One Tip to Check Your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE

apple watch series 3 lte

There’s a little trick to making sure your new Apple Watch Series 3 is connecting to LTE. I found out about this thanks to Mac Geek Gab listener Andrew Woodward. Mr. Woodward lives in Australia and has already received his Apple Watch Series 3 LTE. Many of you will get yours today and activate the wearable devices, so here’s what you need to know.

apple watch series 3 lte
You might not see a signal meter, but this is one hint that mobile data is configured on your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE (Image Credit: Andrew Woodward)

Don’t Look for a Signal Meter Right Away

You might expect to see the green dots of the signal meter immediatey, but Mr. Woodward quickly learned that wasn’t the case. It seems, too, that both carriers and Apple Support aren’t clear on this.

When Mr. Woodward activated his Apple Watch Series 3 LTE and received a text message confirmation, he thought he’d see the green dots on the Watch face. He didn’t, so began the technical support process. After speaking to both his cellular provider and Apple, the thought was that the eSIM was still waiting to be provisioned.

It wasn’t, but Mr. Woodward didn’t realize it until later on in the day. He walked away from his iPhone, beyond Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range. Suddenly the green dots appeared.

This serves as a reminder of the battery-saving configuration of the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE chipset — it only activates when the Watch isn’t connected with its paired iPhone.

Verifying Your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE Is Working

There are still a couple of ways you can check if your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE is properly provisioned and activated. One method is to go beyond the range of your iPhone, or turn the iPhone off. The more “official” way, though, is to check the Control Center.

Swipe up from the bottom of your Watch display, and you’ll access its Control Panel. There, you’ll see a new button that looks like a radio tower. If it’s white, it means your Watch can see and connect with the cellular service, but it isn’t connected because your iPhone is.

apple watch series 3 LTE
The white radio tower button indicates your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE is able to connect to cellular service, but isn’t because your iPhone is within range (Image Credit: Andrew Woodward)

If the button is green, that means your Apple Watch Series 3 LTE is “flying solo,” as Mr. Woodward puts it. You’ll be able to make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, all untethered from your iPhone.

Don’t Get Caught Like Mr. Woodward Did

Mr. Woodward shared this technical tip to save others from “getting caught”. He points out that the fact the signal meter isn’t there does make some sense. It just wasn’t the experience he was expecting.

This of course makes sense as you only want the radio working when it needs to as to conserve battery life. But I thought I would see signal strength on my watch all of the time. I didn’t and thought there was a problem with the watch, a bungle at my phone company (Optus) or the eSIM wasn’t provisioned.

Thanks, Mr. Woodward, for being Australian and getting the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE ahead of many of us. Thanks especially for sharing your experience, so those of us in the United States can (hopefully) have an easier time of activation and testing than you did.

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