Apple's next Apple Watch will still have to be used alongside an Apple iPhone because a desired feature—built-in LTE cellular service—is not delivering adequate battery life in the devices in testing.
Rumors that LTE service will not be included in the next Apple Watch have been heard recently, but no specific reasons were given for why the feature is not yet ready. An Aug. 18 report by Bloomberg now confirms that battery life shortcomings are the reason for LTE service having to wait for a later version of the Apple Watch.
"The source of the delay is that current cellular chips consume too much battery life, reducing the product's effectiveness and limiting user appeal," three unidentified sources told Bloomberg. Instead of adding the feature to the next Apple Watch, the company is now "studying lower-power cellular data chips for future smartwatch generations," the report said.
Mobile carriers have been "urging" Apple to update the Apple Watch so it can work with LTE on its own, without an iPhone, for some time, the story reported. "Apple had been in talks this year with mobile phone carriers in the U.S. and Europe to add cellular connectivity to the watch, according to people familiar with the talks." LTE service would allow the device to access sports score alerts, email and mapping information for users, without having to connect with an iPhone.
Earlier in August, rumors circulated that an upcoming Apple Watch 2 version of the device will debut in the second half of 2016 with a myriad of improvements, including built-in GPS, a barometer, improved waterproofing and a longer-lasting battery, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The rumors came from a research note issued to investors by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who regularly publishes his take on details about upcoming products based on supply chain orders and activity. Also to be included are thinner displays, he wrote.
The launch of an updated Apple Watch has been rumored since at least June 2015, but has not yet appeared. Rumors at that time suggested that an updated Apple Watch would include a built-in FaceTime video camera, more independence from accompanying iPhones and additional models at varying price levels.
The original Apple Watch, which went on sale in April 2015, starts at $349 for the Apple Watch Sport version, which is available with a silver or space-gray aluminum body and with wristbands in many colors. The standard Apple Watch starts at $549 for a 38mm-wide version or $599 for a 42mm-wide model. Prices for the 38mm version can rise to $1,049, while prices for the 42mm model can go up to $1,099, depending on the watchband selected. The regular Apple Watch can be purchased with a fluoroelastomer band or one of three different leather bands. Several luxury versions are also available.
Since its release, the Apple Watch has already received an updated operating system, watchOS 2, which delivers a wide range of new features and options as well as new tools to allow developers to add more future functions. The updated watchOS 2 software gives developers the ability to build faster, more powerful apps running natively on the Apple Watch, while also offering new watch faces and new communications capabilities in the device's Mail, Friends and Digital Touch apps.
In April, Kuo issued an earlier research note that predicts a 25 percent drop in Apple Watch shipments in 2016 as consumers wait for the next version and for the company to make the devices more independent of their accompanying iPhones, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
Kuo said that his sales drop forecast was also due to a lack of killer apps for users and limited battery life.
In January, a Juniper Research report found that the Apple Watch quickly captured 52 percent of the global smartwatch market in 2015, even though the first Apple Watches didn't go on sale until April 2015. The popularity of the Apple Watch eclipsed the shipments of competing products from rival companies in less than a year, according to an earlier eWEEK report. In comparison, smartwatches running Android Wear made up less than 10 percent of sales in 2015. At that time, the lack of a strong use case for smartwatches caused consumer sales to lag, the report stated.