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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

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.


  • A completely redesigned display: The Apple Watch Series 3 features an outdated, squared-off display with considerable borders.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 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.

Article Link: Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: 20 Major New Features and Changes for Customers Upgrading
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Reactions: thalegold


macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2013
im confused.

How and why can we have articles like this comparing one watch to another that doesnt yet exist and is made up entirely of rumours?

Nobody *knows* what the series 8 will have. Already forgotten last year when the so called leakers showed the 'new flat sided series 7'? - how wrong they were.


macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2004
This seems mostly (all?) S3 vs. S7, not 8.

That’s fine, but most of us with a S3 did this calculation a while ago. I’m more interested in what’s new in S8, to see how that changes things.
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macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
Poor folks running S3's - Apple should not be selling that thing and should not have been for 3 years?

I believe you have to wipe it like its a new watch to get each individual update on it (least it was that way several years ago when I got my Series 6, my gosh was that update experience terrible - something I think former leadership would not have tolerated).


Aug 15, 2022
My 4 is still trucking with decent battery life. No need to upgrade until some super mega ultra incredible feature comes along.

Series 4 as well. I would need a feature that adds to my life in some way. At this point, I wear my watch during workouts only, so I’ll likely be using this Series 4 for awhile.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 2, 2013
No one should ever buy the S3 nowadays.
Reminds me of how they kept selling the iPad 2 many years after its release. When questioned why Apple keeps selling the old POS instead of selling last year’s model as the lower cost option and Apple’s response was something along the lines of “people keep buying it so why should we offer a better low-cost option?”. Boggles my mind that people keep buying the series 3, but I guess you can’t really blame Apple for not offering the 4, 5, or 6 as the lower cost option when people keep paying for the nearly 5 year old model.


macrumors 6502
Dec 10, 2015
Poor folks running S3's - Apple should not be selling that thing and should not have been for 3 years?

I believe you have to wipe it like its a new watch to get each individual update on it (least it was that way several years ago when I got my Series 6, my gosh was that update experience terrible - something I think former leadership would not have tolerated).
I still have my S3 and not only do you usually have to wipe it to update it, but it's also super slow. There's a noticeable lag when interacting with the UI, so an update will definitely be welcome.


macrumors 6502
Jan 12, 2013
Central PA
This just in, newer tech might have more features than older tech. This and other brilliant revelations brought to you by the staff. Stay tuned and we'll compare your grandfather's Hudson to a modern hypercar. Is it really worth the hype?
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