Everything the Apple Watch GPS-only can do without an iPhone

Best Answer: Without your iPhone, the best Apple Watch GPS-only (Series 0-6, and SE models) can still do the following: track workouts, track activity, see the time (also able to use Alarm, Timer, and Stopwatch apps), play music from a synced playlist, display photos from synced albums, make purchases with Apple Pay, check heart rate, use the Breathe app, and listen to podcasts stored on Apple Watch. If your iPhone is off or out of range, the Apple Watch can still connect to known Wi-Fi networks and do several other features.


Apple Watch GPS-only: No iPhone? No problem!

There will be times when you're away from your best iPhone, such as going to an event that doesn't allow cellular phones, forgetting it at home, or if you just want less to carry on a hike or run. Even then, your GPS-only Apple Watch is capable of a lot of things, whether it's the Apple Watch Series 0, Apple Watch SE, or the Apple Watch Series 6.


Tell time

The first thing that it can definitely do without your iPhone around is to tell time. It's a watch, after all, and you'll still be able to tap on the screen or raise your wrist to see the time. Heck, you can even use the Alarm, Timer, and Stopwatch apps without an issue.


Track activity and workouts

Since the Apple Watch is a great fitness tracker, not having your iPhone around doesn't hinder its ability to log workouts and keep track of your steps, heart rate, calories, sit-to-stand ratio, blood oxygen levels, and everything else health-related. The Apple Watch can store this data for up to 30 days (though we recommend not risking losing this data and connecting to your iPhone ASAP) with its onboard storage. As soon as your iPhone is within Bluetooth or Wi-Fi range once again, this data syncs to your iPhone and is cleared out from the Apple Watch cache.

For Series 0 and Series 1 owners, the Apple Watch will only store heartbeat, calories, and essential workout information since there is no onboard GPS. Series 2-6 owners get GPS with their workout data, and Series 3 and above also have a built-in altimeter, so elevation info is also stored.


Pay for things

The Apple Watch is capable of Apple Pay, so if you're out and about without your wallet or iPhone 12, you can still pay for things at businesses that accept Apple Pay. All of your cards that are in Apple Wallet get a unique token on the Apple Watch, so you don't even need your iPhone around to use them. Just make sure that you added your Apple Pay cards to your Apple Watch first. This also applies to gift cards, boarding passes, and other cards in your Apple Wallet.


Play some tunes

If you have some playlists in the Apple Music app that you want to take with you on the Watch, you can sync them to your Apple Watch through the Watch app. These tracks get downloaded onto your Apple Watch's onboard storage (when it's connected to power and placed near your iPhone), and these tracks are available to play on your Watch, even when your iPhone is out of range. If you have an Apple Watch with Cellular, then you can also stream tracks directly from Apple Music's catalog of over 40 million songs or even radio stations. This also applies to the Podcasts app, as you can listen to episodes of podcasts that have been downloaded onto the Apple Watch.


Show off favorite photos


Even though the Apple Watch got more screen with the Series 4 and later, it's still not the optimal way to view photos. But if you're sans iPhone, then the Apple Watch screen has to do, right? Fortunately, you can sync one album from your iPhone with up to 500 photos, so you can take your favorite pictures with you to show off to others.


Apple Watch GPS-only: You say my Apple Watch can connect to Wi-Fi?

That's correct. If your iPhone is just too far away, your Apple Watch GPS-only can still connect to known Wi-Fi networks, as long as you've been there before with your iPhone. The only exception to this is when the Wi-Fi network or hotspot requires a secondary authorization before you connect since there's no way to interact with these screens or input passwords on an Apple Watch.

But standard home Wi-Fi networks, for example, should be fine, as long as you've connected to it before with your iPhone. This feature isn't always 100% reliable, but if it does work, you'll see the Wi-Fi symbol highlighted in blue in the Control Center for your Apple Watch.

When your Apple Watch connects via Wi-Fi, it can do a few more cool things.

Use Siri

Since you always need a data connection to use Siri, the feature is available if your Apple Watch GPS-only is just on Wi-Fi. You can use Siri on Apple Watch to get directions, send iMessages, and more.

Messages and Calls

If the Apple Watch GPS-only has a Wi-Fi connection, you're able to send and receive iMessages and SMS, along with making and taking phone calls.

Check the weather and stocks

Worried about the weather? With a Wi-Fi connection only, your Apple Watch GPS-only should have no issue with getting the current temperature for you, along with the forecast. And if you're into the stock market, you can check how your favorite companies are doing in the Stocks app.

Control your Smart HomeKit accessories

For those who are invested in the HomeKit ecosystem and have several different HomeKit enabled devices at home, you can control them all right from your Apple Watch sans iPhone, as long as you're on the Wi-Fi connection. Just launch the Home app on your GPS-only Apple Watch and turn it off or on what you need.

Use standalone apps with Wi-Fi

Many Apple Watch apps are fully functional on the watch without your iPhone. And if they require an Internet connection to work, well, they should have no issue if it's just on Wi-Fi and not tethered to your iPhone.

Set reminders and never forget a thing again

"Hey Siri, remind me to pick up some milk."

As long as your GPS-only Apple Watch is on Wi-Fi, you should be able to tell Siri to remind you to do things that you may otherwise forget. You may not have your iPhone with you all the time, but if you have Wi-Fi, then it'll help you remember those small things before they slip on by.

Listen to podcasts, radio, and stream music

If you don't have your iPhone, then you'll only be able to listen to podcasts and music playlists that you previously synced onto your Apple Watch. But if you have a Wi-Fi connection, then it will be able to stream podcast episodes and music that aren't available locally on your Apple Watch. Radio stations are also available.

Chat with friends with Walkie-Talkie

Apple added a Walkie-Talkie feature in watchOS 5, so you can instantly send voice recordings to friends who also have it enabled. As long as you're on a Wi-Fi connection on the Apple Watch, just push the button to talk, then release to listen for their reply.

Apple Watch GPS-only: Wow! It is pretty capable without the iPhone.

That's right! The GPS-only Apple Watch can still do plenty of things even while it's away from your iPhone, so it's nice that it doesn't always need the iPhone around to get functionality out of it. And while you can get the Apple Watch connected to Wi-Fi, this only works if your iPhone was previously linked to that network. But if you have a Cellular Apple Watch, it can pretty much do everything without your iPhone since it has its own data connection.


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