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KGI: LTE Apple Watch likely using eSIM, no phone calling or Android support expected

Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has an update to the recent LTE Apple Watch report that includes a few details about what to expect. Kuo expects cellular models of the Apple Watch will use an eSIM and not a physical SIM card as a space-saving measure, and the cellular connection may only be used for data transfer and not phone call features.

Apple first started using its embedded Apple SIM in the original 9.7-inch iPad Pro last year, although it retained the physical SIM tray as well for carriers who do not support the Apple SIM.

KGI already forecasted what Bloomberg first reported: the cellular Apple Watch will feature LTE connectivity but offer no 3G connection which will limit it to certain markets and countries. Today KGI adds that it believes Apple could choose Qualcomm over Intel for the baseband chip as the former company offers a smaller, low power solution.

The other new development is Kuo expects Apple could omit phone call capabilities from the LTE model of the new Apple Watch. You can already make phone calls from the Apple Watch when it’s paired with a nearby iPhone and there’s no technical limitation with the implementation, but KGI expects Apple may want to improve the “user experience” of data transmission before enabling voice services.

Curiously, the report doesn’t rule out VoIP services like Skype and FaceTime for calling however. Still, this will be a notable setback if the cellular Apple Watch can’t place and receive voice calls.

Finally, KGI says it doesn’t believe Apple Watch will gain Android compatibility this year despite the move potentially boosting device sales for the wearable. Kuo cites difficulty providing a good experience between Android and watchOS for not creating an Apple Watch companion app for Android at this time.

Some have suggested adding LTE which may make the Apple Watch more independent from the iPhone could be a step toward Android compatibility.

KGI has previously reported that Apple will offer both LTE and non-LTE models of the new Apple Watch which is expected to keep the same design with 38mm and 42mm options.

If Apple follows tradition, we may see new Apple Watch hardware with LTE introduced sometime next month alongside new iPhones.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.