It took three generations of smartwatch design for Apple to finally implement cellular connectivity into its Apple Watch wearable, and while that sounds great, it will all come down to how well it works. Unfortunately, early reviews are not all that glowing. There seems to be a connectivity bug that is preventing the Apple Watch Series 3 from properly using its built-in LTE radio.
Over at The Verge, Lauren Goode says she contended with "notable connectivity" issues when reviewing Apple's latest smartwatch. The problem she faced is that it would try to connect to unknown Wi-Fi networks instead of grabbing hold of a cellular signal when she was out and about with just the Apple Watch, with no nearby iPhone paired to it.
Apple even replaced her Apple Watch Series 3 with another unit thinking maybe it was defective, but the replacement review sample exhibited the same problem. This eventually led to Apple acknowledging the issue and putting out a statement.
"We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular," Apple said. "We are investigation a fix for a future software release."
In the meantime, Apple Watch Series 3 owners must put up with an annoying bug that pretty much breaks one of the most touted features of the new wearable. The whole appeal of cellular connectivity is being able to leave your iPhone at home and still not miss a beat. You could be out on a jog or a hike, or even just wandering about town without wanting to lug your iPhone with you, and still be accessible.
The good news here is that the problem does not seem to be with the cellular radio, but with the Wi-Fi implementation that has existed since the first generation Apple Watch. In an attempt to maximize battery life, Apple Watch devices will attempt to use an iPhone connection, and barring that a Wi-Fi network. It is supposed to avoid public networks that require logins, subscriptions, or profiles, but apparently there is a bug that is letting the Apple Watch Series 3 connect anyway. The result is that the watch thinks it's online, but there is no Internet access or cellular functionality.