Used  Watch - which series are still usable?

I’ve never paid much attention to the Apple Watch but might be ready to give it a go. What is the oldest series that bought used will give me an intro to the ecosystem but be usable enough to use without frustration?


I would say Series 4 is the absolute limit. I recently upgraded from my S4, which I’d had since new, mainly because the battery charge life had dropped to the point of being a nuisance. Functionally it worked well, but obviously didn’t have the more recent bells and whistles (blood oxygen, compass).

Battery life is the potential issue with older watches - mine was down to 12-14 hours on a light use day - less than that if I used it for workouts. If that would be a problem for you, see what’s available refurbished

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It probably depends what you want out of it. Apple Watches don’t hold their value very well.

As someone has said, the battery is the key part. For this reason I’d probably look at the AW 6 as it should still have enough battery for all day.

I think the AW5 was the first with the always on screen if that’s important for you

I agree with @ThatGuy - Series 4 is OK for most use cases but battery might be limiting factor. Apparently the earliest version available on Apple’s refurb store is Series 7, so you can’t get an Apple-refurbished Series 4. I’m assuming that watches sold on Apple’s refurb store have new (or at least tested-good) batteries. Be wary of the battery status on any older watch not sold through Apple’s refurbished store.

I just upgraded from Series 4 (bought new) to Ultra 2 and love the increased speed, brighter always-on display and new features such as compass app. I upgraded mainly because the crystal was deeply scratched (my fault), but am now happy with the new features. Some of these (e.g., always-on display) are available on older watches, though, so you don’t absolutely need the latest version.

What about the SE models? Is there a reason nobody has mentioned them? (I’m not an AW owner)

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I have a SE, for me it’s fine. I use it when exercising and for calendar event, setting timers (while cooking etc.). Occasionally for making notes or reminders. Battery life seems a bit less than before the update but still enough for a day for me.

Always on not really important. Battery life lasting a full day is more so. Does Apple replace batteries for reasonable prices as per iPhones?

It’s a good shout, but not particularly cheap. Will last though.

In the UK, £95 (~$115) for a battery replacement for a Series 4.

You’d have to run the numbers to work out whether S4 plus battery would be a better bet than a later model refurbished.

I think the answer - as many here have mentioned - depends on what you’re trying to get out of it.

Many folks are happy with their Series 4 and it does what they need. I just sold my Series 7 for $300 CAD and put that towards a Series 9. I like the idea of “on device” Siri, added car crash detection, the brighter screen, and the tap gestures will be cool when they arrive hopefully on 7.1. Even though yes, I did deride that feature a bit in an earlier post on here.

It’s not that I need all those features, but I will have had my Series 7 for 2 years. It’s still a very viable watch, still works great, still has good battery, and it’s still worth something. So I use that equity to prevent me from being in a situation where I have to pay full price for a new watch. It helps that the Apple Watch release date is always within a week of my birthday. My wife, my parents, and my inlaws still like to “chip in” birthday cash so it’s a nice boost also.

With my eye on the supposedly redesigned 10 coming next year, I wanted to make a smaller leap from the 9 to the 10 without having to go from a 7 to a 10. I upgrade partially for new features and partially to keep a more current watch with smaller, incremental costs than a huge outlay every few years. Of course YMMV.

Like most things on this forum, it comes down to personal preference, what you want to/can spend, and what you need it for.

I personally wouldn’t go lower than the 7, but many folks would be fine with a 4 or 5. Just don’t touch the 3 – yikes.

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It’s probably worth saying that with whatever series you end up trying out, you should go for the larger of the two models if you can—especially if you buy used. In my experience, the smaller watches really struggle to get through a day. I still have a 44mm series 4 (cellular, but not activated) and especially with WatchOS 10, sometimes struggles to get through a day. My son has the ‘new’ SE (smaller model, cellular) and often dies around 5–6pm, and I don’t think he’s playing with it all day long.


Until 2 weeks ago I was still using a series 3. It lasted all day and gave me notifications and recorded my workouts without an issue. I was using my wife’s old 38mm. I’d used it every day for 3 years. I was able to afford an upgrade this month to an SE 44mm.

I’m planning to send my series 3 to my Mum to see if she likes the idea of an Apple Watch then will probably treat her to an SE.

So there is plenty to be gained by trying an older watch if you stumble across one for sale.