Why you’ll hate cellular functionality on the Apple Watch 2

“Rumors that Apple is getting ready to unveil the Apple Watch 2 are nearing fever pitch,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “And the top feature it’s predicted to have is cellular connectivity, which will cut the tie with the iPhone.”

“It’s a feature [some – MDN Ed.] people felt the initial Apple Watch was missing,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “But be careful what you wish for, because once you get this feature, you’ll probably start hating it.”

“The first problem with getting cellular into Apple Watch 2 will be powering it. Cellular takes a lot of power,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “OK, so you’re not concerned about battery life. Well, how much are you willing to pay for having cellular on your wrist?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last November:

“Normal” people, non-techies, love their Apple Watches. Some so-called “techie” people act as if they aren’t familiar with the constraints of battery technology or mobile processors (especially in regard to heat dissipation). Many of these same people also seem to have an deep-seated desire for a “Dick Tracy Watch” without ever asking themselves “Why? Why do I want something that was conceived before the Internet and before everyone who’d ever want to wear one had a sophisticated portable pocket computer in their pocket?”

This quest for a “two-way wrist radio” is unending because it’s an outmoded idea and is therefore never coming. People will be wearing “Dick Tracy Hats” en masse before they’re wearing “Dick Tracy Watches.”

People who give up on their Apple Watch generally do so because they simply don’t get it. They approach Apple Watch by trying to shove it into some preconceived idea built upon an idea drawn in a comic strip in the 1940’s. When it doesn’t fit, they give up; their brains seemingly not being malleable enough to use Apple Watch the way it was designed to be used.

Apple Watch users who love their Apple Watches — which is nearly all of them, by the way with Apple Watch satisfaction at an unprecedented 97%, beating the user satisfaction of the original iPhone and iPad — understand.

Everyone else is just on the outside looking in, just like those who were snapping their flip phones closed and muttering to themselves, “my cellphone works fine,” staring blankly as we first generation iPhone owners were already living and working in the future, saving time, up-to-date, at the ready, and with the answers to many, many questions at our fingertips way back in the summer of 2007. The rest of the world would figure it out eventually.


    1. My guess is that the cellular modem by default will be switched off, but there will be a quick switch to enable it.

      Alas, there is no magic with battery technology yet. Cellular will kill your battery mercilessly, especially when you are walking around when the signal strength jumps from 2 to 5 to 3 points out of 5 all the time, and the watch will be switching from one cellular tower from another. The battery will be butchered very quickly.

      So yes, I hope the cellular will be switched off by default, though being easily accessible.

  1. As far as having a standalone full blown cell service on the watch, I say dream on little dreamers. For one, I would never add another already too expensive cell plan to my watch. I’m pretty sure battery issues and SIM card limitations would handcuff a cell phone watch anyway. If I was going to do anything, I would increase the Bluetooth/wifi range between watch and iPhone. There’s a couple of things Apple needs to address with the Apple Watch OS. Around the hobby farm I often leave my phone alone and wear my watch. Sometimes I venture out of range of the phone. If I miss a call or a text while disconnected, there’s no alert on my watch telling me that I missed a call/text. Another good thing to have is a haptic alert for the times that you do venture out of range of your phone. It saves me running to my phone to see if I missed something. It’s something I’m sure apple can fix easily and make a great tool even better. And yes, I still LOVE my watch!

  2. Cellular on the wrist is a really bad idea. It is quite a powerful signal and the health issues with exposing the exact same piece of skin 12 to 18 hours every day is asking for trouble.

  3. I’d imagine Apple would sell the Apple Watch with and without cellular. Additionally, I’d imagine GPS would come with the cellular.

    Adding the watch to your plan for $5 a month seems somewhat reasonable to me as long as they can share the same number so you can do things like go for a run/hike/ride and be completely independent with your watch.

    That’s what the author is missing here. It’s still primarily a fitness device. However we want to remain connected while doing activities. It’s not that I’m going to be making a call for hours on the watch every day. It’s that if I’m doing an activity, I may need to make a call (or check email, get directions, etc…)

    I’m willing to pay extra for the version of the Apple Watch, pay a $5 monthly fee, and deal with the potential hassle of having to charge my watch after going sans iPhone with it while doing an activity.

    It’s a small price to pay to avoid carrying around an iPhone+ while doing certain activities.

  4. Thank goodness that Kingsley-Hughes is there to warn Apple against doing things the conventional and obvious way.

    Personally I think that there’s zero chance that Apple would release a cellular Watch without resolving the battery life challenge ( because after all they have already explained that short battery life why the original Apple Watch didn’t have cellular ).

  5. Apple as usual is damned if they do and damned if they don’t here. If they make a cellular Apple Watch, and it works perfectly, they will somehow get shit for it being “too expensive” or “nerdy” or some other crap because the competitors screwed theirs up so badly. Now, if it’s even slightly less than optimal they’ll get shit for it not working and being a fiasco. Just like waiting to add gps to the iPhone in generation 2 (iPhone 3G) was a good idea, waiting to implement this is also a good idea if they ever do. Personally the way it works now is pretty nice and the beta watchOS 3 software is fantastic, so other than battery improvements I’m not sure if cellular is a good idea.

  6. The way I’ve thought about this, is why have a cell phone when you have a cell watch? In other words, I wouldn’t pair my watch with my phone, I’d pair my phone with my watch. Now I would carry around an iPod touch device, that makes and receives calls through my connected watch. One cell phone plan, shared data with whichever screen I was carrying, or none at all.

  7. I’m not exactly sure how this would work since your phone manual already tells you to keep 2 cm away from your body(which most people ignore outta sight outta mind) , and yes battery life would be awful but to work also for health and putting that radio might put you at risk.

  8. You folks are in a bubble who think Apple is going to make a standalone cellular watch…ain’t gonna happen anytime soon until the iPhone really starts fading…think about it a little deeper.

    1. As usual, Derek, you are being too logical. Unless the next-generation Apple Watch is…

      1. Thinner
      2. Lighter
      3. Capable of stand-alone cellular telephony, including FaceTime with a built-in video camera
      4. Equipped with a stand-alone GPS
      5. Accompanied by a wireless rapid charger for the new batteries that double the time between charges, and
      6. Cheaper

      … it will be condemned as a complete failure.

  9. A stand alone watch has already been accomplished. I own a Gear S2 and it works great with or without a phone. The battery life at least lasts a day, and the service only costs $10 more a month on my AT&T plan. I so my point is, if Samsung has done it a year ago, and there’s no reason why Apple can’t replicate it today.

  10. When a wifi network or iPhone connection is available, the watch could simply turn off cellular. When either of those connections are available, the watch automatically activated cellular connections. Sounds like a viable option.

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