In a note to clients — as reported by AppleInsider — KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the Apple Watch with LTE, expected to debut next month, won’t support traditional cellular voice calls this year.
He thinks Apple will add support for calls in a future software update. In the interim, he believes FaceTime and third-party apps such as Skype could serve as stand-ins.
"Technologically, while it's feasible for LTE Apple Watch to support voice service and replace iPhones' phone function, we think it must first improve the user experience of data transmission (not via iPhone),” Kuo wrote.
The analyst feels that the lack of call support will make negotiations with carriers easier. Plus, the move would allow Apple to scrap 3G connectivity entirely, relying solely on LTE and allowing for a simpler antenna design.
Apple currently requires its smartwatch to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download directions in maps, and send messages while on the go. Equipped with LTE chips, at least some next gen Apple Watch Series 3 models should be able to conduct many tasks without an iPhone close by. For example, a user would be able to download new songs and use apps and leave their smartphone at home.
Kuo says the next gen smartwatch come in 38mm and 42mm and will be available in LTE and non-LTE versions. He predicts that Apple will ship 8-9 million Apple Watch Series 3 models in the second half of 2017, with the LTE model to account for 35% to 40% of shipments. Overall, the analyst forecasts 17.5 to 18 million units shipped in 2017; that’s up 70% year-over-year.
Apple's Apple Watch Series is expected to focus on improving battery life and overall performance, but will probably sport no major redesign. It may also pack ambient display technology for better visibility and additional sensors for even better health and fitness tracking.