Apple Watch Series 3 Facing LTE Setbacks in China, Likely Due to Government 'Security Concerns'

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3 remain unavailable to new carrier plan subscribers in China, after having been "abruptly cut off...without explanation" just one week after the device's launch in September. A new report published today by The Wall Street Journal has looked into the LTE setbacks faced by the Apple Watch in the country, which is predicted to face ongoing issues over the next couple of months.

    Originally, Apple Watch Series 3 models on launch were supported by the carrier China Unicom, but on September 28 -- almost one week after the September 22 launch -- Unicom cut off new LTE subscriptions for the device. Those who had signed up for a subscription prior to that date remain unaffected, but now anyone trying to sign up for LTE on their Apple Watch are unable to do so. Unicom said on its website that the feature had been available "on a trial basis" and didn't specify when it might resume.

    On the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular support site, all Chinese carriers -- China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom -- now say "coming later this year." Previously, Unicom specified the following: "Cellular service available only for mobile lines opened in Guangdong, Henan, Hunan, Shanghai, and Tianjin." A few days after September 28, Apple updated the page with the new reference to support later in 2017.

    Industry analysts cited "security concerns" likely raised by the government in China related to tracking wearers of Apple's device. Because the Apple Watch uses different technology than standard smartphones, China's strict regulation policies can't simply be outfitted for the new LTE product.

    Specifically, analysts believe the problem lies in China's user identification system. When users purchase a smartphone in the country, they register for a SIM card under their real names with a network carrier. But, the Apple Watch contains a tiny embedded SIM card (eSIM), which is placed in the device by Apple, not carriers. Analysts believe this raises questions of "how carriers and regulators can track the device user's identity," because the eSIM "isn't mature enough yet in China."
    Now, officials at China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are said to be studying how to resolve the issue before granting any broad cellular access to the Apple Watch. This process, according to analysts, "could take months."

    The Apple Watch LTE roadblock is the latest problem faced by Apple in China, after last year facing the shutdown of the iBooks and iTunes stores due to the release of a controversial independent movie. Over the summer, Apple then removed the majority of VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

    Article Link: Apple Watch Series 3 Facing LTE Setbacks in China, Likely Due to Government 'Security Concerns'
  2. Derekeys macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA
    Personally, I'm still a bit confused. If you leave your iPhone at home AND IT'S OFF (powered down, dead, etc.) can you still use the e-sim?
  3. M.PaulCezanne macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2014
  4. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    Umm.... yes. The difference is that eSIM is built-in rather than on a separate insertable card. Once registered, your phone number is tied to TWO devices rather than just one. That occurs at the cell provider layer... not as a cascade from your phone.
  5. nwcs macrumors 68000


    Sep 21, 2009
    Gee, will Cook show a backbone on this one or will he cave on China related issues as he usually does?
  6. bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    So, Tim can either
    (a) Do what's best for the profit of the company
    (b) Do what's best for his personal ideals

    ... and he'll be criticized either way.

    Love how this works.
  7. Robert.Walter macrumors 65816

    Jul 10, 2012
    What a flaky, inappropriate and trollistic comment.

    What are you suggesting he do?

    It’s not like he can, or would want to, use nuclear sabre rattling, or any other satisfying, dramatic but ultimately ineffective or self-destructive action, to advance his case.

    You seem like a man with a plan, So what do you suggest he do.
  8. citysnaps, Oct 19, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017

    citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    Let's pretend you're the CEO of Apple, one of the largest companies in the world, and responsible for 120,000 employees.

    What would you do? Would you show backbone, or would you cave on China? Please be specific, listing actions and steps you would take on how you would handle this going forward.
  9. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    What exactly would it mean to "show a backbone"?
  10. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    He has three options:
    #1 - Don't allow the Apple Watch to be sold in China at all.
    #2 - Allow the Apple Watch to be sold without cellular connectivity in China.
    #3 - Allow the Apple Watch to be sold with cellular connectivity in China, and let the government track where people are using it.

    I don't see how #1 makes any sense. #2 seems like a perfectly fine option. #3 maximizes profits but compromises on ideals.

    Which would you suggest he does?
  11. solipsism, Oct 19, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017

    solipsism macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2008
    That's not a function of eSIM; that's an convenience feature offered by carriers so you can pair one phone number to multiple device, but it's not guaranteed to be offered and it can paired with two physical SIMs.
  12. nicho macrumors 68020

    Feb 15, 2008
    Given #3 is the status quo with iPhone (and all devices with actual SIM cards) i'm not even sure you could say it "compromises their ideals" in this case.
  13. usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
  14. mariusignorello macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2013
    Well both of those options are the same. We already know Tim’s political views.
  15. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
  16. SirRahikkala macrumors regular


    Sep 7, 2016
    And the eSim will make it more niche product since it has really small operator support globally.
  17. solipsism macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2008
    Did you think Nano SIM would remain "niche" when Micro SIM was most common, or Micro SIM would remain "niche" when Mini SIM was most common, etc.?
  18. bbeagle, Oct 19, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2017

    bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    Those are definitely not the same.
  19. SirRahikkala macrumors regular


    Sep 7, 2016
    Totally different thing and it has nothing to do with sim sizes. Adapting e-sim has been seen as threat from the carriers. Requirement of physical sim makes it harder (albeit little) to change the carrier. We are now talking about freedom of choice which carriers hate. Sure it will be the future but at the moment it's niche where as Apple and Samsung etc. has been bringing products to market since 2014.
  20. ELman macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2017
    It's $10 a month but let's not forget $4.14 Verizon charges on top of the $10

    Administrative Charge $2.46
    Univ Service Fund Charge .04
    Service Provider Tax Charge .17
    School and Library Fund Charge .01
    State 911 Surcharge .90

    Looks like I'm removing the LTE service from my watch. $14 plus a month extra is not worth it.
  21. solipsism macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2008
    1) Debating security ≠ debating the growth potential of a standard with low support.

    2) Physical SIMs offer more consumer choice than eSIMs.
  22. 6502 macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2016
    It means standing up to the Chinese gov't the same way he stands up to the US gov't.
  23. 6502 macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2016
    I would bring manufacturing back to the US so I wouldn't be beholden to my Chinese masters. He has no problem standing up to the US gov't and FBI.
  24. scrapesleon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2017
    stop giving the Apple Watch a bad name china
  25. macTW Suspended

    Oct 17, 2016
    And right as you thought the Chinese government couldn’t get any stupider.

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