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watchOS 9 supported devices — which Apple Watch models are compatible?

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

With watchOS 9 official, you might be wondering about watchOS 9 compatibility. As in, which Apple Watch models will be eligible for watchOS 9?

Apple has established a reputation for supporting its older devices with software updates even several years after they’ve launched. The iPhone 6s, which came out in 2015, got iOS 15 or the same software on the iPhone 13 series, for example. When it comes to Apple Watch, the first and second-generation models have been phased out, though all versions since 2017 still get annual watchOS overhauls.

Though it’s possible certain watchOS 9 features will be optimized for the rumored Apple Watch 8 (that ended up being the case for watchOS 8 and the Apple Watch 7) earlier Apple Watch models should get the latest software. But one model in particular has finally been excluded — the Apple Watch 3.

Here’s what we know in terms of watchOS 9 compatibility.

watchOS 9 supported devices — all the compatible Apple Watch models

No surprise here, the Apple Watch 7 will upgrade. In fact, that’s the smartwatch we’ll most likely test the watchOS 9 beta with. Not to mention, it’s the best smartwatch overall right now.

As for earlier Apple Watch models, all versions since the Apple Watch 4 will get watchOS 9. If you know how to use the Apple Watch, the experience isn't significantly different between generations. Besides the new Apple Watch 7 sizes, the only notable feature is the always on display that debuted with the Apple Watch 5.

Here are the Apple Watch models that support watchOS 9 compatibility:

watchOS 9 — what about Apple Watch 3?

You might notice we didn’t include Apple Watch 3 among the Apple Watch models that are compatible with watchOS 9. Apple still sells its third-gen smartwatch, making it the best Apple Watch for those looking to spend under $200 as well as one of the best cheap smartwatches. But that just changed.

We’re not really sure why the Apple Watch 3 is still around. Besides the fact that it gets some of the best Apple Watch deals during holiday seasons, it’s pretty outdated. You can’t buy an LTE version of it anymore, and its big bezels almost make it look archaic next to the Series 7.

Apple pulled Apple Watch 3 software support this year, ending updates on a 5-year-old smartwatch at some point. We must admit, the move doesn't seem fair to those who bought the Series 3 this year. It also all but confirms the Apple Watch 3 will be discontinued this fall, if not sooner.

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.