Apple Watch Series 3 Unlikely to Support Direct Phone Calls, but VoIP Calling a Possibility

The third-generation Apple Watch, set to launch this fall with LTE support for the first time, is unlikely to support phone calls, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors in a note shared this morning.

According to Kuo, while a voice service that replaces the iPhone's calling functionality is "feasible," he believes Apple must first work on improving the "user experience of data transmission." As a result, he says the Apple Watch "probably" won't support traditional phone calls "this year."


The watch could, however, support VoIP services like FaceTime and Skype, as FaceTime audio calling is already supported on current Apple Watch models.

This has two benefits: (1) negotiations with mobile operators will be more simple and the chances of cooperation with mobile operators will improve; and (2) 3G connectivity can be scrapped, simplifying the antenna design and facilitating internal design. However, we think there is a chance that users may use LTE Apple Watch to access VoIP services, such as FaceTime and Skype.

Kuo also says that based on a lack of internal space, the LTE Apple Watch is likely to use an eSIM instead of a physical SIM slot, with the device set up to share the same phone number with an iPhone. He warns that LTE connectivity in the Apple Watch could be limited to specific countries and markets as not all mobile operators support that particular business model.

Rumors have already suggested that the major carriers in the United States, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will support and sell the upcoming LTE Apple Watch.

Though Apple is currently embroiled in an ongoing patent dispute with Qualcomm, Kuo believes Apple will use Qualcomm chips in the Apple Watch because Qualcomm's technology is superior to Intel's with smaller chips that consume less power.

Finally, Kuo predicts Apple has no intention of developing an Android app for the Apple Watch at this time, given that it would be difficult to have the same deep integration between Apple Watch and an Android phone that's possible with the Apple Watch and iPhone.

The third-generation Apple Watch is expected to be introduced in September alongside new iPhones. LTE connectivity is expected to be the main selling point for the device, and while there were some rumors pointing towards major design changes, Kuo has previously said there will be no "obvious change" to the form factor.

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Top Rated Comments

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38 months ago
Lets ask the HomePod Firmware for answers.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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38 months ago
Man are they really going to do Series 3 this year? I was thinking it would be every 2?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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38 months ago

Finally, Kuo predicts Apple has no intention of developing an Android app for the Apple Watch at this time, given that it would be difficult to have the same deep integration between Apple Watch and an Android phone that's possible with the Apple Watch and iPhone.

Sure, that's why there won't be Android app for Apple Watch. :rolleyes:
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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38 months ago
I feel like this is all going to be about what the carriers charge. Obviously it would piggyback on existing data plans but the question is the line/device access charge. LTE functionality in Apple Watch would be nice but it's not something for which I would pay more than around $5/month.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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38 months ago
I think a lot of people are missing something important: If the watch is completely untethered from the phone, then that means that the watch is going to have 100% native apps and will likely be much faster than previous models. It will be like a micro iPad with a data plan.

As for the data plan, I really hope it is something virtual where your watch just shares the same data plan as your phone. I'm not willing to buy a data plan for my watch, lol. That's crazy. Maybe someday when the watch can do a lot more if it's only $5/mo. But considering the limited data it would use anyway, it should just be included with service. If AT&T and Verizon charge for it, I could see T-Mobile offering it free with service to compete, which I would be fine with since I switched to them earlier this year.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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38 months ago
One phrase: too little battery power!


That pretty much sums it up, transmitting on LTE takes a lot of power; as such Apple would need significantly more battery power in the device as one phone call could easily kill the current battery. Now it isnt impossible for Apple to have access to new battery tech but that isnt part of the rumors. Id live to see such advancements in Apples watch because eventually we will get to the point that Apples watch will replace todays IPhone.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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