Apple Watch Series 3 won't get watchOS 9, is Apple getting ready to replace it?

The five-year-old smartwatch is finally headed for retirement

Apple Watch Series 3
(Image credit: Apple)

Hands up, everyone; who knew the Apple Watch Series 3 from 2017 was still in production? It is, but it won’t be for much longer, as Apple has said the five-year-old smartwatch will not support its upcoming watchOS 9 software.

Revealed earlier this week at Apple’s WWDC developer event, watchOS 9 brings a lot of new health and fitness features to the wearable. And while the Series 4, 5, 6 and 7, as well as the Watch SE, are ready to receive the update when it lands in the autumn, the Watch Series 3 is not supported.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Series 3 has been with us since 2017. And while it has fulfilled the Budget Apple Watch role for a couple of years now, the arrival of the Watch SE in 2020 suggested the 3’s days were numbered. In fact, the Series 3 has struggled with the last couple of versions of watchOS, and while it is still available to buy now, we strongly recommend readers go for an SE instead.

Or, wait it out a few months and see what happens at Apple’s annual iPhone and Watch launch event, likely taking place in September. This year, we are expecting to see a new Series 8 flagship, but there are also rumours of a new rugged Apple Watch to rival Garmin and Polar, plus an updated Watch SE. That new SE could well be the budget smartwatch to go for.

Apple Watch with watchOS 9

(Image credit: Apple)

If you currently own a Watch Series 3, then don’t feel pressured into upgrading to a new model right away. We suggest readers wait until the new watches land later in the year before making a decision. All we know for now is that the Series 3 cannot be upgraded from watchOS 8 to watchOS 9. It will continue to work for now, but like how older iPhones no longer receive software updates, their applications eventually start to fail.

It’s too early to say for sure what any of the new Watch models will cost. But with the Series 3 at £179 and the Watch SE at £249, we’d love to see an upgraded SE come in closer to the £200 or £220 mark. We’ll then see the new Series 8 flagship and rumoured rugged Watch sitting above, with the latter no doubt capitalising on the new triathlon, running and workout features of watchOS 9.

As for their price, we expect to see them starting close to the current Series 7, at £369. Higher-priced Edition and Hermès models will then sit at the top of the Apple Watch tree.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.