We've been talking about the possibility of the Apple Watch going solo for some time, and a new report claims Apple plans to launch a Watch that will connect directly to cellular networks.
Bloomberg cites people "familiar with the matter" in a report stating some of the new Apple Watch Series 3 models, which we're expecting to see this September, will have an LTE chip that will let users perform many tasks while untethered from the iPhone - messages, app downloads, even calls (AirPods, remember). This follows a similar story from Digitimes earlier this year.
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Apple is reported to already be in talks with carriers in the US and Europe regarding offering the Watch. This however may be a "limited subset" of iPhone carriers according to Bloomberg, but AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are all said to be onboard.
That is, should the Watch break cover at Apple's September event. The report caveats that the Watch could still be delayed beyond 2017. As we'd previously heard, Apple had planned to launch an LTE version of the Watch last year, but had hit roadblocks with the battery life.
Intel is said to be supplying said LTE components, and sees the chip maker edging into Qualcomm's territory. Right now Apple and Qualcomm are tied up in a nasty legal battle, which may have given Intel the opening here.
Interestingly, Daring Fireball's (and well-sourced Apple commentator) John Gruber pitched in with his own two cents on the news, claiming he's heard an "all-new form factor" is in the works. Thinner? Smaller? Dare we say it... round? Your guess is as good as ours on that one.
The Watch is, as far as we can tell, in a healthy place. This week Tim Cook said that Watch sales for the June quarter were up 50% over last year. Xiaomi might be top dog in overall wearable sales, but in terms of full-featured smartwatches, Apple is sitting pretty right now. While we're not sure an LTE Apple Watch will bring a huge influx of converts, it feels like another step in Cupertino's long-term plan to break up with the iPhone.