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Saturday, September 25, 2021

It’s time Apple Watch Series 3 was put out to pasture

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The news that Apple Watch Series 3 is beginning to show its age began circulating yesterday when The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg wrote about the farce that was his attempt to update the software on his watch. And it’s a prime example of Apple sometimes not knowing when it’s time to put a device out to pasture.

Apple Watch Series 3 has been around for almost four years at this point and it sits at the bottom of the Apple Watch pyramid, riced at just $199. That’s a bargain Apple Watch to be sure, but sometimes meeting a price point means you cut too many corners. The same goes for keeping older devices around, like is the case here.

See, updating any Apple Watch Series 3 is an issue, whether you bought it in 2017 or today. The cheap Apple Watch comes with just 8GB of storage which means getting a new version of watchOS onto it is a battle at best and an impossible one at worst.

But the non-cellular Apple Watch Series 3 has a tiny 8GB of internal storage, a fair chunk of which is taken up by the operating system and other critical software. So installing a major update — like the recently released watchOS 7.4 — goes something like this:

Gartenberg then goes on to run through the process needed to update watchOS on an Apple Watch Series 3 and, amazingly, it involves resetting the whole device. Even more amazingly, that’s what Apple tells users to do, too. Because 8GB of space isn’t enough to run the watchOS update even with the most modest number of apps installed. And that’s just bad.

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Apple Watch Series 4 and newer all come with 16GB of storage and don’t suffer from this issue. I appreciate that Apple kept its Series 3 model around to hit that sub-$200 price point. Bit if the experience is so shoddy, what are the chances anyone will want to upgrade and pay more for a new model?

Apple Watch Series 3 will no doubt go the way of the dodo later this year when Apple Watch Series 7 arrives. It should have been killed off last year at the latest.

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