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Cellular Connectivity of Apple Watch Suspended in China

by Steven Waltzer | Oct 21, 2017

Reports have surfaced that cellular connectivity of the Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular has been suspended in China. This comes after an initial software issue caused WiFi-to-3G handoff problems, and goes to show the added complexity involved with adding the cellular radio.  The lack of connectivity in China is a huge blow to Apple as China is one of Apple’s largest country markets.  The news has also caused a stock sell-off as AAPL shares dropped 2.4% on Thursday.

It was likely the Chinese government (specifically the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) who put a stop to the cellular connection as the use of an eSIM translates to a lack of tracking/device identification and control.  Typically, the Chinese government mandates consumers to register with cellular operators using their real name and to obtain a physical SIM card from that carrier. 

Regulations around eSIM will vary from country to country and we expect regulatory roadblocks to crop up in a handful of country markets, especially as eSIM eventually moves from wearables to smartphones.  We recommend device makers carefully examine country level regulatory bodies and policies when planning eSIM product distribution.

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