Cellular connectivity is up there with the Apple Watch 3‘s biggest features, but it appears it won’t be as far reaching as some expected. The company’s support has confirmed the device won’t support roaming.
For European users, that’s an especially big hit. Legislation means companies must provide roaming at no extra charge across the EU, but you won’t be able to use your Watch’s LTE in any other country. For frequent travelers, that could be a deal-breaker.
This information comes from Reddit user learnjava, who was kind enough to share additional detail.
“The watch will not support roaming. At all. For Europeans that means your country only, even after the recent (June) law about European roaming freedom,” he explained.
Usually, those going abroad for months could simply switch to a different carrier, but that’s also impossible. “There is no way to use a European watch with e.g. a US-carrier,” added learnjava. “The hardware might support identical bands (but even then way different than what we are used to from iPhones) but the service rep told me that it is not clear when and if at all it will be possible to change countries.”
While there’s no doubt this is a severe limitation, that can be forgiven if Apple has a good reason. Currently, however, that’s unclear.
Apple appears to have three different models of the Watch 3, one for Europe and Japan, one for the Americas, and another for China. As user LazyAssedAssassin points out, the bands on each overlap, but aren’t identical. The iPad, on the other hand, supports all LTE channels, as do separate iPhone models.
The use of eSims isn’t a limiting factor, either. They’re designed to support roaming and carrier switches, and the Gear S3 both uses eSim and supports roaming. It’s unclear, then, why Apple can’t support all of the bands, but it’s decided on no roaming rather than it working sporadically. A very Apple-like decision.
However, though it’s rare to forget your phone, linking the devices does a toll on battery life. Combine that with the need to buy a new Apple Watch if you move country, and fans could sit this one out.