Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular : What’s the difference?.
The Apple Watch has earned a reputation as one of the most complete and well-designed wearables you can buy today, but even with a product lineup, choices still need to be made. One of the most important is choosing a GPS and Wi-Fi only model or a GPS and cellular model.
How Are the GPS and Cellular Apple Watches Different?
The main difference between the two models is that one has LTE cellular connectivity and the other does not. On the cellular version, you can set up your internal eSIM to use the same number and data plan as your iPhone.
When the watch is near your iPhone, it will use the Bluetooth connection with your phone to work. If you are out of range, it may continue to access data using a cellular connection. Of course, a Wi-Fi watch can do this too, as long as it has access to a Wi-Fi network, but the cellular model gives you the same freedom as any mobile device.
The two versions of the Apple Watch are the same in each series. The rest of the differences are purely cosmetic. For example, the Wi-Fi-only Apple Watch is only available in the cheapest aluminum-cased version. Whether you want a stainless steel or titanium case, you have no choice but to choose a model with cellular connectivity.
Key features of the Apple Watch, such as the ECG function, blood oxygen measurement, heart rate, watch face selection, and everything that is not related to cellular technology, remain the same. They also share the same WatchOS apps and features.
Other things being equal, the difference in price is insignificant, but if you are not going to use the additional features of the cellular model, then it is worth saving. So let’s take a look at the key differences that might influence your buying decision.
The Wi-Fi Model Has (Slightly) Better Battery Life
Because it doesn’t have cellular radio, the Wi-Fi model of the Apple Watch doesn’t drain battery as quickly. However, this isn’t exactly a fair comparison, since when both watches are connected to your iPhone, you should get more or less the same battery life.
The battery differential is only apparent in independent cellular mode. But since you can’t do that with the Wi-Fi model at all, it seems like a fair compromise. In any case, recharging will be required no more than once a day.
Siri Is More Useful With GPS + Cellular
Siri, Apple’s intelligent voice assistant, really shines on the Apple Watch. It’s much easier to do everyday tasks like searching the web, managing your calendar, and other things that Siri can do with your voice instead of the tiny Apple Watch display.
As long as you have your iPhone with you, Siri works great on a Wi-Fi watch model, but if you go for a run or otherwise leave your phone, Siri no longer works, understandably. This is a real shame since Siri is such an efficient and intuitive way to use your Apple Watch.
The GPS + Cellular Apple Watch Has Cooler App Features
Many Apple Watch apps become significantly less useful if they don’t have a data connection. Apps that stream content or GPS apps that download new maps offer a much better experience.
If you’re using a Wi-Fi-only watch without a phone, you’ll need to schedule your download ahead of time to make sure the apps you need will work. Now that you have a cellular model, you can use your apps without knowing they need them.
The GPS + Cellular Apple Watch Supports Family Setup
Usually every Apple Watch owner has their own iPhone, but with Family Setup, you can set up an Apple Watch for a family member who doesn’t have their own iPhone.
If you plan to give your new Apple Watch to a family member, such as a child, you can only use Family Setup with a cellular watch. However, the watch does not have to have the same carrier as the mobile phone.
In addition to an Apple Watch Series 4 or later with cellular, you’ll also need an iPhone 6s. An Apple Watch set up as a family watch not tied to its own iPhone has some limitations, and of course, the person using the watch does not have the same privacy as an independent user.
If you’re looking to buy a watch for a family member who doesn’t have an iPhone, buying an older series (or SE) cellular watch is still cheaper than buying a Wi-Fi-only watch with an iPhone.< /p>
Streaming vs. Preloading Music and Podcasts
We briefly mentioned that one of the benefits of an Apple Watch with cellular is that it doesn’t require you to preload content when you’re away from your phone. This is especially true for music and podcasts, as you might get bored with the songs you downloaded or run out of episodes.
If you have a cellular watch, you can get new songs when you stream Apple Music. Don’t forget that you can connect your Airpods or other Bluetooth headphones directly to your Apple Watch, so a cellular model can be a great independent streaming device when you’re active and can’t take your phone with you.
Text Messages and Phone Calls Rock on the Cellular Apple Watch
The best part about an Apple Watch with cellular is that you can stay connected without having to worry about taking your phone with you. Whether you’re swimming in the ocean, hiking, running, or doing anything else where your phone might get lost or broken, you can communicate using the watch.
Text messages and phone calls work almost the same as on your iPhone. The same goes for messaging apps like WhatsApp, which let you read and reply to messages right on your watch without your phone in sight.
If you have apps or services that send you important notifications, you’ll also get them on Apple Watch models with cellular, no matter what. If you can’t afford to miss notifications, mobile makes sense.
The Cellular Watch Is Great in an Emergency
Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch SE or later has built-in fall detection. If it detects that you’ve fallen hard, the phone will touch your wrist and ask if you’re okay. If you don’t move or respond within a minute, he will call emergency services to help you.
As you’d probably expect, the Wi-Fi model can only make that potentially lifesaving call if your iPhone is nearby. If your iPhone is forgotten, dropped, or runs out of battery, you can’t call for help.
Since many users are likely to leave their iPhones behind when they are doing something where there is a real risk of an unfortunate fall (like hiking), this is a pretty important feature.
In addition to automatic fall detection, being able to make an emergency call from your watch while on a hike or other outdoor activity can be the difference between life and death. Even if you always take your phone with you, it’s better to have two devices that can make calls independently of each other if one of them breaks or runs out of power.
The Cellular Model Has Some Important Restrictions
It’s tempting to think of the Apple Watch with cellular as a mini iPhone for your wrist, but that’s not quite the case yet. Before spending extra money on a cellular model, you must confirm that your current carrier supports eSIM on your Apple Watch.
You can’t subscribe to an Apple Watch independent cellular plan. If you’re using a provider like AT&T, your Apple Watch must be associated with this account. It’s not free either. You will have to pay a monthly fee to use the same account and phone number.
If you’re currently on a carrier that doesn’t support Apple Watch at all and you don’t want to change, then the cellular model isn’t a smart deal for you.
Things That Suck About Both Watches
While this article is mainly about which type of Apple Watch is right for you, it’s important to understand that all modern Apple Watches have a few features that make them less attractive than other smartwatch options.
While you probably already know this, you can’t use an Apple Watch with an Android phone like Samsung Galaxy phones. The reverse is not true. However, the Samsung Galaxy watch will work with your iPhone.
It’s not just non-Apple devices that won’t work with the Apple Watch. Other iOS devices, such as the Apple iPad, are not compatible with the Apple Watch. Now it’s either the iPhone or nothing. This is incredibly frustrating as the cellular model can operate as a completely independent device, so the decision to make the iPhone a key part of the package means that Apple locks you into its ecosystem.
This may change in the future, and Apple has said it is considering bringing in iPad users. If one day Apple allows Mac or iPad users to set up and manage their Apple Watch, buying a model with cellular connectivity makes more sense.
However, buying an Apple Watch ties you to the Apple phone brand, unless you’re willing to forego both. However, if you keep your old iPhone, you can leave it at home if you have an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity, so that’s another argument in its favor!
Always Have Your Phone With You? Buy the GPS Model
If you know that your iPhone will always be with you, even when you’re outdoors or doing other activities, there’s not much point in paying for a feature you’ll never use. We’ve tried to highlight a few scenarios where you can be thankful for having the ability to use cellular features on your Apple Watch, but you can still get by without it.
It’s also worth remembering that your Wi-Fi-only Apple Watch still has Wi-Fi. So if you have a portable hotspot or permanent Wi-Fi access where you move, you can still enjoy most of the benefits offered by the cellular model. Likewise, if you’re going to be in places where there’s no cell service anyway, it doesn’t matter which watch model you end up choosing.
Feeling Independent? Buy the GPS + Cellular Model
We think the additional features offered by the cellular model more than justify the price difference. If you keep a close eye on pricing on commercial sites like Amazon, you can even get an Apple Watch with cellular at decent discounts, reducing your financial worries.
While it seems like the Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular debate is between two nearly identical products, the independence afforded by the Apple Watch over cellular does add to the device’s usefulness and power. Even if you don’t have a particular reason to buy a cellular model, we would still recommend it to any potential buyer over a GPS model if you really don’t have flexibility in your budget.
Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular : What’s the difference?
Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular : What’s the difference?