Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 3

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Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 3
Apple released a pair of new smartwatches a couple of days ago and although one of them is the affordable Apple Watch SE, the now three-year-old Apple Watch Series 3 remains as an option on Apple's website. This means Apple still sees it as a viable smartwatch even today. But if you're already rocking a Series 3, you might be seriously considering switching to the Series 6. After all, three generations is quite a big leap, right?

Well, it is indeed. So, let's see how the Apple Watch Series 3 compares to the brand new Apple Watch Series 6 and if it's worth upgrading or buying it as new.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 3: design

Design-wise not much has changed over the years in the Apple Watch family. With the displays off, you can barely tell the two apart. There are two major differences, however.

First, the Apple Watch Series 3 comes in different sizes. The smaller one is 38mm and the larger one is 42mm, while the Apple Watch Series 6 comes in 40mm and 44mm. While the two-millimeter difference might not sound like much, it's more important than you think once you consider the other big design difference — the display. 

The Apple Watch Series 3 has a much smaller display and the thick bezels around it make it look dated. In fact, with just a 2mm bigger body, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a 30% larger display thanks to its slimmer bezels. Obviously, at the smartwatch scale, 30% is a huge improvement, making the 6 much easier to use and nicer to look at as well. Naturally, with the larger size come more pixels as well, the resolution of the Apple Watch Series 6 is 368x448 compared to the 312x390 of the Series 3. That allows you not only to see more information but have it look sharper as well.

Speaking of design, we also have to mention the richer material and color options you're getting with the Apple Watch Series 6.  While the Series 3 only comes with an aluminum body, your Series 6 can also be made from stainless steel and titanium. Of course, the variations are functionality the same, just more durable and, of course, more expensive.

With the Series 6, Apple added more color choices than ever before. Besides the Silver and Space Gray, the Series 3's only colors, the Series 6 also comes in Gold, Blue and Apple's signature Product RED. If you choose a stainless steel body, you gain Graphite as a color but lose most of the others. Same goes for the titanium option, which is the only one that comes in Space Black.

Apart from the display, a lot has changed under the hood of the Apple Watch in three years as well,  making the newest addition to the lineup much more capable. Let's take a look.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 3: features

Apple's goal for the Apple Watch is clearly to make it the perfect health companion. And that's where a lot of the effort has been focused on over the years. But even if you're not concerned about suffering a heart attack, there's plenty to enjoy if you go for the Apple Watch Series 6. Obviously, the newer model does everything the older can and more, so we'll focus on the "more" part by listing some of the major features the Series 6 has that the Series 3 lacks.

Always-on display

Yes, the Apple Watch algorithms are pretty good at detecting when you want to look at your watch and turn on the screen so you can check the time, notifications and so on. But sometimes you just want to sneak a peek at it during a meeting without being impolite. In that and many other situations, an always-on display is invaluable. 

To make it less demanding on the battery, the Apple Watch dims its display a bit when in always-on mode and lowers the refresh-rate to 1Hz. Of course, if you want to stretch your battery life to its maximum, you can turn off the always-on feature at any time.

Blood oxygen saturation measuring

Apple's biggest pride when it comes to the new Apple Watch Series 6 is the Blood Oxygen app. It's an important tool for tracking your vitals during heavy exercises but these days it might potentially be useful for detecting early COVID-19 symptoms. Even if you're not a gym buff, this might prove helpful to you.


That's the second major health-related feature you're missing out on with the Apple Watch Series 3. One that Apple never fails to mention has saved plenty of lives already. Sure, if you're in your twenties or thirties you might think heart issues aren't a concern for you just yet. But the Apple Watch has found abnormalities even in young people and helped them get treatment early, so better with it than not.

Fall detection and international emergency calling

Yet another potentially life-saving feature. If the Apple Watch Series 6 accelerometers detect that you've fallen, it prompts you to say if you're okay or need emergency services called. If you don't take any action within a minute, the call is made automatically. Having that service available internationally is obviously a great advantage if you're the type that travels abroad often, at least.

Noise monitoring

Technically that's something you can do with your own ears, but if you have the Apple Watch Series 6, it will warn you when you're in an environment that's so loud it might harm you.

Cellular connectivity

That's an option that comes with a price premium but at least you have the choice for it with the Series 6. With it, you can leave your iPhone at home when going out for a run and take calls straight from your Apple Watch. Of course, it also lets you receive notifications when outside of Bluetooth range and send replies. 

Will Apple Watch Series 3 bands work with the Apple Watch Series 6?

Okay, maybe you're already convinced that the Apple Watch Series 6 is worth the upgrade but you have a collection of bands for the Series 3 that you cherish. Can you use them with your new Apple Watch? Luckily for you, the answer is YES! But! The bands' compatibility is only between watches of the same size. In this case, the 2mm difference between Series 3 and Series 6 doesn't matter. Bands from the small Apple Watch Series 3 can be used with the small Series 6 and those for the bigger Series 3 with the bigger Series 6.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch Series 3: price

Now, time for a quick price comparison in case you don't already own a Series 3 watch. With all the combinations of materials, sizes, connectivity and bands, there are literally tens of different end prices you can get while configuring an Apple Watch. Below, you'll find the starting price of each model:

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If you're looking to buy an Apple Watch and have the budget for the Series 6, that's definitely the one to go for. And if not, it's still better to go for the new Apple Watch SE than the Series 3. For just $80 more than the Series 3, you're getting the bigger display and a bunch of other features. For a full comparison between the cheaper Apple smartwatches, check our Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 3 article.

And if you're rocking the Series 3 and have gotten a couple of years of use from it already, then the list of new features is a pretty compelling reason to upgrade. You can even trade-in your current watch and get a nice discount to sweeten the deal. Sure, next year there will be another Apple Watch, but the list of things Apple can add or improve is getting shorter with each generation. This is a good time to pull the trigger, but if you're not in a rush, you might want to wait until Black Friday, in case there are any good Apple Watch Series 6 deals.

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