Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: Which Watch To Buy

Apple Watches have been the most popular watches all over the world for the last decade. Mostly for its practical and utilitarian features that help people to lighten their boatload of burdens. The fact is that Apple and other brands in smartwatch space are still coping up with some backlashes in their technological tactics. 

Yet the vast arrays of useful features outshine its lacking. Apple Watches offer a plethora of choices for price, design, and functionality that help them to reach out to people from all walks of life. Here’s the dual between Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular just opened the scope for you to choose the suitable one. Just match the features with your demands and pocket it at rocket speed without any hesitation.

Here I’m going to share with you the key differences between Apple Watch GPS only and the Apple Watch GPS+Cellular. And I’ll also picture the needs from an individual perspective and experience. Then it’ll be easy for you to decide whether you can be totally happy with the GPS only version or the LTE model would be better for you. Let’s delve into the core of the Apple Watch GPS vs Apple Watch Cellular to learn if the extra bucks are worth to be spent. I’ll explain to you the lackings of GPS+ Cellular version as well a the limitations of GPS version. Any kind of improvement of the features through the GPS and Cellular lineage will be discussed.

Bird’s Eye View: Apple Watch GPS or Apple Watch Cellular

Apple Watch GPS Only

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular
Apple Watch 5 GPS


➕ It’s the least expensive of all models

➕ It’s the lightest of all due to its aluminum body

➕ You’ll get a longer battery life as it doesn’t feature any cellular chip


➖ Requires an iPhone nearby for its cellular network

➖ Doesn’t allow Apple Music streaming

➖ Few options for customization

Apple Watch GPS and Cellular

Apple Watch GPS and Cellular
Apple Watch 5 GPS+Cellular


➕ Can make call and send texts independently of iPhone

➕ Allows access to Apple Music Library

➕ Offers plethora of choice for bands, materials and design


➖ Costs $100 more than the GPS only version

➖ Consumes battery more rapidly

➖ Need to pay extra money for cellular connection

What are the GPS and Cellular functions actually? Why does Apple need to design these types of Apple Watch Cellular and Apple Watch GPS only? Which one should you prefer between Apple Watch Cellular vs Regular.

Well. Smartwatches are growing popular mainly for its health and fitness tracking features. And their power to bypass the smartphone has become a pivotal point to make a decision. It seems that smartwatches can be better alternatives to smartwatches in the near future. Like me, you’ll think of a smartwatch first. They are easy to use and have replicating functions as smartphones. With the development of voice control, there will be a reinvention of smartwatches. And the steps toward the possibility are the GPS only version and the Cellular version of smartwatches. 

Let’s not discuss the frankenstein story about smartwatches or the corporate exploitation of internet. If you’re so concerned about your privacy, then a GPS model would be the best. As many companies are selling data, I would recommend you to control the limit of your data. As the GPS version aren’t connected with internet, no one can monitor your fitness and health issues. This way you can keep your health issues private and confidential. It’ll reduce the risk of getting spammed or jammed with advertisements.

What’s the difference: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

The elaborative form of GPS is the Global Positioning System that’s used for location tracking. It works by constantly connecting with the satellite. The Apple Watch GPS is a perfect piece for those who want to hike, trek, run, or bike in the wild and rough terrain. It’s necessary to track your route or position while firing on such adventures or a serious marathon. Let’s assume you’re chilling on a rough terrain during your vacation. It’s your first time here. And a GPS can familiarize you with the terrain.

I use GPS system to discover new routes in a new town. And in an unknown city, I’ll prefer a watch rather than an expensive smartwatch on hand. Nobody knows when you’ll be pilfered right away. As a wearable on the wrist, you can keep a tab on time and fitness activities as well as eliminating the needs for a GPS tracker. With the long-lasting battery, Apple Watch GPS only model will serve you long enough outside of your house. If you follow some of my tricks below to customize the features, you can enjoy timekeeping for more time.

The Apple Watch Cellular is connected independently of your iPhone nearby. The LTE function of the Apple Watch can work without your iPhone and minimize the need to keep it nearby. With the compatible carrier services, your watch will import the data from your iPhone and use it to function independently. Unlike the Apple Watch GPS only, the Cellular version connects directly with the server and hence you can say it a smaller version of your iPhone.

The gross difference between Apple Watch Cellular vs Regular is the service providing function, our headline today. But there are also other differences that will help you to pick the favorable one. It includes the price, battery, and the options for personalized customization.

Design & Hardware: Apple Watch GPS Only vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ Offers a few options for colors, straps and materials

➕ Lightest of all models

➕ Available in only aluminum sports and Nike cases

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Lots of customization options for colors, straps, and materials

Though the main differences lie between the software, the price gap makes little changes in other alluring options. Both of them look almost the same from outside. The only physical distinction of the Cellular models is a red marking on the digital crown. The brighter marking may look odd or cheaper to someone with different tastes. Don’t let anyone fool you as you can easily identify between a GPS and Cellular watch looking at the red marking on the crown. Thanks me later.

And in the case of Apple Watch Cellular, you’ll find plenty of ways to customize the watches with the materials, straps, or colors. The GPS-only version of Apple Watch Series 3 and 5 come with only an aluminum body with a sport band. You can choose from a silver, space grey, or rose gold-toned watch case with the aluminum bands available in black, fog, grey, or pink sand colors. Apart from these sports bands, you can also pick the Nike Sport band and cases in silver, gold, or space grey colors. The Apple Watch GPS and Cellular comes with 9 color schemes of exquisite variations and design.

If you want to go for the high-end ceramic edition of Apple Watch 5, you can choose only one option to be cellular only. The titanium edition or the watches with the Hermes straps all are cellular-only. Even the tarnish-resisting stainless steel models feature the cellular version of watches if you come by it from Apple. 

That’s to be clear that a GPS only model is hard to personalize with your own choices. But for the Apple Watch Cellular edition, you can choose the best materials with lots of eye-catching customizations.

I love Apple watches when it comes to modifications and customizations of watches. They offer you a plethora od options. I can’t imagine a lot of watch models that offer such huge customization options. But they need to cut down prices. Ceramic can be costly but there are lots of watches out there that cost less. And sometimes the variations might confuse you to choose a better one.

Cellular Connectivity: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ Network functions need connectivity to your iPhone

➕ Sending message or texting needs proximity of iPhone

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Can make calls, use Siri and Apple Pay independently of iPhone

🔺 It features carrier same as the iPhone

The main contrasting point between the two editions is their cellular connectivity. The difference defines the capacity of a watch to provide fruitful features. You can weigh the importance of LTE setup in a watch by assessing the price tags.

Apple Watch GPS + Cellular

Cellular connection means you won’t need any iPhone nearby to connect to the Internet. You can call or text from anywhere (of course within the network of your carrier!) at any time whether you’re on a trail or in a sweat-breaking workout. Just tap on the device on your wrist and respond to someone on social media. It’s that easy! You can also check your emails and iMessages and respond to them. The weather app will provide you with real-time data. Though the accuracy of data is a bit confusing to me. And you can even stream songs while running or doing workouts. The cellular function allows you to search from your wrist with just a few taps. However, I think an easy and quick response system with optimized functions will do great.

The Apple Watch GPS+Cellular minimizes the need for your iPhone to carry every time. You can call or text someone just using your watch even if you’ve accidentally put your iPhone away at home. You can also command Siri for a quick voice reply. Whenever you’re away from the Bluetooth range of iPhone, the built-in LTE, and UMTS radio automatically switch back to the cellular mode. It feels super comfortable to me. But use of Siri isn’t a good experience for me. They should improve more and insert more accents on its brain.

Though the Cellular edition will cost you almost $100 more than the GPS only version, each penny is worth spending for the untethered functionality it provides. It’s my honest opinion. Don’t include the price for the brand value though. If you’re an extremely busy man who needs to chat every now and then, then the cellular function will come handy to you. You’ll have fun while streaming tons of songs to motivate your daily workout. I enjoy this feature a lot. I can concentrate on songs rather than the stressful workouts. And time just flies by. I should thank them for this specific function. But I would recommend to include offline streaming as many of us prefer that. The Apple Watch cellular can send SOS while roaming. It’ll connect to the local emergency number and send SOS. I didn’t need to use it though. Here’s a simple suggestion for you if you want to avoid using SOS. Don’t wear expensive watches when you travel, rather wear a seiko or a citizen watch instead.

The cellular version will come as a blessing for the absentminded fellas like me. When you’re away from your companion iPhone, the automatically switched LTE mode will bypass your iPhone and direct all calls to your watch when it’s appropriate. And it’s also uncomfortable to carry a healthy iPhone in your pocket while running or jogging. It’s your choice to feel the comfort and enjoy the functionalities Apple Watch Cellular provides. The drawback is always the battery though. It can automatically drain your battery.

Apple Watch GPS only

However, a GPS version is not to be ignored. Because it can be a great watch if you consider its affordable price and practical features. In fact I prefer such kind of affordable watches in my daily life. In fact, most of the average Joes want it. The GPS only Apple Watch means that you need to be connected with your iPhone in order to make calls or use the internet. The fitness and health tracking features are still available offline mostly. But if you want to respond to calls or messages, you need to keep an iPhone within its Bluetooth range. You can respond to the emails or iMessages with customized replies. You can still enjoy the features the same as the GPS+Cellular version, just you’ve to carry your iPhone wherever you go. The customization choice for GPS only version is not abundant. 

However, the Apple Watch GPS only version will need less battery consumption as it doesn’t always connect to cellular networks. The Bluetooth pairing needs less battery comparatively. The built-in GPS works independently of your iPhone. With this, you can measure distance, steps, and route mapping while on trekking or hiking. Without the iPhone, you can enjoy a few features only. So to squeeze every utilitarian feature, you need to carry your phone.

Compatibility: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ Doesn’t need any carrier services

➕ Requires iPhone 6S or later with iOS 13

➕ Series 3 requires iPhone 5S and newer

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Require same carrier services as iPhone

🔺 Requires iPhone 6S or newer with minimum iOS 13

Compatibility is a key thing you need to consider while picking up your Apple Watch. It needs to work seamlessly with the hardware of the phone as well as the software. As the development of hardware and software is pacing so quickly these days, the devices need to remain at an optimum level to work together.

If the hardware of both Apple Watch and iPhone are compatible, it’s not sure if they can perfectly pair with each other. The version of the operating system is very important to consider. The GPS only version needs iPhone 5S or the later models to adopt it. And the Cellular edition of Apple watch needs iPhone 6 or newer model to run. 

If your watch may work with the hardware of your iPhone, the operating system of your watch may not be compatible with the OS running on your phone. So you need to remember the minimum compatibility of pairing the OS systems of Apple watch and iPhone. If your watch is running on watchOS 6, then your iPhone requires at least iOS 13 to work together. The systematic development of software has outpaced the requirements compared with the first Apple Watch.

If you have an Apple Watch Series 5 or Series 3, then you require an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later versions. The useful ECG app is compatible with the latest version of watchOS and iOS. It can run on Apple Watch Series 4 or later releases. So before choosing any version, check out if the setup of your watches is ok with your iPhone. Stay up-to-date on the recent updates of the softwares. Don’t buy a provoking cheap watch that doesn’t provide enough hardware to install software.

Carrier Restrictions: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

The Apple Watch GPS-only doesn’t need any cellular connection as they work by pairing with the iPhone. But in the case of Apple Watch cellular, you need to be aware of choosing your carrier services. You can’t use a different carrier in your Apple Watch other than the one used in your iPhone. The microchip in your watch will assign a new account number and pair it with the carrier service on your phone. If your watch is away from the Bluetooth range of your iPhone, your calls will be redirected to your Apple Watch if appropriate. 

Apple has a number of carrier services by country that are supported in Apple Watch. If you’re using any of them on your iPhone, you need to pay around $10 or more for your services and enjoy the cellular connection on your watch. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, etc are part of the growing number that supports Apple Watch. You can’t use separate cellular plans for your Apple Watch. If you’re using the service of AT&T on your iPhone, your Apple Watch has to use the same carrier services.

Streaming Support: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular 

GPS Only

➕ Doesn’t support Apple Music streaming

➕ Doesn’t support audiobooks and podcasts

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Allows access to Apple Music Library

The Apple Watch GPS+Cellular version allows you to stream music during your workout or running. If you’re a subscriber of Apple Music service, you can rock the floor with the high-volume speaker. You can also enjoy the podcasts and audiobooks without tethering your watch with iPhone or Wi-Fi. You’ll gain access to the entire Apple Music library that’ll allow you to listen to 60 million songs.

If you’re using the GPS only version, you can still enjoy music. The Apple Watch GPS only doesn’t support Apple Music streaming. So you need to download the playlists and then you can listen to them offline. It’s better as streaming online will consume a lot of your battery and cut your budget for tracking fitness or health. The only hindrance can be the shortage of storage. Apple should improve the storage as it’s now easier to build microchip.

Battery Life: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ 10 hours audio playback from internal storage

➕ Battery runs for 10 hours with indoor workouts and 6 hours with outdoor workouts

GPS + Cellular

🔺 7 hours audio streaming with the LTE connection

🔺 5 hours outdoor workouts with the GPS and LTE

Apple has conducted a test on the battery life for GPS only model and GPS+Cellular version. The test is significant and Apple demanded that the two work almost the same with the battery. They run an 18 hours test and it’s obvious that the LTE connectivity consumes more battery than the GPS only connection. With precise and wise manipulation of the watch, you can restrain the bridle of the battery. Apple takes into the matter that people don’t always use cellular connection and hence the small portion of cellular usage doesn’t significantly affect the battery life.

The battery life depends mainly on the usage from the individual’s perspective. If you avoid LTE connectivity in Apple Watch most of the time, then your battery consumption will be low. The nature of using online and offline features is the main factor for battery usage.

The 18 hours test is conducted all-day long covering the following usage of 90-time checks, tapping 90 notifications, using an app for 45 minutes, 60-minute workout, and offline streaming of music playback. The Apple Watch GPS only was connected to the iPhone all the time during the test period. The cellular version used the LTE connectivity for 4 hours and Bluetooth connectivity for another 14 hours.

The Apple Watch GPS only can play audio playback for almost 10 hours using internal storage. But the music streaming with cellular connection lasts for only 7 hours of playback. It’s clear that the LTE connectivity consumes more battery than the GPS-only playback and here the GPS edition is the clear winner. You can go for an indoor workout for 10 hours and a 6-hour outdoor workout using the GPS only Apple Watch. But the Apple Watch cellular version can only track 5-hour outdoor workouts with a cellular connection. You can continuously talk for 1.5 hours over cellular networks with your Apple Watch.

Storage: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ Apple Watch Series 3 has 8GB storage

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Apple Watch Series 3 has 16GB capacity

The Apple Watch 5 and Series 4 comes with the same storage for GPS and Cellular models. The Apple Watch GPS only and the Apple Watch GPS+Cellular have the same capacity of 32GB storage.

However, Apple Watch 3 has provided a different storage capacity to provide more affordable user experiences. The GPS-only version comes with 8 gigabytes of capacity that stores the built-in apps and other built-in functions. But the Apple Watch cellular has double capacity than the GPS measuring 16 gigabytes of storage.

Price: Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

GPS Only

➕ Apple Watch GPS only costs half the price of cellular edition

GPS + Cellular

🔺 Apple Watch GPS and Cellular costs double than the premium price

The cellular connectivity was first available for the Apple Watch Series 3 released in September 2017. Since then the later versions always come with GPS only and Cellular editions with split price tags. The previous Apple Watches were always introduced with GPS only.

No matter which model or variation you’re buying, you need to pay extra for the cellular upgrade. It’ll cost another $100 to the already premium price of the Apple Watch. You need to pay more for the additional carrier services you’re using on your smartwatch. If you want to upgrade to cellular connectivity, know that it’ll come at a financial cost. But the smart features will compensate your sores if you’re going to need them in your daily life.

Common Q & A about Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

Can you still text on Apple Watch without cellular

If your Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone or any other Wi-Fi networks, you’ll be able to send texts or iMessages to anyone. But the iPhone should be nearby and within the Bluetooth range of your watch. 

Do you have to pay monthly for Apple Watch Cellular

You need to pay monthly only if you want to use the cellular features while away from your iPhone. Otherwise, you don’t need to pay while enjoying the features in your Apple Watch paired with your iPhone. You can send text messages and iMessages, make and receive calls, and all the useful functions independent of your iPhone. And the carrier service may charge you usually $10 or more monthly for LTE connection to your watch.

Can I stream Apple Music without Cellular connection 

No, you can’t stream 60 million songs in the Apple Music Library with your Apple Watch GPS only. You need to upgrade to cellular connection to enjoy the online streaming of the Apple Music. However, you can still listen to music while running or doing extreme workouts. You can download the playlists with your iPhone. Then install it in the watch files and enjoy the offline playbacks.

Which Is Better Apple Watch GPS or Cellular

So Apple Watch GPS or Cellular? Is it worth it to get a Cellular Apple Watch? After going through the difference between Apple Watch gps vs cellular, hopefully, you got the answers assessing your needs and pocket. The main thing you need to consider is the available features and the price tag.

If you can afford the extra $100, why not choose the Apple Watch for a better life! Don’t worry about the battery. If you keep the cellular activity minimum, then the watch will last for long. Those who’re indifferent to keeping their iPhone with them, the Cellular function will be a great help for them. It’ll minimize your need to peek the phone out of your pocket every now and then. Your watch will be a free bird and you’ll be tension-free having your mini version of smartwatch strapped to your wrist. If you’re an ultra-busy businessman or a blogger who needs to always focus on communicating with others, then just a few taps on your wrist will do that for you easily.

However, the Apple Watch GPS-only is also a great buy. It costs $100 less than any of the Apple Watch GPS and Cellular models. And you can still enjoy the amazing features from Apple Watch. The only restraint here is that you need your iPhone to stay nearby within the range. The cellular function sometimes seems extravagant for many of us. Almost everybody keeps their smartphone with them nowadays. So there’s no need to use cellular connection if your square face watch does always accompany you. The GPS-only Apple Watch will run for long compared to the Cellular model. So it’ll be great for your outdoor adventures. But both of the versions aren’t suitable for the long runners.

However, if you want to squeeze and enjoy every feature out of your Apple Watch, then I recommend you to use a cellular connection. If the iPhone seems a burden to you in the workouts or the busy business day, then the Apple Watch Cellular is a perfect timepiece for you. But if you’re aware of your battery, then the Apple Watch GPS only is all yours to buy. Practically, the Apple Watch GPS is no less useful than the Cellular models.

However, Apple Watch is the pioneer of modern day smartwatches. Apple always prioritizes the customer’s comfort and hence they always try to keep their watches under $500. That’s the thing Apple realized and reached people from all walks of life.

Hopefully, the info and data chart in this article about the differences between Apple Watch GPS and Apple Watch Cellular helps you to pick the right one for you. Let me know in the comment box if the article is worth a clap. Thanks

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