The Apple Watch's Best New Feature Was Mysteriously Blocked in China

Yolanda Curtis
October 19, 2017

According to the Wall Street Journal, the device's independent service connection has been cut in the country without explanation, and is likely to suffer further problems there in the coming months. However, new cellular subscriptions were cut off after September 28. The report said the snag like stemmed from the Chinese government's security concerns regarding tracking users of the device, which uses different technology than standard mobile phones. Chinese customers who purchased a Series 3 with LTE are not able to connect their wearables to their wireless networks, and it's unclear when service will be reinstated. To get a SIM-subscriber identity module-card to operate the phone, users must register under their real names with a network carrier.

Earlier this year, Apple introduced its LTE-enabled Series 3 Apple Watch, giving users the ability to make calls, receive texts, and get internet connectivity even if it's not connected to an iPhone.

Analysts believe that the government was concerned about the fact that it could not track who was using the new Apple Watch due to the use of an eSIM.

Apple embeds the small eSIM card into the Watch.

On Cupertino's website, "cellular services" are now listed as "coming later this year" to the Series 3 on China Unicom, as well as the country's industry-leading China Mobile carrier and bronze medalist China Telecom. It's unclear how long the rollout will take, and the shutdown will certainly frustrate Chinese customers who paid for the new Series 3 models but can't use its biggest new feature. According to the Journal, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did issue a trial certificate for the cellular function on the Apple Watch in August but it never gave its formal approval. However, the Chinese government has not yet been able to figure out how to track and control an eSIM, per the report.

Series 3 devices are paired with a mobile device on an existing plan and use their embedded eSIM to connect to wireless service when the mobile phone isn't nearby or is turned off.

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