Apple Watch's LTE Suspended In China Possibly Due To Government Security Concerns

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

Those who were able to sign up for an LTE Apple Watch between September 22 and September 27 are unaffected and they may continue using the LTE capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3. Just a few days after, new subscriptions for the LTE Apple Watch were terminated, while existing users appear to be unaffected, according to The Wall Street Journal (via AppleInsider). In China many Apple Watches have been intentionally cut off from accessing LTE connectivity. After September 28, however, the feature was turned off to all new subscribers. The report said the snag like stemmed from the Chinese government's security concerns regarding tracking users of the device, which uses different technology than standard mobile phones. They get a smartwatch with a tiny, embedded SIM that they can freely activate without revealing their info. According to the WSJ's report, China regulates mobile phones and users must register their SIM cards under their real names with the network carrier. The feature allows users to connect the Apple Watch to a carrier network and do everything from place calls to send data over the network without needing an iPhone.

It's unclear why the ban has been instituted, and the Chinese government hasn't commented on it.

The new 3 Series Apple Watch uses an eSim, as any other type of SIM card - even a Nano-SIM - would be too large to fit inside the Watch.

"Roughly 80% of consumers we have polled that are interested in the Watch are buying the new LTE/cellular version as this looks to be a major selling point for Apple Watch sales vs. prior versions given its new standalone product offering", GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives wrote about United States-based polls in a research note on Wednesday.

The benefit of a device carrying an eSIM is that, with software, users can choose a telecom operator and a communications plan.

The lack of cellular service could cool interest in the new Apple Watch in China, and could raise fears again that the Chinese government is looking to more deeply regulate Apple, which has caused the Apple stock to drop in the past.

China Unicom said it only allowed LTE access "on a trial basis", but didn't specify when it might resume.

This new issue could reignite tensions between Apple and the Chinese government.

Cellular LTE for the Apple Watch Series 3 has been suspended in China.

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