May 8, 2022 6 min read

Do Apple Watches need data plans?

Do Apple Watches need data plans?
Displaying Apps on an Apple Watch that may need data plans
Table of Contents

As the Apple Watch becomes more popular, one common question we get is whether or not it needs a data plan. Does the Apple Watch really need cellular service? What kind of plan do you need for the Apple watch?

This article will answer questions like these and help you decide if a data plan is right for your Apple watch.

Does an Apple watch need a data plan?

The Apple watch does not need a data plan if you do not want to use the cellular features. The Apple Watch can still be used as a regular watch, with all the features that come with it, without a data plan.

Apple watches from Series 3 and later have a GPS + Cellular model aside from the GPS-only model. The cellular model cost a bit more and can be easily identified by the red ring on the digital crown.

If you have an Apple Watch with GPS + Cellular, you can connect to cellular data networks using a special SIM card called an eSIM when your iPhone is not available. This means that you are connected to a service provider even when you're away from your phone. Learn more about Apple Watch SIM cards.

Some of the things you can do with a data plan for your Apple watch include:

  • Make and receive phone calls.
  • Send and receive text messages.
  • Use Maps and get directions.
  • Stream Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and audiobooks.
  • Use Siri to send messages or get information.

Do note that using cellular on your Apple Watch may use the data from your cell phone plan. However, you will need a data plan if you want to use cellular features, such as making phone calls, receiving app notifications, or sending texts.

There are two different types of data you can use with your Apple Watch:

  • Cellular: This type of data gives you access to the cellular features of the Apple Watch. With this type of plan, you can make phone calls, send texts, etc, without your iPhone nearby.
  • Non-Cellular: This type of data refers to Wi-fi or data obtained from your iPhone. It does not give you access to the cellular features of the Apple Watch. With this type of data, you can still use all the features of the Apple Watch, except for the cellular features.

How do you know if your Apple Watch has a cellular option?

If you look at the side of your watch,  and there is a red ring around the edge of the digital crown, then it is a GPS + Cellular model with cellular capability.

Apple Watch Cellular showing a red ring around the digital crown

Another way to know is by turning the watch upside down and checking the inscription underneath the watch. If the Apple Watch has a cellular plan, an "LTE" inscription will be among the inscriptions on the watch's underside.

How to set up a data plan for Apple Watch

Before you set up a data plan, you must ensure that you update the iOS software of your iPhone and your Apple Watch.

Apple generally addresses software bugs and flaws on the most current versions of their devices. As a result, you shouldn't be concerned about them when obtaining a data plan on your Apple Watch.

Also, it is recommended to obtain a data plan for your Apple Watch from the same service provider you use for your iPhone to consolidate costs and make your connections seamless. Most service providers will provide a data plan for your Apple Watch as an additional plan to your iPhone data subscription.

To set up a data plan for Apple Watch:

  • Ensure the Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone.
  • Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Tap on the My Watch tab.
  • Tap on Cellular and select Set Up Cellular.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions as it relates to your carrier. If you encounter any issues, contact your carrier.
Does Apple Watch have Compass? (Answered)
Only the Apple Watch SE or series 5 or later has a native inbuilt compass that may come in handy when you’re out and about in the outdoors.

What is the cost of data per month on the Apple Watch?

Most service providers charge an additional $10 to add an Apple Watch to your existing cellular subscription. Although, in some cases, the initial cost of the data plans for the Apple Watch may vary depending on promotions or deals being run by your service provider.

This price is in addition to the price you pay for your iPhone data plan. The good news is that you can often share the same data plan between your iPhone and your Apple Watch if they are connected and near each other, so you don't have to worry about paying for two separate plans.

Do note that if you use a lot of data with your Apple Watch, you may see an increase in your bill. As a result, it is important to keep track of how much data you are using and ensure you are not exceeding your monthly limit.

What service providers provide data service for Apple Watch?

In the United States, the following service providers offer data services for the Apple watch:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • US Cellular
  • C-Spire
  • T-Mobile

In Canada, Sasktel, Freedom, and Rogers also offer data plans.

Some service providers lock Apple Watch Cellular to their carriers.

Please note that not all service providers offer the same features or coverage. As a result, it is important to reach out to their agents to see which service provider is the best fit for you and your needs.

Can the Apple Watch work without a data plan?

The Apple Watch Cellular can technically work without a data plan. However, its functionality will be limited.

Some of the features that will not be available without a data plan include:

  • Making phone calls.
  • Sending texts or iMessages.
  • Generally, using apps that require an internet connection.

Also, without a data plan, your Apple Watch will still be able to track your fitness activity and play music from your iPhone because some of the features of the Apple Watch do require a data connection to function properly.

Can you send a text from an Apple Watch without a cellular plan?

No, you can't send a text from an Apple Watch cellular unless it's paired with an iPhone and has access to the iPhone's data and mobile network.

The same goes for making phone calls and using apps that require an internet connection.

In order to use these features, you need a data plan from a service provider so your Apple Watch can connect to their cellular network.

Does Apple Watch drain iPhone battery? (Answered)
Yes, especially If you use your watch heavily. Heavy usage on your Apple Watch will drain the battery on your iPhone faster.

Can you use Apple Watch cellular without a phone?

Yes, you can use Apple Watch cellular without an iPhone,  but its functionality will be limited. Only Apple Watch Cellular with an active data plan can connect to the internet without an iPhone.

This implies that all apps needing access to the internet will be on a data plan available on the Apple Watch's Cellular version.

If you're considering purchasing an Apple Watch Cellular without an iPhone, keeping these limitations in mind is important. Before making your decision, carefully weigh the pros and cons.

The underside of an Apple Watch showing inscriptions

Does the Apple watch increase data usage?

It really depends on how you use your Apple Watch and what apps you have installed. People that use their Apple Watch sparingly report very little data usage, while others that use the watch often for various needs find that their data consumption has increased significantly.

If you're concerned about data usage, we recommend monitoring your usage closely for a few weeks after you start using an Apple Watch. This will give you a good idea of how much data you're using and whether or not it's causing your bill to go up.

Wrap up

In conclusion, Apple Watch Cellular does not necessarily need a data plan but if you want to use its cellular features, you will need one. The data plan will give you access to make phone calls, send texts, stream music, receive notifications, use Maps and get directions without your iPhone nearby. Among the various service providers, the cost of a data plan is generally around $10 per month in addition to your current iPhone data plan.

Thanks for reading.

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