China Blocks Cellular Access for Apple Watch Series 3


Though the cellular-enabled Apple Watch 3 was available for a few days with a single carrier, China Unicom, new cellular subscriptions haven't been allowed in the country since late September 28, according to the Wall Street Journal. Current Apple Watch Series 3 customers have so far been unaffected by China's move. 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". It's unclear what Apple will have to do to appease China's concerns surrounding the eSIM system in its Watches, especially considering China doesn't seem to have a plan already in place to regulate eSIM use. 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 single wireless carrier supporting Apple's latest Apple Watch in China has ceased offering service for the device, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. "The eSIM [system] isn't mature enough yet in China", one analyst said.

That complicates things for China's government, as they can't simply apply their strict LTE regulations to the new product. You see, the Chinese government likes to know exactly who owns what gadget on what network, and the eSIM technology of the Apple Watch Series 3 makes this universal tracking mission a little trickier than usual. LTE service is the primary new feature on this year's Apple Watch model.

On Apple's S3 cellular support website, LTE functionality is now being listed as a feature "coming later this year" for all three Chinese carriers. China's three major carriers are state-owned and require their customers to link their real identity if they wish to use their services. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been cracking down harder on the use of VPN services for almost a year in efforts to regulate the websites accessible by its citizens.