If, like many of us, your plans for January include a fresh commitment to a health and fitness regime, you may well be thinking of buying a new smartwatch to help you stay on track. There is a mind-blowing choice of smartwatches currently available, with everything from sports-focused fitness tracker styles through to expensive luxury models now available.

If you are interested in the technology side of things, however, one key difference in the offerings presented this year is the increase in smartwatches with LTE capabilities. And it looks likely that this year could be a turning point for this very useful feature.

What is LTE?

Up until now, there has not been a vast range of choice when it comes to LTE smartwatches. In fact, quite the opposite has been true. So it’s likely that many consumers will not have a clear idea as to what LTE actually means.

LTE was originally a term created by marketers, intended to refer to technology that wasn’t quite up to the speed standards of the then brand new 4G technology. Standing for Long Term Evolution, this capability allows devices to download music, videos and other files including websites, by connecting to a mobile cellular network.

How LTE Works

For smartwatches, this means that an LTE radio chip is embedded inside it. The result is that users can stay connected even if Bluetooth or WiFi is unavailable, or their connected smartphone is out of range. LTE smartwatches use apps, and can send and receive messages as well as handling mainstream fitness tracking tasks.

Your LTE smartwatch will be connected to the same mobile network as your accompanying smartphone, but you will be given a separate telephone number and data plan for it. Your two devices will be linked, meaning that you can take and make voice calls from your watch instead of your phone if you wish. Depending on your device, you can also link wireless earphones using LTE capabilities, rather than the built-in microphone and speaker.

It’s important to note that until now, the reception of an LTE smartwatch has been poorer than smartphones or tablets in areas of weak cellular network coverage, due to the smaller scale of the LTE radio receiver and battery they contain. However, the latest innovation by chipmaker Qualcomm is changing the game.

Why LTE Is Big For 2021

The development of the Snapdragon 4100+ platform by chipmaker Qualcomm has revolutionised the potential of the LTE smartwatch. This new technology promises lower battery drain, better connectivity, (including Bluetooth) and improved user experiences, and is touted as a real challenger to the current smartwatch platform offerings.

The Snapdragon 4100+ boasts intelligent “always-on“ architecture, that enables continuous-time heart rate monitoring, faster response times, as well as better quality graphics and faster app launching. This is the technology that experts expect to transform the smartwatch market, and is already deployed in a number of recently launched models, such as the TicWatch Pro 3 LTE and Oppo Watch.

Garmin, too, has added LTE capability to its Vivoactive 3 model, but the latest developments in the sports tracking potential afforded by the Snapdragon 4100+ chip means that the flagship series such as Fenix and Forerunner are ripe for the inclusion of an LTE model.

At present, the potential of LTE smartwatches is still in its infancy, but the addition of the Snapdragon 4100+ technology looks set to transform this type of smartwatch offering. For those looking to buy a new wearable device, the new generation of LTE smartwatches could well prove to be the smartest purchase of 2021.