Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Which One Should You Choose?

Mobile Accessories

The Apple Watch series has the most riveting smartwatches in the market today. This wearable gadget aids you in having a healthier lifestyle by tracking your workouts, heart rate, and even your sleep. It also gives that stylish vibe that can be flaunted not just in your exercises but also in your daily work. But there are two versions of this smartwatch. In this duel between the Apple Watch GPS vs cellular, we shall determine which Apple Watch is the better fit for you.

It is already challenging to pick between an Apple Watch 5 vs 6, 7, 8, or Ultra. However, picking the network connection type makes the job even more challenging. That’s why we came up with this comparison to help you out.


Inside This Article

  1. What Does Apple Watch GPS-Only Do?
  2. What Does Apple Watch Cellular+GPS Do?
  3. Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Key Differences
    1. Pricing
    2. Activation
    3. Connectivity
    4. Battery Consumption
    5. Design
    6. Availability
  4. Apple Watch Cellular Plans
  5. Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Which Is Better?


What Does Apple Watch GPS-Only Do?

How to Unpair Apple Watch With iPhone
Photo from Apple Support YouTube Page

Every Apple watch has the GPS-only version, except for the Apple Watch Ultra — the most expensive Apple Watch so far. Compared to cellular, we can say that Apple Watch GPS is the less expensive version. We won’t call it cheap, though, because it’s still clearly a premium smartwatch. You’ve got yourself an offline music player that can store tons of music for your workout routines. It has your typical sensors like a heart rate monitor, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) sensor, Emergency SOS, and fall detection. And obviously, it has got a GPS of its own.

The Apple Watch GPS-only version does what a typical sports smartwatch can do. It can track your heart rate and workouts and can send notifications without bringing up your iPhone. To give you an idea of what kind of workouts you can track with the Apple Watch, here is a list of some of them:

  • Cycling (indoor and outdoor)
  • Elliptical
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Hiking
  • Rower
  • Running (indoor and outdoor)
  • Stair stepper
  • Swimming
  • Walking (indoor and outdoor)
  • Wheelchair
  • Yoga

You can also use third-party apps for the Apple Watch. There are many fitness apps out there that you can integrate with the Apple Watch, so do check them out.

GPS-only Apple Watches can also send messages and make calls as long as your iPhone is nearby. Once it is paired with your iPhone, you can see your notifications on your watch.

Buy Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS only)

Get Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS only)

Buy Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS only)

Get Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen)


What Does Apple Watch Cellular+GPS Do?

apple watch cellular services
Photo from Apple

The Apple Watch Cellular does everything that the Apple Watch can — and more. This Apple Watch can act as your secondary phone thanks to its cellular capabilities. You’ve got the same fitness tracking features as the GPS-only version but better because you’ve got basic telephony services. If ever you forget your phone at home or the office, you can call or text using the Apple Watch. It has got its dedicated eSIM that enables you to do your usual text and call services.

Aside from this, you’ll get mobile data services on this watch. So you’ll get to instantly sync your workouts even outdoors without chucking out your iPhone. Just tap on your favorite fitness app on the Apple Watch and you can expect your activities to be synced immediately. And since this watch has cellular services, you can stream your workout playlist on the phone. No need to bring your boxy iPhone out just to play your tunes.

Lastly, you’ll get to use your Apple Pay and Siri even without your phone. Thanks to its standalone internet connectivity, asking Siri for directions or paying for that shopping bill is easy-peasy. That decreases the hassle of finding your phone out of your bag or pocket.

Buy Apple Watch 6 (GPS+Cellular)

Get Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS+Cellular)

Buy Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen)

Get Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS+Celluar)

Buy Apple Watch Ultra (GPS+Celluar)


Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Key Differences

Now let us know the distinctions between the Apple Watch GPS-only and its cellular version. This will give you an idea of what to choose as the perfect companion for your lifestyle.


1. Pricing

The pricing makes a huge difference in choosing the right Apple Watch for you. For instance, the GPS-version only of the Apple Watch Series 8 will cost you around $339 while the GPS+Cellular version will cost you around $429. That’s over a hundred dollars of moolah you can potentially release.

If you need call, text, and data services within an Apple Watch, get the GPS+Cellular version. But if you are skimping on the money but want a high-quality Apple Watch, get the GPS-only Apple Watch. Both of these watches are jampacked with great features that can help you in living a healthy and trendy lifestyle.


How to Change Apple Watch Wallpaper
Photo by Daniel Cañibano on Unsplash

2. Activation

Activating your Apple Watch is easy-peasy. First, you will need your iPhone to activate the Apple Watch. After turning on your Apple Watch, just place it near your iPhone and take a shot at the Apple Watch animation.

There will be an additional setup setting when you buy the GPS+Cellular version of the Apple Watch. The process of doing this is still simple. Just go to the Apple Watch app, tap on the My Watch app, then go to the Cellular page. From there, you need to coordinate with your carrier. This will help you ease the setup with your Apple Watch.

Given these options, it is much easier to set up the GPS-only version vs the cellular version. Choosing the GPS-only version already gives you almost the same function as the cellular version. It also lessens the hassle of setting it up with your carrier. But again, this depends on your preference.


3. Connectivity

When it comes to connectivity, there are two options for choosing an Apple Watch. There are the GPS version and the GPS with the cellular network version. The GPS-only version offers the typical features of a smartwatch. You’ll get Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi for syncing with your iPhone and the internet, and outdoor workouts. These instruments are more than enough to sync your exercise routines and your notifications on your phone. This is also the best option for those who have their iPhones all the time.

Meanwhile, the other brother of the GPS-only Apple Watch has a cellular network that can give you the power to text, call, and connect to data services. These features make this smartwatch your second iPhone. Just in case you forgot your iPhone at home or work, you can still text, call, or chat with your family or loved ones with your Apple Watch. Now, that’s one piece of high-tech wearable that acts like your regular smartphone. But, this comes with a compromise to your battery life. We’ll discuss below why the GPS+Cellular version drains the battery that much.


4. Battery Consumption

Of course, you want to monitor your health and get notifications on your Apple Watch for the longest time. That is why the longevity of battery life is crucial when getting an Apple Watch. Which version of the Apple Watch is the best when it comes to battery consumption?

The Apple Watch GPS-only version can last for up to 18 hours of usage. This includes your average time checks, heart rate monitoring, music playback that is simultaneous with your 60-minute workout, and frequent syncing with your iPhone. This is more than enough for your daily routine. You can then leave your Apple Watch charged while you are sleeping.

The Apple Watch GPS+Cellular version has the same battery capacity as the GPS-only Apple Watch. But since it has cellular functions in it, its battery is expected to drain faster. It uses network data and cellular signals to use your basic telephony services. In Apple’s own estimate: it takes about 1.5 hours when you take calls, 10 hours when you play your music offline, and seven hours when you play your music online. When exercising, expect 10 hours for your indoor workout, seven hours with an outdoor workout using GPS, and four hours when GPS and LTE are enabled. Get the GPS-only version if you are conscious of the Apple Watch’s battery life. But if you want a second “wearable phone” on your wrist, buy the GPS+Cellular version of the Apple Watch.


2022 Apple Watches from Left to Right: Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2nd Gen, and Ultra
Photo by Apple

5. Design

When it comes to its design, the GPS-only and the GPS+Cellular Apple Watch share the same aesthetics. Both watches share the same square watch face with rounded edges. They also got a variety of sizes, ranging from 40 mm to 45 mm depending on the series you are getting. These sizes are more than enough to display your apps, notifications, and workout information. Materials used on the Apple Watch may vary, from stainless steel and aluminum to even titanium. This will depend on what Apple Watch you’ll purchase.

Though they may have the same aesthetic design, there are noticeable differences between the GPS and the GPS+Cellular version of the Apple Watch. Firstly, the weight of both watches has a stark difference. The GPS-only version will weigh slightly lighter because of the absence of cellular network radios. This makes it a joy to wear vs the cellular version. But don’t worry too much about it. The cellular version still weighs light for your wrist. And with its varying screen size, you’ll get a little bit of heft as the screen size increases.


6. Availability

Both the Apple Watch GPS-only and cellular are readily available in most parts of the world, so you’d have no problem getting the version you want. However, the cellular model of the Apple Watch has been optimized for use in the country of purchase. This means that its cellular capability may not work when you go to a country that uses a different LTE and UMTS bands from your origin. As Apple said, “There is no single model that supports cellular service worldwide.” You can check directly from Apple the list of Apple Watch-supported carriers around the world, including the bands they are using.


Apple Watch Cellular Plans

If you have finally decided to purchase the GPS+Cellular version of the Apple Watch, there are carriers that offer plans for the said watch. Now, you won’t get confused about what plan to get for the trusty Apple Watch.


1. AT&T

AT&T offers affordable choices for its customers with its Apple Watch plans starting at around $7 per month (for Apple Watch SE), payable for 24 months. They offer the Apple SE, Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen), Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra. They also offer Nike versions to give you more options, especially for the athlete in you. With this price range, it is currently the most affordable way of getting a cellular Apple Watch.

Browse Apple Watches on AT&T


2. T-Mobile

T-Mobile subscribers can enjoy monthly payments for the Apple Watch. They currently offer six of the Apple Watches: Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen), and Apple Watch 6, 7, 8, and Ultra. Monthly payments range from around $6 to $22 per month payable for 24 months. Straight payment is also available for the said watch.

Browse Apple Watches on T-Mobile


3. Verizon Wireless

Verizon offers deals between $8.33 per month for the Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) and $22.22 per month for the Apple Watch Ultra. When you get Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen), 8, or Ultra from Verizon, you’ll also get a three-month free Apple Fitness+ subscription.

Browse Apple Watches on Verizon


Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Which Is Better?

apple watch
Photo from Apple

Now that you know the differences between the GPS and the Cellular version of the Apple Watch, let’s get down to business. Which Apple Watch is better: the Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular version? Which fares better when it comes to performance and versatility?

In terms of connectivity, the cellular version wins hands down. Its text, call, and data service capabilities can stand alone as a phone in itself. It is as if you’re wearing a “wearable phone” around your wrist. The best design also goes to the cellular version of the Apple Watch. The choice between stainless steel or titanium materials adds to the premium feel of this version of the Apple Watch.

But the cellular Apple Watch can still be considered a fad. It may have the telephony services that you need, but you might decrease the battery life of the watch especially if you use the services frequently.

The GPS version also has the same functionality as the GPS+Cellular version. You’ll get your typical health sensors and notifications on the GPS-only Apple Watch. So if you have your iPhone on your hands all the time, get the GPS-only version. This will not only let you save more money but also lessens the hassle and stress of paying for a monthly plan for the cellular Apple Watch.



If you are still contemplating between the GPS-only vs the cellular version of the Apple Watch, it is a fine time that you choose the GPS-only version of the watch. The functions of an Apple Watch are immeasurable and thus even the most basic of the Apple Watches give you the best performance, from its health monitoring to its integration with the iPhone. But if you are that person who constantly needs to communicate, get the cellular Apple Watch. Its cellular services can emulate an iPhone, thus texting and calling is a breeze even if you forgot your iPhone.

There are also Android smartwatches that you can pair not just with Android phones, but also with your iPhone. Check out our list of the 15 best Android smartwatches you can buy right now.