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 Despite being a significantly outdated smartwatch, the Series 3 remained at the bottom of Apple’s $199 lineup.

Let’s assume 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 or even the current latest generation Apple Watch Series 7 next month.

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


  • Completely redesigned display: The Apple Watch Series 3 has an outdated square display with significant bezels. The upcoming 8 Series is not expected to get a redesign compared to the 7 Series. Either way, 3 Series customers will enjoy a 50% larger display with rounded corners and significantly smaller bezels.
  • More durable and stylish case options: The 3 Series is currently only offered in aluminum cases that have Ion-X front glass. The newer flagship Apple Watch is made of aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. The stainless steel and titanium models are protected by sapphire front glasses that are more durable than Ion-X glass.
  • There are more options to choose from: The Series 3 only comes in 38mm and 42mm cases, with the larger bezels around the display taking up much of the space. The Series 8 is said to come in larger case variants 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 tactile feedback: The Series 3, like all Apple Watch models, features a Digital Crown that serves as the primary way to interact with the device. However, newer Apple Watch models have an updated Digital Crown that includes haptic feedback. Tactile feedback with the Digital Crown offers gentle vibrations as users scroll through the list and make nimble adjustments.
  • Redesigned speaker layout with louder speakers: 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 entire right side, making the speaker physically larger and up to 50% louder as a result.
  • An always-on display that’s now brighter: A massively larger display isn’t the only benefit Series 3 customers can look forward to when upgrading to a newer model. Starting with the Series 5, the Apple Watch has an always-on display that always shows information such as the time and complications, even when the user’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 having to drive to your local clinic, the newer Apple Watch models are for you. With the Series 6 in 2020, Apple introduced a blood oxygen sensor to the watch, which senses the amount of oxygen in the wearer’s blood by keeping it still for 15 seconds.
  • Ouch. You took a nasty fall: In the unfortunate event that you unexpectedly 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 that you’re fine and don’t need any help. Fall detection is only available to users over 18 years of age.
  • Improved heart rate sensor: Newer Apple Watch models have a new and improved heart rate sensor and electrical heart sensor. Compared to the optical heart sensor in the Series 3, newer models such as the Series 7 and Series 8 can provide the user with a more accurate heart rate measurement.
  • Hey Siri, do I have a fever?: It may seem like a science fiction scenario, but it could be reality. Rumors suggest that the upcoming 8 Series will include a body temperature sensor capable of measuring the wearer’s body temperature. It’s unclear whether the watch will provide users with a direct temperature reading like regular thermometers. Still, it can offer insight into whether it believes the wearer might have a fever and whether they may need to seek medical attention.
  • Get an EKG on your wrist: Getting an EKG (electrocardiogram) usually requires a trip to the hospital, paperwork, and a lot of sensors. With Series 4 and later, users can take an EKG with just the 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 then shared with your doctor.

Performance and battery life

  • New processor and higher performance: The 3-series dual-core S3 SiP (System in a Package) has reached its performance limit as customers often complain of lagging performance and jerky animations. The dual-core processor in the 7 Series and expected in the 8 Series offers more than double the performance in everyday use.
  • Faster and more reliable Bluetooth connection: The 3 Series is so old that it even relies on outdated Bluetooth technology. The Series 3 uses Bluetooth 4.2, while newer Apple Watch and iPhone models use Bluetooth 5.0. The newer Bluetooth standard is more reliable and supports higher bandwidth for wireless transmission.
  • chip U1: Series 3 does not include the U1 Ultra Wideband chip, which helps activate features in close proximity to the ‌iPhone‌ and other products. The Series 6 was the first Apple Watch with a chip.
  • 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’re guessing the Series 8. But in practice, with the Series 3’s more advanced software and outdated hardware, customers may be looking for better battery life. On newer Apple Watch models, Apple supports fast charging, so you can charge your watch faster, even if it doesn’t last as long as you’d like.

Software update

  • 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 version of watchOS, meaning it won’t get new features and capabilities. The Series 3 will continue to receive security updates, but for some time yet.

Some other, smaller features that Series 3 customers will appreciate if they upgrade:

  • Higher 32GB storage compared to 8GB in the Series 3
  • Always on altimeter, useful for hikers and athletes
  • Support for family settings
  • Option to choose between GPS only and GPS + mobile models

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