T-Mobile will limit data speeds on the Apple Watch Series 3 to a maximum of 512kbps despite the smartwatch’s support for LTE connectivity, a spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge. As MacRumors noticed earlier today, the throttled speeds are mentioned on the carrier’s website. Apple isn’t yet advising customers of T-Mobile’s capped data performance. The 512kbps limit is also applied to smartwatches from other companies such as Samsung.
“Customers can do everything they want to do with the watch at 512kbps,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said by email. “If customers feel they need high-speed data, they can choose high-speed data with paired DIGITS for $20 with auto-pay.” If auto-pay is not enabled for your plan, the cost is $25.
The standard fee that US carriers are charging to add the Apple Watch to your existing plan — so it can share your iPhone’s phone number — is $10 per month. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint have not given any indication that they will limit the smartwatch’s download speeds. T-Mobile, on the other hand, is saying you’ll have to spend at least double the usual rate to unlock the Apple Watch Series 3’s full data speed capabilities.
It’s unclear why T-Mobile sees fit to slow down Apple’s smartwatch, which is unlikely to be much of a burden on the company’s network. At launch, Apple Watch Series 3 will support calls and texting over cellular connections, and third-party apps can also access data. Next month, Apple plans to release an update that will add support for streaming Apple Music directly from the Apple Watch. 512kbps should be enough to allow music streaming (Apple Music’s top bitrate is 256kbps), but it’s still very bizarre to me that T-Mobile — the company that constantly says its network is “built for unlimited” — has decided to put a ceiling in place at all.