Should you buy a cellular Apple Watch, and is service worth the cost?

On Apple’s current lineup of watches, you can purchase a GPS + Cellular model on the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE. We’re also only a couple months away from the launch of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Having a cellular plan on your Apple Watch can be great for those on the go or an unnecessary cost for others. However is it worth it for you to buy one? Let’s dive in…

According to Apple:

Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE cellular models with an active service plan allow you to make calls, send texts, and so much more — all without your iPhone. You can complete a call to emergency services when you’re traveling abroad just by pressing and holding the side button. And now with Family Setup, members of your family who don’t own an iPhone can use Apple Watch.

Associated costs with cellular

To buy a cellular Apple Watch SE from Apple, you will pay an additional $50. To buy a cellular Apple Watch Series 7, you will pay an additional $100. Most plans will cost you at or around $10 each month, still much cheaper than many iPhone plans. You may be able to get a deal on a cellular plan if you purchase a watch directly from a carrier like Verizon or AT&T.

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you buy a standard Apple Watch with GPS, you cannot add a cellular plan later. You have to purchase an Apple Watch GPS + Cellular in order to have access to a plan now or in the future.

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No need to keep your iPhone around

As the Apple Watch was designed to keep users away from their iPhones, it makes sense to have a cellular plan. Especially for those who run or take walks – with a cellular model, you don’t need to keep a bulky iPhone with you to have access to calling, texting, music, and more. Personally, I love this function for running quick errands. If I forget my iPhone, no worries, I still have contact with the world via my wrist. Paired with AirPods, there’s no need to constantly be on my iPhone.

However, if you find yourself always having your iPhone on you, cellular may not be worth it for you. When making the decision, take into consideration your current iPhone usage to see if a cellular Apple Watch could be justifiable.

Emergency SOS on Apple Watch

If you’re looking to call emergency services from your Apple Watch and you don’t have a cellular plan, you can still do that. Apple states:

To use Emergency SOS on an Apple Watch that doesn’t have cellular, your iPhone needs to be nearby. If your iPhone isn’t nearby, your Apple Watch needs to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and you must set up Wi-Fi Calling.

When you make a call with Emergency SOS, your Apple Watch automatically calls local emergency services and shares your location with them. 

Family Setup

Family Setup is popular with parents who want to be able to contact their child without having them own an iPhone. With this feature, the parent can set up a cellular Apple Watch for their child on their personal iPhone. The child can then use their Apple Watch to call, text, or use any other available feature all with their own phone number and Apple ID. With Family Setup, the parent’s iPhone does not need to be nearby.

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Some reasonings for choosing this option include the fact that it’s more cost effective. Not only is the device cheaper than most iPhones but it’s also cheaper to add a data plan and insure with Apple Care+. Also, since Apple Watches are worn on the wrist, they tend to be a bit harder to lose.

Finally, opting for an Apple Watch instead of an iPhone keeps your child behind a screen less, something many parents aim to do. There are parental controls to make the Apple Watch work for you. For example, there’s a Schooltime feature that turns off access to apps and notifications while the child is in school.

Overall thoughts

At the end of the day, whether or not a cellular Apple Watch is worth the cost is up to the individual. It’s convenient to have, and I feel like it helps me make the most out of my Apple Watch. Next time you’re in the market for an Apple Watch, keep these tips in mind when making your decision.

Also, note that Apple offers a list of all the supported models and carriers for cellular Apple Watches.

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