Can You Use a Cellular Apple Watch Without a Data Plan?

Yes, it is possible to use a cellular Apple Watch without a cellular connection plan!

The Apple Watch is suitable for use as a standalone device even if it is not paired to an iPhone with WiFi access or LTE connectivity.

A data plan is only required if you want to use the cellular features of an Apple Watch model.

That said, it’s undeniable that there are numerous benefits you are missing out on if you use your new Apple Watch Cellular without a plan. 

So what are the features that the user of a cellular Apple Watch can and can’t use? Keep reading to find out.

1. Do You Have an LTE Apple Watch or a Non-cellular Apple Watch Model?

There are many devices in the Apple Watch series. Each watch series has its own set of characteristics.

If you’ve been gifted a watch from Apple and you’re not sure what the difference is between the GPS and LTE version, it’s easy to check: check the Digital Crown (the circular dial on the watch’s right side). Does it have a red outline, or is it filled in red? Then it’s the cellular option.

If your watch’s Digital Crown is black, it’s a GPS-only model.

2. Do You Need a Data Plan for Your Cellular Apple Watch?

No. The cellular model of the Apple Watch works great without a data plan. It is possible to use an Apple Watch without purchasing a plan from a cellular carrier. You’ll get the same uses out of the watch as non-cellular versions.

In that case, you’ll be using the device as a GPS-only watch. Even when using it as a GPS-only watch, you will still need to pair your watch to a nearby iPhone or connect the watch to WiFi. Many Apple Watch features don’t require cellular data in order to work.

All that said, if you wish to use your watch as a standalone device in tandem with the Apple family setup, a cellular plan is required to access the majority of the features offered by the watch, including the following:

  • making and receiving calls
  • writing and replying to GSM text messages
  • streaming media such as podcasts and music
  • using Walkie-Talkie
  • checking the weather
  • receiving notifications when there is no paired iPhone nearby.

Basically, if you don’t have WiFi access or are unable or unwilling to carry your iPhone, using a cellular LTE plan is required to get the most out of your Apple Watch.

3. Does Apple Watch Without a Cellular Plan Require Wi-Fi And Bluetooth Connectivity?

For best performance results, yes. Otherwise, it is difficult to enjoy all that an Apple Watch has to offer.

This is because your Apple Watch uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to communicate with your paired iPhone.

It’s even better if you have cellular connectivity. Because your Apple Watch also has the ability to switch intelligently between WiFi and cellular, depending on which connection uses power more efficiently. 

4. Do You Need to Buy a Cellular Data Plan Separately for Your Apple Watch?

Yes. If you want cellular connectivity on your Apple Watch, you’ll have to cover the additional monthly expense for a separate data plan. The purchase price of the GPS+Cellular Apple Watch does not include a data plan.

The monthly fee for the Apple Watch data plan is around $10. A cellular subscription can be bought from lots of different cellular service providers.

With an LTE connection, it’s possible to use your Apple Watch without iPhone pairing and WiFi connectivity. As long as you have the cellular capability, you’ll still be able to answer calls and texts. Also, you’ll be able to stream music and other media and access other important services as well.

5. Do You Need to Use the Same Network Provider for Your LTE Apple Watch?

Yes. Your cellular Apple Watch must use the same network service provider as your connected iPhone.

That said, if you use Apple’s family setup to set up an Apple Watch, it’s permissible to use different cellular providers.

6. Which Apple Watch Features Are Unavailable Without WIFI, Bluetooth, and LTE?

When you’re using your Apple Cellular Watch, if your iPhone isn’t close at hand and you don’t have a WiFi connection, your experience of using your Watch will be somewhat limited.

That means that any service requiring an internet connection will be unavailable to you, such as making phone calls.

As such, the following features will be unavailable if your Apple Watch is not connected to WiFi or is not paired with an iPhone:

  • Siri
  • iMessage
  • Make and Receive Calls
  • Stocks
  • Weather
  • Home Control
  • Reminders
  • Find Your Friends
  • Music streaming
  • Podcasts
  • Walkie Talkie, etc.

So, to some people, an Apple watch without a data plan is kind of a waste.

In fact, most wearable tech requires some level of connectivity in order to work properly.

7. How Do You Use Apple’s Family Setup for Your Apple Watch?

It is possible to use an Apple Watch cellular model (as long as the model is a Series 4 or above) without an iPhone, but for that, a family member in your Setup must use an iPhone.

Not all Apple Watches support Family setup. Your watch must have watchOS 7, and the iPhone used for the Family Setup must have iOS 14. Through the family plan, a guardian or family lead with an iPhone is able to set up an Apple Watch for others in their family sharing group.

Under this plan, the Apple Watch connects with its cellular service provider and has a separate phone number and account.

However, the use of the family setup is not compatible with all carriers. You can find out which carriers are eligible here.

So if you wish to use your Apple Watch without cellular connectivity or a paired iPhone, you’ll need a family setup.

So in that way, using an Apple Watch can sometimes be a disadvantage for those who don’t have an iPhone or can’t connect to a family setup.

Furthermore, some features are disabled for watches within Family Setup. These include:

  • Health data sharing
  • Respiratory rate
  • Irregular heart rhythm notifications
  • ECG
  • Cycle Tracking
  • Sleep
  • Blood Oxygen
  • Podcasts
  • Remote
  • News
  • Home
  • Shortcuts
  • Apple Pay by using a credit, debit, or transit card in the Wallet app

8. Do Your Apple Watch GPS+Cellular And Your iPhone Have the Same Phone Number?

Technically, yes. But functionally, no.

When you check your settings, you will notice a number different from your cell phone listed for it. However, this is only for billing purposes.

Basically, if a cellular plan is activated on your Apple Watch, the iPhone paired with your watch shares its phone number with it. This allows for smooth, seamless functionality across devices.

However, it’s a bit different if you are using Family Setup. Since an Apple Watch in this setup does not require iPhone pairing in order to work, standalone watches get their own phone number.

An Apple Watch with Family Setup does not have the same phone number as the iPhone used to integrate it into a Family Setup.

Sounds confusing, we know!

To clear any doubts you may have, we recommend checking the Settings on your watch. There, you will be able to check for the phone numbers which are assigned to each Apple Watch in the Family Setup.