Activating Cellular Service on the Apple Watch Series 3

When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 3 last week, the company touted the wearable device’s biggest new feature as the ability to connect directly to the cellular network to place and receive phone calls and Internet access even when away from your iPhone.

Since the new Apple Watch uses an integrated eSIM and will be sharing the same number as your iPhone, Apple has been able to design the process of activating cellular service on the wearable device to be as simple as possible. While the experience may vary between different carriers, it appears that in mosts cases you won’t need to worry about calling your carrier to activate any kind of new plan — when setting up a new Apple Watch, the setup wizard in the iPhone Watch app on iOS 11 will take you through the process of activating cellular service with your carrier by taking you through a series of carrier-specific screens that open in an integrated browser view. In our case, activating on Bell Mobility in Canada, we were presented with a series of four screens, first showing us the “Smartwatch” plan fees involved, then prompting us to sign in with our “MyBell” account credentials, asking us to confirm our emergency address, and then showing a final confirmation screen before returning us to a final confirmation in the Watch app. The entire process took under a minute.

In our case, we also received a text message confirmation from the provider. Further, despite the fact that the Apple Watch shares the same mobile number as the iPhone for placing and receiving calls, for billing purposes your carrier may assign another phone number as a “device identification number,” and in Bell’s case this number appeared in the e-mail confirmation that arrived, which is unfortunately confusing as it may lead some users to suppose that this is the actual number assigned to the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch Series 3 also provides a new “Cellular” section in the Watch iPhone app that allows you to check your data usage. You can also access options for managing your carrier account or removing your carrier plan by tapping on the “i” button to the right of your carrier name; these options will take you to back to carrier-specific pages with options for things like updating your emergency address, viewing your plan info, or reconnecting your cellular service in the event that something has gone wrong. Again, these options will vary from carrier to carrier.