The Apple Watch range comes in a number of different options and configurations, ranging from different case materials, colors, sizes and more. However, one of the most important things to consider is whether or not you should buy an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity.
An Apple Watch with LTE lets you go out into the world, without your iPhone, while still being connected. It’s a useful feature, but one that comes at a cost.
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Which Apple Watch models offer mobile devices?
According to Apple:
The mobile models Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE with an active service plan let you make calls, send texts and much more – all without your iPhone. You can call the emergency services when traveling abroad just by pressing and holding the side button. And now with Family Setup, members of your family who don’t own an iPhone can use the Apple Watch.
Apple currently sells the Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. Apple Watch SE starts at $249 with GPS connectivity and $299 with GPS and cellular. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399 for GPS and $499 for cellular and GPS.
One thing to keep in mind though is this: Apple Watch Series 9 Stainless Steel, Apple Watch Series 9 Hermès and Apple Watch Ultra are only available with GPS and mobile connection. That means your Apple Watch will have the necessary hardware for cellular connectivity, but you’ll have to decide whether to pay the monthly price.
Costs associated with cellular
Most plans will cost you at or around $10 each month, still much cheaper than many iPhone plans. You might be able to get a deal on a cell phone plan if you buy a watch directly from a carrier like Verizon or AT&T.
It’s also important to remember that if you buy a standard Apple Watch with GPS, you cannot add a mobile subscription later. You must purchase an Apple Watch GPS + Cellular to access a plan now or in the future.
You don’t need to have your iPhone with you
For those people who want to get into the habit of leaving their iPhone behind in favor of an Apple Watch, having a cellular plan makes sense. Especially for those who run or walk – with a mobile model, you don’t need to carry a bulky iPhone with you to access calls, texts, music and more. Paired with AirPods, you can take calls, listen to music and more without your iPhone nearby.
However, if you find that you always have your iPhone with you, the cellular network may not be worth it for you. When making the decision, consider your current iPhone usage to see if a mobile Apple Watch might be justifiable.
Emergency SOS on Apple Watch
If you want to call emergency services from your Apple Watch and you don’t have a cellular plan, you can still do so but only if you’re connected to a known Wi-Fi network. Apple states:
To use Emergency SOS on a non-cellular Apple Watch, your iPhone must be nearby. If your iPhone is not nearby, your Apple Watch must be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and you must set up Wi-Fi calling.
When you make a call with Emergency SOS, your Apple Watch automatically calls local emergency services and shares your location with them.
This is one of the biggest things to keep in mind. If you plan to be without your iPhone, a mobile Apple Watch can offer peace of mind. Apple Watch offers a range of health features, and mobile is undoubtedly a health feature as well.
Family Setup is popular with parents who want to be able to contact their children without owning an iPhone. This feature allows the parent to set up a mobile Apple Watch for their child on their personal iPhone. The child can then use their Apple Watch to call, text or use any other available function, all with their own phone number and Apple ID. With Family Setup, the parent’s iPhone does not need to be nearby.
Some reasons for choosing this option include the fact that it is more cost effective. Not only is the device cheaper than most iPhones, but it’s also cheaper to add a data plan and insure with Apple Care+. Also, since Apple Watches are worn on the wrist, they tend to be a little more difficult to drop.
Finally, choosing an Apple Watch instead of an iPhone keeps your child behind a screen less, something many parents want to do. There are parental controls to make the Apple Watch work for you. For example, there is a school time feature that turns off access to apps and notifications while the child is at school.
For most people, the Apple Watch with cellular is probably the right decision. Although there is a higher cost associated, it unlocks a number of the Apple Watch’s best features and helps it to be truly independent of your iPhone.
Also keep in mind that you can buy Apple Watch with mobile and not activate it. This can be a good option if you plan to keep the Apple Watch for years, as one day you may decide you want or need mobile devices after all.
My hope is that one day we won’t even have to have this debate and all Apple Watch models will come standard with cellular, leaving it up to each person to enable it or not. But for now, it’s a decision you have to make when buying an Apple Watch.
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