Apple Watch for fitness - cellular vs GPS

Hi all -

Long time listener, first time caller :wink:

So I bought the series 0 watch, and after being hot on it for a while, began to lose interest in it and now haven’t worn it regularly in years.

I’m trying to get into fitness more though, and I’ve found myself considering getting a new one. I think the speed of my old one and the somewhat spotty functionality of some of the third party apps at the time frustrated me before, and I expect the experience now is much improved.

My question is, if I’m interested in the watch primary for fitness-related things, is there a reason to get the cellular over the GPS? From what I can gather the difference is mostly more helpful in terms of calls, notifications, etc., which I don’t really care that much about.

The ability to stream Apple Music seems nice, but I’m not sure it’s worth the cost difference vs. just syncing a playlist.

Does the cellular improve the accuracy of any of the fitness-related tracking, or add anything else I’m not thinking of?

Thanks! —brian

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For your use case you are probably fine without the GPS. You can still bring music with you on the watch just not stream it. If you care about the safety aspect of being able to make an emergency call when you are out then that would be the biggest feature Cellular would get you.

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As someone who just ditched their Series 0 watch in favor of a GPS Series 3, I can tell you that will be very pleased with the performance of the newer watches. I got a Series 3 Stainless steel last fall as a replacement for my Series 0 but I kept the Series 0 as a workout watch. It worked, but barely. Just this week I replaced it with an aluminum Series 3.

If you are serious about fitness, I would get the Series 3 or the new Series 4. Both are much faster and responsive than your old Series 0, and that responsiveness makes the watch useful and a joy to use.

The question of LTE or not only pertains to the aluminum watches (Sport and Nike). Remember, all the steel and Hermes models all come with LTE as a standard featue. But assuming you are speaking about an aluminum model, whether you get LTE or not depends on what type of exercising you are doing and whether you want to keep your phone nearby or on your person. If you run or bike, for example, and you don’t want to carry your phone, the LTE might make sense. But if you plan on working out and having your phone nearby, a GPS-only model will work just fine. That’s what I’ve got for my Series 3 workout watch.


You will be happy with a Series 3. Like you I had the Series 0 and couldn’t stand how slow it was back then.

I now have a Series 3 LTE and I workout 6 days/week (biking and running) and had the cellular service for about a year.

2 months ago I decided to cancel the cellular service and I’m glad I did because it doesn’t affect on how the watch tracks my activity. The GPS is enough so I see no difference.

I also use a bluetooth heart rate monitor which provides more immediate feedback than the built-in sensors. Again the lack of cellular connection made no impact on this function.

Another little plus is, not getting interruptions during my workouts by notifications that I forgot to turn off.

The only thing that bothers me now is that Siri was way more responsive with the cellular service. But I don’t use Siri during my workouts.


I think for fitness alone, the Series 3 or 4 watch with just WIFI should be fine. I had the Series 3 LTE and just upgraded to the Series 4 LTE and do pay $10 per month for cell service, but my use of LTE has been pretty limited. Here are some examples where LTE helped me: (1) vacationing in Hawaii. Theft was common at the beach at our resort so I left my iPhone in the room and was able to take calls from my spouse and message my daughter from a paddle board in the ocean (so geeky) without fear of losing my phone on the beach. (2) I forgot my wallet (and phone) at the grocery store but was able to pay for my purchases with Apple Pay from my watch (whew!). (3) I take long walks in the country as my primary exercise and can leave the phone behind knowing I can stream music and podcasts and still be in contact with work. Phone calls with AirPods and the cellular watch come through fine. But honestly, this is just a small convenience as I could easily take my phone. Runners would have a different view I think. With LTE, I think it’s more about staying in touch when you’re away from your phone than anything.

By the way, having both the Series 3 and Series 4 watches, I would spring for the Series 4. It’s more money, but the larger screen, improved health functions, and faster overall operation make it worth it if you can afford the extra dough.


This is the first use for LTE on the watch that seems really compelling to me. If I take a beach vacation I’d consider activating LTE on the watch (and probably deactivating it after I got back).

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RE your #2, use of Apple Pay on the Watch is done independently of the iPhone. It is one of a handful of features where the Watch can do things without the phone. So whether or not your Watch has LTE makes no difference when using Apple Pay.


Good to know! Thanks.

Thanks all - this is all really helpful. Sounds like upgrading to the 4 over the 3 might give me more bang for my buck than LTE, if the money ends up being a factor.

I happened to be in midtown yesterday and was going to stop into the Apple store to take a look at the new series 4s, but there was such a line to just get into the store I bailed!