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Using an Apple Watch Without an iPhone

The Apple Watch, launched in 2015 is widely considered the most functional and best-looking smartwatch in the market today. The Apple Watch is a smartwatch that is produced by Apple inc. The smartwatch embodies fitness tracking and health-oriented capabilities that integrate with the iOS and other Apple products and services and it has quickly become the best selling wearable device.

Apple Watches

Can one use an Apple Watch without an iPhone? Firstly, what do we mean by using an Apple Watch without an iPhone?. The first definition that would come to mind is using an Apple Watch with a non-iOS phone.

The Apple watch is explicitly designed to be an accessory to the iPhone and not an Android phone. Let’s examine options of what it means to use your Apple Watch without an iPhone

Using the Apple Watch with an Android Phone

Can you use an Apple watch with an Android Phone? The short and simple to this option would be; No, you cannot use an Apple Watch with an Android phone. The difficult answer is that you can in a way get an Apple Watch to tersely exchange data with an Android phone.

Operating the Apple watch with an Android phone is a really limited setup, so it is not recommended. However, a lot of people have managed to use the LTE-equipped Apple Watches with their Android phones.

This is done by swapping out the SIM card from the iPhone used in the initial setup with that of an Android phone. This can be considered as nothing but an experiment for the reasons we will describe next.

Firstly, the LTE connection Is designed as a fallback option for the less power-hungry Bluetooth technology. This implies that using this connection will result in a shorter battery life span for your Apple Watch. This will certainly cause problems in the newer models, which have a screen that is always on.

Another problem of using this connection is that having no iPhone will isolate you from the companion app which is used to modify the apps that have been installed and operate the Apple Watch as It was designed.

Because the smartwatch requires an iPhone to initially set up and to make any changes or update the watch, we don’t recommend using the Apple Watch with an Android phone. We recommend, (if you have an Android phone) that you look at Android smartwatches.

Using the Apple Watch away from your iPhone

Can you use your Apple Watch away from your iPhone? Yes, yes you can. Your Apple Watch will continue to work whether the paired iPhone being nearby or not, so even if you leave your iPhone at home and go for a jog, the Apple watch can still operate on its own.

Without an iPhone nearby, the Apple watch will only make features available to you depending on the availability of cellular or Wifi connection. Once the cellular feature on your Apple Watch has been set up, the ability to take telephone calls, stream music, use Siri will be available providing that the distance between your Apple Watch and iPhone does not exceed the distance range needed for communication.

The Apple watch basically communicates with its paired iPhone using Bluetooth and Wifi, newer models have added the cellular network capabilities. An Apple watch that is connected over a cellular network will perform the same features as one connected over Wifi,

These features are available to an Apple Watch with Wifi, without its paired iPhone nearby;

  • Apps that support Wifi
  • Siri
  • Streaming music, podcasts or the radio
  • iMessaging
  • Voice-over-IP calls
  • Receiving and Making calls (Wifi calling must be enabled on the Apple Watch)
  • Walkie-Talkie app
  • Controlling your home through the home app
  • Check the weather
  • Use Apple Maps to find your way
  • For SMS and push notifications from third-party apps, the paired iPhone must be switched on and connected to a cellular or Wifi connection. It must also be signed in to iMessage.

To turn the cellular connection on or off on an Apple Watch

  1. Swipe up on the face of the Apple Watch to open the control center
  2. Check the cellular connection, its looks is that of an antenna with signal waves
Cellular Connection on the Apple Watch
  • Provided that the button is green, then you are using a cellular connection (note that using this connection for long periods of time drains the battery power at a faster rate)
  • If the button is not green, then the watch is using either a Bluetooth or Wifi connection.
  • Tap on the cellular connection icon to turn it on or off

To turn the Wifi connection on or off on an Apple Watch

  1. Follow the first step above
  2. Besides the cellular connection icon, you will see the Wifi connection icon.
Wifi Connection on the Apple Watch
  • Provided that the button is blue, then you are using a Wifi connection, if both the cellular and Wifi icons are not lighted up then the watch is using a Bluetooth connection
  • Tap on the Wifi connection icon to toggle it on or off.
  • Choose the network you would like to join. The Apple Watch can connect to networks its paired iPhone has joined previously while it was connected to the Apple Watch via Bluetooth or cellular. It will not connect to any public network that requires a login or subscription.
  • Once prompted, write the password on the watch screen with your finger.
Input Password on the Apple Watch

To check the signal strength of the cellular connection

  1. Open the control center
  2. With an active cellular connection, above the cellular connection icon dots will appear, these indicate the signal strength.

To check the cellular data usage of your Apple Watch

  1. On its paired iPhone, open the watch app
  2. Tap on my watch tab
  3. Then tap on the cellular tab
  4. Scroll to Cellular Data Usage
  5. There you should see the data usage for your current billing period
Cellular Data Usage for the Apple Watch

The Apple watch can be used away from its paired iPhone. The watch has its own hardware and software and is a full-fledged smart device. However, its functions will be limited to if it has a cellular or Wifi connection.

Using the Apple Watch as an independent device, without any sort of companion device

Can the Apple Watch be used as an independent device? A simple answer to this would be no, however, there is a lot more detail that has to be provided for which a plain answer will not suffice.

An iPhone is needed to set up an Apple Watch

Firstly, the apple watch is designed as a companion device for the iPhone. Its setup process is dependent on an iPhone and there’s no way of getting around this

iPhone and an Apple Watch

Nevertheless, all Apple Watches come inbuilt with wireless communication abilities. On a normal basis, the Apple Watch will get the information it requires from a paired iPhone through Bluetooth as this is very power efficient. And this allows the Apple Watch to last a longer time

The Apple Watch can resort to a Wifi connection if needed. The Apple Watch can connect to networks its paired iPhone has joined previously while it was connected to the Apple Watch via Bluetooth or cellular. It will not connect to any public network that requires a login or subscription.

Newer versions of the Apple Watch come equipped with cellular connection capabilities as another means of communication. The Apple Watch can operate in this mode when it has wherever a signal from the carrier network can be found.

While cellular-enabled Apple Watches are not fully independent, they are the most independent versions of the watch as at the time this article was written.

What can an Apple Watch do without an iPhone or Internet connection

Having just the Apple Watch at any point in time does not make it useless. The Apple Watch is capable of certain functions despite having no connection to the outside world. These make it a useful tool n camping trips.

With no external connection, here are the features an Apple Watch is capable of;

  • Operating like a normal watch by showing the time and being able to set alarms, timer, and as a stopwatch.
  • Display photos from photo albums that are synced with the Apple Watch
  • Listening to music or podcasts that have been downloaded on the Apple Watch.
  • Listening to audiobooks that have been synced with the Apple Watch.
  • Making purchases with Apple Pay (this is a handy feature for when one is out on a run for example and wants to stop to get something like a coffee or even lunch)
  • Track your workout, activity goals, and heart rate
  • Get your bearings with a compass and Apple Maps (useful on hiking and camping trips. Though for more accurate GPS directions, it is advised that your iPhone should be close by)
  • Protect your hearing, help you relax, and breathe mindfully.
  • Record thoughts and ideas.

The Future of the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is a truly powerful smart device and its overall packaging makes it appealing to a diverse range of people. At the moment, Apple clearly sees the Apple Watch as a companion device and not a standalone product.

This was the same scenario with the iPad, but as we can see the iPad has become a standalone product. This bodes well for the future of Apple seeing their wearable as an independent product.

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