Watch Series 3 Memory Missing

watchOS & Apple Watch Apps

I seem to have a memory issue with my watch. It reports that I have 4.8GB of memory of the onboard 8GB. Okay.

But even with no apps, music, media of any kind, and mail all empty, I have 2GB used, and only 2.8 available. I installed the only two apps I use, and I am down to 2.5GB.

This is an issue when I did the latest WatchOS 7 upgrade. Nothing I did would get me to the required 3.1GB open needed to do the update. Well, nothing other than a factory reset. I did that, and got the update.

But now I am again facing the same reset every time I do a WatchOS update.

Does anyone else with a series 3 have similar issues?

I really don't need a new series 6.



Submitted by Travis Roth on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

My Series 3 is behaving similarly. It had 4.8gb and 2.3 free with nothing installed. I did the whole un-pair, set as new watch pairing, and installed new OS. Which took several attempts to get it to re-pair in fact. Now it did update and total memory capacity is at 4.2Gb. So more is gone. It feels like it is either a bug, or some sort of aging memory issue. I suspect getting future updates onto it will not go well. My Series 3 is an original from 2017; all the same an actual hardware issue with memory is very un-Apple like.
I've not researched the web to see how many others are experiencing this. But this makes two of us. I'd certainly not recommend purchasing a "new" Series 3 from Apple even though they do still sell it. It feels like WatchOS 7 is the last it is going to effectively run.

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

In reply to by Travis Roth

Thank you for the confirmation. While I had lots of memory after the OS install, once I put just two apps, Weather Gods and Pedometer on the watch, each taking up a small amount of space, I was back to having over 2GB used, and 2.5GB open. This means I would have to do the same dance for every update.

Well, not quite the same dance. In the upgrade to version 7, I decided to set it up as new. I was concerned that whatever was going on might be in a backup Since setting up as new didn't "fix" anything, I would restore a back up next time. That would make the process a little less tedious.

I have been happy with the watch, and will replace it at some point. I am glad I got it running, and will wait for at least another version. Perhaps it's coincidence, but the even numbered watch versions don't stick around quite as long as the odd numbered ones.

As a somewhat related aside, do you also have 2 photos on your watch you cannot remove? I don't sync photos, and they were there before the upgrade, and after.

Submitted by Travis Roth on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

In reply to by DPinWI

I don't have photos on the watch it says, but I have 12 songs it claims. I don't' know what they are or how to find them, I don't' even have 12 songs on my iPhone as I don't' store music. And this is with a new setup. Glitch somewhere.
Not sure about even numbered watches disappearing sooner. Perhaps, but Series 5 is also off the market, although most of it sans the always-on screen is in the new Watch SE. I do not understand keeping Series 3 for sale when they have the new SE; but Apple does not consult me haha. I have heard an opinion from the Verge tech guys that they believe the Series SE is reusing old Series 4 parts, e.g., they had a lot of the older screens to use up. I would expect, with Series 6 having a newer faster processor than the one in the Series 5 and the new Series SE, that watchOS updates for series 6 will continue for a number of years.
The best value here in late September 2020 may be to find a discounted Series 5 before they disappear. I've been hearing some going for only $20-$30 USD more than a Series SE. That said my personal philosophy as a VoiceOver user is to get as much processor for VoiceOver as is possible. It is more overhead, no matter how you slice it.

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

I agree. If I were to get a watch right now, it would be the 6, but I would really rather wait until next year. My wild guess on the odd versus even numbered series is questionable at best, and mostly an attempt to quell my desire to upgrade.

Funny you have music and I have photos on the watch. Funny, but not in a good way.

Submitted by Elvey on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

My Series 3 is behaving similarly but worse. It's much improved today: 4.2GB capacity. Details at * below. A few days ago, it showed as 2.3 GB capacity and 674MB Available) (looking at screen shot now ; it also shows it was on 7.0.3 and is model MTF02LL/A, and I have a few; it's from Sunday). Another from Sunday shows it with 4.2GB capacity, and one from Oct 18 shows it with 4.8GB capacity like you two. Updating is an absurd PITA. Attempts failing over and over, in different ways. Including providing these 3 error messages Unable to [Check for | Verify | Install ] Update and more. I'm realizing I spent two days on it on my own and then with Apple support. I too think it is "some sort of aging memory issue" because I've read of similar things with iPhones reporting far less memory than they should have. All Apple ARM flash memory systems are designed to fail gracefully even with a large number of defective banks of memory; there isn't a fixed amount of spare blocks that can be swapped in...the amount of available memory just goes down. There must be more info out there with details on what scheme(s) iPhones and (hopefully) Apple Watch flash memory (i.e. ARM) systems use. (Macs use 3rd party flash hardware with standard schemes (except probably the M1 systems)). I'm pretty confident that since it is only happening with a fraction of iPhones, this is not happening with most Series 3s too. I can't recall if folks got Apple to replace any such phones or not. I tried to get Apple Support to run a diagnostic on my phone and watch yesterday. Strangely, they were unable to; she reported trying but my phone and watch didn't receive the requests.

P.S. First post. I didn't realize this was for this community 'till after I registered/signed in to post. I'm sort of a member; I have a very rare disease (MOG+NMOSD) that caused me temporarily blindness and blinds half within 5 years w/o treatment, and has no FDA-approved treatment; I'm fighting for a treatment so I don't go blind - bizarrely, it's hard to get, and a likely cure :

PPS: (By the way I just dug out the original Apple Watch that the Apple Watch three was replacement for and it has 5.6GB capacity. I might switch back. It was lost for a few months behind the bed. )

Details: *Now: General..About shows 24 applications (not including the pre-installed ones, I guess?), 4.2GB capacity, 3.0GB available. General..Usage shows same available, 1.2GB used. (But individual use of each of the 35 apps listed there adds up to just .26GB!)
I tried to unpair and re-pair it in order to install WatchOS 7 - and it kept failing to re-pair. To install updates, I have to either re-pair or reset it to factory settings (almost the same thing). Whether I try to install via my iPhone or directly to the watch. That is, me too: "I did the whole un-pair, set as new watch pairing, and installed new OS. Which took several attempts to get it to re-pair in fact."

Submitted by DPinWI on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

I caved in and upgraded to the Series 6. My wife pushed me over the edge when she balked at yet again being tech support as I needed to yet again restore the watch in order to do the OS upgrade.

I like the 6. So much faster. I initially put some music and podcasts on it, but after a week, I reverted to using my iPhone as my primary media consumption device. Nothing wrong with the watch, it just was me falling back into an old comfortable habit.

My wife reported this week that her iPad is showing the same issues. She cannot install the latest release due to a lack of space, despite only having a couple things on it. She too has several gigabytes of "missing" memory.

Submitted by Elvey on Friday, November 27, 2020

... when I was proud that my Apple products would last so much longer and work so much better than the competition's kit. Still true for my older Apple products, but the only solution to the increasing trend toward planned obsolescence ... is to buy Apple stock? (If you can afford it!)

On a positive note: this may help: Clear "Other" storage on your iPhone or iPad =

knock on wood, I have never seen this problem before and I have a series 3 that is a year old. I bought it in 2019. It is still going. It's a bit slow but I don't mind at all.