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Analyst Suggests Third-Generation Apple Watch Will Include Cellular Connectivity


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Based on supply chain analysis following a trip to Asia, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Christopher Rolland (via Barron's) believes Apple's third-generation Apple Watch may introduce cellular connectivity, a feature that's been long rumored for the device.

Specifically, Rolland suggests the 2017 Apple Watch will include a SIM card for LTE connectivity and that the next-generation device will be promoted alongside the AirPods.

We understand a model of the next Apple watch will include a SIM card, and therefore is likely to support LTE. We understand some issues remain, including battery life and form factor size, but significant progress has been made. Apple may be employing VOIP and data across a CAT-M1 connection for superior battery life.

Apple will tout interoperability with the company's AirPods (now on back order till May) to make and receive phone calls (perhaps a small win for Maxim with amps in each ear bud). Positive QCOM, MXIM.
Apple has likely been working to add a cellular modem to the Apple Watch for several years, but has been unable to do so due to excessive battery drain. In early 2016, rumors suggested the second-generation Apple Watch would include cellular connectivity, but that didn't pan out.

Mid-2016 rumors indicated Apple was researching low-power cellular chips for future versions of the Apple Watch, but was unable to make it work for the second-generation device, so the technology could potentially be ready for inclusion in a 2017 Apple Watch.

The addition of standalone cellular connectivity would further untether the Apple Watch from the iPhone, a process that started with the introduction of GPS in the Apple Watch Series 2. With a cellular connection, Apple Watch owners would not need an iPhone nearby to do things like make phone calls and stream Apple Music content, but a separate data plan would likely be needed.

Other Apple Watch 3 rumors have pointed towards a modest update that focuses mainly on under-the-hood hardware improvements to boost performance and battery life, and while we haven't heard much information on a third-generation device, a refresh could come alongside the iPhone 8 in September.

Today's report from Rolland also touches on some previously mentioned 2017 rumors, suggesting all three rumored iPhone models will feature wireless charging capabilities and will be charged through pads manufactured by Pegatron and Foxconn. "There is some skepticism regarding charging efficiency," writes Rolland, "as it may take 3 hours to receive a full charge."

While long-range contactless wireless charging was originally rumored to be included in the 2017 iPhone, later information has centered on inductive charging methods, which would require a separate charging mat or other similar charging device.

The analyst also believes Apple will eliminate the Home button in the iPhone 8, but the Lightning port will stay. He suggests there has been "serious consideration" for removing the Lightning port in 2018, however.

Rolland does not have an established track record for predicting Apple's product plans, but the information he's shared today is not outlandish and echoes past rumors. Still, cellular connectivity for the Apple Watch has been rumored multiple times in the past, so it's worth viewing today's note with some skepticism until additional information is available.

Article Link: Analyst Suggests Third-Generation Apple Watch Will Include Cellular Connectivity
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macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2016
Yet another thing to add to the monthly bill... this is why I don't see most users taking advantage of this feature if it materialises as there isn't much point but maybe I'm wrong.

While there may have been consideration for removing the Lightning connector, some form of physical connector would have to stay if they made the move in the future, likely some sort of smart connector.


macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
Apple Watch with cellular could be very useful for certain segment of users.
  • K-12: Perhaps not as young as K-3, but a smart watch with cellular could be (1) more cost effective than a smartphone, (2) accepted at wider number of schools (some won't allow it due to theft and conformity), (3) and seen as less distracting (far less games and other time wasting apps).
  • Laborers: Using a phone while performing certain types of work can be very challenging.
  • Athletes
  • Security Restrictions: Not having a camera can be a plus. Many government organizations, courts, and security sensitive companies forbid devices with a camera.
As for having yet another plan to pay argument, many carriers offer inexpensive monthly plans (about $5/month).


macrumors 601
Jun 18, 2014
since apple watch does not use that much cellular data (not to mention, you're almost always near a phone), it's very easy to imagine Apple striking a deal with carriers to offer free data as long as you're a post-paid customer of that service.

but there's still a downside of including it in a small package with a small battery. i don't think it's going to happen

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
  • Security Restrictions: Not having a camera can be a plus. Many government organizations, courts, and security sensitive companies forbid devices with a camera.
Note that the British prime minister has banned smartwatches from the cabinet table because of fear of acoustic surveillance (not that your argument wouldn't be valid, just as an aside).


macrumors 68040
Sep 29, 2014
Along with an optional micro nuclear reactor if you don't like the cord that runs down your arm to the included battery pack.
Maybe wireless charging will improve enough to get juice from your phone. My 7 Plus could easily spare some battery for my watch during the day. I don't want a cord to do it but I would take wireless.


Dec 14, 2013
Finally. I'm not moving from my old watch until they do. I'd like to put AT&T or Verizon on the watch. Since T-Mobile doesn't work everywhere but I've got a great plan.
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Mac 128

macrumors 603
Apr 16, 2015
For what purpose? I see no point in adding it.

If nothing else, it makes it totally independent from the iPhone, and opens it up to the entire smart watch marketplace.

There's many reasons someone would want this, even if you don't see the need. The good news is, just like the iPad there will likely be a model with and without it, and you won't have to buy it if you don't want to. Those of us, who would love to have this kind of connectivity will be spending more and enjoying the experience.


Jul 18, 2013
Yet another thing to add to the monthly bill... this is why I don't see most users taking advantage of this feature if it materialises as there isn't much point but maybe I'm wrong.
It probably won't cost much. I am with T-Mobile and when I was using a Gear S watch with an Android phone, the plan for the watch cost $15 with a $10 credit each month. You can handle an extra $5 can't ya?
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macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2007
Scotsman in New Zealand
SIM in watch? Doesn't make sense as Apple hates SIM cards and has been trying to get rid of them for years.
I'm not that up on the SIM tech but I'm wondering if the SIM details can be read from the phone's SIM and given to the watch to allow mirroring ?
If the watch is out of range of the Phone then the Watch becomes primary and phone goes into standby (like airplane mode).
Complete freedom from the Phone is something I think the market is ready for.
Go for a run, or forgot your iPhone and left it in the car? Missed calls? Messages etc? Not anymore.
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