Apple Watch longevity

I’m considering buying my first Apple Watch, to pair with my iPhone 12 Pro and am looking at either the second generation SE or Series 8.

Before committing to the purchase, I’m wondering about the longevity of an Apple Watch. I’m not necessarily wanting to know how long a watch will continue to get software updates (although I’d like to know that, too). I’m more interested in knowing how long it will physically continue working and continue to reasonably be useful (i.e. be able to stay in contact with people via text & calls, get notifications from my phone, track movement/exercise, set alarms, etc)?

How long has your Apple Watch been useful to you before you felt the need to upgrade?

I’m also interested in how long watch bands last in general, and the Sport Loop and Sport Band in particular.

For me the usefulness is more dependent upon on how much I value particular features and performance than length of time. I’ve stayed with my Apple Watch 7 since the skin temperature sensor and crash detection features of the Watch 8 don’t compel me to upgrade and the Apple Watch Ultra is just overkill for me. Maybe if I menstruated (period tracking) and drove more frequently (crash detection) I’d move to the Watch 8.

For some of us it’s how we actually use the watch that matters as well as what we think we are tracking versus reality. On that note, I recommend that anyone interested in health performance features visit The Quantified Scientist. Rob is a post doctoral researcher in Bioinformatics who tests a wide range of devices for heart rate, sleep tracking, etc. After you watch a few of his videos you’ll likely be amazed how poor most devices perform. (If I remember correctly, for sleep tracking for example the Watch SE outperformed all others!)

For me, generally about 2 years. I’ve gone from 0 → 3 → 5 → 7 → Ultra. I wear my AW daily, almost constantly while I’m awake, putting it on the charger at night (I have no interest in sleep tracking). I most often use it for at-a-glance weather, controlling audio (podcasts, music, etc.) on my iPhone, notifications, and Apple Pay. I’ve never used an AW for sports purposes, having Garmin devices that work better for those kinds of things (cycling, cross country skiing, hiking). I’ve found the after about 2 years of daily use the battery in the Apple Watch degrades and I start having to find some time during the day to put it on the charger for a boost. I bought the Ultra a year after getting the 7 to see if it will last me longer because of the bigger battery. Right now the Ultra only loses about 1/4 of its charge during a typical day.

As for the bands, essentially forever. I still have the Milanese loop I bought for the 0 somewhere. In any event, 3rd party bands are cheap. You don’t have to buy a band from Apple.

My Series 2 was bought in January 2017 and would have been useful until about September 2019, when I did upgrade to a Series 5. At that point it was clear that the Series 2, though it still worked, was extremely slow and almost frustrating to use. I just upgraded in October 2022 to the Ultra, but the Series 5 remains more than fine, and I’d say the same about the Series 4 (introduced in 2018).

The hardware processor improvements since the Series 4 have not been all that dramatic.

The biggest issue? After three years, the maximum capacity of the battery in my Series 5 is 87%. So I’d say about four full years is probably a best guess of useful battery life, barring, say, a dramatic improvement in battery technology or performance that means Apple stops providing watchOS updates to watches as old as they have historically provided them. (The Series 3 received updates for 5 years, but the last year it was clear that the S3 was just not meant to be used with watchOS 8 - updates for many people meant unpairing the watch, repairing without restore, running the update, and recreating watch faces, etc.)

As for the bands, on my Series 5 I wore a sport band almost exclusively. (The same with the S2, and I still have my old S2 bands, but I never wear them with the Ultra.) It remains just fine. I do wear the sport loop during the months of July and August when I am in the water a lot, and they are also fine. I also have a braided solo loop - it’s a great band, but pricey, and it tends to stretch out over time. And the solo loop, the rubbery band without adjustment of a similar material to the sport band - I have read from lots of people on Reddit has a tendency also to stretch and to tear at the end of the band. I’d recommend the sport band over the solo loop for that reason.

I like the functionality of the sport loop most, but I don’t love the look of some of the color combos that Apple has made the last few years, until this year - I think the current group of choices of the sport loop look really nice.

For me, always on display is a necessity, so I’d not get an SE myself, but if it’s not so important to you, and you don’t have need for the ECG app (I really don’t myself), then the SE2 is a great watch.

Thanks for the excellent recommendation - that’s the exact type of research I value!

Still using my series 2. In last two months it has become less responsive and has stopped controlling the volume on my phone, but otherwise does what is asked. I might replace it next year.

My Apple Watch Series 4 from April 2019 has 90% battery capacity now. Charged every night. It replaced my first Apple watch bought in 2015. It was still working good. I replaced it only because I wanted to have the Heart Monitor and ECG app.

In my experience, the expensive Apple-branded watch bands are excellent quality and last a long time (I still have my original band from years ago and it looks brand new) – with the exception of white colored bands which look horrible (grungy and discolored) after a year of use. The problem of course is that they are expensive.

I’ve purchased many $5-$15 third-party bands off Amazon over the years and found them to be great considering the price—lasting about 2 years each. At that price, it’s no big deal to replace them more often.

My Series 3 is still zipping along, doing everything I need — mostly health tracking, fitness, weather, etc. It’s been four years now and the battery is fine.

My Series 3, which I got when it was released, is running fine. I’ve had no problems with it. Battery is fine. I’ve changed the band a few times but just for looks. They are cheap on ebay.

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I wore my Series 4 every day for 3 years. The battery easily lasted an entire day and the only reason I upgraded to a Series 8 was to obtain the O2 Saturation feature.

I also just upgraded from a 4 to an 8. The battery in the 4 was just fine, lasted all day. I just wanted the new features in the 8 compared to the 4, but other than that, I could have continued using the 4 for quite some time.

Similar to many others, I got the original in 2015 which continued to work just fine until 2018 when I upgraded to the Series 4. That was a dramatic improvement in speed, screen size and battery life. The max cap on it is still 95%. Today I ordered a Series 8, again for the additional features added over the last four years, not for any flaw in my current model. As for the strap, I’m still using the original Milanese Loop band I got with my first one.

I bought my wife a 6 series when it launched and she signed up for the fitness package. So far, so good.

However, I bought a stretchy sport band to go with it. After about 10 months it split near one end.
After a “discussion” in the local Apple store it was replaced.
Roll on about another 9 or 10 months and that one snapped after splitting in more or less the same place.
After another discussion (which this time included comments about the product being totally unfit for purpose), the store very grudgingly replaced it with another.
On returning home I bought her a non-Apple woven metallic loop band with magnetic fastening from eBay.
About a third of the price of the apple band and has now outlasted 2 stretchies.
The watch itself was also replaced under warranty when the glass on the underside cracked while she was wearing it!

Thanks for all of your experiences with your Apple watches and bands. My wife and I decided to get an SE and a Series 8, both with Sport Loops.

I’m already enjoying wrist control of my phone!

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Apple can replace the battery.

From the Apple website:

”We can service the battery in your Apple Watch for a fee . Our warranty doesn’t cover batteries that wear down from normal use. Your product is eligible for battery service at no additional cost if you have AppleCare+ and your product’s battery holds less than 80% of its original capacity.“

One thing I will mention again here is that as useful as the Watch is, updating its OS takes forever if you do not have speedy internet at home (which I do not) and right now I have no other options for updating it.
It doesn’t help that the updates Apple provides are sometimes huge (over a gigabyte in size).

I’m still rocking Series 3; most of the bands available are fine and long lasting.

I have an Apple iWatch3 cellular that I’ve had since the model was new. I wear it all day, every day, and recharge it at night as needed. It has never required repair in spite of some drops and bangs over the intervening years. I traded in an iWatch2 when I bought this one and this has been the best watch that I have ever owned, bar none.

I use the modular watch face for flexibility. It allows me to combine the most features on the screen at once without running them into each other illegibility.

My preferred watch face shows four rows:
access to the cell phone function, the time,
battery charge in %, access to timer functions, and the current temperature outdoors.

Charge, timer, are all on the bottom line.
I use a blue color on a black screen for excellent contrast.

Series 5, since Sep 2019, functions fine. Battery capacity at the moment 83 percent, so I will consider replacing the battery later this year. Or maybe upgrade to series 9 when available.