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Apple Watch Series 6 vs 3 (2020): Should You Splurge Or Save?

Apple couldn’t have released the new Apple Watch Series 6 at a better time because we can all probably agree that health is the most important thing in 2020. Equipped with a bunch of fitness tracking features as well as a brand new health sensor, having the Apple Watch Series 6 on your wrist could mean a more active and healthy lifestyle. We know what you’re thinking though. Can’t you do the same thing with the Apple Watch Series 3? If you’re not sure whether to splurge on Apple’s newest smartwatch or settle for its predecessor, here’s an in-depth comparison of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 3, taking their design, display, features, and prices into consideration.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs 3 Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series 3
 
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Display Area759 sqmm2 (40mm version)
977 sqmm2 (44mm version)
563 sqmm2 (38mm version)
740 sqmm2 (42mm version)
Case MaterialsAluminum, stainless steel, titaniumAluminum
Always-On Retina DisplayYesNo
Optical Heart Rate SensorYesYes
Electrical Heart Rate SensorYesNo
Blood Oxygen SensorYesNo
Built-In GPSYesYes
Fall DetectionYesNo
Always-On AltimeterYesNo
Water Resistance5ATM5ATM
Battery Life18 hours18 hours

Design and Display

The Apple Watch Series 6 boasts a larger display and has health sensors that are missing on the Series 3.

The Apple Watch Series 6 (left) has an always-on retina display, a feature that’s missing on the Series 3 (right).

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the newest Apple Watch strayed too far from the design of its predecessors. But take a closer look and you’ll see that there are a couple of differences between the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 3. For starters, the Series 6 has a much larger screen display than the Series 3, giving it a bolder look. With the 40mm Series 6, you get 759 sqmm2 of display area while the 38mm Series 3 only gives you 563 sqmm2.

In addition, the Series 6 boasts an always-on retina display, a feature that’s missing on the Series 3. While you’d have to raise your wrist to see the display on the Series 3, the Series 6’s screen is always visible. Instead, raising your wrist while you’re wearing the Series 6 will brighten up its display. The Series 6 also has sensors that aren’t found on the Series 3. It has an electrical heart rate sensor that’s built into its Digital Crown and of course, we can’t forget the main selling point of the Series 6–its new blood oxygen sensor. It’s made up of 4 LED clusters and 4 photodiodes which are incorporated into the back crystal.

When the Series 3 was first launched, you had the option to get it in ceramic although this version was later discontinued. Now, it’s only available in aluminum, either in space grey or silver. Size-wise, there are 38mm and 42mm versions. Fortunately, there’s a whole lot more variation to enjoy with the Series 6. You can get it either in aluminum (space grey, silver, gold, red, or blue), stainless steel (silver, gold, or graphite), or titanium (space black or natural). As if you’re not spoiled enough for choice, the Series 6 also has Nike and Hermes models. As for size options, it’s offered in 40mm and 44mm.

Features

The Apple Watch Series 6’s ability to read your blood oxygen level and take your ECG gives it a big advantage over the Series 3.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is able to track your blood oxygen level in the background.

First things first, the similarities. Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 3 have an optical heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, 50-meter water resistance, 18-hour battery life, emergency SOS, and Apple Pay. Both also run on the watchOS 7. But of course, what you probably want to know is what makes the Series 6 better. Well, Apple gave it some bonus features such as an always-on altimeter, built-in compass, fall detection (thanks to its new and improved accelerometer), and international emergency calling. That’s not all though. The biggest advantage that the Series 6 has over the Series 3 is its ability to measure your blood oxygen level and take your ECG.

With the Series 6’s blood oxygen sensor, you can take readings of your blood oxygen level whenever and wherever you want to. All you need to do is wait for 15 seconds and voila, you’ve got your results. It also keeps track of your blood oxygen in the background so you’re covered all day and night. As for the Series 6’s electrical heart rate sensor, it’s able to read your heart’s electric signals, similar to what an ECG does. It’s able tell if your heart is beating in a normal pattern or if it’s showing signs of atrial fibrillation. If you’re looking for a smart watch that can give you key insights into your overall wellness and provide you with peace of mind, the Series 6 definitely delivers in a way that the Series 3 can’t.

Price

The Apple Watch Series 6 will cost you double than the Series 3.

The price of the Apple Watch Series 6 goes up if you select the more premium materials.

The Apple Watch Series 3, currently being sold at around $199, is the most affordable way to get yourself an Apple Watch. As for the Series 6, you’re going to have to fork over double the amount of money. Yup, its regular price starts at around $399 and that’s only for the GPS model. If you want the GPS plus cellular version, you need to shell out an extra hundred bucks. Of course, the price only goes up from there if you choose the more premium materials. The stainless steel option will cost you $699 while the titanium version is priced at $799. If you want to go for the most luxurious version of the Series 6, you can get yourself an Hermes model for $1,249.

Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 3 is cost-effective but the Series 6 is more impressive.

Apple Watch Series 6

Best for those who need advanced health insights

Apple Watch Series 3

Best for those who want to stick to a budget

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on an Apple Watch but can’t bring yourself to splurge, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the cost-effective option for you. It lets you save double the amount of money versus if you were to buy the Series 6. That said, the cheaper price tag comes with a couple of drawbacks. You’ll be missing out on some advanced features, plus there aren’t a lot of design variations to choose from. But if these things aren’t a big deal to you and you just want the basics, then the Series 3 should be good enough.

As for the Apple Watch Series 6, it’s definitely impressive, thanks to its ability to track your oxygen blood level and take your ECG. These features are especially helpful for those who want advanced health insights. Also, you get to choose from a wider selection of materials, colors, and models, making the Series 6 a whole lot more attractive than the Series 3. That said, your wallet should be prepared to take quite a big hit if you do decide to make the purchase. However, we do think that the upgrades on the Series 6 are worth its hefty price tag.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ How is the Apple Watch Series 6 better than the Series 3?

The Apple Watch Series 6‘s ability to read your blood oxygen level and take your ECG gives it a big advantage over the Apple Watch Series 3. Also, it has an always-on altimeter, built-in compass, fall detection, and international emergency calling.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Apple Watch Series 6 worth it?

If you want quick access to advanced insights about your health, then the Apple Watch Series 6 is definitely worth buying.

๐Ÿ“Œ How much is the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Apple Watch Series 6’s price starts at $399 and that’s only for the GPS model. If you want the GPS plus cellular version, you need to shell out an extra hundred bucks. Of course, the price only goes up from there if you choose the more premium materials.

๐Ÿ“Œ Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 6 or Series 3?

If you want a cost-effective option and don’t mind the more basic features, go for the Apple Watch Series 3. But if you’re willing to splurge for more advanced capabilities, choose the Series 6.

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Denise Jose
Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.