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Here are all the Apple Watches getting updated to WatchOS 5

Mark Jansen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Arriving alongside the new Apple Watch Series 4, WatchOS 5 is the next huge step up for Apple’s thriving wearable ecosystem. This new version of Apple’s wearable OS is coming with a bunch of improvements, including better health and fitness tracking, a handy walkie-talkie mode, and a new feature for Siri that means she doesn’t need a trigger word to activate. WatchOS 5 has been available to developers since Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, and it will be released for everyone else on September 17.

But despite all those new features and improvements, some Apple Watch owners might not be celebrating when the update finally drops. It turns out not every Apple Watch is getting the update to WatchOS 5, and some will be left behind. Avoid an update-induced headache come WatchOS 5 release day, and find out now if your Apple Watch is getting updated.

How to identify your Apple Watch

But before we begin, what if you’re not sure which model your Apple Watch actually is? After all, each generation of the Apple Watch has looked more or less the same — if you bought the latest “Apple Watch” without thinking too much about the model then you’re certainly not alone.

Thankfully, this is a situation that Apple has foreseen, and there is a simple way to discover which Apple Watch is perched on your wrist.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the My Watch tab, then hit General > About.
  3. Scroll to the Model field, then tap it to reveal a model number beginning with “A”.
  4. Note down that model number and compare it to Apple’s database to find out which Apple Watch you have.

Now that’s you’re sure you know which Apple Watch you have, it’s time to find out if you’ll be getting an OS upgrade.

Apple Watches that will receive WatchOS 5

There’s nothing hugely surprising here; if you’ve bought an Apple Watch fairly recently, then you would expect it to stay updated with the latest and greatest of Apple’s updates for now. Last year’s Apple Watch Series 3, the Apple Watch Series 2, and the Apple Watch Series 1 from 2016 are all watches that will be receiving WatchOS 5 when it launches.

We didn’t include the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4 in this list because that watch will launch with WatchOS 5 already installed — so it won’t be an update.

Apple Watches that will not receive WatchOS 5

Bad news for anyone still hanging onto their first-generation Apple Watch — it won’t be receiving an upgrade to the latest WatchOS, which means you won’t be sampling the latest additions and improvements to the OS.

But why isn’t your watch getting updated with the rest? Unfortunately, every piece of technology has a shelf life, and there comes a day when it simply isn’t worth the company’s time to keep pushing updates to an outdated model. Apple is known for supporting its tech for longer than other companies — there are five-year-old iPhones receiving the upcoming iOS 12 update — but even Apple has its limits.

The first generation of Apple Watch is actually pretty young for an Apple product, so it’s a surprise to see it getting the boot so soon. Which leads us to suspect that the reason isn’t to do with its lifespan — it’s linked to the watch’s hardware itself. Sometimes an update is too much for older hardware to handle, and it’s not a good idea to shackle future innovation in order to stay tethered to older hardware. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way of the tech world.

Does this mean you need to ditch your Apple Watch and go shopping? Not necessarily. If you’re desperate for the new WatchOS 5 then you’re going to have to invest in a new model — but if your Apple Watch is chugging along just fine and you’re otherwise happy with your wrist-based companion, why not keep it around? If it’s still a solid performer and WatchOS 5 is your only grumble, maybe consider living with the still capable WatchOS 4. After all, it’s still a heck of a smartwatch.