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Some Apple Watch Series 3 Owners Facing LTE Activation Issues [Updated]

Apple Watch Series 3 models are being delivered across the United States and the rest of the world today, and as customers start attempting to activate their new LTE devices, some of them are running into serious setup issues.

On the MacRumors forums, several AT&T customers have received messages stating AT&T is not supported. Support reps seem confused about how Apple Watch activation works, with one rep telling MacRumors reader KG87 that his watch needs a new number.

I am having the same problem. I contacted AT&T and they said I need to have a new number created for the watch before it will work and I am almost certain that is not true.

I contacted AppleCare and they said that there are connectivity issues with the watch and the engineers are working very hard to get it fixed.

Basically, this is a nightmare scenario for Apple and we're left without the #1 reason we made this purchase.
Many of the affected AT&T customers have said the company seems to be having trouble activating watches not purchased directly through AT&T and have been spending quite a lot of time on the phone in an attempt to get the problem ironed out. Some customers are even being told to call back tomorrow. From MacRumors reader Greg:
I have been on the phone for quite a while today with AT&T, transferred over 10 times, only to be told that they can't activate watches today due to a system issue and to call back tomorrow. It seems to be gaining notice on reddit on the apple watch subreddit.
According to another AT&T support rep, customers who ordered an Apple Watch directly from Apple will not be getting them activated until tomorrow because they're missing key information Apple was supposed to send them.

Verizon users don't seem to be having as much trouble as AT&T users, but several have been told Verizon's systems aren't fully functional. Verizon is said to be doing maintenance to fix the problem and there's no estimate of when issues will be worked out. Many VZW customers may not be able to make phone calls due to the server issues.

T-Mobile customers also appear to be having significant issues, like MacRumors reader Jesse, who said he's spent several hours on the phone with T-Mobile trying to work out an authentication error with his social security number. "T-Mobile reps are completely unprepared for dealing with this issue today. Spent many hours on the phone with T-Mobile and Apple already. Apple claims this is T-Mobile issue," he told us.

T-Mobile customers have also been told the company is having system wide issues affecting the signal T-Mobile users are getting on the Apple Watch.

At least some of the activation issues are due to customers who have incompatible plans. AT&T customers with a grandfathered unlimited data plan, for example, are not able to use the Apple Watch Series 3, despite assurances from AT&T reps that the watch was compatible with the plan.

Across the pond, some EE subscribers in the UK are having the same activation problems, and EE reps are at a loss on how to help
I'm on EE and my Apple Watch wasn't connecting either so called EE and they did some checks and asked me to restart the watch but still no go. They can't figure it out either and said they are working on a fix from Apple as lot of EE customers are having issues. They did not have any problem with what type of contract I had with EE as I'm on a monthly 20GB for GBP21 plan.
Though some customers are having issues, others have been able to activate their LTE watches with no problems and have even said it's an easy process. For the subset of users running into issues, though, it's been a frustrating afternoon attempting to deal with Apple support and carrier representatives who are still struggling to figure out all the quirks and problems that come along with supporting a new device.

Update: Several AT&T customers with grandfathered unlimited data plans have been able get an Apple Watch Series 3 to work with their plans with the help of an AT&T representative. The Apple Watch can be set up as an independent wearable and then linked to the iPhone using NumberSync.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago
i don't think i will even try to activate mine till sunday morning i guess :/

I got my LTE series 3 today.
I am on AT&T.
I am on the grandfathered plan.
I have enough beer till then.
Rating: 26 Votes
24 months ago
Apple needs to have their own cell service. Having to deal with all these providers is a constant annoyance.
Rating: 22 Votes
24 months ago
Maybe the systems are choking on the monthly cost.
Rating: 15 Votes
24 months ago
These carriers charge $10 whole extra dollars per month for a device that will a) default as much as possible to the iphone or wifi and b) would likely only be used in place of the phone (resulting in little extra network usage overall) and they botch the launch too!

AND they pull stuff like this:

At least some of the activation issues are due to customers who have incompatible plans. AT&T customers with a grandfathered unlimited data plan (''), for example, are not able to use the Apple Watch Series 3, despite assurances from AT&T reps ('') that the watch was compatible with the plan.

Really? The "plan" is incompatible? Sounds like AT&T wants even MORE than the $10 per month that is already outrageous!

Sorry- OK, rant off. My heart goes out to the people being screwed by this.
Rating: 14 Votes
24 months ago

As usual macrumors runs with BS and makes a big ordeal out of something affecting a handful of users. I was able to successfully activate my 42MM SS on ATT without issue through the watch app. It was the easiest setup of any device I have ever had.

After setup, I left my phone at home, and headed to whole foods. Saw that cellular picked up immediately, and called and text my wife. Worked flawlessly, and she couldn't even tell I was talking on a watch. Used maps for directions, and asked siri a few questions. The voice was spoken aloud. I did not even have to download the siri voice like other users had mentioned. Not sure why my setup was so easy, but lets be clear about one is not doom and gloom here...this stuff works..MR needs to chill out a little and Lauren Goode should be fired.

I hope this helps you become less ignorant:
Rating: 7 Votes
24 months ago
On the other hand, the non-LTE Apple Watch 3 is awesome!
Rating: 7 Votes
24 months ago
EE in the UK is not working at all for me.. Just says 'This account is not ready to use with Apple Watch'.. Really annoying...

The problem is that support staff don't now how to fix it either. In fact one of them told me to remove the Sim from the watch and reinsert it :)
Rating: 5 Votes
24 months ago
I was one of the unlucky few who had T-Mobile issues. It took 3 hours and 8 different T-mobile employees to get it taken care of and I'd like to share what I learned so I can hopefully help anyone in my situation fix it sooner. Please up vote this so other T-Mobile customers see it.

I have a business account and during the cellular activation it would tell me the last 4 of my social I was inputting was incorrect. Here are all the different things the first 7 support employees told me, none of which are true.

1st employee: You just need to enter the last 4 of your Tax ID since it's a business (didn't work, either)

2nd: T-Mobile Apple Watches are unable to activate unless you buy it from T-Mobile, you'll need to return your watch and buy a new one from us (obviously not true since it's now active)

3rd: You'll need to activate it on a temporary personal line first and then transfer it to your business line, let me send you to our activation department (nobody in activations had any idea what he was talking about)

4th (in activations): You need to take out the sim card and read the ICCID number to me (Apple Watch doesn't have a sim card, the sim is built in. He was looking for the EID number which is on the box, even though when I tried to give him that he said it wasn't the same thing. It is)

5th (activations dept manager): Apple forgot to send you a sim card with it. You'll need to buy one from T-mobile (again, obviously not true)

6th (in business customer support): If it doesn't take your SSN on the activation screen then Apple sent you a faulty device and you'll need to get another one (definitely not true, it's active now)

7th (T-Mobile Apple Rep): Said the EID/ICCID needed to start with 8901 and since mine started with 8904 it was actually an AT&T model and Apple had shipped me the wrong one (again, not true since it is clearly active on my T-Mobile network now).

Solution: I finally went into a T-Mobile store and the guy there read to me an internal email saying that at the moment, business accounts are only able to be activated on the Apple Watch if it is bought directly from T-Mobile and that they are working on a fix but there was no estimated time for this to be finished (the second guy was close). I had three options, return my watch and order one from T-Mobile (wouldn't get it until October 30th), only use it on bluetooth until the fix was implemented, or switch my account from business to personal. I went with the last one and I'll switch it back whenever T-Mobile finally get's their stuff in order.

I was an Apple employee for 3 years so it was pretty obvious at the time that none of these are true, though I know it's not obvious to everyone. I hope this helps. Again, please upvote this so people can see it. I created this MacRumors account just to post this.
Rating: 4 Votes
24 months ago
I am active in the thread with ATT issues. This may be my last straw with their service. T-Mobile has been tempting me with many of their features, and since I own all of my families devices free and clear, I have no reason to stay with ATT.

I am fine with service issues, I am not okay with being hung up on, being blind transferred repeatedly, and having to give my IEMI end EID number over the phone.


ATT is just calling me now.
Rating: 4 Votes
24 months ago

ATT rep just called me, they stated they are going to work to push some of these through today. She relayed information I had given earlier with my IEMI and EID, she said it is now activated and I need to Re-Pair the device.

She gave me a case number, and will be calling me back in 30 minutes to check on the progress.

Wish me luck (or not ;) )
Rating: 4 Votes

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