One year later: The LTE Apple Watch

The judgmental little shit

When the Series 3 Apple Watch came out last year, I decided to try out the new LTE option. I wasn't sure how it'd change my use of the watch so I bought it to experiment. I bought the Nike+ running model, not because I use or like the Nike+ running app, but for two reasons: 1) it came with the new cool new velcro-like band (which is amazing and the perfect band for me) and 2) Nike watches come with a couple extra digital faces I really like using, especially for low light (subtle red outline in big type).

After a couple months of wearing it, I didn't find myself using LTE a great deal and it never had a killer app or workflow for me. I used it to go on runs with airpods in my ears and no phone on me. From the start, streaming Apple Music was problematic and at certain parts of my 5k run loop, music would buffer or pause or cut out for a while. I don't live in a major city, but there is plenty of LTE around and it always baffled me. After a couple runs, I downloaded several of my favorite albums to the watch instead. As far as I can tell, the apps I used never got to use the LTE connection. Strava still requires me to stand near my phone on home wifi to upload recent runs when I'm done.

I tried leaving my phone at home for bike rides or longer workouts, but my bike jerseys have pockets and I like to take photos, so I tended to bring my phone every time. About the longest time away from my phone was I'd occasionally run or ride to the gym for a 1hr workout, then head back, so maybe 90min tops with no phone.

LTE on my watch was mostly just a backup/emergency bit of insurance. On the rare times I was without my phone, maybe someday if something horrible happened, I might need to place a call or respond to a text, but I found in the 9 months or so I've been wearing it with LTE, I got a few texts while out on runs but nothing urgent ever happened. I never had to turn back to return home immediately, and I've never had to place a call using the device.

To test out a theory that maybe LTE wasn't necessary in my life, I tried to cancel it from my Verizon plan. Of course, Verizon doesn't let you cancel any services online that cost $10 or less per month, so I could only "suspend" service (but continue to get charged $10/mo).

In the last two months, I've had LTE turned off and I haven't really noticed. I'm planning to get a new larger-face Series 4 watch soon, but it definitely won't be LTE.

While LTE was nice to have as emergency insurance-type functionality on the rare times I was away from my phone, I couldn't justify the annoying $10 charge every month when it was never consistently useful or needed.

For as little data as I used, it should be free with the watch, like the way a 3G connection comes with every Kindle and people use it so infrequently it doesn't bankrupt Amazon for giving it away with the device. I'd consider it worth the $100 extra for a watch with networking if simple 3G speed was included at no extra monthly charge.

Bottom line: I won't be buying LTE watches in the future.