Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 3 during its blockbuster presentation today, and (surprise!) it’s the best wearable Apple’s ever made. The big upgrade is that the Series 3 comes with LTE connectivity, so you can make calls and stream music separate from your iPhone.
But that added convenience is going to cost you. To be exact, it’ll be an additional $10 a month on your cellular bill for as long as you want an internet-connected watch.
Apple confirmed that all four big carriers in the US will be supporting the Apple Watch Series 3. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have all confirmed that it’ll cost $10 a month to add the Series 3 to your plan — although you need to already have a smartphone plan to take advantage. Sprint hasn’t announced pricing yet, but you can safely assume it’ll be $5 or $10 per month.
The lack of pricing diversity is actually surprising. Given the fierce competition in the wireless industry lately, I assumed that all the carriers would come out the gate hard with pricing offers, like free service for two years if you bought a new iPhone and Apple Watch on an Equipment Installment Plan.
Part of the explanation might be the technical difficulties of the Series 3 watch. It uses the same cell number as your main smartphone to make and receive calls, which requires some backend work from the networks. That makes it difficult for MVNOs — most of the cheap prepaid carriers — to offer the same plan, which means it’s just the Big Four who can give you service on your fancy new watch. That means no incentive to lower prices — and the carriers know you aren’t going to hesitate to spend $10 a month on service if you just spent $500 on a watch — so it’s profits as usual.
There’s just one deal on offer at launch, and it’s from Apple, not the carriers. You’ll get your first three months of service for free in the form of bill credits when you buy an Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE.