LTE in Apple Watch Series 3 Models Only Works in Country of Purchase

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. porotrico, Sep 16, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017

    porotrico macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2007
    I don't agree with your statement regardless you are probably also Czech guy like I am. :)

    I really think that the only limitation are bands, thus Apple has three different models for three different parts of the world. So, if you buy watch in the UK, you can use it with domestic service in France or in Germany, for instance.

    Roaming is different story. It won't work because of duplicated phone number. Networks usually don't allow two SIM cards with the same number active at the same time, regardless you might have officially two SIMs (let say the first SIM in phone and the second in modem). You always have to maintain turned on only one of them at all times.

    Now you have 2 SIMs with the same number turned on concurrently. That would be a mess in roaming, especially in countries (carriers) which can't handle such situations, therefore roaming is blocked for Apple Watch SIM only.

    On top of that Apple Watch has to use VoLTE in 4G network (there is no other option for calls in 4G networks except CS Fallback). VoLTE itself doesn't support roaming. UMTS networks have way worse coverage not only in Czech Republic because of the frequency used, so it can't be used as the primary way for AW calls.
  2. usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
    The NumberSync technology (two SIMS one number, reminds me of the video of the same name) is tied to a carrier., so it's probably the reason you can't roam.

    I haven't been able to find anything about how that's actually implemented. I believe the GSM spec sort of prohibited this, but people were able to clone SIM cards to get around the spec. They must have dome some kind of IMEI aliasing internally.

    If the watch does roam, how does the network know that it isn't the 'real' device?
  3. porotrico macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2007
    Yes, it was prohibited in the first generations of GSM networks. It was bypassed in networks UMTS and LTE, but it still has limitations. Most of the limitation is to keep the only one SIM active. Or active remain only the first SIM turned on, the other one would connect to mobile network, but remain silent when the number is called.

    Apple Watch is different thing. Both SIMs have to be on and work concurrently and partially independently. When the number is called, both SIMs have to ring. So, carrier had to implement something in the network, which assures that. This is one of the reasons why roaming is not available, IMHO.
  4. usarioclave, Sep 16, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017

    usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
    It's surprising how little detail there is online about how NumberSync etc are implemented. GSM still underlies the roaming system for GSM carriers, since those were in place long before LTE and is baked into everyone's stuff in lots of bizarre and non-obvious ways. It's probably a lot like Ethernet MAC addresses, which are supposed to be unique (and to an extent uniqueness is baked into most implementations) but may not be.

    I've always wondered what would happen if you cloned 2000 SIM cards and turned them all on in a GSM cell. Bad things, probably. NumberSync is probably like that for GSM.
  5. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    The eSIM is going to allow the carriers to write the IMSI. (the unique identifier which includes the MCC/MNC for GSM routing).
    The IMEI is the device identifier. IMSI's normally burnt into the SIM.
    Several years ago several manufacturers were trying to get the SIM card emulation in place (do it in software - in the mobile OS) - but the carriers pushed back. (they liked their sim locked devices)
    Glad to see that we're finally getting rid of these damn cards.

    Someone needs to find us the white paper from GSMA on the eSIM. Be interesting to see just how they'll be handing roaming provisioning. (i.e. you won't lose your home network provisioning, but can have another, temporary carrier provisioning on your device as you travel - the same as multi-sim devices, or doing a sim swap).

    Pretty damn ridiculous that Rogers in Canada doesn't have this out of the gate (as the country's original GSM carrier).

    The problem with doing roaming with the Apple Watch 3 and an iPhone is that the iPhone doesn't currently have an eSIM. if both devices had eSIMs, then you should be able to have them both setup with the same roaming rules (provided the roaming carrier also provides for two devices sharing the same routing on the same plan).
  6. nicho macrumors 68020

    Feb 15, 2008
    imagine the ******** if apple launched an iPhone that wasn't capable of roaming...
  7. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    Yep....doing this with the AW3 gives the carriers the chance to walk before they run. ;)

    It's going to happen...just be interesting to see how much gnashing of teeth from the carriers along the way. :)
  8. DRDR, Sep 16, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017

    DRDR macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2008
    Appare thr the problem is, that the watch is using Voice over LTE. There is no standard for VoLTE roaming yet. Somebody posted a link to an industry report about that. Please read it!

    Usually carriers get around this by not using VoiP while roaming, which means falling back to 3G when a call is made or incoming (LTE in the status bar does not switch to 3G while doing so). Apple probably did not like this dirty workaround, due to modem and energy limitations.

    MultiSim roaming with the same number is no problem at all with existing LTE devices. I do it alot of times with three devices, all sharing one number and one plan. Apple could deactivate the voice part of their watch while roaming, but apparently they don‘t want to or have not decided yet.

    So Apple will probably force the carriers to get VoLTE standardized. In the whole LTE world voice was pretty neglected at the beginning. It was all about data. They even had problems getting text messages working, because they did not use the channels normally used for data.
  9. Glassed Silver macrumors 68020

    Glassed Silver

    Mar 10, 2007
    Kassel, Germany
    What is another country than the USA?

    NAME ONE, I DARE YOU. :eek:


    Glassed Silver:ios
  10. usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
  11. Stella macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    Should have been clearer: one hour talk time.

  12. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    The price delta on the Aluminum to add cellular is $ not quite sure why there not being a separate SKU for no-cellular stainless steel watch being a deal breaker - seems a little nuts. You're spending $800...and you're bitching about a $70 feature you may not use?

    Doesn't impact your battery life if you don't provision it (i.e. the radio will never turn on).

    That's pretty damn crazy that the carriers haven't agreed on a standard for VoLTE roaming yet...they ratify the LTE roaming for data, but not voice?! Maybe this action by Apple will light a fire under their asses.
  13. recoil80 macrumors 68000

    Jul 16, 2014
    Yes, no SS model in my country, no edition and no Hermes.
    But LTE model, even if you don't have carrier support, is better because you can have more storage and the redesigned back compatible with AirPower.
  14. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Apr 27, 2010
    Aarhus, Denmark
    - Indeed. And with Series 2 being discontinued and Series 1 never having been available in Stainless Steel, there aren't a whole lot of options.

    This Series 3 introduction sucks quite bad in a number of ways.
    The upside is that with neither LTE nor Stainless Steel available in my country, my getting a Series 3 is completely out of the question, so it saves me that trouble - not that I was looking to replace my Series 2 Stainless Steel anyway.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 17, 2017 ---
    As has by now been discussed extensively in the thread, there are several different things at play with regard to Apple Watches working outside the country of purchase. The conclusions the article draws simply are not supported by the information it cites.

    Quite frankly, I believe this article reflects poorly on MacRumors, and it disappoints me to see it. It should be corrected.
  15. Bilal101 macrumors newbie


    Sep 17, 2017
    I was going to upgrade to series 3, but knowing this, I don't see the point.
  16. Tech198 macrumors G4

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    wow,, country bound then. So a phone IS still required if u wanna call from overseas.

    If Apple wanted to, they could allow this from the watch too....,.. Perhaps a technical or just partner reason in other countries.

    I bet this would work if the watch was using iPhones LTE connection itself.

    But ya ok we want convenience.... so much for that then.
  17. chiefsilverback macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2011
    Excellent point, presented with grace and aplomb! It's amazing how fast we become 'entitled' to things we didn't even know existed barely minutes before!
  18. omenatarhuri macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2010
    Is that number correct? 3.5%. Blows mind.
  19. Mac 128 macrumors 601

    Mac 128

    Apr 16, 2015
    I doubt your figures. But guess what percentage of iPhone customers buy Apple Watches. Yup about 3.5%. Wouldn't it be interesting if they were the same 3.5% you're claiming -- and considering who buys Apple products, I'd wager Apple customers make up a much larger percentage of your claimed share of US global travelers. The best part of your myopic post, is probably the fact that you're completely ignoring all the other countries where the LTE watch will be released, who likely have a much higher percentage of foreign travel than anyone in the US -- particularly in Europe. This affects them too.
  20. axantas macrumors regular


    Jun 29, 2015
    Seems to limit you to Aluminium.
    Not getting it myself then.
    Not getting an iPhone 8 or X either, as I don't want to live with the new strategy of iTunes 12.7 and the AppStore.

    Waiting until they become reasonable again. Saves a lot of money. It is getting boring.

    Bad move, Tim...

    Already cancelled the update of my MacBook Pro, so getting used to it.
  21. HarryDevlin macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2012
    Saratoga, CA
    That 3.5% number is bogus. It's about 20%. But each year, only about 5% of Americans take one or more foreign trips.

    An LTE only device with limited bands, and eSIM is going to be an issue that affects sales.
  22. sagarpachorkar macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2008
    --- Post Merged, Sep 18, 2017 ---
    The latest iPhones have the most number of LTE bands, it's strange to see weird combination of LTE bands available in the latest Series 3 watches, what could be the reason for unavailability of all major LTE / UMTS bands? Can someone enlighten me why didn't Apple add all the major LTE bands in all models and make it global device? Some technical limitations or another business strategy of releasing all LTE bands in Series 4?
  23. Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    Well said...

  24. starxd macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2013
    Your figures are WAY off. Last year nearly 67 million Americans travelled to a foreign country. That is nearly 22% of the population... in just one year. A lot more people travel than you think. (That 3.5% figure is using some very suspect math based on highly curated data from 2009 - the height of the Great Recession).

    And, of course, the people who are likely to spend $400+ on a smart watch are also far more likely to travel abroad than the general population.
  25. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    Yes, but what part of the population is dropping at least $400 on a smart watch? Especially someone able to drop even more on a steel or edition watch, not that hard to afford traveling abroad.

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