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Cellular Apple watch gets the wifi handoff blues

apple watch_series_3

Reviews of the new LTE-enabled Apple Watch have marked it down for apparent connectivity issues, which Apple is blaming on unauthenticated wifi.

Influential titles such as the WSJ and The Verge flagged up connectivity issues in their reviews of the latest watch. “I experienced cellular connectivity issues on three separate pre-production models, in two different states, on two different 4G LTE carriers,” said the WSJ.

“On more than one occasion, I detached myself from the phone, traveled blocks away from my home or office, and watched the Watch struggle to connect to LTE,” said The Verge. “It would appear to pick up a single bar of some random Wi-Fi signal, and hang on that, rather than switching to LTE.”

The latter apparently gave Apple a chance to explain the issue prior to publishing the review and got this comment from the fruity gadgeteer. “We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated wifi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular. We are investigating a fix for a future software release.”

In other words it’s the old default-to-wifi issue that has plagued smartphone users for years but apparently hardwired into the device. We’ve all regretted signing up to wifi aggregators only to have our connection interrupted while the phone tries in vain to join a hotspot half a mile away, but mercifully we can manually ‘forget’ the network and free ourselves from this connectivity hell.

Apple’s response seems to indicate that the default to any wifi in preference to LTE has been included in the firmware of the new watch. Not only is this annoying and apparently responsible for a poor user experience, but it seems to defeat the object of dropping an extra 70 notes on an LTE modem. This is a baffling move and Apple doesn’t seem to have said when the software fix will be available.

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2 comments

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 21/09/2017 @ 2:42 pm

      Good point. This watch looks like a bit of a botched launch right now.

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