Bloomberg first reported Apple’s plans to bring cellular connectivity to the Apple Watch at the beginning of August. KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo mirrored those claims yesterday, positioning LTE as the key upgrade for the new generation.
A report from CNBC today corroborates the stories, with a firmer launch window. CNBC believes the new watch models will be announced alongside the iPhone 8 unveiling at Apple’s (as-yet-unannounced) September event.
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Apple introduced Apple Watch Series 2 at its September event last year, sharing the spotlight with iPhone 7, so it by no means unprecedented for the products to share the stage. The original Apple Watch was announced with the iPhone 6 but didn’t ship until half a year later.
The CNBC report says that the new Apple Watch ‘Series 3’ will go on sale in September. The cellular models will be able to make calls, stream music and more independent of an iPhone or WiFi network. The LTE watches are expected to feature a ‘virtual’ embedded SIM card as the device is too small to accommodate a physical user-replaceable SIM tray.
Whilst all big four US carriers are expected to carry the new Watch on their networks, the international situation is less clear. CNBC says that Apple is seeking partnerships to sell the Watch in Europe but it doesn’t sound like anything has been finalized.
Yesterday’s KGI report said that the device will not support 3G, it will be an LTE-only product. This likely means the cellular third-generation Apple Watch will not be offered in as many countries as an iPhone or iPad, as 4G coverage is not comprehensive in many markets.
Whilst KGI reports LTE as the tentpole new feature of the hardware update, it did say that Apple would still be releasing non-LTE new models (in the standard 38 mm and 42 mm sizes). It’s not clear what other new features Apple has in store to compel users to upgrade, although better battery life and better performance are likely candidates.
Invites for Apple’s September event will likely go out to press around the end of August, in a couple of weeks. The event is expected to be held on either September 6th or 12th, assuming Apple sticks to its usual patterns. The company will announce the three new iPhone models (including the radically-redesigned OLED model), the new watches and maybe a 4K Apple TV too.
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