Our editors independently research and rate the best products. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links on our site. Learn more

apple watch 3 review

Apple Watch Series 3 | Review

No products found.

Apple Watch Series 3

Design, Quality - Simply Apple


GPS sensor

Heart Rate Monitor


Regular updates

Fast processor

UMTS & LTE connection

Detects workouts automatically

Extendable with apps


Short battery life

Compatible with iPhones only

Without ECG & fall detection

Test Conclusion: What You Need to Know

The Apple Watch 3 shines with its functionalities such as sports – and especially the heart rate tracker – with high accuracy. In the LTE version you can make calls, send SMS and stream music even without an iPhone. But: The functions drain the battery empty quickly. Visually, little has changed compared to the predecessor. The design revolution is only offered by successors from generation 4 onwards.

The Apple Watch 3 is currently in its third year in retail. It remains an interesting option for iPhone owners. There are two reasons for this: Thanks to the years of updates, it is steadily gaining new functions, most recently with watchOS 6. Compared to the current Apple Watch 5, it costs significantly less. But it’s not only the comparatively low acquisition costs that make the Apple Watch Series 3 so interesting: It is still one of the best smartwatches. Here’s why:

No products found.

Apple Watch 3: Heart Rate Monitor, GPS, Barometer

The Apple Watch 3 contains the features that the Series 2 launched in 2016 already had: a GPS sensor, a waterproof housing, and a heart rate and acceleration sensor. Series 3 also has a height sensor that records every day steps and height meters completed during training evaluations. Besides, the new smartwatch works with a faster processor (S3 dual-core) and a new WiFi chip (W2), which is built into the display and connects to Bluetooth and WiFi.

As with iPhones, Siri speaks from the loudspeaker and does not only communicate with the characters – which worked well in the test. Compared to its successors, the Apple Watch lacks the electrodes for electrocardiogram measurement (EKG), the motion sensors for fall detection and the magnetic compass that shows the direction of view when navigating.

Apple Watch Series 3: Cellular with LTE

If you have an older Apple Watch, you know that most apps are useless without a connection to WiFi or via Bluetooth to your smartphone. The watch no longer receives messages or emails, Siri, maps, and weather also stop working. The Series 3 is different: It appears next to the “GPS” version in the more expensive version “GPS + Cellular”. In the cellular configuration, Apple has a built-in SIM card (eSIM) that creates LTE and UMTS connections without the smartphone – as with the iPad.

Users can make calls on the go without an iPhone, stream music via Apple Music and reply to messages. Since the connection drains the battery, the watch only accesses mobile phones when WiFi and Bluetooth connections are not possible. To use the eSIM, users need a multi-SIM tariff. As a rule, something like this costs around US$5 per month.

Apple Watch Series 3: Display & Design

Externally, the Apple Watch Series 3 hardly differs from Series 1 and 2: It has the same dimensions, comes in a case with a height of 38 millimeters (mm) and a height of 42 mm. The OLED Retina display is as bright as that of the Series 2 and has a resolution of 272×340 pixels (38 mm variant) or 312×390 pixels (42- mm variant). The screen is very easy to use.

Apple showed the design revolution with the 2018 Apple Watch Series 4: its case has increased in height by 2 millimeters (to 40 and 44 mm), the edge has become even narrower so that the display has grown significantly. Apple has not changed the bracelet sizes – this means that the 38 mm bands fit for the 40 mm variant and vice versa. The tapes for 42 mm and 44 mm cases can also be replaced.

Apple Watch Series 3: Messages & Music

In addition to SMS and iMessage, the Watch also supports WeChat when writing messages. This worked in the test. It looks worse for WhatsApp users: WhatsApp answers incoming messages via the clock but does not start any new chats. To receive WhatsApp messages, the smartphone must be switched on and ready to receive. Apple Music users listen to music on the watch. That also works in streaming. The watch comes with the operating system watchOS 4.

With the software update to watchOS 5 in autumn 2018, Apple is opening the doors more to third-party developers, so that music services such as Spotify could also find their way onto the watch. So far, the Spotify app is only suitable for remote control of the music on the iPhone. The update to watchOS 6 (since autumn 2019) brings new functions again. The Noise app measures the ambient volume and warns of harmful noise. There is now a cycle tracker for women. Besides, the app store has come to the watch. Apps can be installed (almost) without the iPhone.

Health, Battery & Functions

It shows that the optical sensor measures the heart rate very precisely. The watch also calculates the VO2max value from the data. It indicates the maximum oxygen intake and is a measure of the training status. The objective of the activity rings is just as convincing as the motivation from the community: Apple Watch users can connect with others and see each other’s successes. If you want to record sport with the watch, you have to start and end a workout manually.

Since the update to watchOS 6, the watch automatically recognizes some workouts, such as running and then issues an alarm.

A shortcoming of all Apple Watches: In everyday life, the watch only lasts a little longer than a day with one charge. That is why many users hang them on the charger at night. So far, Apple has not yet integrated a sleep tracking function.

Compatibility with iPhone, not with Android

Android users who are interested in the Apple Watch still cannot use it: Despite eSIM, Apple still uses the iPhone as the only compatible smartphone. At the start of sales in autumn 2017, the Apple Watch 3 worked with iPhones from 5S (“GPS” version) or iPhones from generation 6 (“GPS + Cellular” version). This no longer applies. The update to watchOS 6 in autumn 2019 requires the latest iOS version (iOS 13) – and thus at least one iPhone 6S.

Attention: If you currently have an iPhone 5S or 6 connected to your Watch Series 3, you should turn off automatic updates of the Apple Watch as a precaution. The update can not be initiated from an iPhone without iOS 13. But once the watch runs with watchOS 6, it no longer works with the iPhone 5S or 6.

Colors & Variants

The Apple Watch Series 3 is available in the colors of aluminum gold, silver, space gray. The “GPS + Cellular” watch also comes in versions with sapphire glass and a housing made of stainless steel (silver and space black) or ceramic (white and gray).

Apple Watch 3: Test Conclusion & Alternatives

The Apple Watch 3 is inferior to its successors Series 4 and 5. Your display is smaller in comparison. The ECG and the fall detection are missing, as is the compass, which is reserved for the Series 5. iPhone users who don’t mind will get a really strong smartwatch with Apple’s 2017 model, which is still worthwhile thanks to the latest software and good fitness and smartwatch functions.

No products found.

More tests

4.8/5 - (31 votes)

Last product update on 2022-09-29 | Source: Amazon Affiliate