Apple admits to Apple Watch LTE problems

While writing my review of the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE capabilities, I experienced notable connectivity issues. The new Watch appeared to try to connect to unknown WiFi networks instead of connecting to cellular, when I was out and about without my phone.

Within the first couple days of experiencing this, Apple replaced my first review unit with a second one, but that one proved to be problematic, too.

Eventually, the company issued an official statement, acknowledging the issue. “We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular,” an Apple spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We are investigating a fix for a future software release.”

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I never had this issue with my Apple Watch. Every time I tried to do something, it worked just fine.

Perhaps Gruber explained it:

I suspect one reason I haven’t run into this is that I generally avoid using unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks. They’re a security risk, and at least in my experience they generally offer slower, less reliable connectivity than LTE.

I don’t do that either, so that could be it. Whatever the reason, Apple needs to get it fixed and they will.

  • JimCracky

    The Verge review was thorough, with a well done video to boot. Too bad the anti-Apple bias has stepped in.

    Now, when Apple fixes said connectivity problem, I wonder if the Verge will rewrite and reshoot its video to reflect said problems.

    Knowing that Apple acknowledged the issue, and then going o press with this horrendously biased review is not good journalism.

    The Apple info was an afterthought, like a traditional newspaper writing a 1′ blurb to explain why the address of the burglar they blared in a headline was incorrect, whilst the damage inflicted will not be made up by a “correction”.

    How anybody takes these guys seriously is beyond me.

    • Meaux

      Apple didn’t go acknowledge the issue until after the reviews went to press. From the WSJ article, “When I asked Apple about these issues, a spokesman said, ‘We haven’t seen this in any of our testing and we’re looking into it.'”

      • Robert.Walter

        I wonder if Apple uses the design-FMEA discipline. This is the thought experiment used in aerospace and automotive (and elsewhere) that predicts problems in the planning and design stage that prevents these kinds of problems in the real world.

  • Ron Miller

    iMore had a great description of the actual problem. The problem is with logging in to “captive” wifi networks where you need to accept terms of use after connecting. This includes networks like Starbucks, hotel wifi networks, etc. When you connect to the network, you don’t actually get internet connectivity until you agree to their terms of service. And since you have no way to do that on the watch, the watch just connects to a useless network.

    • spazsquatch

      I seem to remember that when the iPhone first came out I would frequently run into those types of networks that had an authentication scheme that didn’t work with the iPhone. The issue resolved itself eventually and I’ve always wondered if it was Apple, or the wifi operators responding to a change in the customer base.

      • Meaux

        Apple fixed it with a software fix. That’s why you get the pop-up interstitial when you connect to those open hotspots. The iPhone goes to either,, or (I don’t know which, but those are the most common IP addresses for the click through page).

  • brucej

    This has been an issue for years with iPhones. If there’s WiFi available and it con connect it’ll do that and not use the cellular connection. Our university used to offer a guest WiFi (that only allowed http/s traffic in and out) and I was forever getting complaints from people about how they couldn’t set up their IMAP email on their iPhones. All they had to do was use the proper authenticated wifi.

    Then I had to tell them to forget the unauthenticated one…

  • Robert.Walter

    Why would Apple even allow the watch to connect to unauthenticated networks unless opted into this kind of risky behavior? This is crazy and sounds like something the carriers asked for to get to the “low” monthly LTE cost.