Although I’ve had many smartwatches, being that I review them, I’ve always shied away from a cellular version, not so much because they cost more but because I didn’t see the value in them. Also, until battery life had improved on smartwatches, I didn’t feel like I could really trust the watch to have the juice when I needed it most. Things have changed.
First of all, what is the difference between a Bluetooth or GPS smartwatch and a LTE or cellular version? Apple categorizes their smartwatches as either GPS or GPS+Cellular. They really should be categorized as Bluetooth only or Bluetooth+Cellular. The GPS only version uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPhone in order to receive text messages, phone calls, app notifications, and other apps that require data usage. If you don’t have your phone with you, a GPS or Bluetooth only smartwatch can’t receive phone calls, messages, or notifications by itself.
If you have a cellular or LTE smartwatch with cellular service from your phone carrier, you can still receive phone calls, messages, etc., without the phone. It’s basically like a smartphone on your wrist.
But Why Get a Cellular Smartwatch?
Way back in the 1980s, I always carried a quarter in my pocket, and then a quarter and dime when the cost of a call on a payphone jumped from 25 cents to 35 cents. That change in my pocket was my lifeline just in case something happened and I needed to get a hold of my parents.
It always gave me a little sense of security being that we were all running loose and digitally disconnected from each other. Can you even imagine? It’s hard even for me to remember life before smartphones but I lived a good chunk of mine without one.
So what in the world does that have to do with a cellular or LTE smartwatch? For me it’s kind of the same concept as keeping that loose change in my pocket for those “just in case” scenarios. Believe it or not, I walk through my house without my smartphone in hand. Sometimes I even venture out into the yard like a brave homesteader miles away from another living soul totally phone free. Scary.
It’s crazy how much our lives have become intertwined with our smartphones and how distraught we become without them. It.really.is.crazy!
That’s one of the greatest reasons to choose a cellular smartwatch. I can be free of my phone but still connected for the important calls and messages. I’m not going to be looking at a screen for hours a day wasting precious time. If I can remember the 1980s, you know I don’t have much time left to waste.
I’m ready again to take a walk in the neighborhood, or even go on a Sunday drive totally smartphone-free. I can feel my heart pound a little with the thought. Yikes! But I won’t be totally without a phone, I just won’t have one with a large screen that consumes way too much of my life. It’s kind of like Nicorette to help me break free of a really bad habit.
Yes, I want the security of being able to make a phone call or receive important messages but I don’t want to be addicted to a screen. So there’s reason one. I think that reason by itself is enough reason.
Another reason that convinced me to go ahead and order that Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular version this time around was the gym. What a pain it is to drag my phone around to each piece of equipment in order to listen to music or just have the phone with me in case my kid’s school was trying to get a hold of me or the president or the Pope. You just never know who’s going to call. Hey, it could happen.
Dragging the phone around the gym means it could easily get lost, broken, or stolen. I’d much rather leave it in the locker but still be connected with a smartwatch.
If you exercise outdoors regularly, a cellular smartwatch makes sense because running with a smartphone can be a bit impractical.
Many smartwatches are now coming with fall detection, sometimes called incident detection, in which the watch is able to detect that you have fallen or had some type of accident. It can then notify your designated contacts by sending an SOS with your exact GPS location or call 911.
The Apple Watch can call 911 for you if it detects you have taken a bad fall. It will message you first asking you to confirm that you need assistance and if you aren’t able to answer or confirm that you do need emergency assistance it will call 911 for you with your exact location.
This is a potentially life saving feature, especially for those with health issues but if you’re away from your phone the watch isn’t going to do you any good unless it has its own cellular connection. For instance, I could take a tumble down my basement stairs and be too far away from my phone to make a call or send a message.
So is it worth paying more on an LTE version or cellular version? I’ll leave that up to you. You will have to pay a monthly fee to your smartphone carrier. Most charge an extra $10 a month to add a smartwatch and then there’s the one time activation fee of about $30 but personally I think it’s worth it for me.
And there’s more options to choose from in 2019 too. Besides the Apple Watch, there’s the Ticwatch Pro LTE (only works with Verizon), Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE, and soon-to-be-released Galaxy Watch Active 2 LTE, amongst others. You can check the prices on Amazon by clicking on the links.
My Apple Watch with cellular capability is coming this week and I’m looking forward to taking that first long walk with my phone left at home. A shiver just went down my spine at the thought but I think I’ll be okay. I’ll have my security change on my wrist. It’ll cost me a lot more than 35 cents but it’s still a nice sense of security to have here in good ole 2019.