Apple Watch Cellular vs GPS: What’s the Difference?

As you know, Apple is a company that has been around for many years and has had a long history of releasing its smartwatches. The first-ever Apple watch was released back in 2015, and it was one of the first smartwatches that we’ve seen. The apple watch cellular vs GPS will be discussed in detail in this article. It’s essential to understand what these differences are because they will help you decide which model to buy.

Imagine that you’ve chosen to get a new Apple watch, either the Apple Watch Series 6 or the more cheap Apple SE? It’s possible that you’ve already selected your favorite color and size, and you’re impatiently awaiting their arrival. You’re presented with a second critical decision on the Apple website: which model do you want? GPS or GPS in conjunction with a cellular phone?

The cellular version is more costly, but what else is special about it? Is the GPS-only model of the Apple Watch adequate, or does it need the GPS-plus-cellular model? Both of them will be examined in further detail to see if there is any connection.


What is the Apple GPS + Cellular Capable of Doing?

apple watch cellular v gps

The Apple GPS Cellular is a device gaining in popularity in the past few years. It is a small, handheld device that can be used for various purposes. Some of the most common uses are hiking and backpacking, but they can also be used for other activities such as geocaching, golfing, and cycling. The device comes preloaded with maps of all fifty states, Canada, and Mexico, perfect for those who enjoy outdoor activities. It also can track your location in real-time, making it easy to find your way back to where you started. The Apple GPS + Cellular can do the below tasks very easily.


  • Observe the weather and keep an eye on your stock
  • Your house is under your control.
  • Answer the phone when it rings.
  • Use Siri to find your way around, send messages, and perform other everyday tasks.
  • Text messages may be exchanged using this app’s features.
  • Make sure you’re tuned in to the radio.
  • Listen to the podcasts.
  • Set up a series of reminders
  • Find a group of friends who share your interests and values.
  • Make use of the walkie-talkie
  • Stream music on the internet
  • You can use maps to your advantage.


In what ways are GPS and Cellular Apple Watches Different?

apple watch cellular v gps

A single glance can’t distinguish Apple Watch GPS vs. Cellular. On the Cellular variant, the Digital Crown has a red ring around it, but the two watches are otherwise similar. What matters is what’s on the inside.

Below is a chart based on the Apple Watch Series 7.

Features GPS GPS + Cellular
The battery life (total) a maximum of 18 hrs. a maximum of 18 hrs.
Battery talk time N/A 1.5 – 2 hours
Playback of audio files The Playback time from Apple Watch storage is up to 11 hours. Playback time from Apple Watch storage is up to 11 hours.
With LTE, you may stream a playlist for up to 8 hours.
the life expectancy of your battery Up to an 11-hour indoor training session is possible. Up to an 11-hour indoor training session is possible.
GPS-enabled outdoor workouts for up to seven hours GPS-enabled outdoor training that lasts up to six hours.
Battery life for the Family Setup N/A 14-hour workdays are possible.
Charging Time Somewhere in the range of 45 to 80% (Series 7) Somewhere in the range of 45 to 80% (Series 7)
Approximately 75 minutes to 100% (Series 7) Approximately 75 minutes to 100% (Series 7)
80 percent of 1.5 hours (SE) 80 percent of 1.5 hours (SE)
About two and a half hours to full power (SE) About two and a half hours to full power (SE)
Cost Monthly Approx $0 As little as $10 a month, depending on the service provider.


GPS and cellular Apple watches vary in connectivity. With the GPS + Cellular, you can leave your iPhone at home and still make and receive phone calls, send text messages, and remain in touch using nothing but your wristwatch as a mode of communication.

The GPS version, on the other hand, can only be used to send text messages and take phone calls when an iPhone is nearby. Leaving your phone at home is OK with the GPS-only variant. However, the GPS + Cellular model also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Using Family Setup is another benefit of the GPS + Cellular watch. WatchOS 7 introduced this as a new function. Apple Watch’s family setup lets customers build a family sharing without an iPhone. This eliminates the need for family members to bring their phones with them when they go out. If you have an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, you can use this function.

This variant of the Apple Watch comes with GPS and cellular connectivity so that you don’t have to carry around your phone with you. Reduce the burden on your body that may impede activities like running, exercising, etc. However, all of the Watch’s unique features aren’t entirely free. Cellular variants of the Apple Watch Series are more costly, so this is something to keep in mind. Pay between $50 and $100 extra for cell phone service.


Cellular vs. GPS: Band choices for the Apple Watch

what is apple watch cellular vs gps

For the Apple Watch, you may choose from various case materials and band designs. It is possible to purchase the Milanese loop for a metal Apple Watch; however, it is not included in the Watch’s price. In addition to Apple’s own, Third-party bands may help you obtain the style you desire while saving money. Here are some of our favorite third-party bands for the Apple Watch.


Carrier limitations on Apple Watch cellular vs. GPS

what is apple watch cellular vs gps

Even when your iPhone is in another room, you can still access the internet and make phone calls with the LTE-enabled GPS+Cellular Apple Watch versions for an extra $10 per month. Take a look at Apple Watch cell plans to guarantee you receive the best pricing.

If you have an Apple Watch with LTE, you can do whatever you can do on your iPhone without it. This includes making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving texts, using Siri, navigating the Maps app, etc.

You can’t buy an Apple Watch cellular plan with an iPhone. Your Apple Watch must be included in your AT&T data plan if you have it. Your Apple Watch will have a unique phone number, but it’s not the one you’ll be able to call. The account number is all that matters.

You may want to consider leaving your Apple Watch at home for overseas travel because it may incur international costs if you use it (there is no SIM card in the Watch).


Apple Music and Podcasts streaming on Cellular vs. GPS

apple watch cellular vs gps difference

You can stream Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and audiobooks without an iPhone connected to Wi-Fi or Cellular.

iPhone music, podcasts, and audiobooks may be synced to Watch. You may play the material on your Watch even if it’s not connected to Wi-Fi or Cellular.


Cellular vs. GPS: Family Setup

apple watch cellular vs gps difference

If you want to buy or give away an Apple Watch to someone who does not own an iPhone, you do not need to purchase both devices. Instead of tethering the Apple Watch, you may utilize Family Setup to set it up and then let your children use it independently.

The only Apple Watch model that allows Family Setup is the Cellular + GPS model, which is a critical consideration when making a purchase. Your old Apple Watch may be helpful to someone else in the future, even if you don’t need it right now.

It’s possible to use Family Setup with the Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular and the Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular.


Case and screen material for Cellular vs. GPS

apple watch case and band

Apple Watch Series 7, SE, and 3 are exclusively available in aluminum for GPS-only models. Aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium are the metals available for the Cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 7, but aluminum is the sole metal available on the Apple Watch SE.

Stainless steel and titanium casings include Sapphire Crystal displays, while aluminum variants have Ion-X shows. It’s easier to scratch Ion-X glass than Sapphire Crystal, but it’s more impact-resistant. On the other hand, Sapphire Crystal is less scratch-prone but more prone to cracking if the Watch is dropped.


Battery Life: Apple Watch Cellular vs. GPS

apple watch battery

Do GPS + Cellular Apple Watches use more power than GPS-only watches? Yes, if you use GPS and Cellular together. Apple claims that all current Apple Watches have an 18-hour battery life. For further information, please go to the website above; however, keep in mind that battery life is highly dependent on how frequently you use your Watch’s cellular or GPS capabilities and whether you make phone calls or listen to music while wearing it.

However, while Apple doesn’t specify which Watch model was used for these testing, the Cellular Watch was rated at 18 hours with 4 hours of LTE and 14 of iPhone connectivity, roughly what the average person would use in a single day.

Batteries are significantly less lenient for specific battery testing, though. According to Apple’s single-task testing, the Series 7 performed admirably.

  • Talk time: 1.5 hours
  • With LTE, you can stream a playlist for up to eight hours and play music back for eleven hours straight from your Apple Watch.
  • Eleven hours of indoor exercise, 7 hours of outdoor workouts with GPS, and 6 hours of outdoor training with GPS and LTE were completed.

The Apple Watch SE has a long day battery life for its low price. The Apple Watch SE is likely to be a Series 5 without an ECG monitor.

  • Time spent talking on the phone: around one and a half hours
  • Audio: 10 hours of internal storage, 7 hours of LTE-streamed playlists
  • Workout: 10 hours of indoor workout, 6 hours of GPS-enabled outdoor labor, and 5 hours of LTE-enabled outdoor work.

Long-distance joggers can’t benefit from GPS-only or the GPS+Cellular Apple Watch’s battery life.


Apple Watch GPS vs. Cellular: Comparison Pricing

price apple watch

Lastly, pricing is the deciding factor in this comparison: A $279 price difference between the GPS-only and GPS+Cellular Apple Watch SE models.

There is a $399 difference in base price between the GPS-only Apple Watch Series 7 and the GPS+Cellular Apple Watch Series 7. iPhone XS Max offers cellular connectivity, an improved cover, more storage, and the ability to use Family Setup.


Cellular Carriers for Apple Watch Series

Your Watch would require the same carrier as your iPhone to connect to a cellular network. It’s hard to connect an Apple Watch to your current wireless plan if your wireless carrier doesn’t support it.

Major US providers such as Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity, and T-Mobile support Apple Watch cellular connectivity. Before purchasing the cellular version of the wearable gadget, make sure that other carriers support it.

But there’s more to it. To keep your Apple Watch’s cellular capabilities, you’ll need to pay an additional monthly cost for your iPhone. Typically, these fees are collected at a monthly rate of $10. if your service provider does not allow you to set up a family account, be aware. Make sure that your service supplier can meet these criteria as well.


Is it Worth It to Get a Cellular Apple Watch?

To be truthful, there isn’t one. It’s a matter of preference. There are questions to ask before deciding. Among them:

  • Are your major carriers are compatible with the Apple Watch?
  • Do you frequently leave your phone at home?
  • do you prefer to utilize the internet, send messages, or make phone calls?
  • In the absence of a mobile device, do you listen to podcasts or Apple music?
  • Do you want a family setup?
  • Which material do you want for the case of your Watch: stainless steel or titanium?


Also, Read

Forgot Passcode On Apple Watch? Reset iWatch Passcode


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Cellular Plan Necessary to Use the Apple Watch Cellular?

You don’t need to obtain a cellular plan from your cellphone provider to utilize an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities! If you have the cellular version of the Watch, you can use it like the GPS-only model without signing up for a cellular contract. Connecting your Apple Watch to Wi-Fi or having your iPhone nearby is all you need.


Without my phone, what can my Apple Watch do?”

  • On Apple Watch, you may listen to music.
  • On Apple Watch, you may listen to podcasts.
  • Use your Apple Watch to listen to audiobooks.
  • Apple Watch lets you record and playback voice memos.
  • Your student ID card can be used with transport cards to save money.
  • Find people, devices, and stuff.


Can you text with Apple Watch GPS only version?

Apple Watch (just GPS) enables you to send and receive messages, answer calls, and get alerts while linked to your iPhone through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi network.


Does the Apple Watch need a case?

Aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watch models, in particular, are more prone to scuffs and scratches and therefore require a protective cover. Cases available for purchase cover the Watch’s sides and body and leave the buttons and switches easily reachable.


The choice between the GPS-only Apple Watch and the one with cellular connectivity depends on how frequently you plan to be without your iPhone.

You can use both versions of the Apple Watch if your iPhone is within range since they both use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to communicate with the iPhone. The apple watch cellular vs GPS model’s usefulness is contingent upon your decision to leave your iPhone at home or on an accidentally occurring occurrence.

If you want to have your iPhone with you at all times, you should choose a less expensive model. There is, however, a cellular version if you want the option of leaving your phone at home and still being able to obtain directions and listen to music, make card-free purchases, and place calls.

If you’re planning on purchasing an Apple Watch, you’ll need to ensure that your phone and operating system are compatible with the device. Your current carrier and cellular plan will also need to be checked if you opt for the independent version. Please share your comments pertaining to the apple watch cellular vs GPS difference in the comments section below.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo serves as the dynamic editor and talented author at, consistently demonstrating a strong passion for business and technology. Kokou stays abreast of the latest news and insights in the Startup ecosystem to ensure his readers are always informed. An alumnus of the University of Sienna, Italy, and Rennes, France, he holds a Master's Degree in Communications and Political Science. In addition to writing, Kokou is also responsible for managing all editorial operations.

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