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Does the Apple Watch Need a Separate Data Plan?

As an Apple Watch owner, I know that sometimes I feel frustrated by the limitations of what the device can do without a separate data plan. For example, I can’t do things like make phone calls or send messages without a data plan. So, I decided to do some research and testing to find out if the Apple Watch really needs a separate data plan.

This is a common question among many Apple Watch users. You don’t have to purchase a separate data plan for your Apple Watch, though. However, you might need one if you want to use the Apple Watch without keeping your phone constantly by your side.

The Apple Watch doesn’t need a separate data plan, as it generally uses a minimal amount of data.
You can still use your Apple Watch without a data plan if you keep your phone by your side.
You can set up cellular features on your Apple Watch to enjoy many of its features without having to connect to your iPhone or Wi-Fi.
The models of the Apple Watch that have cellular features are the Apple Watch SE, Series 7, Series 6, Series 5, Series 4, and Series 3 GPS + Cellular.

Does the Apple Watch Need a Separate Data Plan?

The Apple Watch is the ultimate accessory for anyone looking to stay connected to the world, without being tied down by their phone. 

With a glimpse at your wrist, you can view incoming calls and texts, as well as receive notifications from any app that’s installed on your iPhone.

It can also track your sleep patterns and heart rate, so you can better understand how your body handles stress while recording your activity levels throughout the day, too. 

Moreover, you can do all this without actually needing an additional data plan! Regardless of the watch model you have, you probably won’t notice any significant changes in data usage. 

The watch simply connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, allowing you to view notifications and relevant data from your apps. Some models even let you go off the grid by disconnecting your phone from the internet and switching to the watch!

However, if you do plan to depend entirely on your Apple Watch instead of your phone, you may want to consider that separate data plan.

How to Set up the Cellular Feature on Apple Watch

If you’re out and about without your phone, you can set aside any concerns about the internet. 

You can just use the cellular feature on your Apple Watch! It’ll use roughly the same amount of data as your phone unless you’re doing something unusual.

Step One: Check the Recent Updates

You’ll need to make sure that both your iPhone and Apple Watch have the latest software update. This is an important step because Apple fixes any issues and system bugs that its user may face. 

These totally random issues affect your everyday use. Plus, a new software update can include important security improvements or new features for you to unlock!

To update your iPhone:

  • Connect the iPhone to a Wi-Fi network
  • Go to “Settings”
  • Tap on “General”
  • Head to “Software Update”
  • Choose “Install Now” to update

To update your Apple Watch from your iPhone:

  • Ensure your Apple Watch is charged up to 50% at least
  • Open your iPhone and head to the “Apple Watch” app
  • Tap on “My Watch”
  • Go to “General”
  • Head to “Software Update”
  • Download the recent updates

Step Two: Check your Carrier Settings

As you check the various updates that are available, be sure to review the carrier settings as well. Thankfully, most carrier settings updates take less than five minutes to download and install.

To do this:

  • Connect your phone to a strong internet connection
  • Tap on “Settings”
  • Head to “General”
  • Tap on “About”
  • Scroll down to “Carrier” and tap on it in case there’s an update available 

Step Three: Get Your Watch Ready

Now that everything is ready and up to date; it’s time to set up the watch! Just carry out the following steps:

  • Open your iPhone and go to the “Apple Watch” app
  • Tap on “My Watch”
  • Select “Cellular”
  • Choose “Set Up Cellular”
  • Follow your carrier’s instructions 

Apple Watch Models With Cellular Features 

As we said before, you don’t necessarily need a separate data plan if you have an Apple Watch. That’s because some models don’t even have cellular capabilities and simply rely on the Wi-Fi network it’s connected to.

Read more: Does Apple Watch charge when turned off?

Models that don’t have cellular capabilities:

  • The First Apple Watch (known as generation 0 or 1)
  • Apple Watch Series 1
  • Apple Watch Series 2
  • Apple Watch Series 3 (the GPS model)

However, in 2017, Apple introduced the new built-in cellular capabilities in the Series 3 watches. This means you can listen to music, make calls, and send texts wherever you are.

On top of that, you can simply opt out of using the cellular feature when you don’t want to. It’s an optional, fallback feature for when your watch can’t connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth or when it can’t link to Wi-Fi.

Read more: Can you overcharge an Apple Watch?

Among the models that do have cellular features are:

  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular

Just make sure when you’re purchasing the model, or if you already have one, that it’s GPS + Cellular.

Pros of Apple Watch Data Plans

  • You can use the Apple Watch to stay connected without having to carry your phone around.
  • You can access a lot of features, including calls, messages, and notifications, without needing to rely on an iPhone.
  • You can use the watch to track your sleep, heart rate, and activity levels.

Cons of Apple Watch Data Plans

  • You will have to pay for the data plan, which can be expensive.
  • There might be limited coverage in certain areas.
  • You will need to be careful about using too much data, as you may go over your plan’s data limit.


So, does the Apple Watch need a separate data plan? Thankfully, no. It’s not a requirement. The watch itself doesn’t use much data, so no additional plan is needed.

That said, you can set up the cellular capabilities on your Apple watch and enjoy many of its features without having to connect to your iPhone or Wi-Fi.