Does Apple Watch Need a Data Plan? [Complete Guide!]

The Apple Watch has single-handedly brought childhood excitement to the adult life experience. It is a crossover between a gadget that looks cool and a device that really adds value to your life. But despite its health and fitness benefits, real-time notification access, and sleep monitoring tools, you might not want to add a cellular plan expense to your monthly bill. Don’t worry!

You do not need a cellular plan for Apple Watch as all Apple Watches can operate without telecom provider connectivity. Mostly, your watch connects to the iPhone and uses its internet access or connects to WiFi. That said, Apple Watch Cellular comes with an option for additional cellular plan and a separate SIM.

In this article, you will learn more about the connectivity options of different Apple Watch models so you can make the right choice. You’ll also find out which watches do not have cellular capabilities and what each network provider charges to add your Apple Watch to a data plan. Now, let’s gets started with how necessary a data plan is for different Apple Watch models.

Does Apple Watch 5 Need a Data Plan?

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Apple Watch 5 does not need a data plan, but many of its advanced features require network connectivity to function. This connectivity can be lent to the watch by a paired iPhone that has either WiFi or cellular data connectivity. In most cases, your Apple Watch 5 will not use your cellular plan.

Does Apple Watch 6 Need a Data Plan?

Apple Watch 6 does not need a data plan because it has the ability to connect with 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz WiFi. Its breakthrough wellness technology can also operate in the absence of WiFi and a data plan, as long as the iPhone that it is paired with has a WiFi connection or a data plan.

Do You Need a Data Plan for Apple Watch 7?

You do not need a data plan for Apple Watch 7, though many of its advanced features require network connectivity. This connection can come from direct WiFi or cellular network coverage or through a second-degree network coverage via an iPhone that has internet access.

Do You Need a Data Plan for Apple Watch SE?

You do not need a data plan for Apple Watch SE unless you want to use it without WiFi and away from your phone. In that case, you would still be able to use the smartwatch but would not get the perks of data syncing and real-time notifications.

Can You Buy an Apple Watch That Doesn’t Require a Cellular Plan?

You can buy an Apple Watch that doesn’t require a cellular plan because no Apple Watch requires a cellular plan. However, if you buy the watch from a cellular provider, it might expect you to signup for a monthly payment plan that covers the watch installments as well as its cellular plan.

How to Get an Apple Watch Without a Cellular Plan?

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If your cellphone provider is offering you an Apple Watch at monthly installments that include cellular data package signup, you can refuse to make your purchase with said provider. When you buy directly from the Apple Store or Apple’s Official Amazon Store, you do not have to signup for a cellular plan.

And outside of a cellular provider requiring data signup, there’s no situation where your Apple Watch needs a cellular plan. For the most part, your watch will connect to your phone and use its internet access. Even in the absence of an iPhone, the watch can connect to WiFi. Check out my post on how well different models of the Apple Watch connect to different types of WiFi.

Apple website even offers monthly installments at 0% interest, which means there is really no reason to get your Apple Watch from a network provider if you do not want to signup for a data plan. More importantly, if you ever require a data plan for your device, most major network providers will allow you to add the device to your existing plan for $10/month.

How to Know If Your Apple Watch has a Cellular Option?

Now that we have established the fact that you do not need a cellular data plan unless you want it, let’s discuss which device allows the option. Generally speaking, all Apple Watches directly bought from apple after 2018 have a cellular option.

But not everyone is buying their products from an Apple store, which is why it is best to take the following three steps to be sure your Apple Watch isn’t a WiFi-only device.

1. Check the Sales Page

The first step in figuring out whether your Apple Watch has the cellular option is to check its sales page. Usually, the product description covers the kind of connectivity a device has. You must look for 4G, LTE, or 4G LTE, in the product specifications section. The presence of these terms indicates that the watch has cellular data connectivity.

2. Ask the Salesperson

If you’re purchasing the product at a mall or a tech store, you can ask the salesperson. If you’re buying the Apple Watch at an Apple store, you can rest assured that it has cellular capabilities because non-cellular watches have been discontinued. At all other shops, you can ask the salesperson if the watch has cellular capabilities or if it can connect to 4G.

3. Check the Watch Model

Finally, the simplest (and the surest) way to confirm that your watch has cellular capabilities is to check if it is a Series 4 or above Apple Watch. All Apple Watches before Series 3 were WiFi only. In Series 3, there were Series 3 GPS watches that were non-cellular and Series 3 GPS + Cellular watches that had telco-network connectivity. 

That makes Apple Watch Series 3 the riskiest generation to collect because the odds of accidentally getting a non-cellular watch are high. The good news is that Apple has discontinued direct distribution of Series 3 (and all old generation) Apple Watches.

How Much Does the Apple Watch Cellular Plan Cost?

It costs $10 per month to add the Apple Watch to a data plan offered by all major network providers in the US, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Activation charges can differ between different telecom providers, and the specific data and Talktime can vary for single-device plans.

There are two types of data plans for your Apple Watch. The first is to get a dedicated data plan for your smartwatch. This single-device plan will cost around $10 per month, but the Talktime and data you get out of your ten dollars will vary between providers.

The second option is to add the device to your unlimited data plan. Doing so will almost always yield unlimited talk, text, and network data access for your smartwatch.

Service ProviderCellular Plan Cost iPhone Plan RequiredKey Features
AT&T$10/monthAny iPhone Unlimited planAdd to AT&T Unlimited Extra, AT&T Unlimited Elite, AT&T Unlimited Starter plan.
Unlimited talk time, text usage, and 5G access.
T-Mobile$10/monthMagenta, Magenta Max, or Essentials Plan
(one-time $20 activation fee may apply)
Unlimited talk, data, and text for $10 on an unlimited plan. Single device plan at $10 for 1 GB data.
Verizon$10/monthAny Unlimited PlanStraightforward pricing for a standard unlimited data option. Must have an unlimited plan already set up
US Cellular$10/monthAny Plan (except pre-paid plans)Option to buy directly via a US Cellular payment plan. It comes with a free trial
Appalachian$10/monthMix & Match, Unlimited, Appalachian AdvantageFamily set up as well as individual use set up are available 
Bluegrass$10/monthAny iPhone planLeverage superior Verizon infrastructure 
Carolina West Wireless$10/monthWith Any PlanAffordable payment plan to buy an Apple watch with a data plan 
C SpireFirst 3 Months are FREE, then $10/monthWith Any PlanWearable and paired data plans are available 
Xfinity$10/monthWith Any PlanUnlimited Talk and Text 

Which Cellular Plan is best for Apple Watch?

AT&T Unlimited Elite is the best plan to add the Apple Watch to because it extends premium benefits like high speed to your Apple Watch for $10/month more than what you currently pay. The second-best plan is whichever one you currently have because it allows you to add the Apple Watch conveniently.

If you are interested in Apple Family plan, then the best option for you would be to go with AT&T, C Spire, T Mobile, US Cellular, or Verizon cellular plans as they offer a family plan which allows you to share data across multiple family members using the same plan. Note that you will need to own Apple Watch Series 7 for using the Family plan benefits.

Can Your Apple Watch Have a Separate Data Plan from iPhone?

Your Apple Watch can have a separate data plan from your iPhone if enrolled in a single-device plan. However, all single-device plans are more expensive than adding your Apple Watch to your existing plan, especially if your current plan is an unlimited one.

Do You Have to Pay Monthly for an Apple Watch With Cellular?

You do not have to pay monthly for an Apple Watch with Cellular if you do not signup for a cellular package or get the device from a cellular network provider. You can use it in WiFi-only mode or access your iPhone’s internet through it.

Can You Send a Text From an Apple Watch Without Cellular Plan?

You can send a text from an Apple Watch that does not have a cellular plan as long as it is connected to an iPhone that is within range and has service. Without a cellular plan, an Apple Watch is completely dependent on your phone to carry out activities that require cellular service.

It is important to note that when an Apple watch is not connected to a cellular network directly, it basically serves as a wearable extension of your iPhone. The watch can connect on a WiFi network, but sending SMS will not be possible on just a wireless network.

Can You Use an Apple Watch Cellular Without a Data Plan?

You can use an Apple Watch Cellular without a Data Plan. You don’t have to have a cellular plan for your Apple Watch Cellular to function. Your watch can still connect to your iPhone or other networks using WiFi or Bluetooth. In the absence of any connectivity, you will be able to use its offline features.

That said, if you don’t intend to use a cellular plan for your Apple Watch Cellular, it is better to go for other non-cellular Apple Watch options as these are usually cheaper than the Apple Watch Cellular. So, be sure to check out the various non-cellular Apple Watch Options [Official Apple Store on Amazon]

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