This time last week Apple was telling the world how good their new Apple Watch Series 3 was, this week reviewers are shredding the new Apple offering after identifying it has major problems.
Overnight Apple admitted that they have major problems with mobile connectivity with the Australian launch of the device now tipped to be delayed as Apple designers are forced to go back to the drawing boards to find a fix.
Connectivity was supposed to be Apple’s big breakthrough, now it’s their worst nightmare along with claims by reviewers that consumers should hang onto their iPhone 7 after reviewing the iPhone 8.
Due to go on sale next week carriers in Australia are not saying whether they have tested the connectivity capabilities of the new device.
The Wall Street Journal described the device as “untethered and unreliable” following an extensive review.
Two reviewers from the US publication spent a week testing new models—denoted by a red dot on their dials. They concluded that you’re lucky if the battery allows you to roam on a mobile network for longer than half a day—especially if you’re making calls. And only a limited number of third-party apps work without the phone closed including Instagram, Twitter and Uber.
The pair experienced mobile connectivity issues on three separate pre-production models, in two different states, on two different 4G networks.
In a statement Wednesday, Apple said the problem connecting to mobile networks occurs when the Apple Watch Series 3—the first watch from Apple to feature an LTE chip for cellular service—joins “unauthenticated Wi-Fi wireless networks without connectivity.” Apple said it is “investigating a fix for a future software release.”
Apple issued the statement after reviewers from The Wall Street Journal and the Verge encountered major problems.
Shortly after the announcement Apple stock fell nearly 2%.
The WSJ said that Wall Street views the Apple Watch, the first completely new product released under Chief Executive Tim Cook, as a bellwether for the company’s ability to create new devices that diversify Apple’s revenue, two-thirds of which come from iPhone sales.
Apple hasn’t disclosed smartwatch sales to date. Market researcher IDC estimates it sold an estimated 30 million Apple Watches since introducing the device in 2015, making it the world’s largest smartwatch company by sales. But the device has failed to generate the type of sales growth Apple saw in the early days of other products such as the iPhone and iPad.
The new Apple Watch with LTE goes on sale in stores in Australia ranging in price from over %500 to $1,049.
The promise it can operate independently of an iPhone or Wi-Fi has raised sales expectations.
Analysts had been expecting the Apple Watch Series 3 to get a sales push from carriers motivated to sell the watch with a supporting hefty monthly data plan. They also believe its new capabilities could attract consumers who passed on the product following its 2015 debut because of its seeming lack of purpose.
When Apple introduced the Series 3 model at its product showcase Sept. 12, Apple Operating Chief Jeff Williams said it would give people “the freedom to go anywhere with just your Apple Watch.”
He said it would stream 40 million songs to his wrist and have the same phone number as the owner’s phone. He demonstrated its abilities by dialling a colleague who received the call on her Apple Watch while paddle boarding on Lake Tahoe.
What is holding the watch back from mass-market appeal is that it is still too focused on health and fitness, said Jitesh Ubrani, a smartwatch analyst with IDC. Apple needs developers to make different kinds of apps so the watch can become a “need to have” device. Cellular capability “gives them a chance,” he said.
Mr. Williams, who oversees the smartwatch, has been pushing for cellular connectivity since before the device’s launch, according to a person familiar with the product’s evolution. However, Apple struggled with poor cellular reception, the person said.
Hardware experts have said the challenges reflect the difficulties of working with such a small device. Apple crams accelerometers, gyroscopes, heart-rate sensors and 18 hours of battery life, as well as GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, into a product that is just 38 millimetres or 42 millimetres in size.
Samsung currently offers mobile connectivity on the Gear S3 watch and it works.