China Cuts Apple Watch LTE Support over 'Security Concerns'


Unicom said on its website that the feature was only made available on a "trial basis", and the carrier gave no indication when or if it would return.

Apple does not reveal Apple Watch sales numbers but several analysts believe the Apple Watch 3 is gaining momentum and is poised to be a hit, partially due to the new cellular version of the device. Whenever that happens, it can't be soon enough for an Apple Watch Series 3 owner like 19-year old Qiu Tian, who paid $600 for the smartwatch on the September 22nd launch date.

Apple's struggles in China continue to mount, and this time, it's Apple's newest wearable causing problems for the company. 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. Phones have SIM cards that are embedded by wireless carriers, but the Apple Watch 3 relies on an eSIM, which is supplied by Apple.

On Cupertino's website, "cellular services" are now listed as "coming later this year" to the Series 3 on China Unicom, as well as the country's industry-leading China Mobile carrier and bronze medalist China Telecom. "The government still needs to figure out how they can control the eSIM".

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The Chinese market offers a big opportunity for Apple, but the company has had a history of issues with its devices and services in the country. VPN services allow Chinese citizens to browse the Internet more freely by bypassing China's "Great Firewall".

Reportedly, regulators and officials at the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are now figuring out how to resolve their security concerns before allowing broad cellular access for Apple Watch owners.

The Journal says China is likely concerned about the security of the Apple Watch 3 when it comes with a cell plan. Apple was told to "tighten checks" on live-streaming apps.