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Why you shouldn’t buy a new Apple Watch right now

The curved screen on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It has been over six months since the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 launched, and they are still considered two of the best smartwatches on the market. However, there are two significant reasons why you might not want to purchase either of these models.

Those reasons are the Apple Watch Series 8 and the first-generation Apple Watch Ultra. That’s right — buying a 2022 Apple Watch over the newer models might be a better choice for you.

Why now’s a great time to buy an old Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Series 8 showing the screens.
The Apple Watch Series 9 (top) and Apple Watch Series 8 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple has made it standard practice to release new Apple Watches every fall, except for the less expensive Apple Watch SE series, which tends to get a refresh every two years. When new Apple Watches arrive, the older models are retired. In the most recent case, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 replaced the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, respectively.

However, just because Apple retired these models doesn’t mean you can’t buy them. For example, third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon still sell Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra models. Better still, they are available for huge discounts versus their original prices and when compared to the current models.

If you look hard enough, you might still be able to find a new Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra. However, finding “renewed” or “certified refurbished” products is much easier, and you’ll find the biggest discounts on these items.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 next to the original Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 (left) and the Apple Watch Ultra Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Regarding renewed Apple Watches on Amazon, it’s best to go with those marked as “Renewed Premium.” These are the best ones Amazon offers and come with a one-year Amazon Renewed Guarantee. Apple Watches marked simply as “Renewed” are guaranteed for 90 days.

At Best Buy, look for models marked as “Geek Squad Certified Refurbished.” These products include 90 days of free protection (you can pay extra to extend the protection).

The pricing and availability of refurbished Apple Watch Series 8 and first-generation Apple Watch Ultra models can vary depending on the retailer. Currently, a 41mm Apple Watch Series 8 is available on Amazon at a discounted price of about $248, which is $150 less than the original price. The 45mm model is also available on the website for around $300, a savings of $130. Originally priced at $799, renewed models of the Apple Watch Ultra are available on Amazon for $499, saving you $300.

Are there downsides to buying older models?

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Series 8 showing the ambient displays.
The Apple Watch Series 9 (left) and Apple Watch Series 8 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple provides one year of hardware protection on new Apple Watches. By purchasing Apple Care+, this coverage can be extended up to three years for as low as $79. However, if you decide to buy a refurbished or renewed Apple Watch model through a third party, it won’t qualify for these protections. This might be a concern for some potential buyers. Nevertheless, third-party guarantees and price discounts can lessen this concern.

Two other points to consider before purchasing a refurbished model are hardware and software. Both of these mostly favor the older models.

In terms of hardware, there are few noticeable differences between the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra compared to the newer models. The Apple Watch Series 9 features an improved chip and a brighter display than the Apple Watch Series 8. However, the better chip does not necessarily result in longer battery life. However, it allows for slightly better performance and faster app loading times.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 next to the original Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 (top) and the Apple Watch Ultra Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 also offers a better chip and brighter display than the earlier model. It also provides double the storage, which could be important for folks who like to store songs and podcasts on their wrists. Otherwise, more storage probably isn’t a big deal. The low power mode on the new model has jumped from 60 hours to 72 hours, which is a nice increase, but, again, maybe not something you’d care about.

On the software side, there are even fewer differences between the old and new Apple Watch models. The newer models, for example, offer new gestures and, thanks to the S9 chip, allow you to use Siri on the device itself. The earlier models require a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection to use the voice assistant.

It should also be noted that the new and older models offer the same exercise and wellness features.

The Double Tap symbol on the Apple Watch Series 9
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a smartwatch that will provide software updates for years, the Apple Watch is a great choice. Apple has been known for providing generous software updates, and the Apple Watch is no exception.

Even older Apple Watch models dating back to 2018 can receive the latest watchOS 10 update, which means you can enjoy the latest features and improvements regardless of which model you choose. This is excellent news for anyone who wants to invest in an Apple Watch, as it means you can expect at least five years of free software updates regardless of the model you choose.

Whether you’re considering the Apple Watch Series 8, Series 9, or even the Apple Watch Ultra or Ultra 2, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the same support and updates. And as technology continues to evolve, you may even find that you’re ready to upgrade to a newer model before your current Apple Watch becomes outdated.

The bottom line

Overhead view of an Apple Watch Ultra resting on a wooden patio.

If you’re in the market for an Apple Watch, it’s worth considering the Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra, which are great options even if they are renewed or refurbished. Sure, you may not get the very latest processor or display tech, but does that really matter when you’re saving as much as $300 and getting a nearly identical smartwatch? I’d argue that it doesn’t.

If you’re still not sold on purchasing an older Apple Watch, remember that you can sometimes find the latest models at discounted prices, especially on Amazon. And with the expected launch of the Apple Watch Series 10 and Apple Watch Ultra 3 in about six months, the prices of current models may drop even further in the upcoming months.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 remain incredible smartwatches — no doubt about that. However, for the savvy shopper out there, it can pay to notbuy the new models.

Editors' Recommendations

Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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