Apple Watches do not require an iPhone to be connected to them for full functionality and can also run independently in a Wi-Fi or cellular connection environment. They are quite versatile gadgets, and you can use them as your only device when traveling internationally or for times when the phone is out of juice.
The Apple Watch can be set up to operate in total independence of the iPhone, and this includes being able to pay with Apple Pay at stores that accept contactless payments. You can also set up an Apple Watch to use Wi-Fi as a way of connecting to the internet and other services, which is perfect for times when you’re not able to use your iPhone.
You can use the Apple Watch to get notifications about email, SMS, iMessage, and other apps. The Apple Watch has a Nearby feature that shows you the location of your iPhone – when it’s close to you – so you’ll know when it needs charging.
All these capabilities require iOS 8 or later on an Apple Watch paired with an iPhone 5 or later that runs iOS 7.1.2 or later.
The only feature that requires an iPhone is called “Find My Watch,” which is available in addition to Find My iPhone in Settings > ID & Passcode > Toggle Find My iPhone on at all times.
Want to connect your iPhone? Learn how to pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone.
How to use an Apple Watch with a cellular connection
When you set up the cellular feature of an Apple Watch, you’ll have access to most of the features on your phone. These include using Siri, making telephone calls, steaming musing, and more.
To use a cellular connection with your Apple Watch, you will need the following:
- An iPhone 6 or later, updated to the most recent IRS
- An Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4 or Series 5 (GPS+Cellular), updated to the latest version of watchOS.
- The same phone carrier for both devices.
How to use an Apple Watch with a Wi-Fi connection
If there is a Wi-Fi connection in range, you may be able to connect your Apple Watch even if you don’t have your iPhone with you.
Some features such as third-party push notifications and SMS text messages may not be available.
Here are some of the features available on Apple watches that are connected to the Wi-Fi but don’t have an iPhone nearby.
- Making and receiving calls
- Streaming music
- Any apps with Wi-Fi support
- The walkie-talkie app
- The home app to control your home
How to use an Apple Watch without cellular, Wi-Fi or an iPhone nearby
If for some reason, you find yourself without a connection to a Wi-Fi network and without cellular data, you can still use some of the features of your Apple Watch.
Here’s what you can do when you can’t connect your Apple Watch to Wi-Fi or cellular, and you don’t have your phone with you.
- Set timers, alarms, and check the time
- Use the stopwatch
- Make purchases with Apple Pay
- Monitor your heart rate
- Listen to music downloaded to your Apple watch
- View photos that are already synced to your watch
- Track your workouts and monitor your health via the activity app