Zac Hall for 9to5Mac:
Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has an update to the recent LTE Apple Watch report that includes a few details about what to expect. Kuo expects cellular models of the Apple Watch will use an eSIM and not a physical SIM card as a space-saving measure, and the cellular connection may only be used for data transfer and not phone call features.
Of course the Apple Watch won’t have a removable SIM — that would look terrible and be ridiculous to access.
KGI already forecasted what Bloomberg first reported: the cellular Apple Watch will feature LTE connectivity but offer no 3G connection which will limit it to certain markets and countries. Today KGI adds that it believes Apple could choose Qualcomm over Intel for the baseband chip as the former company offers a smaller, low power solution.
I could get on board with this. It’s time to leave 3G in the past.
The other new development is Kuo expects Apple could omit phone call capabilities from the LTE model of the new Apple Watch. You can already make phone calls from the Apple Watch when it’s paired with a nearby iPhone and there’s no technical limitation with the implementation, but KGI expects Apple may want to improve the “user experience” of data transmission before enabling voice services.
Curiously, the report doesn’t rule out VoIP services like Skype and FaceTime for calling however. Still, this will be a notable setback if the cellular Apple Watch can’t place and receive voice calls.
This would both be incredibly unfortunate and typical Apple (playing it safe in terms of battery life). I was expecting a cellular Apple Watch to be the true Dick Tracy watch, but it won’t quite be if it doesn’t handle phone calls on its own. Even though phone calling is a less-used feature on our iPhones, having it on the Watch is incredibly valuable in a pinch and even better when paired with AirPods or other wireless headphones.
If this is true, here’s the major downside: say you go for a run with just your LTE Watch. If you’re expecting a phone call, you will still need to take your phone — kind of defeats the purpose.
My bet is that FaceTime Audio will at least be available when only on LTE. Maybe Apple could work some magic to forward LTE-based calls to FaceTime Audio on your Watch in this circumstance. Of course, your caller would need to have an Apple device, but that would work for me.