Do Smartwatches Need Data Plans? All You Need To Know

Smartwatches are no accessories everyone loves to own these days, and with the enormous benefits they provide from fitness tracking to alarms, smart notifications, and more, this is as justified as it should be.

The question, “Do smartwatches need data plans?” is a question which keeps coming up all the time on forums, social media websites and if you arrived here because you’re searching for an answer to that question, then I will try to answer that in this article + a little in-depth explanation of how smartwatches work.

Do Smartwatches Need Data Plans?

Most smartwatches available right now don’t need data plans unless they’re standalone smartwatches with cellular connectivity capabilities and 4G LTE support. 

Standalone smartwatches (watches with cellular connectivity) use their own sim cards (usually nano SIM or eSIM) and connect to the internet with their own 4G LTE radio which is on the watch itself.

GPS watches or normal smartwatches without GPS we see every day don’t (explicitly) require data plans as they connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth (or WiFi in some cases) and a mobile app that uses your phone’s data. 

All data gotten from these types of smartwatches are synced to dedicated mobile apps which are installed on a smartphone (Android or iOS) and these apps use your phone’s data plan to upload and download data from or to the internet when needed.

Some examples of standalone smartwatches which require data plans are the Apple Watch Series (uses an e-sim with your phone’s data plan), DZ09 smartwatches, Samsung Gear s & S3, Samsung Galaxy Watches and more. 

These standalone smartwatches can also be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth but they offer you the opportunity to use them for things like calls, text messages, and even music streaming without your smartphone if you wish.

What’s An eSIM?

You probably saw the word “eSIM” a couple of times in my explanation above and if you don’t know what that means, then I will try to explain that here.

An e-SIM is a smaller, virtual and non-removable version of regular sim cards which is usually installed on the circuit of newer smartphones and smartwatches that supports the technology. It stores your ICCID (Integrated Circuit Card Identifier) – a unique number (or identifier) that is stored in the SIM cards and also printed on the SIM card during a personalization process.

Here is what an ICCID looks like.

eSIMs (on smartwatches) are basically an extension of your smartphone’s sim card and they use your phone number too. You can receive/make calls, messages and even browse on your smartwatch without your smartphone if you have an eSim enabled on the watch.

There are extra charges on your monthly plan for an eSIM, but this is entirely dependent on your carrier. Some carriers charge more, while some cost less.

The eSIM technology was introduced on smartwatches by Apple back in 2017 with the Apple Watch Series 3, and since then it has been on all Apple Watches up to the latest model – the Apple Watch Series 5.

Aside from the Apple Watch, there are other smartwatches that come with an eSIM and 4G LTE support like Samsung Galaxy watches, Samsung Gear watches and more so this technology is not available on Apple watches only.

How Much Data Does A Smartwatch Use?

For sure, smartwatches don’t consume data as normal phones do but it really depends on how you use them and what you use them for.

Some standalone smartwatches which do not require smartphones to use the internet often allow you to use video and music streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Youtube and these services consume more data if you use them all the time.

In summary, the answer to this question is multifaceted. How much data your smartwatch consumes largely depends on the number internet-dependent services and features used and the scale which they are used in.

Should You Get A Smartwatch?

Hell yeah, if you ask me. Smartwatches don’t just tell the time like other traditional watches do but come with loads of features like heart rate tracking, GPS tracking, stress monitor, smart notifications, and more.

If you need cheap smartwatches that don’t cost an arm and a leg, then take a look at my list of the best smartwatches under $100 and the best smartwatches under $50.

I’ve also outlined the advantages and of course, the disadvantages of owning a smartwatch in one of my older articles, make sure you take a look if you’re interested in smartwatches and wearables in general.

John is a computer science graduate, programmer and wearable tech enthusiast. I love to write about gadgets, smartwatches and fitness trackers. I also use an Apple Watch ;-)