The next generation Apple Watch might break free from your iPhone and connect directly to cellular networks, according to a report from reliable insider Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, who cited “people familiar with the matter.”
The network access would come via new LTE modems in the devices, which sources claim will be supplied by Intel. The unnamed Apple Watch, which might be called the “Series 3,” is expected to launch later this year with the next generation of Apple products, although it could be delayed.
The new connectivity could allow wearers to use their device for internet-dependent tasks like downloading music and apps without having a connected iPhone nearby, finally giving us the untethered wearable experience we’ve been hoping for since the original was released in 2015.
The report claims that Apple is currently in discussions with wireless carriers in the U.S. and Europe to offer the new LTE-connected watches, most notably those that already carry the iPhone. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile reportedly have plans to sell the gadget.
There was no mention of any wrist-based phone call functionality, à la Dick Tracy, so that type of phone-watch separation might still be left in the realm of comic books — but better cellular connectivity is at least a step in that direction.
The addition of LTE chips would undoubtedly make the Apple Watch, the best selling wearable on the market, even more attractive to consumers — but it might not be the only new feature coming later this year.
John Gruber, another trusted Apple whisperer, said in a blog post shortly after the Bloomberg report went live that the news left out one major element of the upcoming device that he’s heard about: an “all-new form factor.” The next Apple Watch might look and perform very differently from what we’ve come to expect, which could drive even more sales Apple’s way, along with the “super cycle” of upgrades expected with the iPhone 8.
Apple reps did not respond to our request for comment.
There’s no way we’ll know for sure until later this year, however, so until then, all we can do is keep an eye on our normal, non-cellular watches and wait.