Does Apple Watch 3 Gps Have Cellular

by Barbara Wilson

The Apple Watch Series 3, released in September 2017, is a significant model in Apple’s wearable lineup. It brought several improvements and new features compared to its predecessors, including a faster processor and enhanced fitness tracking capabilities. One of the critical distinctions within this series is the differentiation between the GPS-only model and the GPS + Cellular model. This article aims to delve into the specifics of these models, particularly focusing on whether the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS model has cellular capabilities.


Overview of Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two main variants: GPS and GPS + Cellular. Understanding the features and differences between these models is essential for potential buyers and current users.


Apple Watch Series 3 GPS Model

  • Connectivity: The GPS model relies solely on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for connectivity. It does not have cellular capabilities, meaning it cannot independently connect to cellular networks.
  • Features: Despite lacking cellular connectivity, the GPS model still offers comprehensive fitness tracking, notifications, and app usage when paired with an iPhone.
  • Battery Life: Generally, the GPS model tends to have slightly better battery life compared to the GPS + Cellular model because it does not need to support cellular functions.

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular Model

  • Connectivity: The GPS + Cellular model includes all the connectivity options of the GPS model and adds the ability to connect to cellular networks. This enables users to make and receive calls, send messages, and use data without needing their iPhone nearby.
  • Features: With cellular connectivity, users can stream Apple Music, receive notifications, and use apps independently of their iPhone.
  • Battery Life: The GPS + Cellular model might have slightly reduced battery life due to the added cellular functionality.

Detailed Analysis of Cellular Capabilities

Cellular Connectivity

  • LTE and UMTS: The GPS + Cellular model supports LTE and UMTS bands, allowing it to connect to cellular networks when an iPhone is not present.
  • eSIM Technology: Apple uses embedded SIM (eSIM) technology in the GPS + Cellular model. This digital SIM allows the watch to have its own phone number or share the same number as the user’s iPhone, depending on the carrier.
  • Carrier Support: Cellular functionality depends on carrier support. Not all carriers support Apple Watch cellular plans, so users must check compatibility with their service provider.

Benefits of Cellular Connectivity

  • Independence from iPhone: The most significant advantage is the independence from the iPhone. Users can leave their iPhone at home while still staying connected.
  • Fitness and Outdoor Activities: For runners, hikers, or cyclists, the cellular model offers the convenience of staying connected without carrying a bulky phone.
  • Emergency SOS: With cellular capabilities, users can make emergency calls directly from their watch, even without their iPhone nearby.

Limitations and Considerations

  • Additional Cost: The GPS + Cellular model is more expensive than the GPS-only model. Additionally, users need to pay for a cellular plan, which is an extra cost.
  • Battery Life: The cellular model’s battery life can be shorter, especially when using LTE for calls or data.
  • Carrier Compatibility: Not all carriers support Apple Watch cellular plans, so it’s essential to verify compatibility before purchasing.

Key Features of Apple Watch Series 3 (Both Models)

Fitness Tracking

  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Continuous heart rate monitoring with alerts for high and low heart rates.
  • Activity Rings: Tracks daily activity with Move, Exercise, and Stand rings.
  • Workout Modes: Various workout modes including running, swimming, cycling, and more.
  • GPS Tracking: Built-in GPS for outdoor workouts to track distance, pace, and route.

Health Monitoring

  • Breathe App: Guides users through breathing exercises to reduce stress.
  • Emergency SOS: Allows users to call for help in emergencies.
  • Fall Detection: Detects hard falls and offers to call emergency services (introduced in Series 4, not available in Series 3).

Smart Features

  • Notifications: Receive and respond to notifications from the wrist.
  • Apple Pay: Make payments using Apple Pay.
  • Music and Podcasts: Stream music and podcasts (GPS + Cellular model) or store music on the watch (both models).


  • iPhone Compatibility: Requires an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later.
  • App Store: Access to a wide range of apps designed for the Apple Watch.

Comparison: GPS vs. GPS + Cellular

Usage Scenarios

  • Daily Commute: For users who prefer to stay connected without carrying an iPhone, the GPS + Cellular model is ideal.
  • Fitness Enthusiasts: Runners, hikers, and cyclists benefit from the cellular model as it offers independence from the phone.
  • Casual Users: For users who don’t mind having their iPhone nearby, the GPS model is sufficient and more cost-effective.

Cost Analysis

  • Initial Purchase: The GPS + Cellular model has a higher upfront cost.
  • Ongoing Costs: Monthly fees for cellular plans add to the overall cost of ownership.
  • Value Proposition: Weighing the additional costs against the benefits of cellular connectivity helps in deciding the right model.

Battery Performance

  • GPS Model: Generally offers longer battery life as it doesn’t support LTE.
  • GPS + Cellular Model: Battery life can be impacted by LTE usage, especially during calls and data streaming.

How to Choose the Right Model

Assessing Needs

  • Connectivity Requirements: Determine if staying connected without an iPhone is essential.
  • Fitness and Outdoor Activities: Evaluate if the benefits of cellular connectivity outweigh the costs for outdoor and fitness activities.
  • Budget Considerations: Consider the initial and ongoing costs associated with the cellular model.

Compatibility Check

  • Carrier Support: Verify if your carrier supports Apple Watch cellular plans.
  • Regional Availability: Check if cellular services for the Apple Watch are available in your region.


  • Software Updates: Both models receive regular watchOS updates, ensuring they stay current with new features.
  • Resale Value: The GPS + Cellular model might have a higher resale value due to its additional capabilities.


The Apple Watch Series 3 GPS model does not have cellular capabilities. The distinction between the GPS and GPS + Cellular models is crucial for potential buyers. Understanding the features, benefits, and limitations of each model helps users make an informed decision based on their specific needs and budget. Whether you need the independence of cellular connectivity or prefer the simplicity and longer battery life of the GPS model, the Apple Watch Series 3 offers versatile options to suit various lifestyles.


By considering the factors outlined in this article, users can choose the model that best fits their requirements, ensuring they get the most out of their Apple Watch experience.


See Also: Does Apple Watch 3 Have Fall Detection


1. Can I upgrade my Apple Watch Series 3 GPS to have cellular capabilities?

No, the hardware differences between the GPS and GPS + Cellular models cannot be changed after purchase. If you need cellular capabilities, you must purchase the GPS + Cellular model.

2. How do I know if my carrier supports Apple Watch cellular plans?

Check with your carrier to see if they offer plans for the Apple Watch. Apple’s website also provides a list of supported carriers in different regions.

3. Does using cellular on the Apple Watch drain the battery quickly?

Using cellular connectivity can impact battery life, especially during calls and data usage. However, the watch is designed to switch to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when available to conserve battery.

4. Can I use the GPS model of the Apple Watch Series 3 without an iPhone?

The GPS model requires an iPhone for initial setup and most functionalities. However, it can perform basic tasks like tracking workouts and playing music independently once set up.

5. What are the main benefits of having cellular on the Apple Watch?

The primary benefit is staying connected without needing your iPhone. This is useful for fitness activities, emergencies, and convenience in situations where carrying a phone is impractical.

6. Is the Apple Watch Series 3 still worth buying?

The Apple Watch Series 3 remains a viable option for users looking for a cost-effective smartwatch with essential features. However, newer models offer additional features and better performance.

7. How do I activate cellular service on my Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular model?

Activation involves setting up a cellular plan with your carrier and linking it to your Apple Watch through the Watch app on your iPhone. Detailed instructions are provided during the setup process.


You may also like

Welcome to our watch website, where every second counts and style reigns supreme. Discover a treasure trove of meticulously crafted timepieces that marry form and function in perfect harmony. Our website showcases an array of designs, from minimalist elegance to bold statement pieces, ensuring there's a watch for every personality and occasion. Join us on a journey of horological fascination as we explore the world of precision engineering and timeless aesthetics.

© 2023 Copyright