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 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
35 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.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Apple needs to have their own cell service. Having to deal with all these providers is a constant annoyance.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Maybe the systems are choking on the monthly cost.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 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 ('https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/71rstd/psa_apple_watch_lte_is_not_compatible_with_att/'), for example, are not able to use the Apple Watch Series 3, despite assurances from AT&T reps ('https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/series-3-questions-10-month-unlimited-att-plan-ok.2068049/#post-25043037') 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.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
On the other hand, the non-LTE Apple Watch 3 is awesome!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 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 thing.it 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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