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Does an Apple Watch Need Wi-Fi?

As an Apple Watch owner, I’ve often wondered if having Wi-Fi is necessary for my device to function properly. After all, it is a device that is worn on the wrist and is constantly in motion. After some research and testing, I’m here to share my findings on whether an Apple Watch needs Wi-Fi to function correctly and the solutions I’ve discovered.

Apple Watch doesn’t need Wi-Fi if your phone isn’t far away from it. And even if your phone isn’t round, your Apple Watch will still work, but to a limited extent, as certain features are internet-dependent, like music streaming, map directions, and Siri. 

Apple Watch does not need Wi-Fi to function, but some features require internet connectivity.
To turn on Wi-Fi, tap and hold the bottom of the watch’s screen, swipe up when the Control Center appears, and tap the Wi-Fi symbol.
Without Wi-Fi, the Apple Watch can still perform functions like tracking workouts, playing music, and making payments with Apple Pay.
With Wi-Fi, features like messaging, Siri, and finding friends can be used.
Some Apple Watch models have GPS + cellular connections, eliminating the need for a Wi-Fi connection.
Cellular Apple Watch models can be used in emergency situations if you’re in an isolated area with no network coverage.

Apple Watch and Wi-Fi

Ideally, your Apple Watch should be connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth. That way, you get to enjoy all of the features it has to offer. 

When you move away from your iPhone’s Bluetooth range, which is usually around 100 meters, your Apple Watch disconnects. 

Consequently, it will automatically search for the nearest Wi-Fi connection to keep you updated. That’s why you should always keep your Apple Watch’s Wi-Fi on.

Turning Wi-Fi on is simple. You just need to do the following:

  1. Tap and hold the bottom of your watch’s screen
  2. Swipe up when the Control Center appears
  3. Tap the Wi-Fi symbol, and it will light up

When Wi-Fi Is Disconnected

Let’s say you’re out for a run or a hike without your phone. Obviously, there’s no Wi-Fi around for your Apple Watch to connect to. 

In this case, your Apple Watch won’t stop working. There are still some features you can enjoy. When your Apple Watch isn’t connected to Wi-Fi, and depending on the model, you still can:

  • Know the time, use the timer, the alarm, and the stopwatch
  • Track your workouts/activity levels and measure your heart rate
  • Make purchases with Apple Pay
  • Display photos
  • Play music that you’ve synced to it, as well as audiobooks and podcasts
  • Record voice notes
  • Track your sleep
  • Track your menstrual cycle
  • Use the compass

When Wi-Fi Is Connected

Read more: Can you shower with an Apple Watch?

There are features on your Apple Watch that require Wi-Fi to work. When your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi, and depending on the Apple Watch model, you get to:

  • Send and receive messages
  • Answer and make phone calls
  • Use Siri
  • Check the Weather App
  • Set reminders
  • Find your friends through the Find People app
  • Stream music and listen to the radio
  • Control your home through the Home app
  • Get directions on Maps

Apple Watch GPS + Cellular Feature

Some Apple Watch models have a GPS + cellular feature. Such models have an internal eSIM that can be configured to use the same number and data plan as your iPhone.

When these Apple Watch models lose connectivity to the iPhone, they simply switch to cellular data, enabling you to use all of their features. 

So, if you’re looking for an Apple Watch that doesn’t need a Wi-Fi connection to work, get one that has the GPS + cellular feature. 

Should You Get a Cellular Apple Watch?

Cellular Apple Watch gives you the freedom to move around and away from your iPhone without missing important messages and phone calls.

Additionally, a cellular connection enables you to use Siri whenever you like instead of dealing with the small watch screen. Voice commands are much more practical when you want to adjust something on the go!

Not to mention all the internet-dependent features that keep working even when you’re out without your iPhone and with no access to a Wi-Fi connection.

Generally, one of the most important features of the Apple Watch is the built-in fall detector. This feature detects hard falls and sends you a notification to ask if you’re OK. If you don’t respond or move for a minute, it calls emergency services for help.

If you’re away from your iPhone with no access to a Wi-Fi connection, or if your iPhone broke during the fall, a Wi-Fi-only Apple watch won’t be able to help you. Contrarily, in the same situation, the cellular Apple Watch can independently call for help. 

That said, both models won’t be able to help in emergency situations if you’re in an isolated area with no network coverage.

Read more: Can I charge my iPhone with an Apple Watch charger?


There’s no doubt that the Apple Watch offers a variety of cool features. Some of those features can still function while the watch is offline. For other features, and if your iPhone is not in range, your Apple Watch needs to connect to the internet.

As a result, Apple came up with cellular models that don’t require a Wi-Fi connection to keep you updated. So, if you usually go out without your iPhone where you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you might want to try the cellular Apple Watch.