Why Shouldn’t I Get The LTE Enabled Apple Watch?

Before we begin, let me start by saying that though I admittedly do have a bias, this article will show to the pros and cons of getting an LTE enabled Apple Watch.

As you read on, you will see why an LTE enabled Apple Watch is not for *me*, however, in reading this article, you may become thoroughly convinced that it absolutely is the right choice for you, and that’s great.

My objective is not to talk you out of getting an LTE enabled Apple Watch, but rather to help you discover if you really need one or not. Additionally, I want to help you answer the question of whether or not you should invest in the LTE enabled Apple to watch or if you should get the NON-LTE enabled Apple Watch.

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The LTE Apple Watch Is Tethered To The iPhone

When the Apple Watch Series 3, (the fourth generation), was released on September 22, 2017, we were told with great fanfare that “Now you have the freedom to go anywhere, with just your Apple Watch” (see the 11:00 minute mark of this recorded video of the WWDC 2017 below).

That sounds amazing, and it’s what everybody wanted. Technically, what Apple said (and still say), is correct.  However, because both your iPhone and your Apple Watch share the same phone number, your Apple Watch is really tethered to your iPhone.

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If you turn your iPhone off, or if the battery on your iPhone dies, your Apple Watch loses a lot of capabilities, including the ability to place or receive phone calls, text messages, and email, not to mention streaming music.  

Additionally, all third-party apps that require an internet connection will no longer work, unless you are connected via WiFi, but even then, if your iPhone is turned off or if the battery on your iPhone dies, you still will not be able to take advantage of the core functionality offered on the Apple Watch, such as placing or receiving phone calls, text messages, and email, not to mention streaming music.

If you never turn your iPhone off, you won’t have a problem.  If you never let your phone die, you won’t have a problem. Leave your iPhone on and fully charged in New York, then fly out to Alaska with just your Apple Watch, and it will work just fine.

Again, your Apple Watch shares the same phone number as your iPhone.  One thing that I do not understand is how carriers will charge you a separate monthly fee, especially given that the Apple Watch uses the same phone number as your iPhone.  

What Is The Difference In Cost?

There are several options to choose from.  From the least scratch resistant to the most scratch-resistant, you can get the Apple watch (housing), in 24k Gold, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, or in Ceramic.  According to Apple’s own website:

Apple Watch is available in two different case sizes, 38mm and 42mm. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) [is] available in gold, silver or space gray aluminum, or silver or space black stainless steel paired with a variety of bands starting at $399(US). Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) [is] available in gold, silver or space gray aluminum cases with a Sport Band starting at $329 (US). Apple Watch Series 1 is available in silver or space gray aluminum cases paired with a Sport Band starting at just $249 (US). Apple Watch Edition in gray or white ceramic [is] available starting at $1,299 (US). All models will be available from apple.com and Apple Stores, as well as select Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers (prices may vary). For local availability, visit locate.apple.com. Apple Watch Nike+ starts at $329 (US) and Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1,149 (US) (prices may vary).

So, basically, the starting price for an LTE enabled Apple Watch starts $399 for a 38mm version with an aluminum case and a sport band, rising to $429 if you want the larger 42mm  LTE enabled Apple Watch.

LTE (GPS + Cellular) 38mm starts at $399
LTE (GPS + Cellular) 42mm starts at $429

The starting price for the non-LTE enabled Apple Watch, starts at $329 for a 38mm version with an aluminum case and a sport band, rising to $359 if you want the larger 42mm model.

NON-LTE (GPS Only) 38mm starts at $329
NON-LTE (GPS Only) 42mm starts at $359

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Be Sure To Count The Cost

You also must consider the monthly cost that your phone carrier will charge you to allow your LTE enabled Apple Watch to function.  

Just because you purchase an LTE enabled Apple Watch (GPS + Cellular), and you do not have your phone provider add your Apple Watch to your plan, LTE functionality will not work.  You will only be able to use all of the features if you have your cell phone with you, assuming that it is powered on.

Adding your Apple Watch to your carrier plan will cost you about $10 per month.  Over the span of 1 year, you will have paid $120 for the ability to use LTE on your Apple Watch.  

Of the big cell phone carriers, at present AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and Sprint charge $10 per month.  Each will wave the $25 – $30 activation fee and offer the first three months for free. So, for the first year of service, you will pay $90 for the user of LTE on your Apple Watch.

Who Is The LTE Enabled Apple Watch For?

There are those who will absolutely utilize LTE on their Apple Watch to the fullest extent, and for them, it will be a no-brainer for these users to purchase the LTE enabled Apple Watch.  These users include the following:

1Avid Runners

apple watch running When I say “Avid runners”, I’m referring to those who run for long periods of time . . . consistently.  For example, people who might take a 5 mile run each day before they go to work in the morning would definitely benefit from an LTE enabled Apple Watch.  Of course, runners can strap their iPhones to their arms when they run, but it’s not very convenient and can be cumbersome.

People who train for Triathlons can’t afford any extra weight, even the 6.14 ounces that an iPhone weighs.  Running, biking, and swimming require great concentration when competing against others. The last thing that a triathlete needs, is to be distracted by the possibility of a phone falling off of their body.

Not only can competitive runners take advantage of all of the features of the watch itself at a glance, but they won’t have to run *with* their iPhone to benefit from all of those features. 

2Avid Bike Riders

apple watch bike ridingLike runners, competitive racing requires concentration, and every ounce counts.  Bicyclists will cut their hair short and shave their legs in an attempt to shave time from their ride.

Even if you mount the iPhone to your bike, there is the weight of the iPhone (6.4oz), not to mention the weight of the mount itself.  The Apple Watch weighs 125 grams.

While riding, you can simply glance and tap as necessary to find the information you require, and chances are that all the information will be on your home screen already anyway, simply rotate your wrist or lift it to see what you need. 

3Avid Swimmers

apple watch swim summary
The Apple Watch is waterproof.  Well, it’s waterproof up to a depth of 164 feet (50 meters).  According to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, most recreational scuba divers only dive as deep as 130 feet (40 meters).  So, unless you are a serious scuba diver, or decide to hang your arm out the window of a submarine, you are going to be just fine.

In all seriousness, swimmers will use the Apple Watch to track their time, laps, and cadence, much like a runner, but in water.  One used to have a swimming coach telling them if they were on pace, below pace, or swimming faster than their last lap. Now your Apple Watch does that for you.  

Clearly, you do not want to take your iPhone in the water with you.  Even if it is “water-resistant”, it’s not rated the same as the Apple Watch.

4Track & Field

Try pole vaulting with an iPhone.  It’s not pretty. But thanks to the Apple Watch, pole vaulters can now see exactly how high they jumped to the inch. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt holds the world record to the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds.  I don’t think that he would hold that record if he was carrying an iPhone, even if you duct-taped it to his right calf. Picture running a marathon with an iPhone for the purpose of getting stats.  Not ideal at all. Now picture running that same marathon with an LTE enabled Apple Watch.  Everything available at a glance, and if you start slowing down, your Apple Watch will vibrate, letting you know that you need to pick up the pace.


Then there are those individuals that could easily do without LTE on their Apple Watch.  They don’t necessarily *need* an LTE enabled Apple Watch, but it wouldn’t hurt to have one.  These users would include hikers, or maybe even campers. Of course, you could make a phone call in the event of an emergency, or record hiking distance, but . . . if you are hiking, you could just as easily use your iPhone to get this information.  Is it a *need*?. . Probably not. In fact, an Apple Watch would be more of a convenience in this situation, but could almost be used as an excuse to get one 🙂

6The Gadget Guy

Finally, there are those that are just going to get the LTE enabled version and justify getting it any way they can.  These users include the teenager who wants it for the “Cool Factor”, and the “Gadget Guy”.I personally fit into the “Gadget Guy” category.  I definitely do not run, (though I do walk, and would use it to track my fitness in that regard).  Though I like bicycling, I’m don’t ride nearly enough. Track & Field? . . . . stop laughing. Hiking?. . once in a while with the family.


I think that it is great that one can utilize LTE on their Apple Watch, however, just because it is available, does not mean that it is “better”.  The watch is exactly the same. The only visible difference is that the LTE version has a red dot on the digital crown.

I have done extensive research on the *need* for LTE and found that unless you are an avid athlete, you probably do not need it.  You probably keep their iPhone with you at all times, unless you find yourself running, biking, swimming, or playing intervarsity sports.  

For most people, the LTE enabled Apple Watch is just not necessary.  The NON-LTE Apple Watch is by far, more cost-effective, and will do the exact same thing as the LTE enabled Apple Watch does, so long as you keep your iPhone on and don’t let the battery die.

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