The Apple Watch has always offered users a wide array of useful features and tools. But when Apple released cellular capabilities for the watch, the game was changed forever. With cellular features enabled, Apple Watch users can access internet-based features without their iPhones.
Cellular features are available on the Apple Watch Series 3 and later models, including the Series 6, Series 7, and SE. The feature is optional and costs roughly $10 a month, but it must be used with the same service provider that you’re using for your iPhone.
In many cases, an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities is well worth the extra costs. But before you decide if one is right for you, you’ll need to be familiar with the advantages, disadvantages, and best-use cases. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
How Does the Cellular Feature Work on an Apple Watch 6?
Apple offers select watch models with GPS+Cellular features, including the Apple Watch Series 6, Series 7, and the Apple Watch SE (all on Amazon). These models can have an active service plan, allowing you to make calls, send texts, and use other features without an iPhone nearby.
GPS+Cellular models have a UMTS radio, eSIM card, and a built-in antenna that allows them to work independently without a connected iPhone. The eSIM card acts as a virtual SIM card that provides the same features as a smartphone.
One of the main advantages of the cellular feature is that you don’t have to be in the range of your iPhone to use select features.
Is the Cellular Feature Optional?
The Apple Watch cellular feature is completely optional. You can use a cellular Apple Watch model without enabling the feature, but it will then function the same as a GPS-only model. This means you’ll need to have your iPhone connected and nearby to use select features.
You’ll also need the cellular feature enabled if you want to use an Apple Watch as a standalone device or part of the Apple Family Setup. Without the feature enabled, you’ll need a connected iPhone and WiFi connection to make calls, reply to messages, and use other Cellular features.
Can You Cancel an Apple Watch Cellular Plan Anytime?
You can cancel a cellular plan on your Apple Watch at any time. However, you might have to pay additional fees and charges depending on your carrier.
Apple Watch cellular plans typically cost around $10 a month, so you might have to pay an additional month depending on the time you cancel.
How to Turn Off the Cellular Feature on an Apple Watch 6
You can easily disable cellular features on your Apple Watch Series 6 or later by following the steps below:
- Swipe upwards from the Control Center on your Apple Watch display.
- Locate the ‘Cellular Data‘ button and toggle to turn it off.
Note: This will only disable cellular radio. Be sure to contact your carrier if you want to disable your cellular plan entirely.
How to Remove Your Cellular Plan on an iPhone
- From your iPhone, launch the Apple Watch app.
- Click the My Watch section and then select ‘Cellular.’
- Click the information button next to the Cellular plan at the top of the app.
- Click ‘Remove (carrier) Plan.’ Tap once more to confirm your choices.
Note: You might need to contact your carrier to cancel your cellular plan if you aren’t going to repair your device. You’ll also have the option to disable the plan from your Apple Watch. When prompted, select ‘Erase All‘ to disable the plan.
Cellular vs. Wifi on the Apple Watch
Cellular and Wifi Apple Watch models have significant differences, advantages, disadvantages, and best-use scenarios. Here are a few differences to keep in mind.
- Wifi or GPS-only models require you to stay connected to an iPhone with a stable internet connection and to keep the devices in close proximity. You won’t have access to internet-based features if you aren’t connected and in close range.
- Cellular Apple Watch models don’t require an iPhone at all times. This allows you to respond to messages, stream music, listen to podcasts, and utilize more internet-based features.
- Wifi or GPS-only models typically have longer battery life. These Apple Watch models use less power because they don’t have an LTE connection and rely on Bluetooth technology.
- Cellular Apple Watch variants have the advantage of Family Setup features. These features allow you to share messages and make calls to family members with only an Apple Watch. The GPS-only models do not have access to the Family Setup feature.
Cellular Models Are More Expensive
Apple Watch models that have cellular capabilities usually cost more than GPS-only variants. Cellular Apple Watch variants cost roughly $50 to $100 more than GPS-only models on average.
What’s more, is that you have to pay a monthly fee for using cellular features. The monthly fee is affordable for many budgets, but it can quickly add up over time.
Cellular Models Have More Options
Apple Watch models with cellular capabilities are typically larger than GPS-only variants. But one of the unique advantages of cellular models is more options.
GPS-only models can be limited in material and band choices, while cellular models provide more versatility.
GPS-Only Models Have Longer Battery Life
GPS-only models have longer battery lives than their cellular counterparts. This is because GPS-only Apple Watches rely on Bluetooth connections and don’t have an LTE chip. Without an additional chip, they use less power and last longer.
For example, a GPS-only Apple Watch model might get around 18 hours of battery life per charge. Cellular models only get around 14 hours of battery life per charge. With the cellular variants, you lose about 4 hours of battery life to the LTE chip.
Cellular Models Have More Storage
Apple Watch cellular variants typically have more storage space than GPS-only models. For example, the Apple Watch Series 6 Cellular option can come with 32 GB of internal storage. GPS-only models might only receive 16 GB.
Most customers recommend opting for larger storage space, including 32 GB models. 32 GB is typically enough space for the majority of your music, apps, and mixed media sources.
How Much Does It Cost to Use Cellular on an Apple Watch?
Now that you know some of the differences between cellular and GPS-only models, you’re probably wondering about price points. Cellular Apple Watch models require a data plan with supported carriers. Generally speaking, the monthly price point is around $10.
However, some cellular plans offer discounts for the first three months or upon signing up. What’s more, is that the cellular plan will have to match the carrier of your iPhone. So, you’re spending roughly $120 a year for LTE capabilities on your Apple Watch.
But which carriers support the Apple Watch?
AT&T Apple Watch Plan
AT&T supports the Apple Watch Cellular plan and costs $10 a month to add any unlimited plan. AT&T might charge a one-time $30 activation fee for some data plans. If you don’t already have an AT&T plan, you’ll need to set up a phone line which can be much more expensive.
Appalachian Apple Watch Plan
The Appalachian Apple Watch plans only cost $10 a month, and you can select from Mix-and-Match, Unlimited, or Appalachian Advantage subscriptions.
However, if you don’t already have an Appalachian plan, you’ll need to set up a phone line, which can be much more expensive.
Bluegrass Cellular Connected Device Option
Bluegrass Cellular is part of Verizon and costs roughly $10 a month to add an Apple Watch. But if you don’t already have a Bluegrass Cellular plan, you’ll need to set up a phone line.
Carolina West Wireless Apple Watch Plan
The Carolina West Wireless website doesn’t have any available information on Apple Watch data plans. However, the service might cost roughly $10 a month, depending on which features you select.
C Spire Apple Watch Cellular
C Spire offers three months of free service for adding an Apple Watch Cellular plan. After the first three months, you’ll pay the standard $10 a month. C Spire provides helpful information on how the service works and how you can set it up online.
T-Mobile Apple Watch Plan
T-Mobile charges users $10 a month to add an Apple Watch to their cellular plan. Customers can select from Magenta, Magenta Max, or Essential subscriptions.
However, T-Mobile might charge users a one-time $20 activation fee. If you don’t already have a T-Mobile plan, you’ll need to set up a phone line which can be much more expensive.
U.S. Cellular uses to provide users with free Apple Watch Cellular plans. Unfortunately, they have discontinued this service and now charge the standard $10 per month for Apple Watch services. These services are not available with prepaid plans.
Verizon Apple Watch Plan
Verizon is straightforward and charges customers $10 per month for Apple Watch cellular services. Verizon sometimes charges a one-time activation fee of $30, but they might offer three free months for some plans. These services can apply to any Verizon Unlimited subscription.
Xfinity Wireless started offering Apple Watch cellular plans at $10 per month as well. It’s not stated whether there is a one-time activation fee or not. If you don’t already have an Xfinity Wireless plan, you’ll need to set up a phone line, which can be much more expensive.
The Apple Watch cellular variants allow users to call, text, and use internet-based features without a connected iPhone. However, the cellular feature comes at a cost. Cellular models typically cost more than GPS-only models, require monthly data plans, and have less battery life.
That being said, the cellular Apple Watch models are incredibly useful and efficient devices. Having access to internet-based features without the need for an iPhone can be a game changer for some users. You’ll need to consider your budget, preferences, and needs when deciding which model is right for you.