Apple Watch's LTE Suspended In China Possibly Due To Government Security Concerns

Enlarge  You can now make calls from your Apple Watch without the phone nearby

It's worth noting, at the time of this writing, Chinese customers can still order an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + LTE) model.

Apple released the Apple Watch Series 3 last month.

We were informed by China Unicom that the new cellular feature on the Apple Watch Series 3 has been suspended.

Those affected by this issue are users who were able to subscribe on or after September 28.

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. 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.

China has some of the strictest regulations in the world for monitoring mobile users, and Apple Watch Series 3 might be presenting problems the government hasn't yet addressed.

Analysts believe that the government was concerned about the fact that it could not track who was using the new Apple Watch due to the use of an eSIM. The feature allows users to connect the Apple Watch to a carrier network and do everything from place calls to send data over the network without needing an iPhone.

In a notice on its website, China Unicom said the cellular connectivity was offered on a trial basis to users, and there's no word on when the service will resume.

One reason why China Unicom may have stopped service is because Apple uses a new kind of SIM card in the Apple Watch, called eSIM.

When Apple held its big annual product event in September, one of the most prominent updates was the addition of cellular connectivity for the Apple Watch. 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. Apple Watch Series 3 is still available in China, but a ban on its critical feature might prove to a problem for Apple and its sales there. However, the Chinese government has not yet been able to figure out how to track and control an eSIM, per the report.

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