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The following example assumes that we have an Apple Watch Cellular model that is connected over Bluetooth to its paired iPhone:

  1. An incoming call is received by both the Apple Watch and its paired iPhone. The wearer of the Watch decides to answer the call directly on the Watch

  2. During the call, the wearer of the Watch moves out of Bluetooth range of its paired iPhone - in this example, there are no nearby Wi-Fi networks that the Watch can connect to

In the above situation, how would the Watch manage the call? Does it have the capability of switching from Bluetooth to cellular for calls that are currently in progress, or would the call simply be dropped?

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It's doesn't have the capability of switching from Bluetooth to cellular for calls that are currently in progress, so the call would simply be dropped.

When you answer a call on your iPhone and hand it off to the Apple Watch, the watch doesn't actually communicate with the cell network to transition the call from the iPhone's cellular connection to the watch's cellular connection. That's not how it works. This is because that is actually a pretty complicated process that takes a lot of time (i.e. you would be left without a call for several seconds).

What actually happens is that the call is simply "forwarded" on from the iPhone to the watch using Bluetooth/WiFi (Handing off phone calls to Apple Watch, last paragraph). The call is technically still terminated on the iPhone, and thus the cellular modem on the watch is not in play. You must remain within range of your iPhone to keep the call - if you go outside range, the call is dropped. You can then dial up again from the Watch to create a new call ofcourse.

When you answer a call on your Apple Watch and the call is terminated on the watch via your eSIM, you can indeed go out of range of the iPhone without any problems. However this is only the case if the iPhone was never involved in the call at all - and doesn't apply to the situation you describe, where the call was going to the Watch over Bluetooth initially.

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  • What actually happens is that the call is simply "forwarded" on from the iPhone to the watch using Bluetooth/WiFi. No! A device connected via Bluetooh pairs with a particular profile - in this case a headset profile. WiFi connectivity works like handoff does with a Mac computer. Since an iWatch doesn't have a phone number and Bluetooth is not a telco protocol, nothing can be forwarded even in the most broadest description. If you think my answer is incorrect, show evidence - this is a guess based on a complete lack of understanding of how any of the underlying technology works. – Allan Mar 30 at 0:00
  • I'm sorry if you're offended that I think your answer to the question is not correct, but I think you're perhaps going a bit over the top here. The word forwarded was put in quotes to emphasize that it is not a technical term for what happens, but merely an explanation for a layman. That doesn't mean that I have a complete lack of understanding of underlying technology. Actually it seems that you're actually incorrect in assuming it uses the headset profile - where it is actually the hands-free profile that is used. But that's just nitpicking that doesn't actually help answer the original ... – jksoegaard Mar 30 at 0:15
  • question. I just fail to see how your "more than likely" is not a guess, where my information based on experience with the Apple Watch is. I'll find a link or two to back up what I wrote... – jksoegaard Mar 30 at 0:15
  • I don't think you read the link in your answer. Headset vs. speakerphone profile is a distinction without a difference in the context of your answer because regardless of the actual profile used, the way you describe how this works is completely incorrect. – Allan Mar 30 at 0:22
  • [I don't see how that comment is helpful?] You've since changed your comment, so I have put mine in quotes here. – jksoegaard Mar 30 at 0:24
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More than likely it would be handled the same way a cellular phone transitions between cell towers while moving - hand off or handover. Basically while connected to one tower, it connects to another to make the transition seamless.

Now, remember, the iWatch has an eSIM attached to it which itself is linked to the iPhone’s account. That watch simply has to connect to the cell network as the radio signal starts to degrade and the call is handed off. More than likely, the watch is already connected to the call because it’s directly linked to the account.

Bluetooth Profiles

Most folks generally take "connected via Bluetooth" for granted that it's just "connected" and your iWatch likes your iPhone. That's not the case. When connected via Bluetooth, it must do so with a specific Bluetooth Profile, usually a headset profile because it's providing mic, earphones, hold, dial, volume up/down features. It's acting exactly how a BT headset would work and would "react" the same way if it went out of range of the iPhone - it would disconnect.

WiFi

You can think of the WiFi connectivity between your iPhone and you iWatch as the same as the Apple Handoff works with your iOS devices and your Mac. For example, when Handoff is enabled and my iPhone and iMac are on the same network, I can make and receive calls on my iMac. What's happening is I'm making a call on my iPhone through my iMac.

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