Excitement is building about the predicted unveiling of the Apple Watch 2, with many rumors suggesting that the wearable will have cellular connectivity.
Some people felt that the first Apple Watch was less desirable due to its lack of cellular connectivity, and various Android Wear devices now have the feature. However other commentators are now suggesting that cellular connectivity might be a curse rather than a blessing, writes Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for ZD Net.
Apple Watch 2 will need a far bigger battery for cellular connectivity
First off the major issue with cellular connectivity in wearables is how to power it. The feature is power hungry and is responsible for using large chunks of battery life. As it stands the Apple Watch has a 205mAh or a 250mAh battery in the 38mm and 42mm models respectively.
Apple chose these battery sizes for a reason. “Our goal for battery life was 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps, and doing a 30-minute workout,” said Apple.
However the addition of cellular connectivity will change things. Larger batteries are included on existing smartwatches that have the feature. For example the LG Urbane 2nd Edition has a 570mAh battery, which is nearly three times the size of the Apple Watch battery. Even so some users have complained about poor battery life.
Will users be willing to pay extra fees?
Apple could try to limit the battery-draining effects by using the cellular connection of your iPhone when the Apple Watch is in range, and some components could be improved to achieve greater efficiency. However once the Apple Watch becomes a truly standalone product, there will be nowhere to hide.
Now there are probably some of you that aren’t concerned about battery life, but pricing is another issue to consider. Owners of the LG Urbane 2nd Edition shell out $10 per month to Verizon for their connection, and AT&T customers pay $5 per month. The problem here is that while it doesn’t sound like a huge amount, it soon adds up. This is particularly true when you consider that cellular connectivity is not a must-have feature on a smartwatch, but rather a nice-to-have convenience.
Are people really going to use cellular that much on the Apple Watch 2? It’s unlikely you will use it to make many calls, and data usage will be limited due to the tiny screen. However if you are paying for it you might feel like getting your money’s worth, but then you will only drain your battery faster.
Apple Watch lacks mass market appeal
It is important to consider whether people like the Apple Watch so much that they will pay an extra fee to their cellphone provider each month. Another issue is that Apple spent years telling us that the iPhone was an all-conquering technological solution, but then realized it wanted to sell more tech.
As a result it invented the iPad and the Apple Watch, but both have had their struggles. The iPad is now marketed as a work tool for creatives, and the Apple Watch has almost become another fitness tracker. Neither is placed to sell millions of units in the mass market.
The problem with putting cellular connectivity in the Apple Watch is that the device is still largely seen as a second screen for the iPhone. If Apple tries to change that perception, it will have to deal with the problem of battery life and potentially take away from the brand of the iPhone.