In a move meant to further reduce the reliance of Apple’s smartwatches on its iPhone, its next release could be embedded with its own LTE chip, making it a standalone device. The new Apple Watch would have the capabilities to be connected directly to cellular networks without having to have a phone nearby.
The smartwatch might still be needed to be paired with the iPhone on some level, but users would be able to enjoy the full functions of the watch without having to carry the phone around. They could download apps, send messages, and stream music directly from the watch itself. Currently, the smartwatch requires a wireless connection to an iPhone in order to be able to run such tasks.
Some of its models could come with and without LTE, like the iPad. It’s most likely that the LTE version would require a separate cellular data plan and there could be premium charges for it. As of now, there is no word as to which carriers will support a data plan, but Apple is already in discussion with carriers in the U.S. and Europe to do so. For now, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile already have plans to sell the new device.
Here's why the new Apple Watch won't need the iPhone anymore https://t.co/4kW8pBOG1Q
— TIME (@TIME) August 4, 2017
Noticeable steps had already been taken to make the Apple Watch a standalone device. Last year, the Series 2 smartwatch was released with a GPS chip and waterproof capabilities. Consumers could locate their device if it was lost, or if they wanted to track their distance while running without carrying around an iPhone.
Intel will be producing the modems for the new smartwatch. This is an edge for the chipmaker, which had been trying to get its components into Apple’s devices for years. Currently, the dominant LTE modem supplier for the iPhone and other Apple gadgets is Qualcomm. While the two had been reported to have an ongoing battle over patents, this would be a bid for Apple to surpass Qualcomm’s legal dispute.
Last year, there were already plans to release an LTE version of the watch, but Apple postponed it due to battery life issues. As of current, the battery life on the smartwatch already runs out quickly in a day. The company had been investigating ways to extend the battery life in the tiny device. Despite a possible delay, the smartwatch is planned for release by the end of this year.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]