Chinese authorities blocked cellular connection for Apple Watch 3

- Adrian Ungureanu

Watch Series 3 is Apple’s first standalone smartwatch, because their feature an eSIM that can’t provide cellular connection. Well, they can connect to mobile networks if they are allowed to.

But the authorities in China pulled the cellular connection from the Apple Watch. The apparent reason for this action has to do with how China monitors its citizens who use cellular enabled devices.

The Chinese government requires consumers who need a SIM card for an online device, to register their real name with the wireless operator that they subscribe to. The problem with the Apple Watch is that it uses an eSIM, which is a small embedded SIM card placed inside the timepiece by Apple. The eSIM allows the Apple Watch Series 3 owner to decide which carrier and plan he/she wants to use. And that makes it more difficult for the Chinese government to track users of this smartwatch.

The watch went on sale on September 22nd and only qualified China Unicom subscribers were allowed to connect to the carrier’s cellular network. But on September 28th, the connections were cut off. The China Unicom website says that the cellular connectivity was offered only on a trial basis. In a statement, all Apple can say is that it was informed by China Unicom that the cellular feature on the Apple Watch Series 3 “has been suspended.”

There’s little chance for the cellular feature to be used pretty soon in China, as this devices may help some individuals to retain their identify for some activities that the Chinese authorities might not approve. So if the Chinese authorities can’t track their citizens activities online, they won’t allow Watch 3 to connect to mobile services.