Do Apple Watches Need Their Own Data Plan?


Apple is a name that’s become practically synonymous with tech in the twenty-first century. Nearly everyone knows about their famous iPhones, iPads, and the long-beloved iPods. And Apple keeps coming out with more – particularly Apple Watches.  

When Apple Watches were first introduced, they were seen as wearable counterparts for a user’s iPhone. They were more so accessories of the iPhone than they were devices on their own. 

To put this into context, your Apple Watch was only good for informing you of incoming calls, texts, and notifications if the iPhone was within a reachable distance.  But without the phone, this wouldn’t be possible.

That is until Apple came out with their Series 3 Apple Watches in two kinds; a solely GPS and another with GPS and Cellular. So do they need their own data plan?

Apple watches do not need their own plan. However, the Apple series 3 offers two options an Apple Watch Series 3 GPS version & an Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular version. Both do not require you to have your own plan in order to function. However, the GPS+ cellular version provides you with the option to get a separate data plan, this allows you to have the full capabilities of your Apple Watch without needing to connect your watch to your phone.

Let’s take a look at this in more detail, as well as a few things you may not have known about your Apple Watch. Let’s dive in!

What Does A Cellular Apple Watch Provide? 

Simply put, a cellular Apple Watch takes away the constraint of having your iPhone nearby for it to function. Even though Apple Watches had functions distinct from the iPhones, they were understandably accessories rather than devices on their own.  

With cellular Apple Watches, you can leave your iPhone at home and go on about your day without worrying about missing a call or a text – your phone is still in your hands – well, on your wrist. 

The first cellular Apple Watch to have been released was the Series 3 Apple Watch with GPS and LTE. The success of that model can be determined from the fact that Apple created a GPS and LTE version for Series 4,5 and 6.  

These models tend to cost more than base models supporting only GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity. The price variation can be up to a hundred dollars or more. The newer Series 6 Apple Watches tend to cost upwards of $399. 

However, it isn’t just the additional cost of securing an LTE Apple Watch that you’ll be incurring. LTE connectivity comes at a price and requires a separate data plan which will cost another some odd dollars (depending on your service provider). 

1. Before You Set Up 

Before you set up a data plan on your watch, make sure you have the latest software on your iPhone and Apple Watch. In settings, go to the network provider and check for locations. Older versions reportedly have bugs and fixes and might hinder the use of your Apple Watch.  

An important thing to consider here is that your mobile data plan needs to be the same for your Apple Watch and iPhone. It would help if you were within your original provider’s network to set up cellular services on your Apple Watch. 

Make sure you have an eligible data plan with a trusted network provider. Pre-paid accounts, as well as some older versions, are not supported. 

Alternatively, if you’re using your business’ data plan or corporations, you will need to check with the company and see whether they support adding on your Apple Watch.  

2. Setting Up Cellular 

To set up cellular services from your Apple Watch, follow these steps: 

  • Open the Apple Watch application on your iPhone and tap on My Watch 
  • Tap on Cellular and then on Set Up Cellular 
  • You’ll be given instructions for your particular network provider. 
  • Contact your network provider for any help. 

3. Understanding Different Costs and Picking a Service Provider 

When it comes to pricing, your options are laid out in the same line – that is, almost all service providers provide cellular network services for $10 a month. It rarely ever goes upwards of the ten-dollar mark, and some are priced lower than that. 

To put this more into context, remember that the additional $10 a month will come up to $120 a year. If that’s the price you’re willing to pay for cellular services, then Service 3,4,5 and 6 are great investments.  

Some cellular providers, such as U.S. Cellular, price their cellular plans at $5 a month. This deal is only sweet for those who already have U.S. Cellular with their iPhones or are willing to make the transition.  

This brings us to the next consideration – your existing service provider. Your Apple Watch is acting as a wearable iPhone, and Apple wants you to liberate yourself from the hassle of having to carry your phone around by building a phone within your watch.  

While all that is fun and dandy, the Apple Watch still (in many ways) acts as an accessory to the iPhone. First of all, the ‘authority lies within the Apple Watch application in the iPhone. Secondly, you’ll need to choose a service provider that’s the same as the one you’re already using for your iPhone.  

4. Choosing a Service Provider:

Verizon 

Verizon charges its customers an extra $10 a month for using cellular connectivity and LTE services on their Apple Watches. This is done so using the NumberShare service. However, Verizon does give users incentives by offering the first three months of cellular services for free.  

Then, on the other hand, the service provider charges a one-time activation fee of $30. All of Verizon’s current cellular plans offer additions for Apple Watches. However, this isn’t available for customers with older plans. Who would have to update their services?  

AT&T 

Number Sync for AT&T allows you to add cellular services onto your Apple Watch for an additional $10 a month. The first three months are free, and a one-time activation fee of $30 is applicable for cellular services. 

Their website mentions that the company provides cellular plans for Apple Watches. However, only for the following three methods: 

1. AT&T Unlimited Elite 

2. AT&T Unlimited Extra 

3. AT&T Unlimited Starter 

Older plans are not compatible with Apple Watches, and the user will have to activate or update services to start them. 

T-Mobile 

For T-Mobile, you’ll have to pay the same $10 extra to activate cellular services on your Apple Watch. The same introductory offer is given – three months of usage free. T-Mobile offers 4G LTE data plans at a much faster speed.  

You can add your watch to their Magenta, Magenta Plus, and Exclusive Offers. The one-time activation fee is capped at $20. 

Sprint 

Sprint offers its cellular data plans at $15 a month. While this is higher than other service providers, Sprint gives customers a $5 discount if they sign up for auto-pay. They are bringing it down to the same $10 as the other service providers. 

There is no activation fee, and the same introductory offer is given for Sprint as it is for other service providers. They, however, do not offer data plans on their own, and the customer would have to have a data plan for their phone as well. 

Conclusion 

Apple Watches used to be seen as accessories to iPhones. However, Apple has given the wearables more autonomy by introducing cellular services associated with existing data plans. The plans are practically all capped at $10 a month with several introductory incentive offers and customer plans.  

This makes using an Apple Watch easier than having to constantly worry about misplacing your phone and takes away constraints such as only using your Apple Watch with your phone nearby. 

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