It’s crazy to think about, but next month will mark five years since Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 3. Despite being a severely antiquated smartwatch, the Series 3 has remained at the bottom of Apple’s lineup for $199.


Suppose you’re still holding on to your Apple Watch Series 3. In that case, this article will list all the major new features and changes you’ll get if you decide to upgrade to the newer Apple Watch Series 8 next month or even the current latest-generation Apple Watch Series 7.

We’ve broken up the changes into categories: hardware, health and fitness, performance, battery life and power, software updates, and features.

Hardware

  • A completely redesigned display: The Apple Watch Series 3 features an outdated, squared-off display with considerable borders. The upcoming Series 8 is not expected to gain a redesign compared to the Series 7. Either way, Series 3 customers will enjoy a 50% larger display with rounded corners and massively smaller bezels.
  • More durable and stylish case options: The Series 3 is currently only offered in the aluminum case options, which have an Ion-X front glass. Newer flagship Apple Watches come in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. Stainless steel and titanium models are protected with sapphire front crystals, which is more durable than Ion-X glass.
  • Larger options to choose from: The Series 3 comes in only 38mm and 42mm case options, with much of the space being taken up by larger bezels around the display. The Series 8 is rumored to come in larger case options than the Series 7, which is already offered in 41mm and 45mm sizes. Either way, Series 3 customers will benefit from a larger watch with a larger display.
  • New Digital Crown with haptic feedback: The Series 3, like all Apple Watch models, features a Digital Crown which serves as a primary way of interacting with the device. Newer Apple Watch models, however, have an updated Digital Crown that features haptic feedback. Haptic feedback with the Digital Crown offers subtle vibrations as users scroll a list and make nimble adjustments.
  • Redesigned speaker layout with louder speakers: The Series 3 has very small speakers on the right side that are stacked on top of each other. Since the Series 7, Apple has redesigned the speaker system to run almost across the entirety of the right side, making the speaker both physically larger and, as a result, up to 50% louder.
  • An always-on display that’s now brighter: A massively larger display is not the only benefit Series 3 customers have to look forward to when upgrading to a newer model. Since the Series 5, Apple Watches have featured an always-on display, which always displays information such as the time and complications, even when a wearer’s wrist is down. On newer models, the always-on display is now 70% brighter outdoors.

Health and Fitness Features

  • How much oxygen is in my blood?: If you’ve ever wanted to know without taking a trip down to your local clinic, newer Apple Watch models are for you. With the Series 6 in 2020, Apple introduced a blood oxygen sensor into the watch, which reads the amount of oxygen in a wearer’s blood by having them stay still for 15 seconds.
  • Ouch. You’ve taken a nasty fall: In the unfortunate event you take an unexpected and hard fall to the ground, newer Apple Watch models will be able to notify local authorities and your close friend and family unless you tell the watch you’re fine and do not require any assistance. Fall Detection is only available for users 18 years old and above.
  • Improved heart rate sensor: Newer Apple Watch models have a new and improved heart rate sensor and an electrical heart sensor. Compared to the optical heart sensor in Series 3, newer models, such as the Series 7 and Series 8, can provide more accurate heart rate readings to a wearer.
  • Hey Siri, do I have a fever?: It may seem like a sci-fi scenario, but it could be a reality. Rumors suggest that the upcoming Series 8 will feature a body temperature sensor, able to measure the temperature of a wearer’s body. It’s unclear if the watch will provide users a direct temperature reading, like normal thermometers. Still, it may offer insight into whether it believes the wearer could potentially have a fever and if they may need to seek medical attention.
  • Take an ECG on your wrist: Taking an ECG (electrocardiogram) usually requires a trip to a hospital, paperwork, and a plethora of sensors. Thanks to the Series 4 and newer, users can take an ECG using just their Apple Watch on their wrist by placing their finger on the Digital Crown. The results can be found within the Health app on the paired iPhone and can then be shared with your doctor.

Performance and Battery Life

  • New processor and faster performance: The dual-core S3 SiP (system in package) of the Series 3 has reached its limit with performance, as customers often complain of laggy performance and jittery animations. The dual-core processor in the Series 7, and expected for Series 8, offers more than double the performance in day-to-day use.
  • Faster and more reliable Bluetooth connections: The Series 3 is so old it even relies on outdated Bluetooth technology. The Series 3 uses Bluetooth 4.2, while newer Apple Watch models and iPhones use Bluetooth 5.0. The newer Bluetooth standard is more reliable and supports a higher bandwidth for wireless transmission.
  • U1 chip: The Series 3 does not feature the U1 Ultra Wideband chip, which helps enable close proximity features to the ‌iPhone‌ and other products. The Series 6 was the first Apple Watch to feature the chip.
  • The same all-day battery life, now with fast charging: On its website, Apple promises the same 18-hour all-day battery life for the Series 3 compared to the latest Series 7, and we presume the Series 8. In practice, however, due to more advanced software and outdated hardware, Series 3 customers may be looking for a better battery life. On newer Apple Watch models, Apple supports fast charging, so you can recharge your watch faster even if it doesn’t last as long as you’d like.

Software Updates

  • It’s the end of the road for Series 3: With watchOS 9 later this fall, the Series 3 will no longer be supported by the latest watchOS version, which means it will not receive new features and capabilities. Series 3 will still continue to receive security updates, however, for some time to come.

Some additional, smaller features Series 3 customers will enjoy if they upgrade:

  • Higher 32GB of storage compared to the 8GB in the Series 3
  • An always-on altimeter, useful for hikers and athletes
  • Support for Family Setup
  • Ability to choose between GPS only and GPS + Cellular models

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