Later this year, Apple will be releasing a new version of its smartwatch. But this time it’s going to be different, say people in the know. According to sources, the 2017 Apple Watch will come with LTE capability, which means it no longer has to rely on a wireless connection to an iPhone.
The current models of Apple Watch need to be tethered to your iPhone for it to access streaming music, map directions, messaging and so on. The new Apple Watch with LTE chip won’t need to be tethered. With cellular connectivity, it becomes a standalone mobile device.
A different source also said that Intel would be providing the LTE modems for the new Apple wearable. This is the second year that the desktop-focused chipmaker is getting a deal to supply Apple with components. Until recently, Qualcomm was the key supplier of cellular components to Apple, for iPhone and other mobile products.
Apple is reportedly in talks with major carriers in the United States and Europe to set up sales channels for the 2017 Apple Watch. No comment was forthcoming from Apple, Intel and the carriers that Apple has approached.
Though Apple Watch is the third most popular wrist wearable in the world, behind Xiaomi and Fitbit, their sales have been growing. During the recent third quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that theirs was the top-selling smartwatch “by a very wide margin.”
That might look like good news, but Apple Watch doesn’t even merit standalone sales numbers when Apple reports its earnings. That said, Apple could see a further boost in this year’s Apple Watch sales, especially if they’re able to pull off the LTE capability.
Battery life was one of the biggest concerns around using LTE on Apple’s smartwatch, which is probably why the company postponed adding that capability last year. It’s quite possible that the Cupertino tech giant is exploring new technologies like Smart Pixel to give an LTE-enabled Apple Watch a longer battery life.
Apple last year started selling some Series 2 models with a GPS chip that would allow users to leave their iPhone at home when running or walking. LTE will give Apple Watch even more independence from iPhone.