The Apple Watch has quickly grown into one of the most complete experiences you’ll find in the company’s range.
Since its introduction in 2015, the electronic timepiece has gone on to be the dominant player in the emerging wearable technology sector. Over different generations Apple has added features such as GPS, LTE and weatherproofing that make the Watch ever more a standalone device in its own right – but is it possible to untether it from the iPhone entirely?
In this article we explain what exactly an Apple Watch can achieve without the assistance of an iPhone.
Can you use an Apple Watch without an iPhone?
Yes and no.
When you first get an Apple Watch, it requires an iPhone to set it up. There’s no getting round that. The Watch app on the iPhone does most of the heavy lifting, and without it you just have a pretty bracelet that cost far too much.
We explain the process in how to set up an Apple Watch, but the cold hard fact is that without an iPhone you won’t be able to get very far. Apple still regards the Apple Watch as a companion device to its smartphone, so much so that you can’t even use a Mac or iPad to help get it up and running.
So why did we say “yes and no”, rather than just “no”? Well, although you can’t set up an Apple Watch without an iPhone, there are still plenty of features on the device that means you’ll be able to leave your iPhone at home if you don’t want to carry it around. Here are some of our favourites.
Tracking your activity levels
Want to close your rings, but don’t fancy dragging your iPhone out on a run or long walk? The Apple Watch will happily record all of those steps and other health information while out and about, then sync it back up to your iPhone when you return home.
Listen to music
If you want some pumping tunes while running or just fancy listening to a podcast or album while you potter about in the garden, then you can store plenty of tracks on the Apple Watch itself, all of which you can listen to without the need for an iPhone. Of course, as there is no headphone jack on an Apple Watch, you’ll need a pair of Bluetooth headphones – unless you want the tiny little speakers to ruin your exercise session and relationship with the neighbours.
To find out the steps required, take a look at how to use Bluetooth headphones with an Apple Watch and how to play music on Apple Watch.
Make and receive phone calls
If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, its LTE capabilities mean you can set up the Watch to act as an extension of your iPhone. With this in place, you’ll then be able to make and receive calls directly on your Watch, even if your iPhone is in a draw back home.
There are additional costs to using the eSIM feature, but you’ll find them far less onerous than the normal plans offered by carriers.
Another very useful feature that’s available on an Apple Watch is the ability to use the Apple Maps app without an iPhone nearby. Again, this will require an Apple Watch Series 3 or later with an active eSIM contract. With that in place, you’re free to roam without an expensive and heavy iPhone shaped bulk in your pocket.
See how to use Apple Maps on Apple watch for all you need to know.
Use Apple Pay
You might not realise it, but once you’ve set up Apple Pay on your Apple Watch, there’s no need to have your iPhone with you when paying for things at the checkout. Just double-press the Side button and hold the Watch over the contactless sensor, and the payment should go through automatically.
If you haven’t used this feature yet, then a quick read of how to use Apple Pay on Apple Watch will speed up those moments at the till.
Can you use an Apple Watch with an Android phone?
No. If Apple doesn’t want the Watch working with iPads and Macs, then you can assume that Android phones are well down the list.
It’s possible that Apple sees the Watch as a system-seller, in that people will stick with iPhone just to use the Apple Watch. There’s no great temptation for the company to open up the devices to new platforms any time soon.
If you’ve yet to take the plunge on an Apple Watch or need to update your existing model to take advantage of some of the features listed above, be sure to check out best Apple Watch and best Apple Watch deals.
For the latest rumours about the upcoming update, visit our Apple Watch Series 7 news hub.