A number of Apple Watch Series 3 reviews mentioned issues with using the built-in cellular connectivity when near a Wi-Fi network. But Serenity Caldwell at iMore has offered a detailed of exactly what the issue is.
Instead of an issue with the watch’s cellular feature, the problem is a Wi-Fi bug on watchOS 4:
Essentially, the Series 3 GPS + Cellular watch tries to save battery life at all times by using your iPhone’s connection, or failing that, a Wi-Fi network. What’s happening here is that the watch is attempting to jump on a so-called “captive” network — a public network with an interstitial login prompt or terms and conditions agreement. (You’ve probably seen these at a Starbucks, McDonalds, or Panera.)
In theory, the Apple Watch shouldn’t be allowed to connect to captive networks at all, because there’s no way for it to get through that interstitial layer. Unfortunately, watchOS 4 has a bug where captive networks are being recognized identically to normal saved Wi-Fi networks — so while you’re technically “connected” to a network, you won’t be able to connect to the internet; nor will you be able to go to cellular, because the Watch’s auto-switching prevents you from connecting.
Apple issued a statement saying that it was “investigating a fix for a future software release.”
The first watch shipment will arrive to buyers starting this Friday, Sept. 22. A cellular-enabled version of the watch starts at $399. Any orders placed from Apple today will ship in 3-4 weeks.
More about the Apple Watch Series 3