How to get a good Apple Watch deal

One popular device you might find some decent discounts on in the coming weeks is the Apple Watch

That said, there's no guarantee that every Apple Watch deal will be a good one. Some retailers may be claiming grand discounts without actually knocking much off the price, while others might try to lure you in with a disarmingly low price for what's actually a very old model. 

The Nike+ Apple Watch comes with a strap designed with workouts in mind. Image credit: Apple

The Nike+ Apple Watch comes with a strap designed with workouts in mind. Image credit: Apple

Series 1, Series 2 or Series 3?

There are three releases of the Apple Watch, officially called Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3, but don’t be surprised if they’re labelled something slightly different on third party sites, like Apple Watch 1 or first edition Apple Watch.  

Pro tip: You won’t find the Series 2 on the Apple website anymore but you’re likely to come across it on third party websites. It'll be cheaper, but note that the range has progressed dramatically since this first iteration, so it may be worth your while to splash a little more cash on newer editions.

Series 3 special editions

There are three special editions of the Apple Watch Series 3; the Apple Watch Edition, the Apple Watch Hermes, and the Apple Watch Nike+. They all have the same internal specs, so choosing between them will come down to which one looks better to you. 

The Apple Watch Edition has a ceramic finish in both white and grey, which gives it a more premium aesthetic. The casing is lighter and four times more durable than the standard stainless steel version. 

The Apple Watch Hermes is made from stainless steel with more unusual strap options, the Hermes stamp of approval on the back and different watch faces. 

The more sporty Nike+ style boasts different strap options, this time geared up for sport, as well as Nike watch faces. It’s made from aluminum so it’s as light as possible and has the Nike swoosh on the strap too. 

All are pricier than the Series 3, but that’s also because you can only get cellular versions of them. 

The Apple Watch Series 3 in black and rose gold - spot the red crown. Image credit: Apple

The Apple Watch Series 3 in black and rose gold - spot the red crown. Image credit: Apple

Cellular connectivity

When it comes to the Series 3 Watch, it can be bought with just GPS built-in or there’s a more expensive cellular model with a SIM card built-in, which means you’d be able to use it to make calls and do other things independently from your iPhone. 

In most UK retailers, the price difference is £70 and will come with additional charges from EE. If you can’t tell the difference between the two by looking at them, the SIM version has a red accent on the crown (the little dial at the side). 

Although the SIM version sounds appealing, you only really need it if you want to take your smartwatch out-and-about without your phone, like during a run. But we imagine that for most people it’s an added expense you may not need - especially if the thought of being nowhere near your phone for hours at a time brings you out in a cold sweat. 

Fitness tracking

There lots of differences between the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 3, like the cellular connectivity, the fact the Series 3 screen is much brighter and has a Siri assistant that talks back rather than replies to you via text. But one area worth paying special attention to is fitness. 

The Series 1 has a built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer, so it’s a decent activity tracker. But it doesn’t have built-in GPS like the Series 2 and Series 3. That means if you want a device that’s a fitness companion for workouts the Series 1 might be good enough. If you enjoy running, the Series 3 or older Series 2 is much more capable of providing you with the right data.

Similarly, if you swim you’ll need the Series 2 or the Series 3. The Series 1 is splashproof, which means it can probably deal with a sweaty workout, but under no circumstances will it be able to cope with a dip in the pool. The Series 3 on the other hand can handle being submerged up to 50 metres. 

Although the Series 2 and Series 3 are similar when it comes to fitness, the 3 has a barometric altimeter, which means it can track elevation data making it a good option if you enjoy outdoor activities, like cycling or running along trails.

If you’re really keen to use your Apple Watch for fitness, bear this in mind when you’re shopping for different styles and bands too. For example, the Series 3 watch can come with a sport band, a sport loop or a Milanese loop. 

Which Apple Watch you need will depend on how you want to use it. Image credit: Pexels

Which Apple Watch you need will depend on how you want to use it. Image credit: Pexels

Series 2 vs Series 3

Apple doesn’t sell the Series 2 device anymore, but that doesn’t mean there might not be some serious discounts on Series 2 watches from other retailers keen to get rid of old stock. So the big question is, which should you go for? 

Well unlike the Series 1, they each are waterproofed for swimming, have built-in GPS and have a 1000 nits display, which means they’re really bright, even in daylight.

So far so similar. But it’s inside where there’s a difference. The newest Series has an improved processor, which boasts a 70 percent performance increase over the Series 2, as well as a new W2 chipset for improvements to power efficiency and performance improvements for Wi-fi. And if you were sold on the idea of taking calls with your watch and ditching your phone at home, the Series 3 is your best bet as the Series 2 doesn’t come with a built-in SIM.

Do you need an Apple Watch?

While you’re sat agonising over the Series 1 or Series 3 or sporty band or Nike+ edition, consider that you might not actually need an Apple Watch. 

We know, it’s appealing to get a wearable to match your iPhone or your MacBook, but if you’re after a device built for fitness, the Fitbit Ionic might be more suited to you. It plays nicely with Android devices, has automatic exercise and a marginally better battery life of 4 days compared to the Apple Watch’s 2. Another obvious alternative is the Samsung Gear S3, as well as the Huawei Watch 2, which both could be discounted for Black Friday too. 

Here’s how the Series 1 Apple Watch looks. Simple but stylish. Image credit: Apple

Here’s how the Series 1 Apple Watch looks. Simple but stylish. Image credit: Apple

Expect serious Series 1 deals

As you’d expect, the oldest version of the Apple Watch is likely to be the most heavily discounted. It’ll serve up notifications, act as a simple all-day tracker and play nicely with lots of apps. Of course this is the most basic watch from Apple now, but it could have at least £100 off making it worth it for those who have been wary.

But it could be the Series 2 that gets the biggest meaningful price cuts given that Apple no longer sells it and other retailers might want rid of old stock. If it gets a discount into your budget and you’re after an Apple Watch, the Series 2 could be your best bet - and it works with most accessories built for the new Series 3. 

Keep your eye on accessory deals 

Whether you already have an Apple Watch or you plan on buying your first, it’s worth shopping around for different accessory deals. Straps are likely to be discounted, as are other Apple branded and non-Apple-branded accessories, like charging cables and charging docks. If you’ve got an Apple Watch but it’s not living up to expectations, maybe investing in a cheap new discounted strap or charging device is just what you need. 

Becca Caddy

Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.