Smartwatches with cellular support are now much more commonplace than they used to be, with plenty of top options available for you to pick between.
Not every device boasts 4G/LTE connectivity and affords you the luxury of untethering from your smartphone, but major devices like the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Google Pixel Watch all have editions that offer the capability.
You'll have to pay a little extra per month for that cellular support, but, for some, it's well worth the small outlay.
That's why we've rounded up the top smartwatches with LTE support, and provided a little more information below on what you can expect to gain from the feature.
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Summary: Best cellular smartwatches
- Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular)
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 LTE
- Apple Watch SE (2nd generation, GPS + Cellular)
- Google Pixel Watch LTE
- Apple Watch Ultra
- Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE
Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular)
We rate the Series 8 as the best smartwatch on the market, and a big reason why is how it performs as a standalone device.
It's not the cheapest option on this list, granted, but it is undeniably the top option for those with an iPhone. With it, you can make calls, take them and receive notifications just as you would on your smartphone - all thanks to the built-in eSIM.
We've even found streaming music over the different generations of Series watches to be very straightforward and satisfying, and that's no different with the Series 8.
It allows you to stay in the loop when out exercising (or just when you don't want to bring your phone with you), and we've experienced plenty of occasions when the Apple Watch has outlasted our phone and kept us updated with notifications.
The only other thing to be aware of, really, is the price jump. You'll pay a pretty premium for the addition of cellular support - and that's without mentioning the monthly fee from your carrier.
For everything else, read our in-depth Apple Watch Series 8 review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 LTE
The Apple Watch Series 8 may be the top option for those on the hunt for an LTE smartwatch, but, if you've got an Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the best pick.
Samsung's latest is an Android-only offering and also runs Google's ever-improving Wear OS. The standard edition, which we think is probably the better pick for most people, comes in 40mm / 44mm case sizes.
However, there's also the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to consider if you want something a bit more long-lasting and outdoorsy. We rate it as a slightly better watch, even if it's not right for everybody.
As we've seen in previous editions, LTE powers on a Samsung device will unlock all the functions you would expect, like enabling calls, streaming music from apps like Spotify and YouTube Music and receiving notifications from your favorite apps.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review for a closer inspection.
Apple Watch SE 2 (GPS + Cellular)
If you don't desire the more advanced features, updated design or price tag of the Apple Watch Series 8, the second-gen Apple Watch SE is a great pick - and it comes with the option of cellular support.
Like the more expensive Series devices, the LTE support on the SE will give you access to notifications, calls and music streaming when away from your iPhone.
This makes it a superb value pick for those who are really in the market for a cellular smartwatch - but, remember, you'll still have to pair it with an iPhone for it to work.
Note that you'll also have to pay a decent chunk extra for the GPS + Cellular edition, as well as the monthly cost, and the price naturally varies depending on whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm case.
We think this is a great starter smartwatch for those with an iPhone, but read our full Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) review for the full lowdown and a better idea of what you're missing compared to the Series 8.
Google Pixel Watch LTE
If you're not quite sold on either of the LTE editions available through Samsung, Google's debut smartwatch also has a cellular-enabled version for you to consider.
The LTE experience is broadly the same as it is on Samsung's watches, since both run a version of Wear OS 3, and the integration with Google's services - including the likes of Google Maps - worked seamlessly during our testing.
The mic and speaker during calls also both worked well without being exceptional, which we'd say is par for the course with smartwatches.
And, overall, we'd rate the Pixel Watch as the best-looking LTE smartwatch out there for Android users - even if it does only come in one relatively small 42mm case size.
The only reason we don't rate it above the Galaxy Watch 5 series is due to the battery life. It's pretty bad even without LTE enabled, giving you barely 24 hours of use, and this only takes more hits if you decide to employ it as a standalone device.
Approach with caution, we'd say, and with a charger on hand at all times.
Read our Google Pixel Watch review for all the details.
Apple Watch Ultra
Apple's new kid on the block comes with LTE support as standard, which, unlike with other Apple Watch devices, means you don't have to pay an added premium for the feature.
You do, of course, still have to shell out a considerable chunk more than any other device on this list, but the Apple Watch Ultra is also more feature-packed than its rivals.
You're getting a superb smartwatch experience, bolstered by that bigger and brighter screen, while the case design and straps are much more suited to the outdoors than any other LTE smartwatch currently on the market.
Just be aware that you'll receive significant battery drain when using LTE on the Ultra. Though Apple quotes 36-hour battery life for the smartwatch, this estimation comes down considerably with LTE turned on for a full day.
This is true of every Apple Watch, however, and, interestingly, the Ultra is the only device the company actually reveals details regarding battery life with LTE turned on throughout a cycle.
On its product page, Apple says, "With a service plan, you can keep in touch with up to 18 hours of all-day LTE battery life," and we'd wager that a single day of use is about right based on our testing.
For a broader look at this device, read our Apple Watch Ultra review.
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE
For the most part, Garmin has opted against offering LTE versions of its running watches. The exception to this rule, however, is the very impressive Forerunner 945 LTE, which is actually only available in the US.
It's no longer the latest version in the line, with the Forerunner 955 releasing earlier this year, but it's still a superb option. In fact, thanks to regular Garmin updates like this one, it performs almost identically to a 955 - and has that ace in the hole in the form of LTE support.
This is something we don't expect to come to the 955 for a while, as well - if at all.
Just be aware that, unlike on your traditional smartwatches, this LTE coverage isn't designed for untethered phone calls and notifications. Instead, Garmin includes LTE support to aid safety features, such as sharing your live location with family and friends.
As you would expect, there are plenty more reasons to choose this running watch - and you can find them in our Forerunner 945 review.
Key considerations when choosing a cellular watch
If you're in a muddle about just what a cellular smartwatch actually is, we've got the key details you need to quickly get you up to speed.
What can a cellular smartwatch do?
In smartwatch terms, having one with a 4G/LTE cellular connection allows you to link to your carrier's data plan without the connection of your phone.
This means you can take calls, listen to music, use apps, send messages and take part in all the other usual smartphone frivolities, just, you know, without your phone being present. There are some watches though that embrace that standalone connectivity for different reasons, too, such as Garmin's Forerunner 945 LTE.
In order for a smartwatch to mimic your phone, it has to be able to connect to the same network carrier. And if you want to take calls, you're also required to link the same number as your smartphone.
Do I need to switch my SIM card over?
No. Instead of having to carry a SIM ejector around with you and deal with a physical card, some watches use eSIM technology, which is essentially an embedded variant that can't be moved from the hood.
The benefit of this tech over regular SIM cards is the smaller size – companies are already trying to reduce the size, so this is a natural step – and the efficiency of sharing your number between phone and watch through software.
Do you have to pay a monthly fee?
This all depends on the carrier you decide to go with, but, usually, yes.
However, deals will often be bundled with a smartphone, since you need to be rocking the same network and the two go hand in hand.
Does using LTE affect battery life?
Deciphering which sensors and what activities affect your battery is always a tough game, but the answer is, well, yes – using LTE will generally sap your battery faster than if you weren't using it.
What we often see from devices with LTE is a bigger battery (and a bigger build) in order to offset the power it's taking up.
If you're looking to save battery and get a few more hours in the day, simply switching to a feature-slimmed mode on your device should help you out on that front.
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