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Apple Admits To Apple Watch LTE Problems Just Before It Ships (theverge.com) 80

Lauren Goode, reporting for The Verge: Apple's new Series 3 smartwatch starts shipping this Friday, and the biggest feature change between last year's model and this new Watch is that it has built-in cellular capabilities. Except, that cell service isn't entirely reliable. 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."
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Apple Admits To Apple Watch LTE Problems Just Before It Ships

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  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:03AM (#55231183)

    Apple Watch Less Than Excellent

    • Apple Watch Less Than Excellent

      I'm sure the watch is fine. The people experiencing problems are probably just wearing it wrong [wired.com].

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The people experiencing problems are probably just wearing it wrong.

        You joke, but that could be the problem, actually.

        The watch is worn right against the skin, and the SAR calculations (whether you believe in it or not) are influenced heavily by distance. For a cellphone, it's easy enough to get even a centimeter or two between the skin and antenna, which means you can put in a more powerful RF amp and better antenna. With the watch sitting so close to the skin, the actual power output of the LTE modem will

        • You joke, but that could be the problem, actually.

          The problem is real. What is happening is that the watch is connecting to one of those "capture" networks that have an interstertial page at connect time, such as one might find at a Starbucks or McDonald's. The watch should be avoiding those networks, but because of this bug the "connected" Wifi network is used instead of the cellular.
          This is a real and likely embarrassing problem that I am sure Apple is working very hard to fix right now.

          • if it was a software issue they would have just pushed an os update without confirming it so flatly.
          • I recently learned that the device has issues with the heart-monitoring aspect if you have wrist tattoos. It can't see through a tattoo. They acknowledge this, but make no mention of this on any of the sales/about literature that I have found.

            It'd be pretty simple to add something like, "Heart-health monitoring may not be effective when watch is worn over a tattoo."

            Given the popularity of tattoos, I'd say that would be important information for an honest company to impart. They don't even have to put it in

            • I'm not sure why you're telling me this. I didn't write anything about heart monitoring or tattoos.
              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                Oh, just adding to the list of dishonest marketing. Nothing more than that.

                • Oh, just adding to the list of dishonest marketing. Nothing more than that.

                  Do fitbit or any of the other device makers mention wrist tattoos? Does anyone? Have you posted about that somewhere?

    • You blaspheme. Watch it - the iSheep will be up in arms.
  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:14AM (#55231249)
    I go buy a new car, or a house, or something else. Oh! Sorry, the horn won't work, the doors on your house won't shut or some other thing. But, not to worry, we'll fix it at a later date. Tell me people would put up with that?
    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:21AM (#55231301) Homepage

      ... and they'd buy a turd on a stick if it came with an Apple logo, so you think they care if there's some minor connectivity issue?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It does seem odd to put cellular and wifi on a watch... Cellular in particular uses a lot of energy, relative to Bluetooth. That battery isn't going to last very long, or will have to be extremely large. LTE is improving things a little, but it's still nowhere near as good as Bluetooth or even just wifi.

        What benefit does LTE bring over just pairing to your phone? The only sane reason to even have a smart watch is as a secondary phone screen, unless they have invented some truly marvellous use for it.

        • by sh00z ( 206503 )

          What benefit does LTE bring over just pairing to your phone?

          The ability to *not* bringing your phone, for one.

          That being said, I'm not surprised to hear about this, and would hope for some "trickle-down" in the fix. I run with a Series 1 Apple watch, and every time a misconfigured automobile searching for a bluetooth buddy drives by, I get glitches in music playback. It would be nice if the watch would reject all unsolicited connections.

          • Sure you can leave your phone behind, but as soon as you try to use the watch to take phone calls for any prolonged period that battery is shot and now you've got nothing. I was somewhat interested in Apple's smartwatches as I've wanted a really good fitness tracker and it seems as though they've got some stuff you don't get with a standard Fitbit, but Apple seems to be putting a lot of effort in the wrong direction in my mind. I can understand that as technology improves, having cellular access in a watch
            • by sh00z ( 206503 )
              In my case at least, any time I would want to have cellular access via the watch alone (running, biking) would be followed by a period when I could top off the charge level (while I'm in the shower).
        • Cellular in particular uses a lot of energy, relative to Bluetooth. ... What benefit does LTE bring over just pairing to your phone?

          They're using LTE so your phone can be *really* far away from the watch. Bluetooth just doesn't have the range. :-)

      • by deep2k ( 640705 )
        Unlock Mac with Apple Watch alone makes the watch purchase worth it. It is the single biggest time saving feature I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and saves me from having to type my password 30 - 50 times a day. Thank you for telling us how you really feel though - your input was about as valuable as your statement. @all mods whom marked this rubbish insightful, go hang you heads in shame!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, people contend with that situation all the time, particularly with new houses. That's why punch lists exist. In those situations the process generally concludes prior to final sales place timing doesn't always allow for it and certain issues get remedied after the fact.

      Anybody who is dissatisfied in this situation has the right to walk away from the deal by returning the product to Apple.

    • I go buy a new car, or a house, or something else.
      Oh! Sorry, the horn won't work, the doors on your house won't shut or some other thing.
      But, not to worry, we'll fix it at a later date.
      Tell me people would put up with that?

      Yeah, all the fucken time, it's called reality.
      You go buy a house and tell me everything's perfect with it, e.g. sticking door.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:15AM (#55231253)
    iPhones also connect to wireless networks (and with the right settings on their own to user unauthorized ones) with no connectivity and you will suffer from no data access as the phone fails to use its cellular connection. Further if the phone has wifi calling enabled you will miss calls and texts while connected to the network. It would seem like a simple matter to disregard the wifi network if it had no actual connection to the internet but it is what it is.
    • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:46AM (#55231429)

      I've never once, in 8 years of using iPhones across 6 carriers in multiple countries, ever seen this behavior. You may want to try to reset your network settings or try a factory reset of your iPhone if this is happening to you personally.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Wasn't the entire point of "wifi assist" to deal with this very issue, phones connected to bad access points that couldn't really pass data?

        Now if I could just get it to stop connecting to ATT wifi access points despite telling it to not automatically connect to them...

        • Sometimes I've found the extra step of "forget this network" helps. But your mileage may vary.
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Wasn't the entire point of "wifi assist" to deal with this very issue, phones connected to bad access points that couldn't really pass data?

          In theory, yes. In practice, it seems to be frequently broken. I routinely connect to a computer-to-computer network used for controlling some hardware that has no Internet connection. Frequently, either:

          • I have no networking because Wi-Fi assist failed to kick in (it doesn't tell me that the network has no Internet connection)
          • I have no connection to devices on the
      • I've owned iPhone 3 and currently own 4,4s,5,5s,5c,6,6s+,se across many iOS (haven't had the courage to download 11) and they all do this. Dosent matter how much network resetting you do and tbh you shouldn't have to even if this worked. Again I don't have a problem using either wifi or cellular, but when the phone connects to wifi without internet connectivity it hangs and refuses to use cellular instead. Been a problem since around 2009 for me and everyone's iPhone I've used since.
        • Also forgot to add this has happened on sprint, Verizon and att networks. Like the other poster mentioned this was a known bug up to iOS 9 (wifi assist) [apple.com] but in reality I've experienced it on iOS 9 and 10 flavors as well without it working.
  • by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:28AM (#55231329) Homepage Journal

    How in the world is this news? This happens with your phone as well. If your smartphone "connects to an unauthenticated Wi-Fi network without connectivity" you get, no surprise, no connectivity. Because it uses the wi-fi device as the default route if it has one available.

    Unless they shit the bed in the design and don't give you a way to turn off wi-fi separately, this isn't any more of a flaw than all of our phones.

    The same reviewer also complains that after putting their paired phone into airplane mode and then walking around with the watch that they couldn't get connectivity. Well, that's how the darn thing works -- it automatically goes into airplane mode when you put your phone in airplane mode. Because it thinks you are on a plane...

    This seems like a blogger looking for clicks.

    • If your smartphone "connects

      You hit the important point without realising it. Sane devices don't magically try and connect to open wifi points just because they are there.

    • My Blackberries never do this, nor my Android phones. The solution is to simply test if you can access the outside world and if so, make WiFi available to the rest of the phone. Of course, when a major backbone provider fucked up some routes, some people experienced the symptoms where phone thought Internet connection wasn't working but really was due to not reaching the hardcoded hostname. Doesn't your phone prompt you to login to hotspot walled garden logins?
  • And if it turns out to be a hardware issue?

  • If that's what this is, because it could actually be qualified as a feature since WiFi has a higher preference over cellular connection. It's a complex product and will go through a series of patches as users uncover untested scenarios. Trolls just can't pass the opportunity. (Disclaimer: I don't owe an Apple device; I write software for living)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    My I-Phone and I-Pad both with LTE built in have issues when connecting to WiFi networks that have no internet connection. I'm sure the watch has a similar issue.

    The problem I have is that it keeps trying to connect to something with an internet connection, even when I tell it to not use the LTE connection for data. Maybe what I'm doing is just weird but I really DON'T want the device searching for a data connection by disconnecting from the current WiFi access point at times. Most of the time this behavi

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      You can absolutely set your phone to not connect to unknown wifi.

      As for why they put LTE on the watch- I'm pretty sure that they are simply adding a backup capability. They certainly sell a series 3 watch without LTE. The current versions of the watch already use a mix of bluetooth and wifi to communicate with the phone, so I'm pretty sure the LTE capability is for when you don't have your phone around. Whether it will last all day without a phone, I don't know. The watches in general are already pretty

  • still catching up to Andriod technology. It seems like the only 'new' thing they've introduced is wireless ear buds... wait I have a Motorola headset that is wireless. Wireless charging? nope. Smartwatch celluar? nope. Seems like they are banking on all they work they've done in the past.
  • If the product is defective, don't buy it.
  • So, a company finds major problem in a product before it ships, and admits to it publicly. Do they then:

    1. Delay the shipping date until the product is fixed, or;

    2. Ship the broken product as originally planned anyway?

    If the company values its customers, then 1. If the company thinks "fuck the customers" then 2.

    I wonder what Apple will do...

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