The hint of bright color on the Apple Watch Series 3 digital crown serves no function. It’s just a bold reminder that this wearable doesn’t need your iPhone to do its job, thank you very much.
Apple describes the blood-red dot as a sort of aesthetic accent that announces to the world that this Apple Watch has its own LTE radio. With that and the built-in GPS, the Apple Watch Series 3 is self-sufficient, letting you go for a run and leave your phone behind without worrying about not being able to make and receive calls, get and send texts, and get turn-by-turn navigation guidance.
For some, this is a big deal. Apple’s small change basically transforms the Apple Watch into a tiny smartphone.
Think about it. The Apple Watch Series 3 can perform many of the same skills as your iPhone, including email, messaging, phone calls, maps and directions, smart home control, health and fitness tracking, weather, Find My Friends, gaming, access Siri, and much more. Obviously, you can’t take pictures, but there is an iPhone camera remote control so you can snap pictures on your iPhone via the watch.
Of course, most of that's been true since the first Apple Watch. I’ve been making and receiving calls through my Apple Watch for years; I just can’t do it if my iPhone isn't within a roughly 50-foot radius of the Apple Watch. Perhaps that’s why I’m not over the moon about the Series 3's LTE radio. Making phone calls from a tiny device on my wrist has some appeal, but, like many I know, I never, ever leave my phone behind.
I am not, though, a good representative for all Apple Watch wearers, especially those who regularly go for a run or a swim. Runners, swimmers, and those who go to the gym on a regular basis will appreciate the ability to not only leave their iPhone behind, but to strap on their Apple Watch Series 3, dive right into the swimming pool or ocean, swim a few laps, then pause to check their email, social media, or text messages.
For owners of the bigger "Plus" iPhones, the ability to leave behind their large 5.5-inch handset might be enough of a reason. Where does that phone go when you don’t have pockets and want to carry a tiny clutch bag? There’s always room on your wrist for a device like the Apple Watch Series 3, and with all the material and band options, it'll look fashionable, too.
That connectivity, though, does not come cheap. While the 42mm Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS starts at $359, adding LTE raises the price to $429 (for the 38mm model, those prices are $329 and $399, respectively). Plus, you still pay for any data you consume via the watch.
Some carriers, like Sprint, will be offering free Apple Watch Series 3 data service for the first three months. Sprint told me there is no activation fee and that, after the grace period, Apple Watch Series 3 customers will pay $15 a month for unlimited data or $10 a month with their auto-payment option