Editor’s Note: this post was last updated on December 20th, 2019
Have you ever felt that twitch as you scroll down your Facebook feed? And that phone-snubbing friend who can’t stop texting while talking? We’ve all been there. Phone addiction is a real thing, according tohealth experts. As every mobile app designed to keep us “hooked”, the pocket device that used to be helpful is increasingly depriving us of focused attention and quality social time.
Thanks to smartwatch technology, we don’t need to go on therapies to “break up” with cell-phones. If you ever wish to stay connected without being tethered to the phone, the best standalone smartwatch can be your lifesaver. Simply put, it’s like having a basic feature phone on your wrist that frees you from social media addiction and also enables you to stay connected.
Before you ditch your cell phone, some proper investigation is needed to choose the best LTE smartwatch that works like your smartphone. Read our research-backed guide below to help you make an informed decision.
Most Affordable – Amazfit Verge, the price of this watch makes it the best budget standalone smartwatch on the list.
How We Pick
When choosing the best standalone smartwatch we assessed a range of devices from the household names to the lesser known technology companies. Weeks have been spent categorising each under their most standout features, cross referencing the smartwatches based on quality and refining our findings with customer reviews.
We also have a team of users who have given hands-on tests and feedback for individual products. They have been strapping on a number of the best standalone smartwatches and studying their battery life, fitness features, value and more in order to decide definitively which ones are worth placement in our list.
Best for Overall
Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular)
OS: watchOS | Display: LTPO OLED capacitive touchscreen | Battery Life: up to 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless charging | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Space Black, Silver, Gold
Apple sought and succeeded in beating the unbeatable with the sequel to the Apple Watch 4. The Apple Watch 5 sports a beautiful titanium finish and uses ingenious technology in its ‘always on’ display. This latter advancement was a fantastic solution to the annoyance of getting your watch to activate its screen when you’re looking at it.
Unfortunately this does hit your battery quite hard, but of course you don’t have to default to this mode. As standalone watches go, the Apple Watch 5 beats them all with a stunning design, impeccable connectivity and a sleek cellular functionality.
Everything else that was astounding in the Apple Watch 4 is still present. iOS is a brilliant interface. The cellular technology is fantastic and very easy to use, causing you not to need your phone at all. It’s not hard to understand why Apple Watch’s are the most popular standalone smartwatches out there, and why this one tops the bunch.
Why we love it: the latest iteration of the Apple Watch sees some amazing additional refinements making it the best standalone smartwatch on this list.
Most recent Apple release
New brushed titanium finish
Short battery life
Unattractive app interface
Few updates from Apple Watch 4
Best for iPhone
Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular)
OS: watchOS | Display: LTPS OLED Retina | Battery Life: up to 18 hours | Charging method: Magnetic Charging Cable | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Space Black, Space Grey, Silver, Gold
A glorious design update when compared with Apple Watch 3 with more powerful features. Upon its release, the Apple Watch 4 really did exceed expectations of what a wrist device can deliver. Although nearly doubling the price of its predecessor, the Apple Watch 4 is an incredibly good smartwatch with reliable cellular connectivity.
The design of Apple Watch Series 4 is breathtakingly sleek and futuristic. Building on top of the familiar Apple Watch 3 form, Watch 4 managed to innovate beyond screen size. With a 30% larger screen than the previous model, the case of Watch 4 seems even slimmer and more lightweight.
The display size comes in 40mm and 44mm, with a vivid, crisp full-color display thanks to the LTPO technology. The watch is now able to fit in much more information in a tiny watch screen, making it easier to view detailed infographs and navigate app interface (which iOS handles easily). Clicking the digital crown is a very pleasing experience as the haptic feedback is super fast and responsive.
Why we love it: this iteration of the Apple Watch represents the best design in the Apple Watch series.
Reliable cellular connectivity
30% larger LTPO display
Digital crown with precise haptic feedback
All-new fast S4 Chip
High price point
18-hour Battery life less than ideal
Sleep tracking is seriously lacking
Best for Android Phones
Ticwatch Pro 4G LTE
OS: WearOS | Display: Dual [AMOLED + FSTN LCD] | Battery Life: up to 2/30 days | Charging method: Charging Dock | IP rating: Water-resistant to 1.5m | Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC | Colors: Black
The rugged design of the Ticwatch Pro standalone smartwatch combines a durable appearance with a sensible look. The stainless steel bezel is lightweight and built to last with a shock-absorbing design.
The smartwatch’s layered design is more than just an interface choice. The Ticwatch allows the user to switch between a fully smart interface with color AMOLED design, and a pared-down LCD screen with an incredible 30 day battery life. Though the latter version can’t utilize smart functionality, it is a fantastic feature that helps the user to have a customizable experience.
The Ticwatch Pro 4G’s cellular characteristics allow for smooth and fast connectivity, allowing you to receive calls and receive messages too. The phone watch also sports a WearOS interface enabling hassle-free usability with plenty of amazing third party apps to choose from.
Why we love it: this standalone watch provides an ingenious energy-saving mode, and is undeniably attractive.
Dual display technology
Sturdy battery life
Limited to Verizon in US
Slightly bulky design
Limited to Vodafone in UK
Best for Staying Active
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE
OS: Tizen OS | Display: Super AMOLED | Battery Life: up to 60 hours | Charging method: Charging Dock/Wireless | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors:Cloud Silver, Aqua Black and Pink Gold
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 promises you freedom from your phone with a beautiful round design not unlike a hybrid watch. Calls, texts and notifications all appear on the smooth circular watchface, devoid of a bulky, annoying bezel.
Samsung has evidently put a lot of thought into the workout side of this smart fitness watch. It provides you with relevant exercises, and prompts and inspires you in real-time. Guided breathing sessions are included in this fitness tracker to help you to destress. Even the watch’s design is moulded to help the accuracy of the heart rate monitor.
Being a standalone smart fitness watch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 will allow you to make calls, texts and receive notifications independently from your smartphone. GPS and Samsung Pay are even included, further pushing this watch as a fantastic standalone watch with great fitness capabilities.
Why we love it: this fitness tracker combines a beautiful design with cellular functionality and effective features to keep you active.
Automatic fitness recognition
Smooth bezel design
4G version expensive
Not comfortable when sleeping
Sleep tracking not detailed
Best User Experience
Samsung S3 Frontier LTE edition
OS: TizenOS | Display: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen | Battery Life: up to 72 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: Water-resistant to 1.5m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Silver
Samsung Gear S3 is another high-end LTE smartwatch with sim card. It’s made for the modern connected lifestyle: whether you are out for a grocery run, a business meeting or a hike up the mountain, you can use the watch to pay for purchases, take phone calls, and track your activities.
The watch design features a rotating bezel that lets you easily navigate between apps. The 1.3” display is always on, reducing the need to wake the device to check the time. You can also change straps to go from sleek business-casual style to a rugged outdoor adventure look.
Apart from being able to take phone calls and receive SMS on a cellular network, the S3 watch boasts advanced GPS and health tracking. What’s noteworthy is that it’s compatible with both iPhones and a huge selection of Android devices. It’s pricey though – retailed at $349.99 from AT&T – but the reviews are pretty positive.
Why we love it: this watch includes an ingenious bezel design ensuring a spectacular ease of use.
Intuitive rotating bezel
Straps provide dynamic look
Integrated voice assistant
Limited apps available
Best for Running
Garmin vívoactive® 3 Music (Verizon)
OS: TizenOS | Display: Transflective LCD | Battery Life: up to 5 days | Charging method: USB Charging Cable | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Black/Granite Blue
Trusted smartwatch producer Garmin impresses here with the Vivoactive 3 Music. The addition of the cellular functionality adds to an already packed list of features on this watch, including music storage, over 15 sports modes and Garmin Pay.
The watch itself is fantastic for running for a number of reasons. One of these being the advanced music functionality that allows you (with Bluetooth headphones) to listen to stored songs directly from your watch. Other reasons include the integration of VO2 max and Garmin’s own ‘Elevate’ heart rate technology that both allow you to keep a watchful eye on integral indicators of fitness and performance.
The watch itself uses the always impressively understated Garmin style to deliver a modest but powerful look. You can also count on durability with the use of Corning Gorilla Glass. With the vivoactive 3 Music, the company really does combine a multitude of features, with a confident style and design.
Why we love it: listen to music on the go and benefit from a number of fantastic fitness features.
Amazing battery life
Over 15 sports modes
No third party app messaging
Only available in black
No running dynamics reading
Best for Style
Samsung Galaxy Watch (4G LTE)
OS: TizenOS | Display: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen | Battery Life: up to 72 hours | Charging method: USB Charging Cable | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Silver, Midnight Black, Rose Gold
Apple might be dominating over half of the smartwatch market right now, but Samsung’s Galaxy Watch with LTEis filling the gap for alternative choices – and a very attractive one too.
Armed with LTE connectivity, the brand-new Galaxy wear is certainly a strong challenger watch for Apple Watch 4. It comes in two sizes and three colors: 46mm (silver) and 42mm (midnight black & rose gold), so there is an option for everyone. With a stainless steel case and Corning Gorilla Glass protection, the Galaxy Watch is a very sturdy watch that denotes durability.
With its round face and watchhand design, Galaxy watch is pushing hard for a sophisticated “real watch” look. The always-on, full-color display makes it function like a real wrist watch too: you don’t need to flip your wrist or press a button to check time. Compared to Apple Watch Series 4, its 4-day battery life is very impressive, thanks to the energy-efficient super AMOLED technology.
Why we love it: Samsung offer a sophisticated design that still packs a cellular punch.
Classy analog watch design
Bluetooth or LTE connectivity
Hardy steel case and Gorilla glass
Always-on 1.3 Inch sAMOLED display
Lacks a compact design
Bixby not usable
No Google maps or Messenger app
Best Battery Life
Huawei Watch GT 2
OS: Proprietary OS | Display: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen | Battery Life: up to 14 days | Charging method: Magnetic charging thimble | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Bluetooth, LTE | Colors: Silver, Black
The first thing to mention about Huawei’s only appearance on this list is the battery life. The company gives the estimation of a whopping 14 days based on typical user habits on a single charge. This means that the watch could easily reach over that if you were more sparing with your usage.
It’s a wonder when a standalone smartwatch can stay awake for more than two days, let alone two weeks, so this is definitely something to note. This is yet another smartwatch that combines a sensible ‘classic’ watch design with advanced digital functionality.
Huawei instils its powerful technological know-how into the sleep monitoring, heart rate tracking and fitness coaching available in the watch. This means accurate location tracking, precise fitness direction and reliable sleep statistics are available to the user.
Why we love it: this watch incorporates an astounding battery life alongside impressively powerful features.
Huge battery life
Sturdy and sophisticated design
Amazing fitness features
Already an old model
Limited app choice
OS: AmazFit OS | Display: AMOLED | Battery Life: up to 5 days | Charging method: Magnetic Charging Cradle | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC | Colors: White, Black
Providing a standalone experience that’s a bit more like a ‘stand alongside’ experience, the Amazfit Verge may rely on a smartphone connection, but is worth a mention simply because of its price. The watch does allow you to answer calls straight from your wrist, but only with your smartphone nearby and connected.
Third party message notifications are supported, like that of WhatsApp. The Amazfit OS is also fairly impressive for a company that is quite small and unknown compared to Apple or Garmin. Using the watch is as smooth as any of the big name devices and the Verge also includes 12 sports modes, almost equalling that of the higher end Garmin models.
Heart rate monitoring and a great fitness app on your smartphone are included as well. When you look at the cheap price for this watch, it’s safe to say it’s an innovative device for those on a budget.
Why we love it: this watch delivers some great functionality for a fraction of the price other watches.
A standalone smartwatch is a smartwatch that you can use instead of your phone in certain instances. Companies use the term ‘standalone’ as the great majority of smartwatches require a connection with your phone via Bluetooth. However a standalone watch does not necessarily need this.
They often take the form of a smartwatch with sim card, allowing the user to make and receive calls and texts completely independent of their smartphone. This also means that the smartwatch can access the internet for things like GPS and advanced fitness tracking without piggybacking off of another connection.
This is a huge benefit for a user as all they need to do is activate their smartwatch rather than fumbling for their phone to receive a call or write a text. They are truly able to communicate with friends, family and coworkers on the go without having to resort to their smartphone.
Do you really need a smartwatch with cellular connection?
It really depends on your lifestyle and what you require from a smartwatch. If you are a busy person who is rushing around to meetings and events frequently and needs an easy means of communicating, a smart watch with sim card slot is a real help.
It can also be helpful if (for whatever reason) it is hard for you to reach in your pocket for your phone while on the move, a smartwatch that doesn’t need a phone brings a myriad of fantastic features and services onto your wrist.
You may not need a smartwatch with a cellular connection if you are looking strictly for something to help with your fitness or health. This is because there are a range of different watches that can help with fitness (like Fitbits for instance), and you don’t necessarily need cellular connectivity in order to achieve this.
What to consider when choosing a standalone cellular smartwatch?
Design & Comfort
The best smartwatch is likely to stay on your wrist indefinitely as it will track your sleep as well as answer your calls! This being the case, comfort is paramount. The size of the bezel or the watch face will always be a big factor in whether or not you’ll find the watch a comfortable fit.
Design is important too. If you’re going to wear this consistently, it’s got to be something you are proud to wear on your wrist. You only have to look at the range of standalone smartwatches in this list to discover the range of design choices that companies make. You need to have a long think about what will look right for you.
The main functionality you should be looking for from a standalone smartwatch is the ability to call and create messages straight from your watch. This functionality is what truly makes it a standalone smartwatch.
An integral thing to take into consideration is what network the cellular functionality is available on. You will see smartwatches in this list that are only available on certain networks, and that should definitely factor into your final decision.
Past cellular activity, it’s really what you want for yourself. Some standalone smartwatches have a strong focus on power of GPS and selection fitness features, whilst others allow you to enter a world of popular apps, games and services. Ask yourself what you are buying your smartwatch for, to be entertained or to train!
User experience is not only vital to the user (obviously) but also to the smartwatch company. If you have a poor experience in any part of your purchase and usage, from customer service to poor quality engineering, you will remember it and probably won’t buy anything from that company again.
Garmin, for instance, are renowned for providing a fantastic user experience. This is because they promise a lot from their devices, and then deliver on those promises.
Users also want to see connectivity, they want to feel part of a community, especially when it comes to fitness features and operating system usability. Apple are always fantastic at this as their other devices are so popular already, it’s easy for them to connect your Apple Watch with your iPad.
Being that you are hoping to have the best smartwatch on your wrist for an extended amount of time, battery life is one of the key features. However, it is also an aspect in which a lot of smartwatches fall short. The popular Apple Watches often fall short of a couple of days, forcing you to charge it intermittently.
As well as this, the processes you are asking your standalone smartwatch to perform drain its battery considerably. With these things in mind, if you want a device on your wrist that can withstand the tests of a day, you need to make sure its battery life is substantial.
All smartwatches can do a number of basic processes without the use of a phone. Things like telling the time, setting reminders and customizing your watch face are all things that do not require any sort of connection. Many smartwatches these days are able to connect to a WiFi network, alleviating the need for a bluetooth connection to be able to use apps and services.
Standalone watches can do most if not all of their processes without the need for a smartphone connection. This is why they prove so popular as many people don’t see the point in such an advanced gadget unless it is replacing their phone.
Do I need a Simcard for standalone smartwatches?
You do need a simcard if you wish to engage in cellular activity on standalone smartwatches. A number of networks provide contracts engineered towards the use of cellular watches including Verizon and T-Mobile. If you buy a cellular watch from Amazon you will find that it often won’t come with a sim card.
You will find that the leading networks offer a service through which you can use your smartphone’s data plan in your standalone smartwatch as well as the phone, or even get an especially engineered plan giving you data for your watch and phone.
How do I use a smartwatch to text or answer calls without a phone?
The first thing to note is that if the device you are wearing is not a standalone smartwatch, you won’t be able to answer the calls without a phone. If it is a smartwatch that doesn’t need a phone, the exact process varies.
However, if your sim card is installed correctly within your smartwatch your call should be indicated upon the display. To answer you simply click the green ‘accept call’ option. You will then be able to hear the caller through the phone’s speaker or Bluetooth headphones, and answer back using the smartwatch’s microphone.
Liam writes articles for a myriad of sites and publications. With a deep-set love for electronics and music, often finds himself drawn to writing about the latest bands and gadgets. He has a degree in Drama and English, enjoys acting, producing music and writing in a number of formats. He also works as a copywriter, providing content for clients around the world.