Apple Watch review: Series 8 isn t worth an upgrade. The SE is the best value. Do i need Apple Watch

‘Does the Apple Watch work without an iPhone?’: Yes, but you might still need an internet connection — here’s what you need to know

Email icon An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.

Email icon A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.

LinkedIn icon The word “in”.

  • Your Apple Watch will work without an iPhone, but depending on what model of Watch you have, you might not have access to every feature.
  • You’ll need to have access to either a cellular or Wi-Fi connection if you want to use the majority of your Apple Watch’s features without an iPhone.
  • An Apple Watch can still be used without an iPhone or internet connection, but you’ll run into limits on what you can do.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It may be unusual to say, but yes, the Apple Watch does indeed work without an iPhone.

However, you’ll be sacrificing many of the Watch’s more prominent features if doing so.

Without an iPhone, the features available to you on your Apple Watch depend on what kind of Apple Watch you have, and whether there’s an available Wi-Fi connection.

If you don’t have either, there are still apps you can use — although you’ll be limited.

How to use your Apple Watch with a cellular connection

If you have an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities, and you’ve set up the cellular feature, you’ll have access to many of the same features available on your iPhone. This means you’ll be able to take telephone calls, use Siri, stream music, and more, on the Watch.

Here’s what you will need to use cellular on your Apple Watch.

  • An iPhone 6 or higher, with the most recent iOS update
  • An Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS Cellular), Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS Cellular), or Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS Cellular) with the latest version of watchOS
  • The same carrier for both your Apple Watch and iPhone

To learn how to set up cellular on your Apple Watch with an iPhone, read our article, “How to use cellular data on a cellular-enabled Apple Watch, and check your data usage.”

How to use your Apple Watch with a Wi-Fi connection

Even if you don’t bring your iPhone along with you, and you don’t have a cellular connection, you’ll still be able to connect to Wi-Fi networks, should one be available and within range.

However, features like SMS text messages and third-party push notifications may not be available.

These features are available on the Apple Watch with Wi-Fi, and without an iPhone nearby.

  • Siri
  • iMessage
  • Making or receiving calls (if Wi-Fi calling is enabled on your Apple Watch)
  • The Walkie-Talkie app
  • Streaming music, podcasts, or the radio
  • Any apps that support Wi-Fi
  • Controlling your home through the Home app

To learn how to set up to a Wi-Fi network on your Apple Watch, read our article, “How to connect your Apple Watch to a Wi-Fi connection and unlock all of its features.”

How to use an Apple Watch without Wi-Fi, cellular, or an iPhone nearby

If you’re out on a hike without your iPhone, and without a connection to a Wi-Fi network, and without cellular data, there are still ways to use your Apple Watch.

Many health features can be used offline, as can downloaded music and podcasts.

Here’s what’s available without Wi-Fi, cellular, or your iPhone.

  • Listening to podcasts and music downloaded to your Apple Watch
  • Viewing photos already synced to your Apple Watch
  • Making purchases using Apple Pay (useful for when out on a run and want to stop for coffee or lunch)
  • Setting timers, alarms, checking the time, and using the stopwatch
  • Monitoring your health via the Workout and Activity apps (though if you’d like your routes to be GPS accurate, be sure to bring your iPhone)
  • Monitoring your heart rate

Apple Watch review: Series 8 isn’t worth an upgrade. The SE is the best value

I’ve been testing the new Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE second generation ahead of their release Friday.

If you already have an Apple Watch, the 399 Series 8 doesn’t have enough new features to justify an upgrade. Most of the worthwhile innovations are available on the Watch OS 9 software, which you can download as long as you have an Apple Watch Series 4 paired with iPhone 8 or later.

The Apple Watch SE, on the other hand, has gotten a pretty big makeover. The new SE has a starting price that’s 30 less than the first generation SE at just 249. It’s Apple’s most affordable watch and it has new upgrades including a new Apple S8 processor — which makes for faster and smoother performance — low-power mode, sleep tracking, crash detection, and you’re able to set up the SE for a family member without an iPhone.

The Series 8 and the SE are pretty similar, except for the 150 price difference. The benefits you’ll get from paying the premium for the Series 8 are a few more health tracking features and a bigger screen.

The 799 Apple Watch Ultra, built for people who are into extreme sports, won’t be available until Sept. 23, and we’ll cover that when we get our hands on it.

Apple doesn’t break out its watch revenue the way it does for the iPad, iPhone and Mac. However, the company’s Wearables, Home and Accessories business — which includes Apple Watch, HomePod, Airpods and Apple TV — saw sales fall in Apple’s latest quarter to 8.08 billion from 8.78 billion a year earlier. The two watches that go on sale Friday probably won’t have much effect on this business segment, but the pricey Ultra — if successful — could help increase wearables sales for the company’s next fiscal year, which starts in October.

So could the new Airpods Pro 2, which I’ll be reviewing later on.

Here’s why I would hold off on splurging for the Series 8, and why the SE is a great value.

Series 8 has a larger screen always-on display

The Series 8 comes in two sizes: 41mm and 45mm. Like the new iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max, the Series 8 comes with an always-on display, meaning you can see the time even when your watch is inactive. You can choose a case that’s either aluminum or stainless steel. The aluminum comes in black, tan, silver and red. The stainless steel comes in black, silver and gold.

The second-generation Apple Watch SE comes only in aluminum in either 44mm or 40mm, and it doesn’t have the always-on display. It’s available in black, tan and silver.

While the aluminum is slightly cheaper looking, you can feel a little better knowing the production process Apple is now using for the 2022 SE reduces carbon emissions by over 80%.

I appreciate the size of the SE. The Apple Watch 8 felt a bit clunky while I was using it, which is a complaint I’ve heard from my other female friends. I also found that because the SE is lighter in weight, it was more comfortable to use for sleep tracking.

Both the SE and Series 8 have the same S8 processor

Despite being the cheaper model, the SE has the latest S8 processor, which is the same one that’s inside the new Series 8. Apple says the upgrade makes the SE 20% faster than the first generation SE, which debuted in 2020.

The Series 8 does have the U1 chip as well, which the SE does not. This chip allows you to use location tracking in the Find My app.

Both watches felt like they worked at the same speed to me. It was just as easy to navigate on either watch between the workout app, mindfulness and the weather app with no glitches.

SE has fewer health features but important ones

The SE has heart rate and fall detection, while the Series 8 can measure blood oxygen levels and has an ECG app to monitor heart rhythms.

The Series 8 does have a new temperature sensor that enables menstrual cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates.

While I appreciate Apple incorporating women’s health into the new watch, I have a hard time understanding how retrospective ovulation will provide the data necessary for women who are trying to conceive. Instead of giving you data about when you ovulated last month, other wearables such as Ava Fertility tell you when you’re actively ovulating so you can take advantage of your fertility window if you are trying to conceive.

Heart rate notifications on the new SE can alert users of unusually high or low heart rates or irregular rhythms which Apple says has helped save lives.

There is one advancement in the Series 8 that could provide users with important information. It now has AFib monitoring, which will help diagnose people with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.

When it comes to sleep, both watches provide comprehensive sleep tracking, though as I mentioned, the smaller and lighter SE is a little more comfortable to wear to bed.

The new crash detection feature is available on both the SE and Series 8.

The Series 8 has better battery life

The Series 8 charges very quickly. Apple says it can recharge from 0 to 80% in 45 minutes and to 100% in about 75 minutes. I definitely noticed a difference when charging my Series 8.

When the Series 8 is in low-power mode, it lasts up to 36 hours. Both watches have “all-day” battery life of up to 18 hours.

If Apple wanted to get me to buy the Series 8, they would have given it as much battery life as the new Ultra, which boasts 36 hours in regular mode and 60 hours in low-power mode.

Having a wearable that lasts only 18 hours or less is disappointing. A few months ago, I started using the Oura Ring, which gives me many of the same metrics as the Apple Watch, except I forget I’m wearing it and it only needs to be charged every three and a half to four days.

Which one should you buy?

If you’ve never owned a smartwatch and you just want the basic functions, such as notifications and activity monitoring, the SE is a great value. If you are concerned about your health, and want to get early warnings if things may be going wrong, the Series 8 may provide you with some added peace of mind.

The SE is also perfect to buy for a child who is too young for a smartphone. Maybe you don’t want them to go on social media or text, but setting them up with an SE can allow you to track their location and contact them in case of an emergency.

If you’ve already got a recent-model Apple Watch, I would not suggest upgrading. I hardly noticed a difference when using the Series 8 compared with my Series 7, or even the Series 5. The new health tracking features such as the temperature sensor don’t feel worthwhile enough to justify the price, especially since ovulation tracking is backward-looking.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the abbreviation AFib stands for atrial fibrillation. A previous version used an incorrect term. It has also been updated to remove references to the Apple Watch being used a health device by people who have already been diagnosed with AFib. Apple says in a footnote on its website that the Watch is not intended for such use.

Can I Use an Apple Watch Without an iPhone?

    Tim Brookes

apple, watch, review, series


  • May 9, 2022, 8:00am EDT
  • 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 or if you can use one at all.

    You’ll Need an iPhone to Start Using the Apple Watch

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

    You can’t use an Android device to set up an Apple Watch. The Watch is designed to be a companion device to an iPhone for much of its functionality. This is particularly true of the Wi-Fi model, though Apple also sells an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity that operates 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 for, like receive text messages, take phone calls, and access functions that depend on the internet. Unfortunately, this isn’t advisable due to the power drain placed on your Watch when using cellular data.

    You’re unlikely to receive all-day battery life if using your cellular Apple Watch away from your iPhone for prolonged periods. Wi-Fi models depend on your iPhone so you miss out on a lot of functionality when your paired iPhone is out of range. The exception here is when you’re in the presence of a Wi-Fi network that you’ve connected to before (when your iPhone was present).

    Things You Can Do Without an iPhone

    Some functions don’t depend on an iPhone, particularly related to health and exercise. While wearing your Apple Watch, your steps, and active calories will be counted which means 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 heartbeat, and you can take your heart rate with the Heart app or perform echocardiograms with the ECG app. You can use your Watch’s alarm and timer, or play music that has been stored on your Watch (with paired headphones). If you sleep in your Watch your wearable will continue to monitor sleep quality.

    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 like Voice Memos, Photos, Calendar, and Noise will continue to work as expected.

    If you have a cellular model then 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.

    The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere

    Join 425,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of features, articles, news, and trivia.

    By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    Don’t Buy an Apple Watch Unless You Have an iPhone

    If you don’t own an iPhone, the Apple Watch probably isn’t for you. Even if you use another household member’s iPhone to set the device up, this still isn’t ideal since the Watch is designed to work with your own personal Apple ID and device. You’ll want to save your own health data to your own account, for example.

    Instead, take a look at the alternative smartwatches available to you. If you have an Android device, other options will provide a better experience than a solitary Apple Watch.

    Do You Need Cellular in Your Apple Watch?

    As you may know, I’ve started a new independent venture called Apple Buying Advice to offer quick Apple product advice to regular people who want to buy Apple gear but aren’t technology hobbyists. Front-page picks are intended to satisfy most people, and short guides go into further detail with the Jobsian intent of narrowing Apple’s increasingly overwhelming list of options.

    My front-page Apple Watch pick is the GPS-only Apple Watch Series 7, and in the accompanying guide, I explained why I felt cellular connectivity is a waste of money for most people. Hoo boy, were you quick to set me straight! Many readers pointed out that a cellular Apple Watch is valuable for those whose clothes lack or have insufficient s, those who want to be able to call 911 from their wrist if they feel threatened, and those for whom the fall-detection feature could be a lifesaver.

    In my defense, I didn’t discourage cellular Apple Watches entirely. For the Family Setup feature, which lets you set up an Apple Watch for a loved one who doesn’t have an iPhone, cellular is required, quite reasonably. But since an Apple Watch configured via Family Setup does not support ECG or irregular heart rhythm notifications (among much else), I recommend the cellular Apple Watch SE for that purpose. It doesn’t have those features anyway, and it’s quite a bit cheaper than the Apple Watch Series 7, so why pay more?

    Also in my defense, my wife always has s, even when she’s wearing a dress. But she’s not a good example since she once owned an Apple Watch and doesn’t want another, regardless of how it communicates with the outside world.

    So who should buy a cellular Apple Watch? And who should save their money?

    Reasons to Avoid the Cellular Apple Watch

    First off, a cellular Apple Watch isn’t generally a way to avoid owning an iPhone. Unless another person in your family sets up your Apple Watch with their iPhone, you’ll need an iPhone anyway. And as I mentioned, watches using Family Setup lack some potentially welcome features.

    The base price of an aluminum Apple Watch Series 7 is 399, and the cellular model is 499, a whopping 100 increase, or 25% more. But it’s hard to make apples-to-apples comparisons across the Apple Watch line. For the 279 Apple Watch SE, cellular adds only 50—about 11% more. The luxury Apple Watch Edition and Apple Watch Hermès models are cellular-only, which simplifies things. So you can see—from a cost perspective—why I recommended the cellular Apple Watch SE but not the cellular Apple Watch Series 7.

    You must also factor in the monthly service fee, which hovers around 10 per month or an extra 120 per year, plus taxes and additional fees. Although you’re fine if you use one of the Big Three carriers in the US—ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless—only a few smaller carriers and MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) support the Apple Watch, and even fewer of those support Family Setup. So if you’re like me or others who prefer to work with an MVNO that resells access to another carrier’s network, a cellular Apple Watch may not be an option (see “Consumer Cellular Offers Cheap, No-Nonsense Access to ATT’s Cellular Network,” 12 July 2021).

    Let’s say you buy a cellular Apple Watch Series 7 and pay for service for 4 years. That would increase the cost from 399 to 979—a 580 difference. Obviously, if you’re going to make use of that connectivity, it’s your money to spend, but if not, it’s a lot to waste.

    Note that you can buy a cellular Apple Watch but choose not to activate it. Adam Engst took that path several years ago when he bought an Apple Watch Series 5 (see “Upgrading from an Apple Watch Series 2 to a Series 5,” 20 January 2020). That gave him the flexibility to pay for the cellular connectivity if it ever became useful to him (it hasn’t) and so he could pass it on to his wife Tonya, who relies heavily on the cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch (alas, she opted to buy a new cellular Apple Watch SE instead). The cellular capability might still improve the trade-in or resale value, and it will still call 911 if that ever becomes necessary for him.

    Many people buy and activate a cellular Apple Watch only to change their minds later because the benefits don’t end up justifying the cost. In part, that’s because Apple’s built-in features like messaging and fitness tracking are the main win, not third-party apps (see “How I Finally Embraced the Apple Watch as a Fitness Tracker,” 7 February 2022). For instance, you might think it would be helpful to be able to call an Uber from your wrist if you twisted an ankle while on a run, only to realize that Uber and other developers have given up on Apple Watch development.

    Reasons to Get a Cellular Apple Watch

    Let’s answer the core question: do you need cellular in your Apple Watch? My guess is probably not, but there are some good reasons to get it:

    • Separated from an iPhone: If you need to be out in the world without your iPhone, having a cellular Apple Watch gives you basic communication capabilities. This might be the case if you exercise without your iPhone or if you sometimes forget your iPhone due to a lack of sufficient s.
    • Increased safety: If you’re concerned about your personal safety while away from home, a cellular Apple Watch might enable you to place an emergency call more quickly or surreptitiously than with an iPhone. It could also help a family member see your location using Find My. And as noted, you can make 911 calls even without paying for an account.
    • Fall detection: If you’re concerned about falling and not being able to get up or call for help, the fall-detection feature on a cellular Apple Watch could trigger an automatic lifesaving call to emergency services or make it easier to initiate a manual call.
    • Family Setup: If you’re getting an Apple Watch for a child or senior who doesn’t have an iPhone, Family Setup requires a cellular Apple Watch.

    Those are the most common reasons someone would need a cellular Apple Watch sufficiently to justify the expense. If you have other reasons—particularly apps that take advantage of cellular connectivity—please let us know what they are in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев.

    Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

    Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For over 33 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

    Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

    | Denial of responsibility | Contacts |RSS