Sunday, 06 August 2017 20:22

Report: 4G LTE Apple Watch Series 3 due ‘later this year’


The long-awaited Apple Watch that can operate independently of an iPhone, while presumably still pairing beautifully with one, is due this year, according to a new report.

Ok, so Huawei’s Watch 2 with 4G LTE connectivity will clearly beat an Apple Watch Series 3 to the 4G LTE punch, but as is well known, Apple isn’t often first, but rather first at nailing a concept and massively popularising it.

Whether this will be the case with 4G LTE connected smartwatches it yet to be seen.

However, given the success of the Apple Watch compared to Android Wear watches, Samsung’s Tizen Gear watches and the cheap and cheerful “smart” watches available online and even at places like Aldi, chances are high that a 4G connected Apple Watch really will connect with consumers.

So, what has been the catalyst for the new report that Apple Watch would be going 4G LTE later this year?

Well, it is a report from Apple Watcher Mark Gurman and his colleagues over at Bloomberg in an article titled: “Apple Plans to Release a Cellular-Capable Watch to Break iPhone Ties.”

Now, the title really says it all, but there are details, one of which I’ve already alluded to, which is that 4G LTE would reduce the future Apple Watch 3’s “reliance on the iPhone".

With a SIM card inside, we’re told that you can do things like download songs and use apps, without needing to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network if you’ve left your iPhone at home.

That said, with people preferring to go home to get their phones should they accidentally forget them, this will be during running, swimming or other exercises, in general – or it may even be enough for some to not need to return home for once and happily go about their days with only a 4G Apple Watch attached.

The report also suggests Intel will be the provider of LTE modems, something that is hardly surprising given Apple’s lawsuit against Qualcomm, which Apple accuses of double charging over patent licensing fees, and of charging fees for on Apple technologies which with Qualcomm had nothing to do.

One wonders whether Apple will make do with an inbuilt SIM card, rather than allowing end-users to insert any SIM they choose (as appears to be the case with Huawei’s Watch 2), or whether there is space for both an in-built SIM and a user-insertable model.

This seems unlikely given the space constraints, even though iPads of the past year or two have included both an in-built SIM and space for your own, mainly because iPads have so much extra space to deal with than a much smaller watch.

There’s also talk of Apple Watch sporting a new form factor, although whether this will be a more rectangular screen for more screen space, or a doubtful but possible circular version is yet to be seen.

Bloomberg’s article, much of which is simply regurgitating of stuff already known in an attempt to fill out space, goes on about GPS having been added to last year’s Apple Watch Series 2, how Apple has supposedly been planing to release an LTE Apple Watch last year but decided against it, presumably due to now-solved battery life issues, and about the new Watch’s time frame.

So, whether the report is true, or not, an Apple Watch with its own built-in 4G LTE connectivity seems certain, because you can do a lot more if your device has independent connectivity as a wrist mounted computing device that can display information on screen or in your ear with AirPods or any other Bluetooth headset.

It’s certainly a development I’d happily welcome, especially given I was happily wearing an LG feature-phone as smartwatch back in 2009, with 3G connectivity, which was amazing then and would be vastly more amazing now, nearly a decade later, with the huge advances in connectivity, screens, the Internet itself, batteries and all else in that time.

As is the usual way to end any article on smartwatches, this is one space to watch, so keep your eyes peeled, because the time is nigh for connectivity from the sky – or at least, from Apple, seeing as its competitors have already delivered on this front.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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