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What is the difference between Apple Watch Cellular and GPS?

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  • 4 min read

Apple Watch is one of the most popular smartwatches ever to release. In typical Apple fashion, there are now several watch variants, and they call in with either cellular or GPS connectivity. But just how much of a difference does that make?

In this article, we’re comparing a cellular Apple Watch to a GPS-based one to see which one’s the better pick for you. 

Also read: Walkie-talkie in Apple Watch not working: Quick Fix


The connectivity is the first and perhaps the only major difference between the two types of Apple Watches in question. With a GPS-based Apple Watch, the watch needs to remain tethered to your phone in order to be able to access anything out of its local storage.

If you’ve got music or media stored locally on your watch, you can pair it with your AirPods or any other pair of Bluetooth headphones and listen, but otherwise, any internet connectivity or streaming is completely dependent on whether or not your watch is paired with your iPhone. 

On the other hand, cellular Apple Watches have their own cellular connectivity as the name suggests which means they act as standalone devices that can work in unison with your iPhone. The most prominent example of this is calling.

If you have a GPS-based Apple Watch, you won’t be able to make or receive calls on it unless it’s paired with your iPhone. On the contrary, a cellular Apple watch doesn’t need that connection and can receive incoming calls/texts, make outgoing calls, and send texts on its own. 

Battery life

Since GPS-based watch doesn’t have to maintain an independent carrier connection, they often last longer than cellular watches. However, the difference might not be enough for you to choose one over the other, as you only get about an hour or so of extra battery life on the GPS variant. 


GPS Apple Watches are often available in more colours and weigh slightly less than their cellular counterparts. They are, however, only made of aluminium, so the durability isn’t as good. 

On the other hand, while cellular Apple Watches aren’t as loud when it comes to colours, they can be picked in aluminium, stainless steel and titanium models giving the watches a more premium build and feel. You can, however, use the same bands between both variants. The more premium materials and a bigger battery to keep up with the cellular connectivity also cause an increase in weight. 

Additional features

Cellular Apple Watches can make calls and send texts without your iPhone and can also access the internet, meaning you can stream Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube and just about everything else directly from your watch without worrying about carrying your phone everywhere with you. 

GPS Apple Watches lose out on this functionality in addition to not supporting Family Setup, meaning sharing a GPS Apple Watch between family members can be a bit of a hassle. 


Last but not least, we come to pricing. Cellular Apple Watches are significantly more expensive than their GPS-based counterparts. This is not only because of the cellular connectivity, which will have a cost of its own based on your carrier, but also because of the premium materials and additional features that you get. 

GPS Apple Watches can sometimes be quite affordable, especially if you’re buying an older generation or SE Apple Watch. They’re just as capable as their cellular counterparts in every other aspect. Still, cheaper materials and lack of cellular circuitry mean Apple can sell these watches for a lower price tag. 

Also read: How to charge Apple Watch without charger? 


Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: [email protected].