A weak defense of the Series 3

Like many of you, I was surprised to see that the Series 3 Watch has survived yet another product cycle and is still holding down the low end of Apple’s watch lineup. Unlike many of you, I wear a Series 3 every day, and although I’ve complained bitterly both here and on Twitter about how much trouble it is to upgrade its OS, I still kind of like it.

The Series 3 is today’s version of the iPad 2, the 16 GB iPhone, or the 5 GB iCloud free storage tier:1 The Thing That Wouldn’t Die. But like the iPad 22, it’s a perfectly good device if your needs stay the same as when you bought it. I bought my wife an iPad 2 when it was released, and when I got her an iPad Air some years later, she questioned the need for it (until she realized how dependent she’d become on connecting to power throughout the day). And that’s because her needs hadn’t changed much.

It’s the same with me and my watch. I use it more or less the same way I did a few years ago: displaying notifications, starting timers, setting reminders, controlling audio playback from my phone, tracking my walks, paying at stores. It’s still good at all of those things.

And it still has plenty of battery life. I put it on in the morning and take it off before going to bed without ever worrying about the battery. The only time the battery has ever run out was on my first business trip after buying it. I forgot to pack the charging puck—wasn’t in the habit yet—and the battery ran out sometime on the third day after its last charge.

So I’m on the fence about getting a new watch. The Series 3 is annoying only on days when I have to update the OS, and those days are few and far between. The update I did today to 7.6.2 was unusual in that I felt compelled to do it by the zero-click security problem it protects against. Normally, I let point releases go by until several have piled up. Still, it would be nice not to have to plan for 3– to 4-hour OS updates. And to have an always-on display. Whatever decision I make, it won’t have to be made until “later this fall.”

  1. Sorry, my mistake. The 5 GB iCloud storage tier is today’s version of the 5 GB iCloud storage tier. 

  2. And maybe the 16 GB iPhone? Because I’ve generally bought midrange iPhones, I’ve never had to deal with upgrading a phone with tight storage. But I think there were ways of updating 16 GB phones even as iOS grew in size. If so, I can imagine their owners being satisfied with their phones except on iOS update days.