Differences Between a GPS and a Cellular Apple Watch

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For Apple’s Series 3 and Series 4 watches, the company offers a GPS option as well as a GPS plus cellular option. If you had to choose one, which one is best for you?

Keep in mind that there is no cellular only option. You can get either a pure GPS Apple Watch or a GPS plus cellular watch.

Of course, the GPS plus cellular Apple Watch is more sophisticated, but what are the real differences between the two? There are quite a few differences to keep in mind before making a final decision.

Differences Between a GPS and a Cellular Apple Watch

GPS vs. GPS + Cellular

One of the biggest differences between the two is that the GPS plus cellular Apple Watch functions as a standalone smartwatch. The cellular watch features a built-in transmitter so it can send and receive a cell signal, among other things.

This means that you can send texts, make and accept calls, stream music, and more, all without needing to have your iPhone with you.

Yes, you will need an iPhone to set up both varieties, but only the GPS Apple Watch always requires you to have your iPhone nearby to use many of the functions such as call, text, and more.

Keep in mind that you will most likely pay extra on your phone bill to connect the GPS plus cellular Apple Watch.

So, if you are a jogger or just on the go a lot, and don’t want to lug around your iPhone, and still want to be able to do everything you can do with the phone, but with your watch, you will want to go for the GPS plus cellular Apple Watch.

Storage Capacity

In terms of storage capacity for the Series 4, there is no difference between the GPS and the cellular varieties. Both come with 16 GB of storage capacity.

However, there is a difference in storage capacity for the Series 3 watches. The Series 3 GPS Apple Watch features 8 GB of storage capacity, whereas as the cellular plus GPS model comes with 16 GB of storage.

Battery Life

Apple does claim that the battery life for its watches, whether cellular plus GPS or GPS only, is about 18 hours. However, this of course depends on how much you use the watch and what you use it for.

What needs to be said is that the cellular version is going to consume more battery if you are using it to make calls, send texts, stream music, and more.

Yes, the ability to go cellular is a big bonus in many ways, but having to send and receive a signal is going to consume more battery.

For instance, when connected with LTE, a cellular Apple Watch may only last for up to 1.5 to 2 hours of talk time.

Although the GPS version cannot do nearly as much, the battery life is a lot better, mainly just because of the limited functionality of it.

Differences Between a GPS and a Cellular Apple Watch

Music Support

Another big difference between the two has to do with music. Many people enjoy listening to music while on the go.

With the GPS-only versions, you will need to download your music directly onto the watch. While this may be fine for some people, be aware that this is going to take up a lot of storage space, as single song files can be quite large.

On the other hand, with the cellular plus GPS Apple Watch, you can use the cellular Wi-Fi connection to stream music.

You can simply update your playlist, use the Wi-Fi to stream the music, and you don’t even need to have the iPhone on your person. It’s much more convenient and it doesn’t take up storage space either.


For both the GPS and cellular options, you need to make sure that your iPhone is using an updated operating system.

  • The Apple Series 3 GPS requires an iPhone 5s or newer, with iOS 11 or newer
  • The Apple Series 3 cellular requires an iPhone 6 or newer, with iOS 11 or newer
  • The Apple Series 4 GPS requires iPhone 5s or newer, with iOS 12 or newer
  • The Apple Series 4 cellular requires an iPhone 6 or newer, with iOS 12 or newer


As you can tell, both the Series 3 and 4 GPS plus cellular Apple Watches are more sophisticated and functional than their GPS-only counterparts.

Of course, this means that you will end up spending more money for this increased functionality. Expect to spend around $100 more for the cellular watch than for the GPS only version.


If you want a simple smartwatch that has many cool functions and won’t cost you a fortune, the GPS only option will do fine.

However, if you are fine with spending extra and you want that increased functionality, the cellular Apple Watch is the way to go.

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