Problems Activating LTE/4G on Apple Watch 3 in the UK

While it is reported that some Apple Watch 3 users are unable to set up LTE on their watches in the US, a similar problem is occurring in the UK. EE, the only provider offering Apple Watch contracts, seems to be struggling to make these devices work.

I got my watch yesterday, and in the evening, tried to set up LTE access. It said that I would not be able to activate LTE, so I called EE’s customer support. There were a couple of issues. First, you can’t use the Apple Watch with a business contract, which I have. So they gave me an equivalent “consumer” contract on my business plan. But even then, when I tried to go through the process, I got an error. I’ve since called back, and found this this problem is rampant; so much so, that the EE forum has a thread with about 800 posts at the time of this writing. (Update: as of October 3, there are more than 1000 posts in this forum thread.)

All the posts discuss similar problems: first the contract issue – which is purely an EE problem – but then the error messages that display when you try to activate the watch contract. It seems that EE is in over their heads, and a lot of people are angry. Some people in the forum have had their contracts activated, and it looks as though something has to be done manually in EE’s back office. But others have been going through customer service roulette for more than a week.

It’s worth noting that the Apple Watch plan is cheaper in the UK than the US: at £5 (around $7), it is free for the first six months (with a 24-month commitment), and with unlimited data for six months, and 10 GB per month after that.

I don’t personally need to use the watch as a phone, but at that price, it would be convenient to have it. I could go out walking without my iPhone, and I would have a backup “phone” in case I run into issues with my iPhone. But I understand the frustration of people who post in this forum and expected this to work, and bought the watch essentially for this LTE access.

One EE support person told me they only got the watch a couple of days ago, and didn’t have much time to test it. I don’t know how involved Apple is with this, but this reflects poorly on them.