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 So to avoid buying an Apple Watch that is outdated after just a few weeks, you want to time it right.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 09/15/21: Apple announced the Apple Watch series 7 during its “California streaming” event. This article has been updated with the latest info.
Apple Watch: Pricing and specs
Most recent release: Fall 2021
At its September event, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 7, saying only that it would be available “later this fall.” The Series 6 is currently still available for sale, but it will be retired once the Series 7 is on shelves. The Series 7 will start at $399.
In the fall of 2020, along with the Apple Watch Series 6, 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 Apple has announced the Series 7, the primary difference between it and the Series 6 is a slightly larger display and faster charging. If you can find one a Series 6 at a significant discount (around $80 off), you might want to jump on it while it’s still available.
The Apple Watch SE is different. It is not updated yearly, so we suspect the Apple Watch SE might get the same treatment. So, if you’re interested in an Apple Watch SE, you’re safe buying one now, as the next one will not be introduced 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 Apple Watch Series 7 has a slightly larger display and faster charging, while priced the same as the Series 6. It’s a small upgrade, but why not get the better watch at the same price? Apple hasn’t announced an exact release date yet, only that the Series 7 will be available this fall. So it’s really right around the corner.
If you’re interested in the Apple Watch SE, go ahead and pick it up. Apple didn’t change the price or specs of that model at all, and isn’t expected to until the fall of 2022. As for the Series 3, we don’t recommend buying it at all.
Macworld recommends: BUY SE, WAIT for Series 7
If you’re interested in the Apple Watch SE, go ahead and make that purchase. It’s still $279 and it’s still essentially a slightly improved Apple Watch Series 4. It’s likely going to stay that way until the fall of 2022.
If you want a high-end Apple Watch, you should probably wait for the Series 7. It’s a slight change in design, with a bigger display, and it charges up faster. It’s also more dust resistant and the display resists cracking a bit better. Given that it carries the same price as the Series 6, which is going away as soon and the Series 7 comes out, you might as well wait a few weeks for the better watch. Even if it’s just a little better.
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.
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.