Using Apple watch as primary device

I’m interested in making computers and internet a little less ubiquitous in my life.

As such I’ve been thinking about experimenting by getting rid of my iPhone and MacBook and replacing them with a MacMini and Apple Watch.

Only having a MacMini would mean I have to go to my office if I want to use the computer (instead of having the laptop kicking around the lounge). That part is fairly straightforward.

Getting rid of my phone is trickier. I do need to be able to make phone calls and send messages (text, email). I need to be able to get reminders and set alarms. I need to be able to use Google Maps occasionally for directions and travel times, and I’d like to be able to listen to music and podcasts. I’m not a heavy user of any of these things.

I’ve never owned an Apple Watch. It seems like it could almost be an ideal alternative to the iPhone for me. If I understand right it can do all the things I need but will largely remove the ability to get mindlessly distracted by social media etc.

But I can’t find any information on how viable this actually is. I know battery life is pretty limited and I’m happy to manage that (or at least try). But can the Watch do everything without an iOS companion device?

If the Watch can’t do this, do you know of any other devices which might be an alternative (don’t care if it’s a watch)?

LightPhone looks interesting:

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I do this sometimes. When it works, it is indeed a freeing feeling for how much utility you still have.

You don’t mention photos, but is it going to be a problem not being able to take them?

Also, you understand you’ll need to have an iPhone to manage the Watch, even though you can leave it at home or in a bag? The specs of the iPhone don’t matter at all.

With cellular, battery should last all day unless you do a long workout or two smaller workouts, in which case it will come up a bit short. Also, every now and then it comes up short even if you don’t work out. You should keep a charger in your car or a battery pack + charger in your bag for emergencies.

Are you okay with texting by voice? The little text entry pad is a big pain. You’ll also want to curate your one-tap replies every time you notice yourself writing the same line 2-3 times. You do this on your phone in the Watch app; they are really useful.

Drafts is a must-have watch app, in my opinion. Nothing else is as good at reliably capturing gestured/spoken text quickly and it’s also easy to reference saved notes.

Other than those things, there are just a bunch of little limitations and uncertainties with each app. It’s hard to say what will be enough of a problem for you to be a dealbreaker. If your usage of what you mention is moderate, it should be okay, though, and if you’ve the type of personality to not mind going without something for one day due to a misconfiguration or bad sync, even better.

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Thanks for the info. Not being able to take photos is a bummer, but I’m prepared to live without (or get a standalone camera).

I was really hoping that I wouldn’t need an iPhone to manage it. I’d like to ditch the phone entirely, but sounds like that’s not possible yet.

Problem is, at least currently, is thats it’s impossible to set up an Apple Watch without an iPhone. All software updates happen through iPhone, and Watch life is abysmal unless you spend some significant portion of the day of it being connected to your iPhone.

Watch just isn’t ready for total freedom at this point.

In the latest Watch announcement they did talk about how you can set up an Apple Watch for family members without an iPhone - the idea being that for children or older folks it’s a safety device. But that means you need someone to do that for you. I wish the Apple Watch was independent, it would be much easier!


Rather than trying to use scribble on the Watch, FlickType is a great keyboard for Apple Watch. It works for Messages and the latest release of Drafts has just incorporated it as well.


I think they will eventually try to have an independent device, the battery tech would have to be amazing though. Or have something that runs at even lower power. My series 4 drops battery like crazy if I’m not near my iPhone, but it is 2 years old at this point.

I was aware of the family sharing option, but like you said there still has to be some initial set up.

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The Apple Watch has always been meant to be an accessory to the iPhone.

Once upon a time the iPhone was an accessory to the Mac. I’m hoping the same transition might happen …

Thanks for the comments everyone. Sounds like the Watch isn’t up to what I’m hoping to do.

The Apple Watch is too small for that transition to happen. The iPhone had much more functionality due to its larger size.

I think there will always have to be a companion device to do configuration, but they could make the watch more independent by making that device only a configurator and not the ‘owner’ of the watch.

Theoretically this could be done on a Mac, Windows, Android, the web, etc.

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