Apple Watch 3 has a major problem for people who travel

The new Apple Watch 3 appears to have a major limitation that’s left some fans feeling frustrated: no international roaming.

This week, Apple announced its latest smart wearable device, the Apple Watch 3. Shaped like a wristwatch but crammed with iPhone-style tech, the Apple Watch 3’s big selling point is the new LTE cellular connectivity: it can support 4G mobile networks just like a phone, basically.

But on the new product page for the Apple Watch 3, Apple reveals – in very brief detail – that the device won’t support international roaming: “Roaming is not available outside your carrier network coverage area.”

To clear up any ambiguity, a Redditor named ‘learnjava’ claims to have contacted Apple Support for clarification, and outlined the purported response as follows:

“I asked about the little roaming note on the product page; the answer as as follows. The Watch will not support roaming. At all. For Europeans, that means your country only, even after the recent (June) law about European roaming freedom.”

He continued: “There is no way to use a European watch with e.g. a US carrier. The hardware might support identical bands (but even then way different than what we are used to from iPhones) but the service rep told me that it is not clear when and if at all it will be possible to change countries. Could be a hardware limit. Very important information for me.”

This is a significant issue. In Europe, you can currently take your mobile phone – on any data plan – into another EU country and use your tariff allowances (minutes, texts, and data) without additional charge. But take an Apple Watch to another country and it seems you’ll no longer get support.

Worse still, if you bought an Apple Watch in, say, the United Kingdom, and then emigrated to the United States, the Apple Watch’s cellular connectivity will no longer work – at least according to the information we have right now.

The important point to note, however, is that your Apple Watch can still connect to your iPhone and piggyback on its mobile connection. The issue lies when you’ve left your iPhone at home, and want to take advantage of the Apple Watch’s in-built mobile network support.

Naturally, this has annoyed some Apple fans, who posted the following messages on the Apple subreddit:

“Seems like a limitation to me. Especially for people living in Europe and “enjoying” the free roaming at the moment. Would kinda hinder this usability for me, as I frequently travel around.”

“Keep in mind that most Euro countries are the size of our states. Imagine if your phone stopped working every time you drove to the next state over. Would that be a significant downside? On top of the fact that most Europeans are right next to another country; they get way more vacation time. So yeah, they travel a lot.”

“Well, this sucks. I was going to buy one in America and bring it to Mexico to use on Telcel but nope. Very disappointing. I wonder why?”

The Apple Watch 3 was introduced on September 12, 2017, and will be released for retail on September 22, 2017 – alongside the new iPhone 8.

Related: Apple Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 2

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