There’s no bad time to buy an Apple Watch, but there are better and worse times. Apple releases new Apple Watch models (called “series”) on a yearly cadence, and the price rarely changes by all that much. So to avoid buying an Apple Watch that is outdated after just a few weeks, you want to time it right.
Here’s what we know about Apple Watch release dates and when you should or should not buy.
Updated 11/04/21: With the Apple Watch Series 7 now available, we have updated this article with our latest buying advice.
Apple Watch: Pricing and specs
Most recent release: October 2021
Apple released the Apple Watch Series 7 on October 15, 2021. It’s mostly identical to the Series 6, only with a bigger display thanks to slimmer bezels and a USB-C charging cable that enables slightly faster charging. It carries the same price the Series 6 did, starting at $399.
In the fall of 2020 Apple introduced the Apple Watch SE. It’s basically a slightly updated Series 4 and starts at $279 for 40mm and $309 for 44mm, with cellular options costing $50 extra. It’s often a little cheaper at Amazon. Apple often sells earlier-model Apple Watches at a reduced price, and right now that’s the Series 3, which starts at a modest $199.
Apple Watch: Why you should buy
While we don’t think the Series 7 is much of an upgrade over the Series 6, it is better, and is essentially the best smartwatch you can buy. It was recently released and there isn’t expected to be a new Apple Watch model until the fall of 2022. If you want to buy an Apple Watch, now’s the time.
The Apple Watch SE is not updated yearly, so even though its a year old, it’s still the latest model and probably won’t be updated again until the fall of 2022. We think the larger display with thinner bezels, much better performance, and a heap of additional features (like fall detection and noise monitoring) make it a much better deal than the Series 3 and you can often find it on sale at Amazon.
Apple Watch: Why you should wait
The only real reason to wait on buying an Apple Watch at this point is if you have a Series 5 or Series 6, and are looking for the next big upgrade. The Series 7’s larger screen is a nice improvement over the Series 5/6, but that’s really the only major change this year. If you have a Series 4 or earlier, you’ll appreciate the performance and features, but you should probably wait for the Series 8 if you have a newer Apple Watch.
Macworld recommends: BUY
If you’re looking to buy an Apple Watch, go right ahead. With new models not expected until the fall of 2022, this is as good a time to buy as any. We don’t think the Series 7 is a very big upgrade over the Series 6, so those with a watch only a couple years old might consider waiting.
The one caveat would be if you can find a really great sale on the Series 6. The Series 7 is only a small improvement, so if you see the Series 6 on sale for something like $80 off the usual price, you’ll probably be glad you snagged it before it goes away.
If you want to buy an Apple Watch Series 3, we think that’s not a good idea. Yes, it’s very affordable, but the small display with large bezels, limited sensors, and slower processor all make it sort of an evolutionary dead-end for Apple Watch, and we’re not sure how much longer it will be supported by new versions of watchOS. Apple Watch SE is a much better buy.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.