According to a report out of Bloomberg, Apple is gearing up to introduce a third-generation Apple Watch this year with LTE connectivity. This will allow users to leave their phones at home and still be able to operate their watch, a restriction that locks both the second and first-gen Watches down to their respective iPhones. The company was also rumored to have been planning to introduce the same device last year, but the device got postponed until later notice.
Since the watch will offer LTE, Bloomberg says carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile will all carry the device and offer separate data plans from your phone’s for it. Additionally, Intel will be supplying Apple with the necessary modems to make LTE connectivity on the Apple Watch possible. This detail is especially interesting since Qualcomm supplies the company with the modems for the iPhone. And if you’re not familiar with the conflict currently going on between Cupertino and the chip maker, click here.
What’s not noted in Bloomberg’s report is the next Apple Watch’s design. Neither Mark Gurman nor Scott Moritz or Ian King mentions what the watch might look like, but according to Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber, the device will receive a new form factor this year.
It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal this could be. No mention in Businessweek’s report, though, of the all-new form factor that I’ve heard is coming for this year’s new watches. That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.
Regardless of how true this rumor is, it’s always refreshing to hear we’ll see a new design for the Apple Watch since its current look is nearly three years old at this point.
One key area Apple will need to strongly focus on is battery life. If you read my review of the LG Watch Sport, you’d know the battery life with a cellular data-connected smartwatch can really suck. And considering the current Apple Watch doesn’t even last that long as it is, it remains unclear whether Apple will bump up the battery’s size for the next generation or if they’ll use heavy software optimization to achieve the same battery life. I don’t think anyone would mind if the watch remained at its current girth if it meant LTE and decent battery life, so let’s just hope the company doesn’t go the thinner route at the sacrifice of precious run time.
Overall, an Apple Watch with LTE seems to be a pretty high demand from current users and should please most fans of the device. As long as the feature is implemented in a convenient way and doesn’t lock users out entirely from using their watch without their phone, Apple could have a pretty major hit on their hands. Then again, they will need to focus on battery life which is crucial to making this feature even worth it. Otherwise, the Intel-branded modem will likely just sit on your wrist for no good reason.