Wearables

Update: Apple Watch Bluetooth Connectivity Remains Poor

Apple Watch with Black Sport Band
Written by Steve Walker

As I have reported on in the past, the Apple Watch Bluetooth connectivity appears to be relatively weak. Rather than being an outright bug of the Apple Watch, though, it seems that the Bluetooth transmitter on the watch is just underpowered. I have tested the watch on multiple occasions and have found that the Apple Watch Bluetooth connectivity generally works, but does suffer from what seems to be interference in certain circumstances. The final proof came this weekend when I found out that my brother-in-law, who has been suffering through these challenges, exchanged his Apple Watch but continued to experience the same static issues that he had with his first watch. When he switched his new Apple Watch to his right wrist, he once again achieved a good signal with no static. So just what does this indicate about how bad the Apple Watch Bluetooth connectivity is?

Caveat: I am not an expert on wireless communications by any means. However, I know just enough to be dangerous and based on my limited knowledge and some simple research, the fact that just switching an Apple Watch from your left to right wrist improves connectivity so much is a strong indicator that the Apple Watch Bluetooth transmitter is significantly underpowered. Allow me to explain…

If I am reading this article correctly, the authors contend that the human body causes approximately 3 dB of attenuation. On the other hand, this study seems to conclude that the human body causes 10-15 dB of attenuation in a Bluetooth signal. Let’s take the worst case and assume that there is 15 dB of attenuation when a Bluetooth signal is required to go from an Apple Watch on your left wrist to a receiver around your right ear. The question is whether or not this should have such a significant impact on the quality of the sound of your headphones. My rudimentary knowledge of Bluetooth wireless is that it should not. Per my understanding, most Bluetooth systems should be designed to have 20-30 dB of margin at something approaching their rated range. Because the connection between Apple Watch and headphones is so short, there should even be more margin at this range. But the point is that an extra 10-15 dB of attenuation should not be a problem for a well engineered Bluetooth transmitter. All of which leads me to conclude that either the Apple Watch Bluetooth connectivity is poor due to a badly engineered transmitter in the Apple Watch or there is some other bug that is causing these issues. It would be nice if Apple would let us know.

What have you experienced in terms of Apple Watch Bluetooth connectivity? Do you experience static or is your signal clear?

About the author

Steve Walker

Enthusiast of gizmos, gadgets and all things tech. Aficionado of wine and food. Avid hiker and tennis player. Aspirational golfer. Devoted husband and proud father of two great boys.

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