Does Apple Watch Require A Data Plan?

There are many abilities the Apple Watch is capable of, and many individuals have pronounced it to be an amazing, useful tool. However, does an Apple Watch Require a data plan to function properly?

An Apple Watch does not require a data plan to work. While there are many benefits that come with adding the GPS+Cellular feature to an Apple Watch, users can enjoy the device many of the same functions of the device without data but must be reliant on WiFi.

How would having an Apple Watch with a data plan be different than having a watch without one?

Does Apple Watch Require A Data Plan

Apple Watches Without a Data Plan

The main difference between an Apple Watch with cellular data and one without is whether or not it can standalone or not. Without data, Apple Watches are kind of like extensions of other Apple devices and either need to be in close proximity to an iPhone or iPad they have been paired with, or they need to be connected to WiFi. An Apple Watch that isn’t connected to a data plan can do the following:

  • Make phone calls
  • Send iMessages, not just texts
  • Use streaming services
  • Use apps that require data
  • Use Siri
  • Utilize GPS features such as Maps
  • Engage with social media
  • Download and listen to music
  • Use search engines
  • Set reminders

Apple Watches With a Data Plan


While all these same actions can be done with Apple Watches with or without data plans, the GPS+Cellular feature permits these functions to be performed pretty much anywhere without a user needing to rely on another device in order for their Apple Watch and its features to serve their purposes.

Basically, an Apple Watch with a data plan has features that allow it to act like a very small cell phone. That means it can do pretty much anything an iPhone can, without you having to carry an iPhone around!

This lets a person go about their day without carrying their phone while still being able to use all of the same communication and modern-day facets that they would normally use. Many find this an extremely convenient development.


If you want to get an Apple Watch as cheaply as possible, you likely won’t need or want the data plan, as you will pay about $10 every month for your Apple Watch’s data plan. While this may not seem like a lot, it can add up, especially if you are paying for your Apple Watch month-to-month.

How Do You Set Up Apple Watch Data Plan?

In order to set up a data plan with an Apple Watch, it must be paired with an iPhone. Because it is using a cellular data plan, it will need to have a carrier. Usually, your Apple Watch will use the same data plan that the phone it is connected to uses. By using the same carrier, all texts and other notifications from one’s iPhone will pair with their Apple Watch, and it will be able to serve as an extension of their cell phone.

Not all phone carriers support Apple Watches in their phone plans, but there are ways to work around this obstacle. A person can set up their watch to be in Standalone Mode, which is also used for Family Setup.

Family Setup allows a person to use an Apple Watch without owning an iPhone. It lets a family member or friend be the primary account to which the Apple Watch is connected, and it then treats the Apple Watch as a separate device. It will be assigned a different phone number, can use a different carrier, and function relatively detached from its account holder. The Standalone Mode is only available for the Series 4 Apple Watch and up.

Something to note is that a cellular plan option cannot be added to an Apple Watch later on. What that means is if someone who gets an Apple Watch wants to have the option of using it as a cell phone of sorts at some point, they must purchase an Apple Watch with a cellular data plan option. This does not mean they have to activate the data plan, but it’s important to make sure to select the right model.

In short, there are many different ways to utilize data plans with an Apple Watch. A person won’t be charged for a data plan until it has been set up and activated.

Pros and Cons of Apple Watch Data Plans


  • Can be carried around without other Apple devices
  • Can pair with one’s iPhone
  • Can be used in Standalone Mode or set up in Family Setup
  • Functions as a phone
  • Allow access to the internet even when far away from immediate sources
  • Convenient for runners and exercising


  • Slightly heavier than GPS-only models
  • More expensive than WiFi plan Watches
  • Not all carriers support Apple Watches
  • Can only be used with an iPhone and Apple devices- not Androids or out-of-brand technologies

Functionalities With or Without Data Connection

Whether an Apple Watch is connected to WiFi, an Apple Device, or has access to their data plan or not, users should be able to access the following tools, among others, at any time:

  • View synced photos
  • Listen to already downloaded music
  • Use time features such as view the world clock, use the timer, and stopwatch
  • Check heart rate
  • Use the voice-memos app
  • Track workouts and physical activity
  • Track goals
  • Use Apple Pay
  • Use the calendar feature

Either way, models of Apple Watches with data plans and Apple Watches with only GPS share many of the same functions.

Apple Watch Setup

No matter what kind of Apple Watch you get, before you start to use it, you have to set it up. Regardless of what kind of device a person chooses, to set up an Apple Watch, it must be connected to an iPhone. To set up your Apple Watch, follow the instructions that come in the box of the Apple Watch.

A data plan that is connected to an Apple Watch can be an extremely useful resource, and there isn’t a wrong choice when deciding whether or not a data plan is right for you.