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Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Making the Right Choice

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

Apple offers two main versions of its Apple Watch: one with GPS-only functionality and another with both GPS and cellular capabilities. Here’s a comparison of the two:

Apple Watch with GPS:

  • The GPS-only Apple Watch allows you to track your location and fitness activities using the built-in GPS without needing a paired iPhone nearby.
  • It can provide accurate location data for activities like running, cycling, and outdoor workouts.
  • You can receive notifications, calls, and messages on the GPS-only Apple Watch when it’s connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth and within Bluetooth range.
  • This version is generally less expensive than the cellular model, both in terms of the initial purchase price and any associated monthly data plan costs.
  • It’s a good choice if you primarily use your Apple Watch for fitness tracking and notifications while your iPhone is nearby. Read about Clone VPN
Apple Watch
Apple Watch

Apple Watch with GPS + Cellular:

  • The GPS + Cellular Apple Watch includes the functionality of the GPS-only model, plus the ability to connect to a cellular network independently.
  • With a cellular plan from a compatible carrier, you can make calls, send messages, and use data directly from your Apple Watch, even when your iPhone is not nearby.
  • This version is ideal for users who want the flexibility of leaving their iPhone behind while still staying connected. For example, you can go for a run without your iPhone and still make calls and send messages from your watch.
  • Cellular models are more expensive upfront, and you’ll typically need to pay for an additional data plan from your carrier to enable the cellular connectivity feature.

Ultimately, the choice between the GPS-only and GPS + Cellular Apple Watch models depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you primarily plan to use the watch as an extension of your iPhone, the GPS-only model may suffice. However, if you desire the added independence and connectivity provided by cellular capability, the GPS + Cellular model could be a better fit for your lifestyle.

Understanding the Basics

Let’s start by unraveling the fundamental differences between the two options.

Apple Watch GPS

The GPS version of the Apple Watch primarily relies on your paired iPhone for internet connectivity. It doesn’t have a cellular modem, so it can’t make or receive calls, texts or use data independently.

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Apple Watch Cellular

On the other hand, the Cellular version of the Apple Watch is more autonomous. It has a built-in cellular modem that allows it to make calls, send texts, and access data without being tethered to your iPhone.

Connectivity and Freedom

Greater Independence

One of the significant advantages of the Apple Watch Cellular is the freedom it offers. You can leave your iPhone behind when going for a jog or running errands and stay connected to your contacts and the internet.

Enhanced Emergency Features

The Cellular version also boasts enhanced safety features. In an emergency, you can make a call or send your location to a trusted contact directly from your wrist, even without your iPhone nearby.

Battery Life and Usage

Apple Watch
Apple Watch

Battery Life Considerations

Apple Watch GPS tends to have a slightly better battery life since it doesn’t have the added drain of cellular connectivity. This could be crucial for those who want their watch to last throughout the day.

Usage Patterns Matter

The battery life difference is more noticeable when you use your Apple Watch intensively. Streaming music, making calls, and using data on the Cellular version can drain the battery faster.

Cost Implications

Price Comparison

The Apple Watch Cellular models are typically more expensive than their GPS counterparts. You’ll also need to pay a monthly fee to your cellular provider for the additional connectivity.

Long-term Investment

Consider whether the added cost of the Cellular model aligns with your long-term usage and needs. The investment might be worthwhile if you’re frequently on the go without your iPhone.

Making Your Decision

Lifestyle Assessment

To choose between the two, assess your lifestyle. The GPS version might suffice if you’re always within reach of your iPhone. However, the Cellular model is worth considering if you desire more independence and advanced features.

Balance Between Features and Budget

Finding the right balance between features and budget is critical. Evaluate the added benefits of the Cellular version and decide whether they justify the higher cost.


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer in the battle of Apple Watch GPS vs. Cellular. Your choice depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider how you plan to use your Apple Watch, your budget, and your desire for independence when deciding.


Can I switch from GPS to Cellular after purchasing an Apple Watch? 

You can upgrade your Apple Watch plan with your cellular provider at any time if you initially choose the GPS version.

Do both versions have the same fitness tracking capabilities? 

Both GPS and Cellular versions offer the same fitness tracking features, including heart rate monitoring and GPS tracking.

Are there any additional data charges for using the Cellular version? 

Yes, using cellular data on your Apple Watch may incur additional costs depending on your cellular plan.

Can I use the Cellular version internationally? 

If your cellular provider offers international roaming, you can use the Cellular version abroad. However, additional charges may apply.

Do I need a separate cellular plan for my Apple Watch? 

You’ll need a different cellular plan for your Apple Watch and iPhone.



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