Reports indicate that there are plans by Apple to launch a smartwatch which possesses a cellular network connection later in the year. According to sources this is aimed at reducing the reliance of the Apple Watch on the iPhone.
At the moment users of the Apple Watch need to connect to an iPhone if they need to send messages, download map directions or stream music for instance. But now Apple is planning to have LTE chips installed in some of its smartwatch models and these are likely to be launched towards the end of the year. This will allow these devices to independently conduct most tasks that require an iPhone to be in the range.
Intel LTE chips
Sources indicate that the LTE chips will be supplied by Intel, marking a huge victory for the giant chipmaker after years of trying to compete with Qualcomm in getting its components into more devices made by Apple. Currently Qualcomm remains the main supplier of modems for most of Apple’s mobile devices including the iPhone. Apple was first added as a supplier of modems for the iPhone in 2016.
Already those familiar with the developments say that Apple has held discussions with mobile phone networks in Europe and the United States concerning the cellular Apple Watch. Initially the number of carriers that are expected to offer support for a cellular Apple Watch are likely to be lower than those that already support the iPhone. In the United States the leading four carriers – T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Communications and AT&T are all expected to sell the cellular Apple Watch.
Though revenues from the Apple Watch are a fraction of the overall revenues from the Cupertino, California-based tech giant, the chief executive officer of Apple, Tim Cook revealed in the most recent earnings call that the device is a best-seller. In Q3, which ended in June, sales of the Apple Watch increased by over 50%.
It is expected that giving the Apple Watch cellular capabilities will increase sales.
“It would be a game changer. If they could deliver an experience that isn’t tethered to an iPhone, it could kick start a new direction for the business,” said Apple’s long-time analyst and Loup Ventures co-founder, Gene Munster.
In 2016 a GPS chip was installed in the Apple Watch broadening its capabilities and increasing its independence since users could track distance travelled without having to carry an iPhone with them.