Published: Thu, October 19, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Apple Watch loses cellular service in China

Apple Watch loses cellular service in China

When the Apple Watch Series 3 became available on September 22, LTE service was available exclusively through China's Unicom wireless company.

When the Apple Watch Series 3 launched in China, its LTE features were made available through China Unicom, the state-owned telecommunications operator in the country.

Shares were also impacted by China's cut off of the cellular service on the new Apple Watch, reported by the Wall Street Journal. LTE service is the primary new feature on this year's Apple Watch model.

The Chinese government did not give an explanation to the sudden cut off. Analysts are saying that cut off likely came from the Chinese government security concerns to do with tracking users of the device because the watch uses different technology than standard mobile phones.

But why is the Apple Watch Series 3 using an eSIM in the first place? According to the WSJ's report, China regulates mobile phones and users must register their SIM cards under their real names with the network carrier.

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Apple does not reveal Apple Watch sales numbers but several analysts believe the Apple Watch 3 is gaining momentum and is poised to be a hit, partially due to the new cellular version of the device.

With the new Apple Watch using an eSIM, which is embedded inside the device by Apple, carriers and regulators wouldn't be able to use its existing identification system.

The lack of cellular service could cool interest in the new Apple Watch in China, and could raise fears again that the Chinese government is looking to more deeply regulate Apple, which has caused the Apple stock to drop in the past.

China Unicom said only that LTE access had been offered 'on a trial basis, ' while Apple stated only that it was aware of the issue, referring further enquiries to the carrier. Apple confirmed to the Journal in a statement that the cellular connection "has been suspended". China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been cracking down harder on the use of VPN services for almost a year in efforts to regulate the websites accessible by its citizens.

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