After persistent rumors that the company had an LTE-enabled smartwatch in the works, Apple finally unveiled its Series 3 Watch with cellular connectivity built in. The inclusion in the latest model would ultimately liberate Watch owners from having to carry around their iPhone in order to have access to access to the internet and also make/receive phone calls.
Of course, in order to make use of the LTE capability of the Apple Watch Series 3, it'll cost an extra $10 with most US carriers to get it up and running, with many also having waived service activation fees at launch. However, it seems that you may not actually need an active cellular subscription at all if you find yourself in need of emergency assistance with just your Apple Watch on you.
According to a poster on Reddit, who had forewarned the local sheriff's office of the experiment, an initial test call using a Watch seemingly failed to connect to 911 after waiting more than a minute. After some initial uncertainty from Apple Executive Relations as to whether or not this was expected behavior or a technical issue, the matter was referred to engineers who confirmed that an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 should be capable of making calls to emergency services even if a cellular service has never been activated, similar to smartphones.
Subsequently, the Redditor upgraded their device from WatchOS 4.1 to 4.2 beta 3 and, after waiting for nearly three minutes was apparently able to make a successful call to 911. Indeed, waiting that period of time to be connected to an operator may be far longer than one would hope for in a critical situation, with diagnostics from the test having been shared with Apple in the hopes of improving performance with a future software update.
While a recent kitesurfer was lucky enough to be able to call for help thanks to having strong enough signal around a mile away from shore, it may be of some extra assurance knowing that the LTE Apple Watch Series 3 is capable of lifeline telephony.