The Apple Watch gets cellular connectivity, at last, with Series 3.
BuzzFeed News; Apple
The new Series 3, which hits stores this Friday, Sept. 22, includes a version with LTE (starting at $399), which means you can finally use your Apple Watch to make calls/shout at your wrist, wherever there’s cellular connectivity.
In 2015, I felt like an asshole for wearing an Apple Watch. It felt like a status symbol on my wrist, an escape hatch for boring conversation, a target for thieves. And it finally feels like that’s changed, two years later. I still probably look like an asshole — but at least this watch can do something now.
Now that you can use the Apple Watch to DM on Slack, order Lyfts home, and ask Siri a question, etc. without your phone… all signs points to the Series 3 as THE watch that watch people (who are you? @ me!) have been waiting for.
While it’s pretty amazing to, say, go out on a Friday night with nothing but your watch and ID, or call your bf while swimming in the San Francisco Bay, the cellular Apple Watch is, like many other cellular smartwatches, limited. Its short battery life and lack of dedicated support from third-party, non-Apple apps (wtf, Google Maps!) is particularly annoying.
It is still, unquestionably, the best smartwatch I’ve ever used, but tbh, the bar is low. Apple needs to do better before I’d recommend this watch to everyone, not just athletes and gadget geeks.
If you have a Series 2 and are happy with just GPS, the Series 3 isn't for you. Though there is a non-cellular Series 3 model available for $329, and some internal refinements (a new processor and wireless chip), the main reason to get a Series 3 is because you want cellular, or are looking to upgrade your first-generation Apple Watch.
The main event is ~cellular~ connectivity, which will cost you an extra monthly fee.
Setting up cell service on the Watch is pretty simple — you can do it on your phone, so you don’t need to go to your carrier. The cellular tab in the Watch app takes you directly to your carrier’s device management portal (you still need your login credentials, obviously), and there you can add the watch to your plan.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are the first US carriers at launch (global carrier list here) and, while these carriers are offering free three-month trial periods for Apple Watch 3 customers, adding the device to your plan will cost upwards of $10 per month, not to mention any additional data incurred as a result of being able to use data in more places. That added cost is another thing to consider with the cellular version, in addition to the fact that it’s $70 more than the GPS-only version.
That said, the cellular performance on the Apple Watch is good, and works about as well as it does on a real phone.
The cellular connectivity also makes the watch much smarter. You can access Siri from anywhere (she still can’t take Notes for you though :thinking face emoji:) and when you leave the vicinity of your phone, for example, Find My Friends will update your location via watch instead.
Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News
I decided to swim out to the mouth of the Aquatic Park in San Francisco with the watch.
Listen, I know normal people aren’t going to, like, call their mom in the middle of a long swim, but I was curious. It’s also possible that you’ll need to contact an emergency service after being bitten by a shark. Who knows!