Does The Apple Watch 3 Have GPS

by Barbara Wilson

The Apple Watch Series 3 has been a popular choice among smartwatches since its release, offering a balance of features and affordability. One of the key features that many users are curious about is its GPS functionality. This article will explore in detail whether the Apple Watch Series 3 has GPS, how it works, its benefits, and some practical tips for users.


Overview of Apple Watch Series 3

Before delving into the GPS capabilities, it’s essential to understand the broader context of the Apple Watch Series 3. Released in September 2017, the Apple Watch Series 3 marked a significant upgrade over its predecessors, offering improved performance, new health and fitness features, and greater independence from the iPhone.


Key Features of Apple Watch Series 3

Processor: The Series 3 is powered by the S3 dual-core processor, which ensures smooth performance and quick response times.


Display: It features a Retina display with Force Touch, providing clear visuals and responsive touch interaction.


Connectivity: Available in both GPS-only and GPS + Cellular models, the Series 3 offers different levels of connectivity based on user needs.

Health and Fitness: Advanced health monitoring features such as heart rate tracking, workout detection, and the ability to pair with gym equipment.

Water Resistance: The Series 3 is water-resistant up to 50 meters, making it suitable for swimming and water-based activities.

Does the Apple Watch Series 3 Have GPS?

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 3 does have GPS functionality. However, the extent and nature of this functionality depend on whether you have the GPS-only model or the GPS + Cellular model.

GPS-Only Model

The GPS-only model of the Apple Watch Series 3 relies on your iPhone’s internet connection for data but has built-in GPS to track your location independently during outdoor activities such as running or cycling. This allows you to leave your iPhone at home while still being able to track your route, pace, and distance.

GPS + Cellular Model

The GPS + Cellular model, on the other hand, includes a cellular connection, allowing the watch to connect to the internet, make calls, and send messages independently of your iPhone. This model also includes built-in GPS, providing the same location-tracking capabilities as the GPS-only model but with the added benefit of cellular connectivity.

How GPS Works in Apple Watch Series 3

Understanding how GPS works in the Apple Watch Series 3 can help users make the most of this feature. GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system that provides location and time information globally.

GPS Tracking During Workouts

When you start an outdoor workout, such as running, cycling, or hiking, the Apple Watch Series 3 uses its built-in GPS to track your route. The watch receives signals from GPS satellites to determine your exact location. This information is used to calculate distance, speed, and pace, which is then displayed in the Workout app.

Benefits of Built-In GPS

Having built-in GPS in the Apple Watch Series 3 offers several benefits:

Accuracy: Provides precise tracking of distance and speed without needing to carry your iPhone.

Convenience: Allows for more freedom during workouts, as you don’t need to bring your phone along.

Detailed Mapping: After your workout, you can review detailed maps of your route, including splits and elevation changes.

How to Use GPS on Apple Watch Series 3

To use the GPS feature on your Apple Watch Series 3, follow these steps:

Open the Workout App: On your Apple Watch, open the Workout app.

Select an Outdoor Workout: Choose an outdoor workout type such as Outdoor Run, Outdoor Walk, or Hiking.

Start the Workout: Press Start, and the watch will begin tracking your location using GPS.

Review Your Data: After your workout, you can review detailed data on the Activity app on your iPhone.

Practical Tips for Using GPS on Apple Watch Series 3

To get the most out of the GPS functionality on your Apple Watch Series 3, consider the following tips:

Optimize GPS Accuracy

Ensure a Clear View of the Sky: GPS signals can be obstructed by buildings, trees, and other structures. For the most accurate tracking, start your workout in an open area with a clear view of the sky.

Wait for a Signal Lock: Before starting your workout, wait for the watch to establish a strong GPS signal. This may take a few moments but ensures more accurate tracking.

Calibrate Your Watch: Calibrating your Apple Watch improves the accuracy of distance and pace measurements. To calibrate, go for a 20-minute outdoor walk or run in a flat, open area with good GPS signal.

Save Battery Life

Turn Off Cellular: If you have the GPS + Cellular model, turning off the cellular connection when not needed can save battery life.

Use Power Saving Mode: In the Workout app, enable Power Saving Mode to disable the heart rate sensor and save battery during long workouts.

Keep Software Updated: Ensure your Apple Watch and iPhone are running the latest software updates, which can include improvements to GPS performance and battery life.

Troubleshooting GPS Issues

Check Location Services: Ensure that Location Services are enabled on your iPhone and that the Apple Watch Workout app has permission to access your location.

Restart Your Devices: If you encounter GPS issues, try restarting your Apple Watch and iPhone to refresh their connection.

Reset Calibration Data: If GPS tracking seems inaccurate, you can reset your calibration data by going to the Watch app on your iPhone, selecting Privacy, and choosing Reset Fitness Calibration Data.

Comparing GPS Capabilities: Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Other Models

To better understand the GPS capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3, it’s helpful to compare it with other models in the Apple Watch lineup.

Apple Watch Series 4 and Later

Subsequent models, such as the Apple Watch Series 4 and later, have continued to build on the GPS capabilities introduced in the Series 3. These models offer improved performance, additional health and fitness features, and enhanced GPS accuracy. Notable advancements include:

Fall Detection: Available from Series 4 onwards, this feature uses advanced sensors and algorithms to detect falls and provide emergency assistance.

ECG App: Starting with Series 4, users can take an electrocardiogram directly from their wrist.

Compass: Introduced in Series 5, the built-in compass enhances GPS functionality by providing direction and elevation data.

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE, released in 2020, is a more affordable option that retains many of the features of the Series 3 and later models, including built-in GPS. However, it lacks some of the advanced health monitoring features found in the higher-end models.

Apple Watch Series 2 and Earlier

Earlier models, such as the Apple Watch Series 2, also include built-in GPS, but with slightly less accuracy and performance compared to the Series 3 and later. The original Apple Watch (Series 1) does not have built-in GPS and relies entirely on the iPhone for location tracking.

See Also: Can Apple Watch 3 Track Sleep

Benefits of GPS in Everyday Use

Beyond workouts and fitness tracking, the GPS functionality in the Apple Watch Series 3 offers several benefits for everyday use.

Navigation and Maps

With built-in GPS, the Apple Watch Series 3 can provide turn-by-turn directions directly on your wrist. This is particularly useful for walking or cycling in unfamiliar areas. The Maps app on the Apple Watch can guide you to your destination using haptic feedback and on-screen directions.

Safety and Emergency Features

The Apple Watch Series 3 includes features that enhance personal safety, many of which rely on GPS:

Emergency SOS: In an emergency, you can press and hold the side button to call emergency services. The watch will share your location with dispatchers, providing critical information quickly.

Find My: The Find My app allows you to locate your Apple Watch if it is lost or stolen. GPS tracking helps you pinpoint its location on a map.

Activity and Health Tracking

GPS enhances various health and activity tracking features on the Apple Watch Series 3:

Outdoor Workouts: Accurate tracking of distance, speed, and route for outdoor activities such as running, cycling, and hiking.

Elevation Tracking: Measure elevation changes during activities such as hiking or mountain biking.

Calorie Tracking: Improved accuracy in calculating calories burned during workouts by considering distance and speed.

User Experiences and Reviews

To provide a comprehensive understanding of the GPS functionality in the Apple Watch Series 3, let’s consider some user experiences and reviews.

Positive Feedback

Many users have praised the GPS capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3 for its accuracy and convenience. Common positive feedback includes:

Accurate Tracking: Users appreciate the precise tracking of distance and pace during workouts, which helps them achieve their fitness goals.

Independence from iPhone: The ability to leave the iPhone at home while still tracking workouts and receiving directions is a significant benefit.

Emergency Features: The integration of GPS with safety features such as Emergency SOS has been highlighted as a valuable addition.

Areas for Improvement

While the GPS functionality in the Apple Watch Series 3 is generally well-received, some users have noted areas for improvement:

Battery Life: Extended use of GPS, especially in the GPS + Cellular model, can significantly drain the battery. Users recommend managing settings to optimize battery life.

Signal Acquisition: In some cases, acquiring a GPS signal can take longer than expected, particularly in densely populated urban areas or under heavy tree cover.


The Apple Watch Series 3 offers robust GPS functionality that enhances its utility as a smartwatch and fitness tracker. Whether you opt for the GPS-only model or the GPS + Cellular model, you can enjoy accurate tracking of your outdoor workouts, turn-by-turn navigation, and safety features such as Emergency SOS and Find My.

While the GPS capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3 are generally well-regarded for their accuracy and convenience, it’s essential to manage settings to optimize battery life and ensure a smooth user experience. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a frequent traveler, or simply looking for a reliable smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS is a solid choice that delivers on both functionality and performance.


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