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Does Apple Watch Use a SIM Card?

As a Wifi Apple Watch owner, I have been considering upgrading to a cellular version of the Apple Watch. I had heard that cellular watches require a SIM card, but I wasn’t sure if this was true or not. I decided to do some research to find out if my Apple Watch would require a SIM card or not. In this blog post, I will be sharing my findings and providing information on Apple Watch SIM cards and other solutions you may find helpful.

The answer is: It depends on the type of Apple Watch you have. Only the cellular version uses a SIM card, which is embedded into the device.

Feature/AspectGPS-only Apple WatchGPS + Cellular Apple Watch
SIM CardNo SIM cardEmbedded eSIM
Cellular ConnectivityNot availableAvailable
Monthly FeeNoneAdditional monthly fee depending on the carrier
Battery LifeSlightly longerSlightly shorter due to cellular connectivity
Phone Calls and TextsRequires paired iPhone nearbyCan make and receive calls and texts without paired iPhone nearby
Music StreamingRequires paired iPhone nearbyCan stream music without paired iPhone nearby
Family SetupNot availableAvailable
PriceLess expensiveMore expensive

Apple Watch Uses an eSIM

A cellular Apple Watch has an embedded SIM, better known as an eSIM. It works just like a regular SIM, except it’s extremely small. It’s embedded into your Apple Watch, meaning you can’t remove or replace it.

Since it doesn’t require a SIM slot, it allows for a more compact and durable design. The eSIM is commonly used in small devices, such as the Apple Watch, to allow wireless connections and using cellular services.

Read more: Can you text on Apple Watch if the iPhone is not near?

GPS-Only vs. GPS + Cellular

There are two types of Apple Watches: the GPS-only and the GPS + Cellular. Both have their corresponding pros and cons, but only one of these uses a SIM. 

How Do They Differ?

The GPS + Cellular Apple Watch uses an eSIM, while the GPS-only doesn’t. You can do so much more with the cellular version, but with an added monthly cost to your current plan.

One of the most notable advantages of a cellular Apple Watch is its ability to be completely serviceable, even when its paired iPhone is out of range. Consequently, Family Setup is only available for GPS + Cellular Apple Watches.

Meanwhile, the GPS-only Apple Watch doesn’t use cellular connectivity services, so you won’t have to worry about monthly fees. Also, since it doesn’t allow for calls or music streaming, the battery life is slightly longer.

Your GPS-only Apple Watch can send and receive data from your iPhone via Bluetooth, wherein the typical range is about 33 feet. There’s a limit to the applications you can use beyond that. Despite this, the non-cellular Apple Watch is still a pretty handy gadget. Just remember to keep your iPhone close. 

Read more: How to know if the Apple Watch battery is dead?

How Do I Know Which One I Have?

If you’re not sure whether your Apple Watch is GPS-only or cellular, there are three ways to find out. Check out the options below.

Check the Digital Crown

If you don’t know what the digital crown is, it’s the rotating button on the side of the watch. If you see a red marking on it, like a ring or dot, then it’s a cellular Apple Watch.

Check the Engraving

For good measure, you can flip your Apple Watch to reveal the engraving at the bottom. It contains details such as the serial number, materials used, and whether it’s GPS-only or GPS + Cellular.

Check With Its Model Number

You can also verify this online. Here’s how:

  1. On your iPhone, go to My Watch.
  2. Select About under the General tab.
  3. On the Model field, you’ll find the model number. It’s the series of characters that begin with the letter A.
  4. Copy or save the model number.
  5. On your browser, go to Apple Support’s model identification page.
  6. Enter the model number you saved earlier to reveal your device’s information.

Which One Should I Get?

So, which one will fit your lifestyle better? It depends on your requirements and budget.

If you constantly need to leave your iPhone and have the extra cash for the additional fees, then the GPS + Cellular Apple Watch might be your better option.

However, if you can keep your iPhone close and just need to refrain from constantly checking on it, you can opt for the GPS + only version. We recommend this option for non-techie Apple users.

How to Set Up Cellular on Your Apple Watch

You may activate cellular once you’ve confirmed that your Apple Watch is the GPS + Cellular model. Be sure that your iOS is up-to-date and that you have a cellular service plan before getting started on the process. 

Additionally, both iPhone and Apple Watch must be subscribed to the same carrier, and you have a data signal during setup.

To set up cellular on your Apple Watch, follow the procedure below:

  1. On the paired iPhone, open Apple Watch.
  2. Select My Watch.
  3. Choose Set Up Cellular under the Cellular tab.
  4. Follow the directions on the screen. You may need to contact your service provider if necessary.

If you’re having issues with the setup, contact Apple Support

Pros of a Cellular Apple Watch

  • No need to carry your phone around
  • Make and receive calls and texts
  • Stream music
  • Family Setup

Cons of a Cellular Apple Watch

  • Monthly fee
  • Depends on cellular network
  • Shorter battery life
  • More expensive than GPS-only Apple Watch


The eSIM in a GPS + Cellular Apple Watch is a tiny device that proves to be greatly useful. It helps users to maximize the features of their iPhones while letting them do more by keeping their hands free.

On the other hand, the GPS-only Apple Watch is available for users who just don’t need all the extra fancy features.