Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular): The Apple Watch you've been waiting for
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) & Setting it up
First things first, so what's the difference?
Not that much, actually. The new (to Singapore) Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) - henceforth known simply as the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE - is mostly identical to the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS that I reviewed back in September last year with the exception of added LTE connectivity. The LTE models also have more storage - 16GB vs. 8GB. This means you can have more apps or store more songs on them. Otherwise, the two watches have the same dimensions, display, weight, and even processor. This is a good thing since the Apple Watch still leads the way when it comes to build and refinement. Plus, if you have been a long-time Apple Watch user and have been collecting straps, you can use all of them with the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE.
One of the key differences is that the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE will be available in different case materials. Previously, the GPS-only Apple Watch Series 3 was only available with an aluminum case. The LTE version will feature all case versions including stainless steel and ceramic. This means you can finally get your hands on the Apple Watch Series 3 Hermès and the Apple Watch Edition.
The LTE versions of the Apple Watch Series 3 will also have a red dot on the Digital Crown. Personally, I’m not a fan of this design quirk, but I suppose there will be owners who like it because it distinguishes them as having an Apple Watch that is a little bit special than the others.
And finally, the LTE versions of the Apple Watch Series 3 will also get an exclusive watch face called ‘Explorer.’ It is basically a variant of the ‘Utility’ dial but with a subsidiary seconds dial and a cellular strength indicator at 12 o’clock. Unfortunately, there’s no “cellular complication” so if you are using other watch faces, it can be hard to tell at a glance what your cellular strength is. The only workaround to this is to swipe up to bring up the Control Center and look at the top left corner.
So how do I get cellular connectivity? Do I need to go down to my mobile service provider?
Thankfully, the answer is no. But let’s backtrack a little first. For now at least, the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE will only work if you are a Singtel Mobile subscriber. Customers with other telcos are out of luck.
Getting cellular connectivity to work is easy. SingTel is offering a new service called NumberShare, which shares your existing mobile number with your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE.
What is NumberShare? From Singtel:
NumberShare is an add-on service that allows iPhone users to share the same mobile number, data and talktime as your mobile plan on an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS+Cellular). With NumberShare, you can make or receive calls and access the Internet on your Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS+Cellular) over 4G connection, even when your iPhone is not nearby or powered on. You can also get an additional 0.3GB data per month on your main mobile line.
A prompt will appear when you are setting up your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE asking if you want to set up mobile data (NumberShare) as well. Just tap on it and you will be brought to a page where you are asked to key in your NRIC. Do so and voila, you are set and ready to go. This is the process that most people will face. However, because of undisclosed limitations, EasyMobile, Prepaid, and Multi-SIM customers of Singtel will not be able to sign up for NumberShare.
From SingTel again:
NumberShare is available as an add-on service for all Singtel Postpaid Mobile customers who have subscribed to a Combo Mobile Plan, SIM Only Plan or MobileShare Supplementary Plan with 4G ClearVoice. NumberShare can only be activated on Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS+Cellular) and newer models.
EasyMobile, Prepaid and Multi-SIM customers are not eligible for a NumberShare subscription.
Also, you don’t necessarily have to enable cellular connectivity during the initial process. You can set it up later by going to the Watch app and selecting the ‘Mobile Data’ tab.
For more information regarding NumberShare, you can check out Singtel's FAQ page here. What's not immediately obvious from the FAQ is this:
- If you want to cancel the Multi-SIM service, you need to head down to a Singtel shop to get a brand new SIM card, because Singtel has to deactivate your existing SIM cards.
- Also, your phone needs to be on carrier settings 31.1 (check under Settings > General > About) and the Watch on watchOS version 4.2.2. Carrier settings 31.5, which comes with iOS 11.3 beta, doesn't support NumberShare at the moment.
- 4G ClearVoice (i.e., VoLTE) is required. Normally, that shouldn't be an issue; but if you've re-contracted from old 3G legacy plans to the newer combo plans, there remains a possibility that ClearVoice isn't activated yet. You can always call Singtel at 1688 to check.
- Business customers on corporate lines must call 1606 to subscribe. Customers on CIS plans aren't affected.
Does the watch work without LTE?
Yes, it does. It will work just like the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS.
Does it support roaming?
No, it doesn’t. In the fine print, it says, “Roaming is not available outside your carrier network coverage area.”
Can I buy an Apple Watch Series 3 LTE from overseas and use it here?
Yes and no. The problem lies in the fact that unlike your iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE only supports a limited number of LTE bands. If you are feeling adventurous, you could buy from a country that uses the same LTE bands as us. More specifically, the Europe and Asia Pacific versions bearing model numbers A1889 (38mm) and A1891 (42mm).