Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: What's the Difference?

The Apple Watch has revolutionized the world of smartwatches. It has seized the title of the most used watch with over 100 million users worldwide. People want to buy the newest watch available so they can try out its amazing features and show off its sleek design.

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If you can't decide which model to choose from, you aren't alone.  It can be hard to tell the differences between the Apple Watch GPS vs cellular. Apple offers quite a collection of smartwatch models to choose from.

While difficult to distinguish based on just their appearance, there are key distinctions in both models. Continue reading along to find out the differences and which you should purchase. 

Smartwatch Connectivity

cosmo apple watch band

Image credit: @mrs.emilyhyde via Instagram

There are a plethora of reasons to buy an Apple Watch. Apple watches are a great accessory to your phone. They are simple to use and offer an app library that can be navigated using the dial on the side of the watch.

One of the main appeals is the ability to track movement, exercise, and stand hours to reach your physical goals. Both watches also offer mindful practices, email capability, health tracking, and more.

No matter what watch you choose you will be able to use these features. You can also use the general functions you have on your phone like set alarms, writing down notes, and more.

The Main Differences

The main difference between the Apple Watch GPS and the cellular model is the ability to connect to a network. The cellular model allows you a direct connection without having your phone present. This even supports using the GPS on your Apple Watch without requiring your phone.

This is convenient for runners who want to lighten the load during their workout. It's also ideal if you are someone who forgets your cell phone often. You have the freedom to leave your phone at home and are able to still text, call, or use Siri.

With just the GPS model, you need to have your phone nearby to use those services or you need a Wi-Fi network to connect to. Otherwise, you will have limited options because your watch will not have a service to run its features. Both models still support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

Carrier Connection

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: What's the Difference?

Image credit: Phone Arena

The Apple Watch cellular model requires a cellular LTE connection to operate its unique features. You should use the same carrier on your watch that you currently have on your phone. Unfortunately, you cannot set up a new service line for just a watch service.

Not all phone carriers have Apple Watch services. You can find which carriers offer connection plans for smartwatches directly on the Apple website. These plans typically cost around $10 / month.

It’s good to remember that the Apple Watch does not have a sim card. This could incur international fees if you travel abroad often so make sure to monitor your charges.

Phone Compatibility

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular What's the Difference

The only way to get around using an Apple Watch without an iPhone is by using Apple’s new feature Family Setup. If you have a device that supports watchOS7 or later, you can enjoy using an Apple Watch without having an iPhone.

Simply have a family member with an iPhone set up the account, and it will be good to go. It is important to note that this feature is only available with Apple Watch Series 4 and above.

Battery Life

apple watch battery life

Image credit: 9to5Mac

The Apple Watch Cellular uses more battery life than the GPS model due to its connectivity. The cellular model continuously searches for an LTE connection, while the GPS option only connects via Bluetooth.

Both watches have the option to turn off specific services to save battery life. Most users don’t notice that big of a difference between the battery life, but this could be a deciding factor for you.

Streaming Services

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: What's the Difference?

Image credit: The Verge

With the Apple Watch cellular, you have the capability to stream Apple Music, podcasts, or other supported streaming services. You also have the potential to sync your music directly to your Apple Watch so you can play your content even away from service.

Simply connect your Bluetooth device or Apple AirPods to your watch and start streaming. Enjoy up to 7 hours of streaming your favorite playlists.

Pros and Cons of Apple Watch Cellular

The pros and cons will be different for everyone as some of this depends on personal preference. Think about your lifestyle and how you plan to really use your watch when considering these factors.

For example, someone who only wants to track their fitness and get some motivation to work out daily might consider the pros and cons of the Apple Watch GPS model to be the perfect match. But for someone who wants to use the hands-free nature of the cellular model, the cheaper GPS model might not interest them at all.

Pros of Apple Watch Cellular

It's important to take into consideration the pros and cons of cellular GPS. There are a lot of pros to this version. Here are a few of the top loved functions:

  • •Enjoy up to 8 hours of streaming playlists while using an LTE connection
  • •Have the option to leave without your iPhone on you
  • •Ability to function using Family Set-Up
  • •Supports using the GPS on your Apple Watch without needing your phone
  • •You may save yourself from a potentially dangerous situation because you have a cellular connection on your watch 

Cons of Apple Watch Cellular

While the pros outweigh the cons for the cellular model, the monthly fee can add up. This may deter some buyers. 

  • •Requires a monthly fee for cellular service
  • •Tends to be the more expensive model

Pros of Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular

Some people overlook the smaller and cheaper model but there are still a lot of benefits to it. Here is a list of the best features that are supported by the GPS model: 

  • •It is the cheapest model available. The price runs about $100 cheaper than other models
  • •This model has an extended battery life due to its limited connectivity
  • •Very light weight on the wrist compared to other models
  • •You can choose from a larger variety of colors
  • •Phone network and watch accessibility can reach a far distance

Cons of an Apple Watch GPS

Here are a few cons:

  • •Requires your iPhone or a Wi-fi connection
  • •You must have an iPhone for the initial setup and use
  • •Limited to the aluminum cases

Apple Watch Material

The great thing about the cellular version of the Apple Watch is that it offers different models. While the regular GPS model only offers aluminum, the cellular options include stainless steel and titanium. The aluminum models are limited to the Ion-X display glass. The stainless steel and titanium cases both have the Sapphire Crystal display.

The Ion-X is the softer glass between the two and can resist more of an impact. Due to this, the Sapphire display will be much harder to scratch, but it might crack easier if you were to drop it compared to the Ion-X.

Bands and cases are great accessories for both types of watch. There are third-party sites that offer deals and a variety of covers that support both models. Browse for the best band or cover to fit your watch. Try to match your iPhone 12 wallpaper to your Apple Watch band or home screen for fun.

Here Are Things the Apple Watch Cellular GPS Can Do:

The cellular model can offer more features. There are various apps that can be purchased in the app store. 

  • •Give you weather updates
  • •Answer and make phone calls
  • •Make reminders
  • •Find your friends or your other apple devices
  • •Walkie-talkie friends
  • •Send and receive text messages
  • •Use “Hey Siri”
  • •Get updates on social media like Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook
  • •Connect as a Roku remote to your smart TV


Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular: What's the Difference?

As mentioned above, there is a price difference between the two. The GPS cellular usually is about $100 more. For instance, the GPS cellular costs $499 for the Apple Watch Series 6, while its regular GPS counterpart runs at only $399. This is also in addition to the monthly service fee charge.

Is the Apple Watch Cellular Right for Me?

If you are having a hard time deciding whether or not to get the cellular option, ask yourself these questions:

  1. 1. Does your phone service offer Apple Watch services?
  2. 2. Do you forget your phone often?
  3. 3. Would it be more convenient for you to leave your phone at home?
  4. 4. Do you have a family member that would like to have an Apple Watch, but does not have an iPhone?
  5. 5. Do you often stream podcasts or Apple Music?
  6. 6. Do you want the stainless steel or titanium case options?
  7. 7. Are you okay with paying an extra monthly charge?

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, you might benefit from purchasing cellular Apple Watch models. If you are on more of a tight budget, or just prefer the simpler option, you should go with the Apple Watch GPS model. 

Get Your Apple Watch Today

Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular What's the Difference

If you are new to Apple products or you are looking to upgrade your current model, Apple Watches are always a convenient purchase. Whether you decide to go with the Apple Watch GPS vs cellular you won't be disappointed. Find the best accessories to fit your Apple Watch today!

Kristel Silang
Kristel is the Content Marketing Manager for i-Blason. She has been in the marketing industry for 12 years with expertise on content marketing, search engine optimization, and photography. Previous publications she has contributed to include The Manila Times, Compound Butter, and Livingston County CVB.


  • Laura Dragon

    Thank you for the info – super helpful & excited to purchase my Apple Watch…

  • Felicia

    This is a great comparison and easy to understand!! Thanks

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