The next Apple Watch reportedly won’t need an iPhone for data

The Apple Watch is one slick piece of engineering — but it’s not without its faults. Amongst other things: If you want to leave your phone at home, your smartwatch is suddenly a good bit less smart. Without an iPhone nearby, it can’t pull data — be it messages or music — over the cell networks.

According to the latest whispers out of the rumor mill, that might be about to change.

Bloomberg (with a byline headed by the frequently spot-on Mark Gurman) is reporting that Apple is working on a Watch with built-in LTE (compliments of a chip from Intel), with plans to release the model by year’s end.

“But why?!” you ask. “Doesn’t everyone carry their phone 90 percent of the time?”

Sure — but that’s because we have to, else risk dropping off the radar and accidentally making everyone think we’re dead. Being able to leave the phone at home for trips to the beach, or the gym* or while out on runs is a nice perk.

(* the gym being particularly noteworthy as Apple moves to connect the Watch directly to gym equipment to track your stats)

Of course, rumors like this don’t pop up without raising a few questions:

  • Battery life? The Apple Watch battery life has gotten better over time, but it’s still not mind-blowing. The addition of cell connectivity isn’t going to make it any better; what’s changing here to compensate? John Gruber suggests Apple has been tinkering with a new form factor; does that somehow include room for a bigger battery?
  • Will the LTE chip be in all new Apple Watch models, or just the higher-end ones? Given Apple’s history of making it a premium option in iPads, it may well be the latter.
  • Will carriers require a separate plan if you want your Apple Watch to get data, or can Apple convince them to offer some sort of deal that taps your existing data bucket?