Can You Use an Apple Watch Without a Phone

The Apple Watch has grown from a novel accessory to a standalone device with a plethora of features. But can you use an Apple Watch without a phone? This question intrigues not just first-time buyers but also those considering cutting the tether to their iPhones. Let’s delve into the details and find out how independent your Apple Watch can truly be.

Initial Setup: A Phone is Necessary

To clear the air, yes, you do need an iPhone to set up an Apple Watch initially. During the setup process, you will be required to pair the watch with an iPhone. After this initial setup, however, the level of independence your Apple Watch can achieve depends on various factors.

The Different Generations: Degrees of Independence

Series 1 and Series 2

These older models are highly dependent on a paired iPhone for most functionalities. They can track activity and play music that has been downloaded to the watch but offer little beyond that when not connected to an iPhone.

Series 3 and Above

Starting with the Series 3, the Apple Watch comes in GPS-only and GPS + Cellular models. The latter offers more independence and even allows you to make calls, send texts, and use data without an iPhone, provided you’ve set up cellular service for the watch.

Functions You Can Use Without a Phone

Activity Tracking

Your Apple Watch can track your activities, heart rate, and more without being tethered to an iPhone. The data syncs back to the Health app the next time you connect your watch to your phone.

Music and Podcasts

You can listen to downloaded music and podcasts offline. However, streaming would require an active internet connection either via an iPhone or Wi-Fi.

Apple Pay

Once set up, Apple Pay can be used to make transactions without needing your iPhone.

Emergency SOS

Even without an iPhone, you can use Emergency SOS on a GPS + Cellular model to call emergency services.

Limitations: What You’ll Miss

No Notifications

If your watch isn’t connected to an iPhone or Wi-Fi, you won’t receive notifications for messages, calls, or any third-party apps.

Limited Apps

Many third-party apps still require a connected iPhone to function fully.


Can I use the GPS on my Apple Watch without an iPhone?

Yes, the GPS function will work on Apple Watches that have a built-in GPS feature, even without an iPhone.

Is it possible to use Wi-Fi on Apple Watch without an iPhone?

Yes, if your watch has previously connected to a Wi-Fi network using the paired iPhone, it can connect to the same network again independently.

Can you set up an Apple Watch without an iPhone?

No, the initial setup of an Apple Watch requires an iPhone.

What functions will not work at all without an iPhone?

Certain functions like setting up new apps, software updates, and customization will require an iPhone.

Does an Apple Watch require its own data plan?

Only if you have a GPS + Cellular model and wish to use it independently of your iPhone do you need to get a separate data plan for your Apple Watch.


The Apple Watch offers a range of functionalities without being tethered to an iPhone, but its independence is determined by its model and whether it’s a GPS-only or GPS + Cellular version. While you’ll lose out on some features like notifications and certain third-party apps without a phone, you can still track activities, listen to downloaded music, and make payments with Apple Pay. However, for the initial setup and for maximizing all of its functionalities, an iPhone is necessary.