Apple could be planning a big update to its smartwatch.
The iPhone maker is working on an Apple Watch version that would allow for cellular connectivity over long-term evolution, or LTE, networks, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a note to investors this week, According to The Verge, which obtained a copy of it. The move would allow the Apple Watch to use all of the features of LTE, including the ability to connect to the Internet and place calls, without requiring a tethered iPhone to do it.
Since the Apple Watch’s release in 2015, a cellular connection has been a conspicuous absence. The features means the Apple Watch owners have been forced to bring their iPhones along with them when wearing the Apple Watch to take advantage of certain features, like the functionality baked into Internet-reliant apps. And although calls can be made from Apple Watch, the connection is routed through the iPhone.
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Although it’s unknown how Apple (AAPL) might use an LTE connection with Apple Watch, a report from Bloomberg earlier this month suggested it would effectively turn the Apple Watch into a quasi-smartphone. Without help from an iPhone, LTE-equipped Apple Watch owners would ostensibly be able to place and receive calls and get access to the Internet from the device, according to the report.
According to The Verge, Kuo is similarly hearing that Apple will offer that functionality in an LTE device. And he expects the feature to be available along models that don’t have LTE connectivity, giving customers the option to get a cellular option or not. The LTE version would likely cost more than the non-LTE model.
Apple, of course, hasn’t commented on future plans for its devices, and likely won’t until it’s ready to make an announcement. The company is rumored to be planning an Apple Watch refresh, which could include LTE connectivity, when it announces its new iPhones in the coming weeks.