Biz / Tech

Watch! Apple Watch's eSIM service debut in China

Apple Watch users on the Chinese mainland can enjoy cellular services following the tie-up between Apple and China Unicom.
Zhu Shenshen, Zhong Youyang

FAQ about Apple Watch’s eSIM service in China

Apple Watch users on the Chinese mainland can enjoy cellular services following the tie-up between Apple and China Unicom.

Here are FAQs about the Apple Watch application, features and cost.

What is the new feature of the eSIM-enabled Apple Watch?

It allows Watch users to access Internet services independently of the iPhone. The services include voice call, Siri-based search, streaming Apple Music and real-time navigation. The ability of eSIM to connect to the network is the biggest selling point of the latest Apple Watch released in September.

How to apply for the eSIM service?

Currently, only China Unicom users can apply for the service in the mainland, which allows users to share data traffic and to call contacts with their iPhones. Users can apply for the service by presenting identification documents (ID card and passport) at China Unicom’s outlets in six trial cities of Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Changsha.

But China Mobile and China Telecom users CAN’T apply for the eSIM service now. Users with Apple Watches bought outside the mainland CAN’T apply for the service.

But China Mobile will launch the service later, according to a local staff, without providing details.

Is it expensive to use the new eSIM service?

If you are a China Unicom subscriber whose mobile package includes data traffic and own the latest-generation Apple Watch sold in the domestic market, you can apply for the service at almost no cost.

If you purchase a new Apple Watch and apply for China Unicom’s related packages, the Watch costs 3,188 yuan (US$503) with subsidies from the carrier.

What is new eSIM technology?

The term "eSIM" relates to a new solution, which comes in the form of an embedded SIM ( subscriber identity module), one that cannot and need not be removed from a device.

It’s ideal to be adopted by mobile phones, wearable devices (including Apple Watch), Internet of Things and even cars. It offers device makers more space on design and innovation with features like super mobility and water-proof, as it saves lots of spaces for traditional SIMs, said chip designer NXP and China Unicom.

The demands for eSIM market is projected to increase from 224 million shipments in 2018 to 696 million shipments by 2022, according to chip designer NXP citing figures from ABI Research.

Technically speaking, the eSIM solution even could be integrated with embedded SE (Secure Element) and NFC (Near Field Communications) into “all-in-one” chipset for cellular connectivity, security and added advanced functionality, like mobile payment.

It will be widely used by handset vendors and mobile network operators in future, said Tony Zhang, Director of Secure mobile transaction, NXP China.


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