Here’s some really bad news for the new Fitbit Versa 2 and Garmin Venu smartwatches; Apple has cut the price of the Apple Watch Series 3 to £199. While the Series 3 has been around since 2017, it still rivals the best smartwatches out there, largely thanks to the enormous number of apps available through the Apple App Store, and it will benefit from the latest watchOS 6 software when it is released in September.
That means the differences between the Series 3 and the just-launched Series 5 are all contained in the hardware, but those differences are still significant. The Series 4 and 5 Apple Watches have a much-improved heart rate monitor that’s not only far more accurate than the one in the Series 3, but also has the ability to take an ECG measurement from your wrist.
The newer watches also have a larger screen, and in the case of the Series 5 that screen is always-on, which is particularly useful during workouts.
However, the Series 3 does have built-in GPS and a waterproof design, plus access to the all-important Apple app market, where there is pretty much always a third-party app available to address any native software shortcomings.
As for the competition the Apple Watch will have in its new price bracket, it’s the Versa 2, which costs £199.99, that it could really threaten. Fitbit’s new smartwatch has a longer battery life than the Series 3, along with impressive sleep tracking (something Apple doesn’t offer natively on any of its watches), but the Versa 2 doesn’t have a built-in GPS and the Fitbit app store is underwhelming to say the least.
The Series 3 also undercuts the new Garmin Venu smartwatch, which is the first device Garmin has released with an AMOLED screen, rather than the dimmer displays it puts on its sports watches as standard to increase battery life. The Venu will cost £299.99, but does have a considerable advantage over the Series 3 in the quality of the native sports tracking Garmin offers, which is far better than Apple’s simplistic workout app.
Garmin’s Venu also links to Spotify Premium accounts so you can wirelessly sync your playlists to the watch. Although the Apple Watch and Versa 2 both have Spotify apps, these just allow you to control it on your phone; you can’t store music offline on the watches themselves, though you can do this with Apple Music on the Apple Watch and Deezer on the Versa 2.
The major advantage that both the Venu and the Versa 2 have over the Apple Watch is that they work equally well with Android phones, while the Apple Watch is restricted to the iPhone. However, if you have an iPhone and are in the market for a budget smartwatch, the Series 3 probably just went to the top of your list. The Series 3 is available at its new price now, with the standard watch starting at £199 and the cellular version £299.