You now have to completely restore an Apple Watch Series 3 to update it

iPhone and Apple Watch
iPhone and Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • iOS 14.6 recommends that users completely reset their Apple Watch Series 3 when updating.
  • It used to try to get users to free up space.

If you're still rocking an Apple Watch Series 3 you're going to have to completely restore your watch in order to update to the latest version of watchOS.

iOS 14.6, rather than recommending users to free up space by deleting content and apps, is now telling users to just unpair their Apple Watch and then re-pair it to their iPhone.

As reported by 9to5Mac,

With the latest versions of iOS and watchOS, Apple seems to have given up trying to force users to delete apps and media manually, which almost never solves the problem. As shown by a 9to5Mac reader on Twitter (with a screenshot in Portuguese), iOS 14.6 simply asks the user to unpair and restore the Apple Watch Series 3 in order to install watchOS updates."To install the watchOS update, unpair your Apple Watch and pair it again in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone."Previously, the message only recommended that the user should delete some content before trying to install the update again."To install the watchOS update, your Apple Watch needs at least 3.0GB of available storage. You can free up storage by deleting apps using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone."

At the beginning of the month, a report pointed out that attempting to update watchOS on the Series 3 was basically impossible without wiping it due to it only having 8GB of storage on the WiFi-only model.

Normally, updating an Apple Watch is an annoyingly long but straightforward process: you charge your Watch up to 50 percent, plug it in, and wait for the slow process of the update transferring and installing to your smartwatch.But the non-cellular Apple Watch Series 3 has a tiny 8GB of internal storage, a fair chunk of which is taken up by the operating system and other critical software.

It really seems that the Apple Watch Series 3 is poised to be replaced as the entry-level Apple Watch. We'll find out soon since Apple will announce watchOS 8 in a couple of weeks and reveal which Apple Watch models it is compatible with.

If you want an Apple Watch now and are wondering which one to buy, check out our list of the Best Apple Watch 2021.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.