watchOS 11 drops support for a record number of Apple Watch models

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority


  • watchOS 11 drops support for Apple Watch Series 4 (2018), Apple Watch Series 5 (2019), and Apple Watch SE 1 (2020).
  • Until now, the company had been dropping one or two Apple Watch models every other year.
  • The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch SE 1 share the same S5 chip, which explains the joint retirement.

iPhones and many years of software support go hand in hand. While Apple has pledged to keep the latest iPhones up to date for at least five years, it often updates them beyond that mark. The same can’t be said about Apple Watches, however. The company hasn’t committed to a specific number of support years, and its patterns aren’t always predictable. In a move that has shocked many, the Apple Watch Series 4 (2018), Series 5 (2019), and SE 1 (2020) won’t support watchOS 11.

Since the same S5 chipset powers the Apple Watch Series 5 and SE 1, retiring them simultaneously makes technological sense. Nevertheless, until now, the company had never dropped support for three Apple Watch models at once. In the past, the company had been retiring one to two models every other year, as our breakdown below reflects:

  • watchOS 5 dropped the Apple Watch Series 0.
  • watchOS 7 dropped the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2.
  • watchOS 9 dropped the Apple Watch Series 3.
  • watchOS 11 drops the Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5, and SE 1.

This occurrence highlights why Apple should publicly commit to a minimum number of watchOS support years. This would help customers make more informed purchasing decisions. After all, many users can’t justify opting for the latest models or upgrading frequently. So, by knowing the minimum number of updates to expect in advance, they can pick Apple Watches that won’t be retired soon.

For those unfamiliar, the Apple Watch Series 6, Series 7, Series 8, Ultra 1, and SE 2 all share the same CPU. So, it’s very likely Apple will eventually discontinue all these models in one go. Will it be in one year or four? Nobody knows. Consequently, without an Apple commitment, it’s hard for customers to choose from any of the previous-gen models. The latest Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 introduce the first processing boost in three years, making them the only “safe” models to opt for.

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