new as of this writing, it will not be eligible for watchOS 9, the Apple Watch software refresh arriving this fall. 

Though watchOS 9 compatibility was not part of the WWDC 2022 keynote, an availability note at the bottom of the watchOS 9 announcement in Apple Newsroom (opens in new tab) revealed the update is for Apple Watch Series 4 and newer.

On one hand, ending support for Apple Watch Series 3 makes sense. Not only do a few of the watchOS 9 new features rely on more modern hardware than what powers the Apple Watch 3, but a five-year-old smartwatch has to stop getting updates eventually. That's an expected reality of device cycles.

But on the other hand, Apple's website currently lists the Apple Watch Series 3 for $199, the mode's discounted price since 2020. I'm sure you could walk into a Best Buy or other big box tech retailer and grab the 2017 Apple Watch brand-new, too.

If you were to buy the Apple Watch Series 3 now, you wouldn't receive software updates starting  four to five months for now, or whenever watchOS 9 officially rolls out. This doesn't mean that the Apple Watch with watchOS 8 will instantly become useless, but it'll not get future security patches or other important improvements.

There were already select watchOS features that only work with Apple Watch Series 7 or Apple Watch devices with ECG (since Apple Watch Series 4) and blood oxygen (since Apple Watch Series 6) sensors. 

Yet Apple has kept the Series 3 smartwatch around as one of the best cheap smartwatches, giving shoppers a discounted entry-point into the Apple Watch experience. At first, the move made sense. But to actively sell a smartwatch that will not be updated along with all the other best smartwatches from Apple before the end of the year could be a problem.

I have no doubt the Apple Watch Series 3 will be discontinued when the rumored Apple Watch 8 is announced in the fall, and there could even be a new budget alternative in the form of the Apple Watch SE 2

But I think Apple should pull the Apple Watch Series 3 immediately. I can't see a silver lining to selling something that'll stop being updated before the end of the year.

I'd strongly recommend against it, but if shoppers want to pick up second-hand or last-call inventory from third-party retailers during summer deals season, I suppose they could. Instead, I'd recommend spending a bit more on an Apple Watch SE bought through one of the best Apple Watch deals.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.