Does Apple Watch Series 3 GPS Work Without Phone

by Barbara Wilson

The Apple Watch Series 3 is a popular choice among smartwatch enthusiasts, particularly for its fitness and health tracking capabilities. One of its key features is the built-in GPS, which raises a common question: does the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS work without a phone? This comprehensive guide will explore the functionality of the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS in the absence of an iPhone, providing detailed and specific answers.


What is the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS?

The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two models: GPS and GPS + Cellular. The GPS model uses the iPhone’s cellular connection to receive data and notifications, while the GPS + Cellular model has its own cellular connectivity, allowing it to function more independently. The built-in GPS feature in both models allows the watch to track distance, pace, and route during outdoor activities without needing to carry your iPhone.


Understanding GPS Functionality on Apple Watch Series 3

To determine if the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS works without a phone, it is essential to understand how the GPS functionality operates and what it entails.


1. Built-in GPS Sensor

The Apple Watch Series 3 has a built-in GPS sensor that can track your location during activities such as running, walking, cycling, or hiking. The GPS sensor provides accurate data on your route, distance, and pace.


2. Activity Tracking Without an iPhone

When you start an outdoor workout, such as a run or hike, the Apple Watch Series 3 can use its built-in GPS to record your route and metrics independently. You do not need to carry your iPhone for the GPS to work during these activities.

3. Syncing Data with iPhone

While the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS can function without an iPhone during workouts, the collected data is synced to the Health and Activity apps on your iPhone once it is within range or connected to Wi-Fi. This ensures that your fitness data is stored and can be reviewed later.

Key Features and Capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS Without a Phone

1. Outdoor Workouts

The primary benefit of the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS is its ability to track outdoor workouts without needing an iPhone. Here are some of the key functionalities:

Route Tracking: The built-in GPS accurately records the route taken during an outdoor workout.

Distance Measurement: The watch measures the total distance covered during the activity.

Pace Tracking: It calculates and displays your pace throughout the workout.

Elevation Tracking: The altimeter in the watch tracks elevation changes during activities like hiking.

2. Activity Metrics

Even without an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 3 can display various activity metrics on the watch screen during and after a workout:

Heart Rate Monitoring: The watch monitors and displays your heart rate in real-time.

Calories Burned: It calculates the total calories burned during the activity.

Workout Duration: The watch tracks the total duration of the workout.

3. Maps and Navigation

Although the GPS functionality is primarily used for tracking workouts, it also offers basic navigation features:

Backtrack Feature: During outdoor activities, you can use the backtrack feature to retrace your steps if you get lost.

Compass: The built-in compass helps with orientation and navigation during hikes or other outdoor activities.

4. Emergency SOS

The Apple Watch Series 3 can use its built-in GPS for Emergency SOS even without an iPhone. In case of an emergency, you can press and hold the side button to call for help. If your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, it can send your location to emergency services.

See Also: How Long Does Apple Watch 6 Last

Limitations of Apple Watch Series 3 GPS Without a Phone

1. No Cellular Connectivity

The GPS-only model of the Apple Watch Series 3 does not have cellular connectivity. This means that while you can use GPS for tracking activities, you will not have access to cellular data, calls, or messages without your iPhone.

2. Limited Navigation Features

While the GPS can track routes and assist with basic navigation, it does not offer full navigation features like turn-by-turn directions. For more advanced navigation, you will need your iPhone.

3. Data Syncing

While the Apple Watch Series 3 can record data independently, it requires an iPhone to sync the data to the Health and Activity apps. This means you will need to connect your watch to your iPhone periodically to ensure your data is stored and backed up.

Practical Use Cases for Apple Watch Series 3 GPS Without a Phone

1. Running and Jogging

One of the most common use cases for the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS without a phone is running and jogging. The watch can track your route, pace, and distance, allowing you to leave your iPhone at home and run without any extra weight.

2. Hiking and Trekking

The built-in GPS and altimeter make the Apple Watch Series 3 a great companion for hiking and trekking. You can track your elevation changes, route, and use the backtrack feature if needed.

3. Cycling

For cyclists, the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS provides accurate tracking of your route, distance, and speed. You can also monitor your heart rate and calories burned during your ride.

4. Walking and Strolling

Even for casual walks or strolls, the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS can provide valuable data on your activity, including steps taken, distance covered, and calories burned.

Setting Up and Using GPS on Apple Watch Series 3

1. Initial Setup

To use the GPS functionality on your Apple Watch Series 3 without a phone, you need to ensure that it is properly set up:

Pair with iPhone: Initially, you need to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone and complete the setup process.

Enable Location Services: On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and ensure that Location Services are enabled for the Apple Watch Workout app.

2. Starting a Workout

To start a workout using the GPS on your Apple Watch Series 3:

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

Select Workout Type: Choose the type of workout you want to start, such as Outdoor Run, Outdoor Walk, or Hiking.

Start the Workout: Tap Start to begin your workout. The watch will use its built-in GPS to track your activity.

3. Viewing Workout Data

During your workout, you can view various metrics on your Apple Watch screen, including distance, pace, and heart rate. After completing your workout, you can review the data on your watch or sync it with your iPhone to view more detailed information in the Activity app.


The Apple Watch Series 3 GPS model offers significant functionality for tracking outdoor activities without needing to carry an iPhone. Its built-in GPS sensor allows for accurate tracking of routes, distance, pace, and elevation, making it a versatile tool for fitness enthusiasts. While there are some limitations, such as the lack of cellular connectivity and advanced navigation features, the watch provides ample data for most outdoor workouts. By understanding how to set up and use the GPS on the Apple Watch Series 3, you can take full advantage of its capabilities and enjoy the freedom of leaving your phone behind during your workouts.


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