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 Despite being a severely outdated smartwatch, the Series 3 has remained at the bottom of Apple’s $199 lineup .

Apple Watch Series 3 v 8 1
Let’s say 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 latest generation Apple Watch Series 7.

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


  • A completely redesigned screen: The Apple Watch Series 3 has an outdated, square screen with significant bezels. The upcoming Series 8 is not expected to get a redesign compared to the Series 7. Regardless, Series 3 customers will enjoy a 50% larger screen with rounded corners and massively smaller bezels.
  • More durable and stylish design options: The Series 3 is currently only offered in aluminum cases, 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 are more durable than Ion-X glass.
  • Greater options to choose from: Series 3 is only available in 38 mm and 42 mm cases, where much of the space is taken up by larger frames around the screen. The Series 8 is rumored to come in a larger case 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 screen.
  • New digital crown with haptic feedback: The Series 3, like all Apple Watch models, has a digital crown that serves as a primary way to interact with the device. However, newer Apple Watch models have an updated Digital Crown that has haptic feedback. Haptic feedback with the Digital Crown offers subtle vibrations as users scroll a list and make smooth adjustments.
  • Redesigned speaker layout with louder speakers: Series 3 has very small speakers on the right side, which are stacked on top of each other. Since the Series 7, Apple has redesigned the speaker system to run almost across the entire right side, making the speaker both physically larger and, as a result, up to 50% louder.
  • An always-on display that is now brighter: A massively larger screen isn’t the only benefit Series 3 customers can look forward to when they upgrade to a newer model. Since the Series 5, Apple Watches have had an always-on display that always displays information such as the time and complications, even when a wearer’s wrist is down. On newer models, the always-on screen is now 70% brighter outdoors.

Health and fitness features

  • How much oxygen is in my blood?: If you’ve ever wanted to know without making 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 in the watch, which reads the amount of oxygen in a wearer’s blood by letting them stand still for 15 seconds.
  • Ouch. You’ve taken a nasty fall: In the unfortunate event that you fall unexpectedly and hard 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 that you’re fine and haven’t need help. Fall detection is only available to users aged 18 and over.
  • Improved heart rate monitor: Newer Apple Watch models have a new and improved heart rate sensor and an electrical heart sensor. Compared to the Series 3 optical heart sensor, 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 have a body temperature sensor that can measure the temperature of a wearer’s body. It is unclear whether the watch will give users a direct temperature reading, like normal thermometers. Still, it can provide insight into whether it thinks the carrier may potentially have a fever and whether they may need to seek medical attention.
  • Take an EKG on your wrist: Getting an EKG (electrocardiogram) usually requires a trip to a hospital, paperwork, and a ton of sensors. Thanks to Series 4 and later, users can take an EKG just using their Apple Watch on their wrist by placing their finger on the Digital Crown. The results can be found in 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) in Series 3 has reached its performance limit as customers often complain of laggy performance and jittery animations. The dual-core processor in the Series 7, and expected for the Series 8, offers more than double the performance in daily use.
  • Faster and more reliable Bluetooth connections: The Series 3 is so old that it even relies on outdated Bluetooth technology. 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: Series 3 does not have the U1 Ultra Wideband chip, which helps enable proximity features for the ‌iPhone‌ and other products. Series 6 was the first Apple Watch with 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 assume the Series 8. In practice, however, due to more advanced software and outdated hardware, Series 3 customers may be looking for 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, meaning it won’t receive new features and capabilities. However, the Series 3 will still receive security updates for some time to come.

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

  • Higher 32GB storage compared to 8GB in Series 3
  • An always-on altimeter, useful for hikers and athletes
  • Support for family setup
  • Option to choose between GPS only and GPS + Cellular models

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