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Smartwatches

Apple Watch, out in September, won’t need to link to iPhone to make calls or stream music

Tech analysts say the success of Apple’s new stand-alone smartwatch, which uses cellular connectivity, will require a more efficient battery

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2017, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2017, 1:00pm

Apple is gearing up to release a new Apple Watch that may not require tethering to an iPhone for key functions such as calls, making it a stand-alone device, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

The US tech giant will launch the next generation Apple Watch in September when it is also expected to take the wraps off three new iPhone models, says the source.

Apple Watch has always been required to be linked to an iPhone in order to receive texts or make calls. But the next generation version will have cellular connectivity, likely through an embedded SIM rather than physical SIM card users will have to put in.

Adding cellular connectivity will allow people to carry out tasks such as streaming music without the need for an iPhone.

A September unveiling also makes sense because Apple has already announced plans to release watchOS 4 – its wearable operating system – in the autumn. This will include new features around music as well as a Siri-based watch face, both of which would benefit from stand-alone watch capabilities.

But cellular connectivity is very battery draining and this could be a problem for Apple. But if it can create a battery efficient device, that will be a big positive, analysts say.

“It is a win-win for Apple as it will drive up the average selling price of the device because they will be more expensive,” says Neil Shah, research director of devices and ecosystems at Counterpoint Research.

“It will cater to the niche market of health and fitness users who don't want to carry their iPhone when they go for a run. It will also be good for enterprise use cases.”

An Apple spokesperson was not available for comment at the time of publication.

The first Apple Watch was announced in September 2014 alongside new iPhones. The Apple Watch Series 2 was unveiled two years later, again alongside iPhones. It appears, however, that Apple is reducing the time it takes to announce another Apple Watch, given the third version is likely to be announced in September.