Do You Need a Connected Smartwatch?

And are they worth the extra cash?

Smartwatches and wearable devices with built-in cellular connectivity allow you to place calls from your wrist, stream music, and send text messages, among other data-sensitive tasks. Not every smartwatch offers cellular functionality, but the ones that do are growing in number.

Do You Need a Connected Smartwatch?

If you have the budget and value the convenience, a cellular smartwatch may be a smart buy. With a smartwatch that provides cellular connectivity, you don't need to carry your phone around with you to make a call, which comes in handy when you are jogging, forget your phone at home, or don't want to carry a big handset.

You can set reminders on smartwatches, receive texts, make calls, track activity, stream music to Bluetooth headphones, and more. If you can do it on a smartphone, you can probably do it on your smartwatch, although in a slightly different manner.

Third-party leather Apple Watch band


Smartwatches that don't have built-in cellular connectivity can't make calls. Most of the "smart" functionality, such as receiving notifications on your wrist, requires being connected to your mobile device via Bluetooth. And that means having your phone within range of the wearable device—not ideal if you're exercising or on the go. Exceptions to this rule include the ability to remotely connect to your phone to receive notifications with the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Other Reasons to Have a Connected Smartwatch

There are some situations when it might be more than just convenient to have a watch with built-in connectivity. For instance, Wear (formerly Android Wear or Wear OS) has some excellent fitness apps. If you want to track your child's location, consider a wearable that offers GPS. The HereO watch is one such device, and it could be valuable if you're in the market for a gadget that can track your kids' whereabouts.

There is some gray area between Bluetooth-only smartwatches and those with built-in cellular connections. Wearables that have a speaker and run the Google operating system, for example, can only make and take calls when you connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

Some Apple Watch models include cellular connectivity. Your iPhone and your Watch must both use the same carrier. Apple has a list of supported carriers and watch models.


What Is a Smartwatch and What Do They Do?

The Extra Cost

If you think cellular connectivity would be useful, there's a price to pay for the convenience. For any Samsung smartwatch, for example, you must activate cellular service through the same carrier as your mobile phone—and that extra service may cost another $10 or so per month. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer plans for the LTE versions of Samsung Galaxy devices.

Compared to smartwatches without connectivity, these gadgets are a pricier investment. If you plan to make calls from your wrist, make sure you can afford the extra cost. Check with your carrier to see how much it costs to add cellular connectivity to the smartwatch you own or plan to buy.

Smartwatches With Built-In Connectivity

The list of 4G/LTE-equipped smartwatches is growing, but it's still rather small compared with the smartphone market. Check out any of these models for more details:

  • Apple Watch Series 6 and SE
  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
  • TicWatch Pro 3 LTE
  • OPPO Watch
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