How Apple could put an LTE radio into Apple Watch without killing battery life

“The surprise in Bloomberg‘s Friday scoop about an LTE Apple Watch was not that Apple has been working on adding cellular connectivity to the device,” Mark Sullivan writes for Fast Company. “It’s that the company is reportedly ready to bring it to the market as soon as this fall.”

“Apple had already added a GPS radio to last fall’s Apple Watch Series 2, which left only one more major radio to add in a future watch–a cellular one,” Sullivan writes. “The company would likely have done so a long time ago except for the fact that cellular radios require a lot of battery power to operate.”

“Creative Strategies president and long-time Apple analyst Tim Bajarin says he still has his doubts about an LTE Apple Watch arriving this fall. However, ‘it’s inevitable that at some point this will happen and I believe Apple’s goal would be more focused on untethered access to data and possibly music,’ he adds,” Sullivan writes. “If Apple truly does release an LTE Watch this fall, it will almost certainly have to place restrictions on some of the battery-hogging services that cellular connectivity would make possible… The Watch would be on the user’s wrist all day, but the LTE radio would be off most of the day.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re generally only without our iPhones when we’re running, swimming, and participating in other sports/activities. During those few hours per day, we’d have the cellular capability available for use, if necessary, in our Apple Watches. At all other times, the Watch would know the iPhone was in range and would use its cellular radio instead, as usual.


  1. If I understand MDN’s take, the LTE connection would supplement, not replace the iPhone’s cellular data connection. MDN imagines the Apple Watch will continue to be a complementary device and not yet a stand alone product. On the other hand if Apple is promoting the LTE addition as the method where the Apple Watch is intended to become a standalone product, battery life/management will have to be drastically improved let alone how that separate connection will be billed.

  2. I like MDNs take; the idea of not having a phone or going without your phone all day seems too much of a stretch. It will be a nice perk to remain connected during the few hours of the day when it is advantageous to leave the phone behind.

    1. Yeah, maybe but it would have to be a flexible battery. I suspect a flexible battery band is as likely as one of Gene Munster’s flat panel Apple TVs.

      Which is to say not bloody likely.

  3. Embedded (aka software) SIM is a must for size and especially 50m water resistance.

    Introducing that watch first is the right way to go: iPhone would be impossible as operators don’t yet support it (and rollout would be slow even if they’d want to—which they don’t).

    With watch it won’t be a deal breaker as the wireless functionality stays on par with series 2 even without LTE. To keep lucrative watch wielding iPhone users happy, operators will capitulate and after that Apple can bring it to iPhone too.

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