Can I use an Apple Watch without an iPhone?

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Apple sells the world’s most popular smartwatch, but it’s not a standalone product. If you don’t have an iPhone, you might be wondering what you can do with an Apple Watch if at all.

You need an iPhone to start using the Apple Watch

It is not possible to set up an Apple Watch without using an iPhone. The watch must be paired with an iPhone to pair an Apple ID. You cannot use an iPad to complete this procedure; it must be an iPhone 6s or newer with at least iOS 15.

You cannot use an Android device to set up an Apple Watch. The Watch was designed as a companion device to an iPhone because of much of its functionality. This is especially true for the Wi-Fi model, although Apple also sells an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity that works more like a standalone device.

Once you’ve set up your Apple Watch with cellular, you can do many of the things you’d normally rely on an iPhone to do, such as receive text messages, take phone calls, and access features that rely on the Internet. Unfortunately, this is not recommended due to the power consumption of your watch when using mobile data.

The battery is unlikely to last all day if you use your mobile Apple Watch away from your iPhone for extended periods of time. Wi-Fi models depend on your iPhone, so you’ll miss out on a lot of functionality if your paired iPhone is out of range. The exception here is when you are in the presence of a Wi-Fi network that you previously connected (when your iPhone was present).

Things you can do without an iPhone

Some features do not depend on an iPhone, especially with regard to health and exercise. While you’re wearing your Apple Watch, your steps and active calories are counted, meaning you can work on filling your Move, Exercise, and Stand rings with or without your iPhone.

Your watch will continue to track and record your heart rate, and you can measure your heart rate with the Heart app or perform echocardiograms with the EKG app. You can use your watch’s alarm and timer, or play music stored on your watch (with paired headphones). When you sleep in your Watch, your wearable continues to monitor sleep quality.

A person's hand checking the heart rate on an Apple Watch.
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You can also pay for items with Apple Pay or use cards stored in your Apple Wallet that are already available on your Watch. Apps such as Voice Memos, Photos, Calendar and Noise will continue to work as expected.

If you have a cellular model, the potentially life-saving fall detection feature will work (assuming you have cellular reception and battery life), but Wi-Fi models won’t be able to contact emergency services without an iPhone nearby.

Don’t buy an Apple Watch unless you have an iPhone

If you don’t have an iPhone, the Apple Watch probably isn’t for you. Even using another family member’s iPhone to set up the device is still not ideal, as the Watch is designed to work with your own personal Apple ID and device. For example, you may want to store your own health data in your own account.

Instead, check out the alternative smartwatches available to you. If you have an Android device, other options will provide a better experience than a lone Apple Watch.

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