Why the carriers must drop the Apple Watch LTE connectivity tax

“Apple’s decision to put LTE support inside the latest Apple Watch is highly significant, it means users and developers can now begin to truly explore the connected opportunities of truly smart wearable devices, but there’s a Catch 22 to realizing the deep digital destiny,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Apple didn’t make too much noise about it, but if you’re going to call your boss using your Apple Watch LTE while you are kayaking in the middle of a lake you’re going to have to pay your iPhone service provider an additional $10/month for the privilege,” Evans writes. “I don’t think the $10/month charge will prove to be sustainable, particularly in enterprise IT.”

“As the number of reasons to connect devices up to the Internet via mobile networks continues to increase, it seems inevitable that the cost of these connections will become a bigger issue,” Evans writes. “It is inevitable carriers will develop connected device deals.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You know, if we weren’t MacDailyNews, we’d be saying to ourselves, “Selves, for the hour or so when we’re running and therefore (blessedly) unconnected and unreachable, do we really need to shell out another $429 plus $10 / month to be have cellular in our Apple Watches?” and the answer would be: “No.”

Of course, some of us can still remember a time pre-Internet, when we were completely disconnected save for a landline, navigating across the country with paper maps and stopping at pay phones if we had to make a call, but that’s neither here nor there. Just a remembrance that alternates between wistful and horrifying, depending on our mood.

So, what we’re saying is that, yes, the hurdle is too high for most people. If users could simply use some of the data from their current iPhone plans, as it should be in 2017, then that carrier would see an influx of customers sporting iPhones and Applel Watches and, as any smart carrier knows, those are the very best customers of all.


  1. I agree. I won’t be upgrading because Watch OS 4 gives me the improvements I want. Also I notice that LTE gobbles up battery. The faster CPU would be nice though. For all my outdoor activities I don’t mind carrying my phone.

  2. Carriers, like Apple biggest interest is making money. Apple ignores most customers on price and design so will the carriers.

    Bottomline, don’t hold your breath for lower prices on Apple Watch!

  3. Since my knees keep me from running I now bike. Bringing my iPhone is not a problem. I simply put it in a little bag under the seat. My watch can connect through the phone. Since I will always have my phone with me no need to spend $120 a year on Watch connectivity. It is not a lot of money but I would feel that I was getting ripped off.

  4. Honestly, I never hardly ever talk on the phone, so I will just get the either the LTE or non LTE and not use it to get the extra memory (do we really need the extra memory?) LTE is cool and all, but $10 extra a month? Nah…..

    1. I ordered a cellular model even though I won’t sign onto a $10 plan. I usually carry the phone and will rely on a tethered mostly. Also, WiFi hotspots are becoming increasingly common.

      But, I couldn’t get the watch band I wanted with the base model and would have ended up shelling out another $50 for a band. So, for a few bucks more, I got the band I wanted, plus cellular.

  5. Honestly, all I care about when I’m exercising is having my music available. The last thing I want is to be interrupted by a phone call. As long as I can get that, I’ll gladly upgrade my watch. I won’t however pay the $10 a month for the disruption. If I needed that, I would just keep my phone strapped to my arm.

    1. You can do exactly that with a NON-LTE Apple WATCH! I have a playlist on my WATCH aptly named WATCH. As I make changes to the playlist they upload to the WATCH over night. Put in the AirPods, leave the iPhone at home – a 45 minute run with music and NO interruptions!

      1. I honestly had no desire to get the LTE watch, until I saw that it was double the memory of the GPS watch. From 8 to 16GB, 10 of which can be used for music.

        To be able to put 10GB of music on my watch, instead of the 2GB now would be awesome for me.

        I will probably get the LTE for this reason and never activate it.

  6. I perfectly understand the need for a fee for other connected devices… but not when they use the same phone number.


    Because I think we’re going to find out you can’t use both to do certain tasks at the same time… like making a phone call. Like the old landline extension phone, except you probably can’t listen in on a conversation.

    You know someone is going to try to do this very soon as it will be an easy experiment to do. All you need is two people. One attempts to use the phone to do something at the same time the other person tries to use the watch to do the same thing. Odds are that one will make a connection first and the other will be locked out.

    It’s just a money grab.

  7. I don’t get it. I can answer my iPhone on my Mac or my iPad and my carrier doesn’t care. I get a Series 3 and my carrier now want to charge me for taking the call on the watch, yet it’s the same number and I’m using precisely the same network resources as I did before.

    It’s a bloody outrage. Time for people to stand up against this farcical situation.

    Nowt more than price-gouging by a bunch of rapacious cretins.


    1. Yes, the companies are making a big profit at $10/month, but they would be losing money at free. The LTE chip on your watch is only active when it is out of contact with its Mother Ship, but I bet that the chip on your phone is on anytime the device isn’t powered down. I suspect that it is downloading emails and other data while you are on your run, so that the information will be waiting for you on your return. Even if it isn’t, the network is tracking its location so it will know which cell to use if you get an incoming phone call (which I imagine rings in both places like an incoming call does now). So, you aren’t using precisely the same resources that you were before, but a bit more. Worth $10? Probably not. Worth something? Yes.

      By the way, the reason the phone company doesn’t charge for answering the call on your Mac or iPad is that they are connected to the network (via WiFi or Bluetooth) through your phone’s LTE chip. That doesn’t use any extra network resources. Allowing calls to the same number on two separate LTE receivers does.

      1. Everything you’ve said is valid, but personally, I think the carriers are making a mistake and being short sighted.

        A carrier should offer it for free (or really cheap) because it does 2 things…

        1) It ties the device into the plan and helps reduce churn. One device on its own isn’t going to mean much, but once its a bunch of IoT devices, the idea of switching carriers becomes more taxing.

        2) It increases the amount of data and connectivity a person is going to be using. The data and the minutes are subtracted from the parent plan, so as far as the carrier is concerned, the customer should have ever single thing they use be constantly connected and sucking up their data and voice plans.

        It’s also worth noting that the U.S. carriers were charging between $1.50 to $5 a month for similar add-on plans (IoT devices including watches) prior to the Apple Watch.

        Combine this with the complete inability to roam internationally (even with a fee or plan that includes it on the iPhone) and the duopoly power in the US of AT&T and Verizon become significant enough to really hurt consumers by restricting them from using what technology otherwise easily allows.

  8. I think the Apple music tie-in is not that important. After all, I can listen to music with my OG apple watch by having whatever playlist sync ahead of time. The biggest deal about the LTE is having the talking Siri on you at all times. As Siri continues to get better, this will be a killer feature. Also, in a few years time I can see giving my kids Apple watches with LTE so I can track their location and keep tabs on them as they wander the neighborhood. $10/month is too much though. It won’t go mainstream until it’s at most $5, but more likely $3/month.

  9. This could save my life someday. I’m often off shore in the ocean, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and surfing. Any trouble and I can call somebody. Phones are too expensive to risk use on the water. Watch on the other hand….

  10. Not that I agree with the fee, but I was under the impression the reason for it was the same reason it costs 10$/mo to add a cellular iPad to your existing data plan? That seems to be the going rate for “device tap fees”.

    I do completely agree that if they could get rid of that fee they’d end up with a lot more customers… this is the main reason I don’t have LTE on my iPad… I can just tether it to my phone, almost just like I do my watch currently…

  11. i live in canada and bell charges $5cdn while telus charges $10. $5 dollars is totally worth it for the service. it is about $3.75 usd. 10 dollars like a few people have said is just a total cash grab. it is nice the odd time i forget my phone at home that i still have the ability to make or receive calls.

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