Smartwatches offer a convenient companion to your smartphone. But what if you want to use your smartwatch throughout the day without carrying your phone? Then you need a smart watch phone.
While many smartwatches require a connection to your phone, you’ll find some standalone smartwatches that can operate independently thanks to cellular support. A watch phone can’t fully replace your phone, but they’re great for those who are always on-the-go. They can also reduce the temptation to use your phone too often.
Here are the best phone watches you can use on their own.
Before You Buy a Standalone Smartwatch
Buying a smart watch phone sounds exciting, but before you make a purchase, you should be aware of how they work. Because they connect to cellular data, like your phone, your carrier has to activate and link them to your account.
This depends on your carrier, but almost always results in additional charges. Most carriers charge a fee for the initial activation, plus a monthly charge for having the device on your plan.
Be aware of this before you decide whether a phone watch is right for you. If you don’t plan to use the LTE functionality all the time, you’re probably better off sticking to the standard model to cut down on cost.
One other note: we’re sticking to only phone watches that include cellular support. While some smartwatches do offer Wi-Fi connectivity independent of your phone, this is less useful because you’re unlikely to stay within range of one Wi-Fi network while out and about.
1. Apple Watch Series 4 (and 3)
The Apple Watch Series 4 is unsurprisingly the best phone watch for iPhone users. Both the Series 4 and Series 3 models are available with cellular support. This allows you to make calls, send and receive text messages, stream from Apple Music, get directions, receive notifications, and more—all without your phone.
Of course, you also get all the features of the Apple Watch. This includes a growing list of compatible apps, customizable watch faces, Apple Pay, and much more. If you don’t need the latest and greatest, you can save some money by getting an Apple Watch Series 3 instead.
While it’s a great choice for the Apple faithful, Android users should of course look elsewhere.
These watches include eSIM technology, which copies the SIM info from your phone. You’ll need an iPhone 6 or newer to set it up, which you can do with Apple’s help page on Watch cellular setup.
See our Apple Watch Series 4 review for more information.
The Galaxy Watch is Samsung’s newest smart phone watch at the time of writing. This option is probably the best Android watch phone since the Apple Watch is a no-go on Google’s platform.
With the Galaxy Watch, you get standard smartwatch features like sleep tracking, guided meditation, and workout information. Samsung claims the battery on the smaller model will last for up to three or four days. It’s also built to last, thanks to Gorilla Glass DX+ and IP68 water resistance.
You’ll find a comparable set of cell phone watch features as the Apple Watch. You can call and text, stream music, and get notifications on your watch no matter where you are. If you shop somewhere that takes Samsung Pay, you can even pay with your watch over LTE.
Note that this watch runs Tizen OS instead of Google’s Wear OS.
Samsung still sells the Gear S3, which is the predecessor to the Galaxy Watch. It’s similar to the newer model, making it a decent way to get a watch phone without spending a lot.
The older device carries a similar feature set to its successor, despite having a weaker processor, less RAM, and fewer exercise options. The Gear S3 also suffers in the waterproofing department. While the Galaxy Watch is built for swimming, the Gear S3 is only made to survive a drop in water.
Both have a rotating bezel and offer LTE support for calls, texts, notifications, and Samsung Pay purchases. In effect, paying more for the newer model gets you better battery life and a few extra bells and whistles, but the S3 is still a respectable device.
If you opt for this, make sure you buy the model that’s compatible with your carrier. Samsung sells several different versions for the different companies.
The Watch Urbane 2nd Edition is a few years old, but it’s still available as one of LG’s two standalone smartwatch offerings.
This device features a classy design with three physical buttons and a full-circle P-OLED display. It’s IP67 resistant, which means it will survive a dunk in water but isn’t meant for swimming.
It has the usual smart watch phone features we’ve mentioned in the above models, including calling, texting, and music streaming thanks to LTE. You can also store music on the watch to listen locally. The device also supports health tracking, as well as “OK Google” for getting help with your voice.
Unlike Samsung’s offerings, LG’s smartwatch includes the standard Wear OS. You can pick up the LG Watch Urbane in models for both Verizon and AT&T, so check to make sure you choose the right one.
LG’s Watch Sport is another older device, but the company still sells it. It’s notable for being one of the first smartwatches with Android Wear 2.0 and LTE connectivity.
It has a crisp screen optimized for bright light outside, and features the power of Wear OS. This includes Google Assistant support and Google Pay for easy purchases.
Unfortunately, this watch is on the bulkier side and cellular service is only available on AT&T. But if those don’t bother you, this is a solid all-around standalone smartwatch despite its age.
Can a Smart Watch Replace Your Phone?
We’ve looked at five solid smart phone watches to choose from. Unfortunately, this market isn’t as exciting as it could be. Only the Apple Watch S4 and Galaxy Watch are recent devices; many major manufacturers haven’t come out with a standalone smartwatch yet.
This is because cellular smartwatches aren’t quite ready for prime time. Aside from the cost of the device, you also have to pay your wireless carrier a fee to have it on your account. It’s costly and feels like a penalty just for using a new device.
Additionally, battery life while using cellular data is quite poor. The Apple Watch only lasts for around an hour of calling on LTE before its battery dies.
However, if you don’t mind the cost and often need to stay in touch without your phone nearby, it might be worth dealing with these drawbacks. Hopefully, smartwatch technology improves in the near future so we can enjoy a better standalone smartwatch experience.