Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular – What is the Difference

In addition to the different case sizes, materials, colors, and also band types, the Apple Watch actually comes with one of two data systems: GPS and GPS + cellular. We have found all the differences between the Apple Watch’s GPS and cellular varieties in order to help you pick which one is right for you. In this article, we are going to talk about Apple Watch GPS vs Cellular – What is the Difference. Let’s begin!

Overall Findings

  • Does plenty as-is
  • Some models have less storage
  • Requires an iPhone in range to do everything
GPS + Cellular
  • More expensive
  • More compatibility considerations
  • Some versions have more storage
  • Can do most functions without having a phone nearby

Recent models of the Apple Watch have included a second model that includes LTE cellular data as well. This feature lets you place calls, stream music, and also search the internet from your wrist. It also adds significantly to the cost of the device, however, if you make full use of the convenience, it may be worth the extra money.

apple watch gps vs cellular


The final metric that separates these two devices is actually the price: The GPS-only Series 3 starts at $199 for a 38mm aluminum case, however, the GPS + Cellular Series 3 starts at $299, a $100 increase. The GPS-only Series 5 starts at $399 for a 40mm aluminum case, and the GPS + Cellular Series 4 with a similar case starts at $499, also a $100 increase. If you want cellular service, the nicer case material, more storage, and also Apple Music, that price might well be worth it.

  • $100 cheaper than Apple Watch with GPS and cellular also
GPS + Cellular
  • Cellular functionality also costs extra in addition to addition carrier fees

The GPS + Cellular models of the Apple Watch first that is available with the Series 3 release in September 2017. Earlier versions only had a GPS option, but everyone since then has two varieties available.

Along with the new choice in connectivity, it came with a split price tag. Regardless of which model you are buying or the base price, the cellular upgrade will actually cost extra. It also adds another $100 to the already premium price of the smartwatch. If you are considering going for the cellular version, just know that it comes at a financial cost.

Apple Watch Cellular vs GPS

At a glance, you would not be able to actually tell the difference between the GPS-only and GPS + Cellular models of Apple Watch. There is a red ring all around the Digital Crown on the Cellular model, but they are otherwise identical-looking on the outside. It is the insides that actually make all the difference.

The table is actually based on the specifications of the Apple Watch Series 5. All battery life info is also based on using cellular only (not connected to Wi-Fi).

Have Look

                       GPS                    GPS + Cellular
             Battery life (talk)               N/A               1.5 hours
        Battery life(audio)              10 hours 7 hours 5 hours with Apple Music streaming
        Battery life(workout) 10 hours indoor 6 hours outdoor with GPS  5 hours outdoor with GPS & LTE
        Apple Music support               no                Yes
      Minimum requirements iPhone 6s with iOS 13 for Series 3 and Series 5 iPhone 6s with iOS 13 for Series 3 and Series 5
        Siri support                   Yes                   Yes
        Storage size 8GB for Series 3
32GB for Series 5
 32GB for Series 5
        Monthly cost             $0 From $10 per month, depending  on the carrier

iPhone requirements

Although Apple Watch GPS + Cellular does not need an iPhone to be nearby to work. Well, it does need an iPhone for setup, feature organization, and OS updates as well. Both models of Apple Watch need at least an iPhone 6s running iOS 13. Last year, the Apple Watch Series 3 required an iPhone 5s or 6 running iOS 11 or later as well. However, Apple has updated its minimum requirements for all Apple Watches, Series 3, and Series 5 also. There is actually no requirement difference now.

Carrier restrictions

apple watch gps vs cellular

The GPS + Cellular Apple Watch comes with LTE connectivity, that permits you to piggyback off your current carrier plan (for an additional monthly fee, usually around $10). And get internet and phone connectivity even when your iPhone is far away as well.

Apple Watch LTE coverage that lets you do anything solo on the Apple Watch that you can do when tied to your iPhone’s data. That includes placing calls, receiving messages, using Siri, navigating through maps, playing with third-party apps, and also just about anything else.

You can’t sign up for a separate Apple Watch cellular plan from your iPhone actually. If you are on AT&T, your Apple Watch has to be, too. You will have a separately assigned number for your Apple Watch, however, it is not your usable phone number. It is just the account assignment number.

Apple Music and Podcasts streaming

The GPS + Cellular Watch now supports Apple Music and Podcasts app streaming. If you have an Apple Music subscription, then you can rock your socks off anywhere you want without even needing your iPhone or Wi-Fi.

The GPS-only model does not support Streaming Apple Music, but you can also download tunes onto it for direct listening offline. Your storage capacity only limits you actually.

Storage size

The Apple Watch Series 5 GPS and GPS + Cellular both actually come with 32GB of storage, which is twice the capacity of last year’s model. The Series 3 GPS + Cellular also comes along with 16GB of storage. But the Series 3 GPS-only comes with 8GB of storage actually.

Case and screen material

The GPS-only Series 3 and 5 are actually limited to aluminum Sport and Nike+ cases (silver, gold, or space gray). In contrast, the GPS + Cellular Watch retains the stainless steel, titanium, and also ceramic options, in addition to the aluminum Sport and Nike+ cases as well.

Battery Life

Well, Does the GPS + Cellular Apple Watch have a worse battery life than the GPS-only Apple Watch?

The answer is: Yes — but only when you are using GPS + Cellular. Apple’s own battery tests peg both watches at an 18-hour average, along with specifics highlighted below:

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours along with the following use: 90-time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch thorugh Bluetooth, over 18 hours.

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) usage that includes connection to iPhone through Bluetooth during the entire 18-hour test. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 4 hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone through Bluetooth over the course of 18 hours.

Testing conducted by Apple in August 2019 using preproduction Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each and every paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with prerelease software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, cellular network, signal strength, and many other factors; actual results will vary actually.

apple watch gps vs cellular

Further | apple watch gps vs cellular

When Apple does not note that which Watch configuration is used for these tests. It did peg the Cellular watch at 18 hours’ with 4 hours of LTE and also 14 hours of iPhone connectivity — about what the average person might use on a given day.

Specific battery tests, But, are far less forgiving. Let’s see how the Series 5 fared in Apple’s single-task tests:

  • Talk: 1.5-hour w/ Cellular
  • Audio: 10 hours w/ Bluetooth, 7 hours streaming playlist along with LTE
  • Workout: 10 hours indoor workout, 6 hours outdoor workout with GPS, 5 hours outdoor workout with GPS and also LTE

When the GPS-only Apple Watch has better battery performance against the GPS + Cellular model whenever using LTE, neither performs well for long-distance runners.

Last Words

Whether you go with the GPS-only version of the Apple Watch or the one with cellular data all comes down to how most of the time you expect to be without your iPhone.

As long as your iPhone is in the range, then the two versions of the Apple Watch have identical functionality. Because they share the data connection with the iPhone through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well. The practicality of the GPS + cellular model actually depends on either selecting to leave your iPhone at home or habitually doing so accidentally.

However, if you expect to have your iPhone around all the time, then you should save your money and get the more basic version. If you’d like the option to leave your phone behind and still get directions, listen to music, make card-free payments, and place calls as well. However, and you expect to use it all the time, then the cellular version will be useful for you for sure.

In either case, you will want to make sure that your phone and firmware are compatible with the Apple Watch that you want to buy. If you go for the independent version, then you will also want to check your carrier. And wireless plan in order to make sure that you can get full use out of it.


Alright, That was all Folks! I hope you guys like this apple watch GPS vs cellular article and find it helpful to you. Give us your feedback on it. Also if you guys have further queries related to this article. Then let us know in the comments section below. We will get back to you shortly.

Have a Great Day!

Also See: How to Use Apple Watch Theater Mode

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