It only seems like yesterday when Apple first announced the Apple Watch, but we’re now on the third generation (officially named Apple Watch Series 3). The big question, though, is whether or not you should upgrade your current Apple Watch to the latest and greatest.
The biggest new features with Series 3 is that it has cellular built into the watch itself. No longer does it need to be tethered to your iPhone in order to connect to the Internet.
This allows you to do things like send and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and even stream Apple Music right on your watch without needing your iPhone. You’ll even receive alerts and notifications from iPhone apps, even if your iPhone isn’t nearby. Technically, your Apple Watch can now act as a phone itself in a way, but it still uses your iPhone’s number. And instead of using a traditional nanoSIM card, it uses an integrated electronic SIM card that’s much smaller.
Under the hood, there’s a new dual-core processor that Apple says is 70% faster than the previous model, which obviously allows for better performance. We’ll also get a faster Siri, who can now talk back, whereas before, Siri was voiceless. The Apple Watch has been plagued by a slow Siri, so this should hopefully improve things greatly on that end.
The Series 3 also has a new W2 wireless chip, which brings 85% faster wireless and is 50% more power efficient than the W1 chip that’s found in the iPhone 7 and the AirPods. The Series 3 also comes with a barometric altimeter.
Other than that, the size of the watch is the same as previous models, along with the same battery life that you’re used to. There is a new color you can get, though, with a gray version of the ceramic model on the way.
At the end of it all, you’ll pay $399 for the Series 3. However, you can get a non-cellular version for $329, and the Series 1 model will come with an even lower price tag of $249. The Series 3 will release on September 22 with pre-orders starting on September 15.
But before you get too excited, it’s important to think about whether or not it’s even worth upgrading to the new Apple Watch Series 3. Ultimately it’s your decision in the end, but here’s some advice if you’re on the fence.
You may not have known this, but the Apple Watch Series 1 is actually different than the first-generation Apple Watch. The first-generation Apple Watch was the first version that Apple ever released, but when they came out with Series 2, they also upgraded the first-gen model with a slightly-faster processor and named it Series 1 (but still lacking all of the other new features of Series 2).
With that said, if you have either of these models and are absolutely in love with your Apple Watch, I see no reason not to upgrade to the latest Series 3. You’ll get the faster dual-core processor for improved performance all around, and the built-in cellular and GPS chips is a huge boon. Plus, you’ll also get the better water protection that was first introduced in Series 2—great for when you go swimming.
Of course, that recommendation only goes so far. If you’re like me and don’t use your Apple Watch religiously, you probably don’t really need to upgrade at all. Or at the very least you could wait a few months for used and refurbished units to come out at lower costs. Don’t get me wrong, you may still like your Apple Watch, but you might just not be using it enough to warrant spending a lot of money to upgrade it.
This is where deciding whether or not to upgrade to the Series 3 becomes highly reliant on exactly how you use your Apple Watch, or maybe how you wish you could use it.
If you already have an Apple Watch Series 2, it mostly comes down to whether or not you want cellular capabilities. In other words, would you love to be able to use your Apple Watch without needing your iPhone at all?
For example, Series 2 comes with built-in GPS, which means it doesn’t need to be tethered to your iPhone in order to get a GPS signal. This is great for runners and cyclists who don’t want to bring their iPhones with them. However, many still do in case of emergency—they can use their phone to call for help if anything should happen. Of course, if you get a Series 3 watch with cellular, you’ll presumably be able to place that emergency call with Apple’s SOS service, whether you have your phone or not.
With Series 3, though, you can make phone calls and send text messages without needing your phone, making it perfect for those runners and cyclists who hate dealing with their phones during an intense workout session. It’s merely just a convenience, sure, but it’s a really nice convenience. However, if you’re not a runner or cyclist, you probably carry your iPhone with you everywhere anyway, so built-in cellular may not be the awesome new feature that you really need.
On the other hand, the faster processor is a great bullet point as well, with Apple touting 70% faster performance. However, these kinds of gains are rarely noticeable, and if they are, they’re usually not extreme boosts in performance by any means. Of course, this is something that we’ll have to wait and see about once the new model releases and real-world usage begins. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see apps load and perform faster—Apple has already said that Siri herself has gotten some pretty nice performance gains.