Today, we’re going to compare the Apple Watch Series 3 with the new Apple Watch Series 5. There are two different Apple Watches that are currently available and there’s a gap in the middle with the Apple Watch 4, which they stopped selling.

I recently made a video about the Apple Watch Series 4 vs the Series 5, because the Series 4 is still available, just not directly from Apple. If that interests you, check out the video.

Apple Watch Series 5:
Apple Watch Series 3:

If you’re trying to decide between the three and the five, which are the versions that are still available right now, there are a lot of things to consider, so let’s go through the differences so we can determine if it’s worth spending the extra money on the Apple Watch 5.”

The Apple Watch Series 3 is priced really well and it’s a direct competitor to a lot of other fitness devices out there such as the Fitbit Versa, which I compared the Apple Watch 3 to a Fitbit Versa 2 in another video. So, you’ll want to check that out as well. I love comparisons. I like putting up technology against each other and seeing which one provides the most value for the money and also which is the better option all around.

So, let’s dive into this comparison between the Apple Watch 5 and the Apple Watch 3. I’ve been using the Apple Watch 3 for the last few days to compare how it feels to the Apple Watch 5, which I’ve been using since the day it was released.

Apple Watch 3 is still just a great option. I mean, most people understand that from year to year, there aren’t really any huge jumps in technology with Apple. I don’t necessarily think that Apple believes that everybody should go out and buy a new device every year. They try to make it so that every few years, I think, we are enticed enough to make a new purchase. And so that’s why I think this topic is important.

If you are on an Apple Watch 2, or maybe you’re thinking about jumping into an Apple Watch and you just don’t know if there’s enough value in buying the latest and greatest, I hope this helps you out a lot.

Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 3 side by side

Watch Case Sizes

The Apple Watch 5 has both a 40mm and 44mm case size, whereas the Apple Watch 3 has a 40 and a 38mm. The watches are uniquely pretty close to the same size as far as the watch body itself, but you’re getting a lot more screen obviously with the Apple Watch 5.

Apple Watch Series 3 next to Apple Watch Series 5 with Always-On Display

The Apple Watch 5 has an always-on display, which has had a little bit of criticism lately in sucking down the battery life. Personally, I like the always-on display, but the always-on display does always have what you were recently looking at underneath it. And so if it’s a text message or something like that, and then the always-on display is on top of that, sometimes it’s kind of a weird experience.

See this in action:

There are times when I will just flat out turn off the always-on display altogether. The Apple Watch 3 doesn’t have that always-on display, so you always are constantly having to tilt your watch up and look at it.

If you have tilt-to-wake for Siri, it’s annoying because you really just wanted to see the time and now Siri is wondering what you want.

So, the always-on display kind of negates that situation there in being that you don’t always have to crank your watch up to your face so that you can get it to wake up. You can see the time from any angle with an always-on display.

Now, the Apple Watch 3 is a tad thicker than the Apple Watch 5. Combine that with the smaller overall viewable display on the Apple Watch 3. And I feel like there’s a lot more there physically and it’s giving you a lot less for you to look at in exchange.

Heartrate Monitor

The Apple Watch 5 has a second-generation heart rate monitor that also adds the ability to take a single-lead ECG, which is super important for those of you who are really interested in your overall heart health, especially as we get older, that information and having access to it becomes very important.

So, the first generation heart rate monitor that’s in the Apple Watch 3 still does a good job, but it’s just not as fast, and as feature-packed as the new one.


The Apple Watch 5 has a built-in compass, which makes the turn-by-turn navigation process much better and much more accurate on your watch. It’s also more accurate for those situations when you are tracking an outdoor run, walk or a bike ride using the built-in workout apps on the watch or a third-party app like Strava or Runkeeper. Those apps utilize all of the different sensors and to map out your path and record the path that you’re on.

The compass just adds to the accuracy that is assisted by GPS. Just being able to look at a compass and figure out what direction you’re going and having that be true so that you know exactly what direction you’re going is a neat feature to have.

Fall Detection

Apple Watch 3 doesn’t have fall detection. The way that fall detection works is that when the Apple Watch detects something, which feels like a fall, the SOS screen comes up and you’re actually able to put it in SOS mode and send out a notification immediately so that you can get help.

The Apple Watch 3 has SOS notification, but you have to manually activate it.

Processor Performance

Apple Watch 5 has the latest processor technology with Apple’s S5 chip, whereas the Apple Watch Series 3 has the S3 chip.

The differences there is that now they’ve moved into a 64-bit architecture and then, of course, over the years that chip has gotten faster both with its processing and it’s graphics ability. Apps are going to run a bit faster. Things are going to load faster. There’s going to be less lagginess on the Watch 5, but the Series 3 still is pretty fast even considering it’s a few years old now.

Decibel Meter

Apple Watch 5 has a decibel meter. It can tell you when things are getting a little too loud and unsafe so you can see things that are loud. It notifies and then it kind of goes back to a normal level.

This is nice, especially for those of you who work in loud environments. You can also set this as a home screen widget so it’s always available and updating live while you’re looking at your watch.


Apple Watch 5 has the W3 chip, which brings together several different technologies for connectivity such as Bluetooth. Apple Watch 5 has Bluetooth 5.0, Apple Watch 3 has Bluetooth 4.2. The communications chip does different things like providing the ability to detect AirPods when you open them.

Both watches have these abilities but the latest and greatest in connectivity technology is packaged together in that W3 chip where the Apple Watch Series 3 has a W2 chip, which is still good and still provides most of the same functionality. It’s just older technology.

Digital Crown

One very noticeable difference is when you use the crown on an Apple Watch 5. There’s a little bit bigger of a crown there and it has haptic feedback versus the Apple Watch 3 that doesn’t have really any feedback and the crown is a bit more challenging to use. Personally, I definitely like the experience of the crown on the Apple Watch 5 over the Apple Watch 3.

Colors & Finishes

Apple Watch Series 5 vs Series 3 Finishes

If you’re into different colors and finishes, the Apple Watch 5 is definitely your option as it comes in four different materials that the Apple Watch case is made out of and a lot of different color finishes to match versus the Apple Watch Series 3, which currently now is only available in aluminum and comes in two different case finishes.

To add to that, the Apple Watch 5 has some higher-end editions such as the Apple Watch Hermes edition. Whereas the Apple Watch Series 3, it can still use all the same straps, so they haven’t changed anything with the Apple Watch strap sizing. It still fits and they’re universal for older Apple Watches versus newer Apple Watches. Check out my Top 5 Apple Watch Straps on Amazon video.

Out of the box, the options that you’re going to get from Apple are going to be much higher end for the Apple Watch Series 5 and they’re more standard for the Apple Watch Series 3.

Emergency Calling

Now, both Apple Watches come with a strict GPS version or a GPS and cellular version, but the Apple Watch 5 comes with an international emergency call option, which means that even when you’re in a country where you don’t have a cellular plan with your Apple Watch cellular edition, you’re going to be able to make an emergency call to an emergency service using your Apple Watch. On the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular edition that’s only going to work in the country that you reside in or a country that your wireless provider has service in that your cellular edition is connected to. Obviously, on the GPS versions of these devices that don’t have cellular, you’re not getting that calling feature at all.

All the G’s

Apple Watch 5 and 3 both have accelerometers, but the accelerometer of the Apple Watch 5 actually measures double the G forces at 32 G forces. Whereas the Apple Watch 3 is at 16 G forces.

Speaker Loudness

The Apple Watch 5 has a 50% louder speaker than the Apple Watch Series 3.


The Apple Watch 5 has a 32-gigabyte storage option where the Apple Watch Series 3 has 16-gigabyte storage if you have the cellular option and 8-gigabyte storage for the GPS only option.

Ceramic & Sapphire Crystal Back

Now, the back of the case on these watches is different as well. On the Apple Watch Series 5, you have a ceramic and sapphire crystal back that covers pretty much the entirety of the back of the case. Whereas on the Apple Watch Series 3, just the center of the cellular edition has that backing. And the non-cellular GPS version just has a ceramic center.

Larger Display

Going back to talking about the display. The display on the Apple Watch Series 5 is 30% larger and covers a lot more of the display, despite the fact that the case of the watch seems to be pretty close to the same size.

LTPO OLED Retina Display

On top of that, the display on the Apple Watch Series 5 uses an LTPO OLED Retina display versus just the standard OLED retina display on the Apple Watch Series 3. That LTPO allows the Apple Watch Series 5 with its always-on display to go into a lower power state of display so that, that always-on display doesn’t completely drain your battery life as bad.

Series 5 Specific Watch Faces

The Apple Watch 5 also has some unique watch faces that are specific to the Apple Watch 5 that also got watch faces that were on the Apple Watch 4. Some of those Apple Watch faces are available on the Watch Series 3, but not all of them.


And, of course, the biggest difference of all is the price. The Apple Watch Series 3 currently starts at $199, whereas the Apple Watch Series 5 starts out at $399. And, of course, the versions of the Apple Watch will change the price where the cellular edition of the Apple Watch Series 3 is $100 more and the cellular edition of the Apple Watch Series 5 starts out at $100 more. The premium finishes available for the Apple Watch 5 can also drive the price up as well.

Both Have GPS & GPS Cellular Options

Now, let’s talk about things that are exactly the same, such as the fact that both devices come in a GPS only or a GPS plus cellular model. The GPS plus cellular model allows you to attach a cellular wireless plan to your watch so that you can make and receive phone calls, text messages, and get notifications without your phone being present.

If you use a service that allows for number sync, you can actually leave your phone at home and still get phone calls and text messages and respond to them on your Apple Watch even without your phone being present.

Both Watches are Swim Proof

Both watches are water-resistant up to 50 meters.

Apple Pay Compatibility

Apple Pay is also present on both devices, so you can do the tap to pay on merchants that support Apple Pay.

Emergency SOS Mode

Both watches also have the emergency SOS, so when you push down the button on the side, you get that SOS mode and you can swipe to activate it. The only difference with the Apple Watch 5, as I mentioned earlier, is that if you have the cellular edition, you can do that internationally.

Mic & Speaker

Both watches have speakers and mics for making and receiving phone calls, listening to notifications, talking to Siri and all that good stuff.

WatchOS 6

Both watches get watchOS 6 and have the App Store. So, all the latest and greatest coming to the Apple Watch is available on both of these watches.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that I helped you better understand the differences between these two watches. Both are great options. It just really depends on whether or not the newest features of the Apple Watch 5 are important to you.

Maybe this article will help you understand whether or not upgrading from Series 3 to Series 5 is worth it. There’s a lot of differences there, but if those features and differences aren’t of any big use to you, then it doesn’t really matter, and it might make more sense for you to stick around and wait for the next version of the Apple Watch.

But if you’re considering switching to an Apple Watch from something else or making this your first Apple Watch purchase, hopefully, this article helped you determine whether or not the Series 3 or the Series 5 is the best fit for you.

So, let me know down in the comments section below if you have any questions. I definitely love talking to all of you down there, hearing other questions that you might have and even just hearing why you use Apple Watches and what you would use it for. So, let’s talk down in the comment section.

If this article helped you out, let me know down in the comment section below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you will be notified when we put out new videos. I have a couple of Apple Watch specific videos coming out soon that are on the topics of apps and also just being overall productive with your Apple Watch, so I hope that you subscribed so that you can get notified when those videos come out. But that’s going to do it for today. So, thanks so much for being here and I hope to see you back in the next one. Take care.