Revered Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities wrote in a new report to clients Wednesday that Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE is unlikely to support cellular voice calling at launch, saying the device is instead expected to focus on delivering data to users faster.

In the note, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider, the analyst speculates that an LTE-outfitted Apple Watch won’t support traditional phone calls as the Cupertino company is expected, in his mind, to focus on improving the “user experience of data transmission.”

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While this is a technically feasible feature, Kuo doesn’t expect it to be supported “this year,” indicating this is something Apple could enable later on via a watchOS software update.

“Technologically, while it’s feasible for LTE Apple Watch to support voice services and replace iPhones’ phone function,” he wrote, “we think it must first improve the user experience of data transmission (not via iPhone).” Of course, existing Apple Watch models support making and receiving phone calls over cellular networks, but only when a paired iPhone is nearby.

LTE could also pave the way for Android compatibility and boost shipments, something mentioned in my thinkpiece today, but Kuo doesn’t see Apple taking that step just yet.

Due to space constraints, the device will adopt the eSIM standard which doesn’t require a physical SIM and it will apparently share the same phone number with an iPhone, he said.

This apparently has two benefits, according to the analyst:

(1) negotiations with mobile operators will be more simple and the chances of cooperation with mobile operators will improve;

and (2), 3G connectivity can be scrapped in favor of LTE, simplifying the antenna design and facilitating internal design.

The note says LTE connectivity could be limited to specific markets/carriers. As per Bloomberg, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will support and sell these LTE Apple Watch models in the US.

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Apple is also in talks with carriers in Europe about offering the cellular version of its wearable device. “The carriers supporting the LTE Apple Watch, at least at launch, may be a limited subset of those that carry the iPhone,” one of the sources told Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

It’s interesting that Kuo’s note predicts that Apple Watch Series 3 will use a baseband chip from Qualcomm, not Intel like Bloomberg’s report has indicated. That’s because Qualcomm’s LTE modem takes less space, consumes less power and is more efficient.

What are your thoughts on Kuo’s report?

Is the lack of initial support for direct cellular phone calling on Apple Watch Series 3 going to be a serious deal-killer, do you think? Will users care much given that FaceTime calling and third-party VoIP apps like Skype can easily act as a stand-in for cellular phone calls?

Let us know in the comments!

  • Jamessmooth

    I’m curious: do many folks use their watch for phone calls? The call quality / volume is so poor, that the only time I answer on my watch is to tell someone to hold while I find my phone.

    • Toshke

      Same here. Use my watch several times a day to tell people to please hold till i get my phone out of my pocket 🙂

    • odedo1

      Do you know that in the Watch Settings there is Bluetooth connection?
      I got my Bluetooth headphones connected to my iPhone and my Apple Watch so making calls or answering from my Apple Watch is great especially using Siri and the sound is perfect.

      • Jamessmooth

        No I had no idea! That’s super cool, I’ll check it out thanks for the tip. I use my Bluetooth headset for work every day so that would be helpful.

      • odedo1

        Yes you’ll find it on the Watch settings ( not on the Apple Watch App in the phone ) this way you can also listen to music or Audio books that you transfer to the Watch even if the phone is not around, like if you are into running without carrying the phone on you.

  • Diego Milano

    This sucks, it means this product will not sell in specific countries simply cause the iPhone is not being sold by Apple officially. I’m not buying it then.