Is Apple Watch Cellular worth it: going without iPhone

From Series 3, there are two versions of the Apple Watch – the GPS version, and the GPS+Cellular version. Apple Watch Cellular lets you use text messages, make phone calls and receive notifications and more without having iPhone nearby. It also costs more than GPS version. So, lets find out: is Apple Watch Cellular worth it?

What’s the main point of Apple Watch Cellular?

Both versions let you use text messages, make phone calls, receive notifications, and many more. The Apple Watch GPS version does that while being connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch GPS+Cellular version, often called only Apple Watch Cellular, can also connect to the cellular network. This lets you do text messaging, phone calls and receive notifications without an iPhone nearby. While it still needs an iPhone to work, it enables you to spend part of your life phoneless.

Smartphones like the iPhone make our lives easier. They enable us to take photos, order stuff online, do mobile banking, surf the Internet, communicate with other people, and do many other activities wherever we want. But they also hamper our daily life because we have to carry them everywhere, even if it is not practical. Moreover, they offer lots of features that make us addicted to our phones. Here comes the Apple Watch GPS+Cellular. It enables us to use many features available on the iPhone while still spending time without it nearby. As the Cellular version costs more than the GPS-only version, there are more things to consider whether to get the Cellular version. Also check out how Apple Watch can improve your productivity further in Apple Watch Productivity Hacks: replace iPhone for productivity.

How does Apple Cellular work?

The advantage of the Apple Watch GPS + Cellular is that it can make phone calls, use text messages, and get notifications without having an iPhone nearby. This is for people who don’t want to carry an iPhone all the time but want to stay connected.

Apple Watch GPS+Cellular can also connect to the cellular network. It has to have the same mobile carrier as your iPhone. Therefore, the most important thing before getting an Apple Watch is to check whether your local mobile carriers support Apple Watch cellular service. It’s also very important to check their offers in detail. Otherwise, you might get an Apple Watch GPS+Cellular over the cheaper Apple Watch GPS version, but connecting to cellular networks won’t work.

Also, not all mobile carriers support the cellular feature, and in some countries, this functionality isn’t supported at all. The Apple Watch GPS+Cellular will still work with an iPhone, but won’t be able to connect to cellular networks. So, before getting an Apple Watch GPS+Cellular version, check if your desired mobile carrier supports it. Or you can also find another mobile carrier that supports Apple Watch, and switch to using their service.

Apple Watch Cellular uses an additional eSim card that’s inserted into an Apple Watch. Again, some mobile carriers may support eSim but not eSim for Apple Watch. Make sure to check with the carrier.

Many carriers also have limitations on Apple Watch for only specific users. This will often only be available to users who have a contract with the carrier. Furthermore, it will often be an extra cost monthly, in addition to your existing phone bill. The Apple Watch Cellular also uses data, so any cellular data used will often come out of your iPhone cellular plan. As previously mentioned, how Apple Watch Cellular is handled differs from carrier to carrier, and from country to country. So make sure to check that out before getting the watch.

Furthermore, there are things to consider about international travel and using Apple Watch cellular service abroad. So far, most testimonies on the internet point out that using Apple Watch cellular service abroad, while in roaming, won’t work at all.

Is Apple Watch Cellular worth it?

Apple Watch GPS+Cellular is more expensive than the Apple Watch GPS version. So the question is – is Apple Watch Cellular worth it? Here are some benefits and disadvantages of getting the Cellular version:

  • Apple Watch Cellular isn’t supported by all mobile carriers. Your iPhone and Apple Watch need to have the same carrier for the watch to connect to the cellular network. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use cellular functionality on the Apple Watch.
  • Apple Watch Cellular will often be an extra monthly cost. Many carriers charge a fee every month for using cellular connectivity on Apple Watch, in addition to your usual phone bill.
  • Having an Apple Watch Cellular means not carrying your iPhone all the time. You can leave your iPhone at home, but still stay connected. This is the main reason why most people get the Cellular version.
  • Some people bring their iPhones everywhere regardless. In that case, they probably won’t use cellular connectivity on Apple Watch often. The extra cost of having a cellular feature isn’t worth it for them.
  • It’s useful if you do activities where you want to leave your phone behind, like running, biking, or dog walking. In that way, you are still able to stay connected. You can also stream music while exercising.
  • Some people get a Cellular version for emergency purposes in case of losing or breaking their phone. They can still make calls and text, and call emergency services without a phone nearby.
  • Apple Watch Cellular can’t replace your iPhone. You will still need your phone to make phone calls in a loud environment, do online banking, and do other stuff that’s easier to do on the phone.
  • Later cellular models of the Apple Watch Cellular have a Family Setup feature. This enables you to manage an Apple Watch for family members who don’t own an iPhone, like children or the elderly. They can use their watch to call emergency services and communicate with others. You can also track their location, health, and many other things. Of course, you still need your own iPhone to set up and manage the watches.
  • Some people get Apple Watch Cellular to curb their phone addiction. Not having a phone near you at all times means less mindless scrolling, and paying more attention to your surroundings and loved ones. Meanwhile, having an Apple Watch Cellular means they can still stay connected, stream music and enjoy many other benefits of owning a smartphone.

Apple Watch GPS vs Apple Watch GPS+Cellular difference

Apple Watch GPSApple Watch GPS+Cellular
It can send text messages, do phone calls and receive notifications while being connected to the iPhone by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. However, if your iPhone is out of range it can still connect to a known Wi-Fi network.It can send text messages, do phone calls and receive notifications while being connected to the iPhone by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But it can also do it by connecting to the cellular network when the iPhone isn’t nearby.
It doesn’t support Family Setup.It supports Family Setup from Apple Watch Series 4 onwards. It enables you to set up an Apple Watch for a family member who doesn’t own an iPhone. Then, they can use the watch without an iPhone nearby.
It costs less than the Cellular version. Also, there are no additional charges from the mobile carrier.It’s more expensive than the GPS version. Also, it will probably require paying a monthly fee to the carrier to use cellular connectivity.
According to Apple tests, it should have a battery life of approximately 18 hours.According to Apple tests, it should have a battery life of approximately 16 hours.
It can still do many things without an iPhone nearby: tracking workouts and heart rate, playing music and podcasts stored in it, using Apple Pay, etc.It can do everything that Apple Watch GPS can, but also do phone calls, text messages, receive notifications, and stream music by connecting to the cellular network.
It’s enough for people who always carry their iPhones as they won’t need cellular connectivity anyway.It’s a better option for people who want to leave their iPhones behind and still stay connected.
It can’t make calls to emergency services without an iPhone nearby.It can make calls to emergency services even without a cellular data plan.
Apple Watch GPS vs Apple Watch GPS+Cellular comparison table

Apple Watch Cellular battery life

Many users of Apple Watch Cellular report their experiences regarding battery life. There are a few general conclusions to draw from that.

When cellular service is turned on, the battery drains faster on Apple Watch Cellular. It should last roughly 18 hours, according to Apple battery tests. When Apple Watch is connected to an iPhone, the battery drains slower. 

But, if you use it heavily for a few hours, expect it to drain most of your battery. Heavy usage includes activities like streaming music or podcasts, making phone calls, navigation, etc. However, enough battery juice should remain for the rest of the day.

So, expect the Apple Watch Cellular battery life to last all day without charging. This stands under the condition that you’re not using it heavily all the time. And that you only have a few hours of heavy usage. However, if you use it heavily for more than a few hours, expect that you will need to charge it. Read here about Apple Watch battery tests for more detail.

Listening to music and podcasts on Apple Watch Cellular

You can stream music and podcasts from streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) on Apple Watch Cellular on a cellular connection. That means that you can stream music without your iPhone nearby. For headphones, Apple Watch can pair with Bluetooth headphones wirelessly. It’s good to get headphones with a built-in microphone, as taking calls and talking to Siri is easier. And if you want to learn more about listening to music without smartphone, you can check our article about it.

Check out the rest of articles about using Apple Watch to get rid of iPhone addiction, and decrease excessive internet and social media consumption. But still use the Apple Watch for actually useful functions (like navigation, communication, notifications, music and more) without relying on the iPhone:
Can you use Apple Watch offline?
Can Apple Watch battery survive a hiking trip?
Use Apple Watch for camping