In 2018, the Apple Watch 3 was released with the addition of cellular functionality. This feature had been highly desired by competitors who already offered LTE support in their smartwatches. However, is having cellular capability really essential? The cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 9 is priced $100/£110 higher and requires a separate plan, making some question its value. We are here to provide insight on whether a cellular Apple Watch is worth it.
The latest Apple Watch models, Series 9 and second-generation Ultra, now have the capability of processing Siri commands and tasks directly on the device. This eliminates the need for a cellular connection, but there are still many other reasons to have one.
What are some reasons to have an Apple Watch with cellular?
The advantages of having cellular connectivity on an Apple Watch are easily understood. Instead of carrying both your Watch and iPhone, you can simply leave the house with just your Apple Watch. Some features, such as Apple Pay and fitness tracking, can already work without cellular or a phone nearby. However, having cellular expands the range of functions even more.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
One advantage for those who are physically active is the ability to listen to music from Apple Music or another service while running without having to manually sync it to the Watch’s storage. Users can also receive notifications, such as iMessages and emails, while exercising, though this may be viewed as either advantageous or distracting, depending on the individual.
An Apple Watch with cellular capabilities will have the ability to place and receive phone calls independently from your iPhone.
One possible reason for requiring cellular is if you intend to establish an Apple Watch with the Family Setup feature offered by Apple. This feature allows setting up of an Apple Watch for a family member who lacks their own iPhone. According to Apple, a cellular plan is not mandatory for this setup, but certain features do require it. In order to access all features, you will need a cellular-enabled Apple Watch Series 4 or newer.
Apple Watch Series 9
Best Prices Today: €444.90 at digitalo.de | €444.90 at SMDV | €449 at Alternate DE
Why owning an Apple Watch with cellular is unnecessary
There are numerous functions that your Apple Watch can perform even without cellular or an iPhone nearby. In order to access many of these features, all you need is to connect to a Wi-Fi network, which may be readily accessible. One feature that previously required either cellular or Wi-Fi connection was Siri, but with the 2023 release of the Apple Watch Series 9 and second-generation Ultra, Siri queries and requests can now be processed directly on the device without an internet connection. We delve into all the capabilities of an Apple Watch without an iPhone in a separate article.
The necessity of cellular connectivity for your Apple Watch usage will vary based on your intended purposes. If you were to ask current Apple Watch owners about their usage, it is likely that their answers are more limited compared to the device’s full capabilities. However, this is not necessarily due to the lack of cellular connectivity on the Apple Watch. It is unlikely that most Apple Watch users are bothered by the inability to receive notifications when their phone is not nearby, as their phone is usually within reach.
It is advisable to steer clear of purchasing an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities due to the potential impact on its battery life. The more you use cellular services, the more it will drain the device’s battery, making it less desirable for receiving notifications or streaming Apple Music at its highest quality. Consider strategies for prolonging the battery life of your Apple Watch and conserving data usage. For a selection of recommended Apple Watch chargers and docks, take a look at our compilation.
Ultimately, the financial aspect must also be considered. The cellular version comes at a higher price compared to the non-cellular alternatives. Additionally, cellular providers do not offer free data, so there will be an added expense for monthly data or data sharing with your iPhone, which may result in a higher overall cost for you.
We do not believe that the tradeoffs are worth the small benefit of including cellular connectivity on the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch SE (2022)
What is the price of an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities?
The cellular options for the Apple Watch Series 9 have an additional cost of $100/$100 compared to the standard version, while the SE has a $50/£70 increase for cellular capabilities. The Apple Watch Ultra is exclusively offered with cellular features. This is one aspect of the overall cost, but there are other ways to allocate your funds.
Certain networks may require an additional fee for accessing data on your Apple Watch, while others offer the option to include it in your current iPhone plan and share the data usage.
In the United States, you have the option to sign up for a cellular plan for your Apple Watch through various providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, and others. You can refer to Apple’s comprehensive list of available providers. These plans typically charge $10 per month for unlimited data when used in conjunction with an existing wireless phone plan.
AT&T and Verizon are offering the 41mm Apple Watch Series 9 for a monthly payment of $13.89 over a period of 36 months, but you may be able to receive a lower price with a trade-in.
If you activate a new line on a qualifying Apple DIGITS or Apple Watch Standalone line, T-Mobile is offering an Apple Watch SE, 40mm, for $99. This offer enables you to use your current T-Mobile plan on your Apple Watch.
Xfinity Mobile offers unlimited voice and messaging services for an additional $10 charge for smartwatch usage.
In the United Kingdom, it is possible to obtain a cellular Apple Watch agreement with 3, EE, O2, and Vodafone. (However, only 3 and EE offer support for Family Setup).
Using the number three (3), you can link your watch to your iPhone through 3’s network. To do this, you must first subscribe to 3’s Smartwatch Pairing Plan, which requires you to already have an iPhone Pay Monthly or SIM-only plan with 3. The Smartwatch Pairing Plan enables you to share your monthly data plan between your iPhone and Watch without any extra charges.
EE’s deals for the Apple Watch include a 41mm Apple Watch Series 9 with 4GB of data for £28 per month and no initial payment required.
To get more tips on purchasing an Apple Watch, check out our compilation of the top Apple Watch discounts and refer to our guide for buying an Apple Watch.