T-Mobile US last week said it would limit Apple Watch cellular data speeds to 512kbps unless customers pay double the usual $10-per-month service fee, but it quickly backtracked after criticism from customers.
Like reported by MacRumors on Friday, T-Mobile is advertising “unlimited talk, text, and data at 512kbps on your smartwatch” for $10 a month. The speed limit is “noticed on the pre-order page when adding the Apple Watch Series 3 to your purchase” and apparently applies to any smartwatch.
Customers can get Apple Watch full LTE speeds by paying $20 per month with one purchase “Connect the Numbers” plan. “If customers feel they need high-speed data, they can choose high-speed data with Bundled Numbers for $20 with auto-pay” or $25 per month if auto-pay is not enabled , T-Mobile told The Verge afternoon
“I hear your frustration”
With the new Apple Watch enabling high-speed LTE connectivity, T-Mobile received immediate criticism from customers. Within hours, T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced the change in policy on Twitter.
“I’ve heard your frustration about the Apple Watch plan,” Legere said wrote. “I truly believe in listening to our customers & have dug into this.” Instead of the original plan to charge more for LTE speeds, Legere wrote“The Apple Watch Series 3 plan on T-Mobile will be $10/m for unlimited 4G LTE. Thank you for your feedback. We always listen & act!”
I have heard your frustration about the Apple Watch concept. I truly believe in listening to our customers & have dug into this…
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) September 16, 2017
The 512kbps rate may not be noticeable for most consumers. One of the most bandwidth-heavy applications for Apple Watch is Apple Music, which pays at a 256kbps bit by bit.
The clock can temporarily record at a higher bit rate in order to stop the music, though. “For best battery usage, you want to download your data as quickly as possible, then go back to LTE idle mode,” mobile app developer Jake Hamby show.
However, 512kbps should be enough to stream music as long as the clock connection to the T-Mobile network is stable. T-Mobile is counting on this, telling the Verge that “Customers can do everything they want to do with the clock at 512kbps.”
But the low bandwidth required relative to smartphones and tablets means that any possible throttling is insignificant from a network management perspective. Legere’s quick decision to change the policy suggests that T-Mobile’s network can handle the additional speeds.
We contacted other major carriers about their Apple Watch policies on Friday before T-Mobile announced its change in plans. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint told Ars that they will offer LTE connectivity over the clock for a $10-per-month rate. All four carriers are offering free months of Apple Watch Connectivity before the monthly rate kicks in.