Best cheap Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 3 is the Apple Watch to get if you're looking to save some money on one. The Apple Watch Series 3 is still an excellent Apple Watch, and while it lacks features of the Series 4 such as the new and improved heart rate monitor, ECG, and fall detection, it will still do everything else you'd expect an Apple Watch to do.

Our pick

Apple Watch Series 3

A great smartwatch at a decent price.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is only one generation back from the current version of the Apple Watch, and still performs well under watchOS 5. It dos most of the things that the current Apple Watch does, with a few specific omissions.

Who should buy this Apple Watch?

An Apple Watch is an excellent accessory for any iPhone owner, whether you're looking for a device that tracks your general fitness and workouts, or something that will make your notifications even easier to view. If you're looking for an Apple Watch, but don't want to shell out for the absolute latest and greatest, you should get the Apple Watch Series 3.

When it was released in September 2017, the Apple Watch Series 3 was said to be up to 70% faster than the pervious year's Series 2. Its performance should be enough to carry it through several years of workout tracking, notifications, and app usage, despite the fact that it is not the latest and greatest Apple Watch.

Just a note on price: on the Series 3, as with the alternatives below, remember that prices will vary based on the size of Apple Watch you want to get, with the smaller (38mm or 40mm) Apple Watches generally costing less.

Is it a good time to buy this Apple Watch?

Now is a pretty good time to grab the Apple Watch Series 3, especially if you need an Apple Watch right now. Since 2016, Apple has typically released new versions of the Apple Watch in the fall. Older models have made a corresponding move down the line to become the new introductory versions of the watch.

We are likely less than six months away from the reveal of a new Apple Watch. At that time, it's likely that Apple will move the Apple Watch Series 4 down to lower price point. Right now, it's unclear what will happen to the Series 3, though if previous years are anything to go by, the Series 3 might disappear from Apple's official lineup altogether.

If you need a new watch this instant, and don't care about having the absolute newest and shiniest version of a thing, get the Apple Watch Series 3. You won't be sorry.

Reasons to buy

  • Fast
  • Water resistant (50m)
  • Fits accessories for older watches

Reasons not to buy

  • Design is a bit dated

The Apple Watch Series 3 is an excellent combination of power and price

Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 is much like the Apple Watches that came before it, just faster. It's faster without sacrificing battery life, with the same 18 hours per charged that had been claimed by the Series 2, and is still claimed today by the Series 4. The power present in the Series 3 should be enough to run the next few versions of watchOS without issue.

It doesn't have the second-generation heart rate monitor, the ECG (electrocardiogram), fall detection, or the new design of the Series 4, but the Series 3 is still an excellent smartwatch. You'll get your notifications promptly, you can still easily track workouts and your overall activity just has you've always been able to on your Apple Watch.

While it lacks the updated features or components of the newer Series 4, the Apple Watch Series 3 is still a formidable smartwatch, and a great accessory for any iPhone owner.

And you'll want to get a Series 3 over a Series 2. First of all, the Series 2 is now only available refurbished. Apple doesn't produce them new any more. If you're fine with refurbished electronics, that's great. Save even more money. But the real issue with the Series 2 is going to be performance. It's almost aggressively fine right now on watchOS 5, but with a new version of watchOS likely around the corner, I'd be concerned about the Series 2's performance going forward. The Series 2 is only using Apple's second-generation S2 computer-on-a-chip, something that the S3 beats by leaps and bounds. Not only is the Series 2's design dated, its technology is getting a little long in the tooth.

With the Apple Watch Series 3, it's probably going to be at least a couple more years before you should think about replacing it, and you should expect solid performance for most of its life.

Alternatives to the Apple Watch Series 3

Series 3 with Cellular

The primary alternative to the Apple Watch Series 3 is still the Apple Watch Series 3, but with a cellular option. The inclusion of a cellular model was actually Apple's chief selling point for the Series 3 when it was first unveiled. It's the same fast watch as the GPS-only Series 3, just with the added option of using it on your cellular carrier.

The other primary alternative to getting the Series 3 is to spend a little more to get the base model of the Apple Watch Series 4. While that might seem counterintuitive at first (you're looking for a cheap Apple Watch, after all), the Series 4 is available at a discount at a number of retailers (though not Apple, naturally). Not quite as cost effective as getting a Series 3 watch, but you do get all of the new goodies, like the second-generation heart rate monitor, the ECG, and the new design with a larger display.

Cheap cellular option

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)

Leave Wi-Fi (and your iPhone) behind.

The Series 3 was the first Apple Watch to have a cellular data option, which is managed through the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. It costs extra to add your Apple Watch to your plan, but with cellular enabled, you're free to work out, run errands, and more, without bringing your phone with you.

The cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 is the same device as the standard Series 3, it just also connects to LTE. It has the same speed and performance, but with the added freedom of being able to leave your iPhone behind when you go somewhere.

Bare bones brand new

Apple Watch Series 4

The latest and greatest, available at a discount.

The most recent version of the Apple Watch features a brand new heart rate monitor, an ECG, fall detection, a new design with bigger displays, and new exclusive watch faces.

Though it's the most recent version of the Apple Watch, the Series 4 is available at discounted prices, both on the 40mm and 44mm models. Packed with new features like fall detection and the ECG, a process that can help detect arrhythmia in your heart, the Series 4 also boasts performance up to two times faster than the Series 3.

Bottom line

The Apple Watch Series 3 is still a solid Apple Watch pick in 2019, particularly at its discounted price point. It's fast, and runs the latest version of watchOS well, and is a great companion to your iPhone for tracking your workouts, getting notifications, and quickly paying for purchases using Apple Pay.

Though it's outstripped in performance and features by the Apple Watch Series 4, the Series 3 remains a worthy purchase if you're looking for an Apple Watch that won't break the bank.

Our pick

Apple Watch Series 3

A great smartwatch at a decent price.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is only one generation back from the current version of the Apple Watch, and still performs well under watchOS 5. It dos most of the things that the current Apple Watch does, with a few specific omissions.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Joseph Keller is a senior writer at iMore. An Apple user for more than a decade and a half, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Karen S. Freeman is a travel enthusiast, teacher, writer, and an early adopter who has stood in more release-day lines than she can count. She's a former Apple retail store Specialist and has been writing Apple-focused product reviews for over seven years. You can find her on Twitter as @KarenSFreeman and Instagram as @Karefree2.

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