Cellular-enabled watch in the works at Apple

Apple hopes to regain the lead in the market for wearables.
Apple hopes to regain the lead in the market for wearables.

The new Apple Watch would have LTE capabilities similar to the data connection on a phone, which could allow it to access data, send and receive texts and make phone calls, the sources said. Currently, the Apple Watch must be paired with an iPhone and use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transmit data and texts.

The cellular-enabled Apple Watch expected later this year would be available from all major US carriers, the sources said. It would likely be rolled into existing wireless plans for an additional monthly charge, similar to how data connections for tablets are sold today.

The new Apple Watch was part of Apple’s plan to begin introducing a new smartwatch every other year, just as it did with the iPhone, one of the sources said. This northern autumn would be the first iteration of the watch under the new release schedule. The first Apple Watch was released two years ago.

Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams had been pushing for cellular connection on the Apple Watch since before its launch, a source said. However, its development had been challenged by issues related to the quality of cellular reception and other complications that come with such a small device.

“They’re going to have to increase the battery significantly, and it’s going to get bigger to provide more power,” said Patrick Moorhead, a technology analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “It’s a very hard thing to do because it’s so small.”

The new watch could help Apple regain its lead in the so-called wearables category. The iPhone maker shipped 2.8 million smartwatches worldwide in the second quarter but ceded top place to Xiaomi, which shipped 3.7 million fitness trackers during the period, according to Strategy Analytics, a market research firm.


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