Wearables with LTE connectivity are made for users who want to leave their phones at home while keeping the option to make phone calls, receive notifications, or stream music in a pinch. The feature used to be more common, but many of our favorite brands like Fossil have abandoned 4G/LTE cellular service for their latest generation. So finding the best LTE smartwatches — starting with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 LTE — comes down to an exclusive, high-quality list.
Our top pick for the best Android smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 5 comes in Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE variants. For $50 extra, you can get the watch on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or USCellular networks in the U.S., as well as most standard carriers in other countries. Since Samsung made the Galaxy Watch 5 more affordable than most watches, this cellular version is especially cost-efficient without reneging on quality, compared to the competition below.
You can read this Galaxy Watch 5 review to get an in-depth look at how the watch performs and what features to expect. To summarize briefly, it has the latest software and app support with Wear OS 3.5, so you can access a variety of music and messaging apps without your phone on you, including a new QWERTY keyboard that’ll let you stay in touch with friends and family.
You also get access to Google Assistant, so you can get questions answered quickly during an emergency. You also have the latest Exynos W920 with 1.5GB of RAM for speedy processing, and a slight battery boost over the Galaxy Watch 4. Samsung claims it can hit 50 hours, and while we never hit that number, it is undoubtedly a watch that lasts all day and night with regular wi-fi-only use. LTE burns through more battery life than normal use does, but this watch is more equipped to handle it than an Apple or Pixel Watch. And its new 10W charging helps it hit 100% in a little over an hour, which helps deal with the extra battery burn.
The Google Pixel Watch is another one of our favorite watches available today, and it also lets you add cellular connectivity for just $50. You can make and receive calls, check notifications, and stream music over your network of choice. You can see Google’s list of supported carriers (opens in new tab) by country at that link, with some unique options like Google Fi that specific users will prefer.
Again, our Pixel Watch review can give the device more justice than we can in this limited space. We also have a guide on the Pixel Watch vs. Galaxy Watch 5 to see how the two compare outside cellular concerns. The Pixel Watch is the more stylish of the two, has more RAM for fast performance, and packs double the storage for streaming music playlists. But the Galaxy Watch 5 will certainly last longer than the Pixel Watch, and it comes in a larger display size while the Pixel Watch has just one petite size option.
Otherwise, you’re getting a very similar device here: a fast Wear OS watch with Google apps like Messages, Assistant, and Maps — though the latter does currently require your phone, even if you buy the LTE option — plus the promise of years of software support, so you know it’s worth the investment.
The biggest problem with any LTE watch is battery life. The only reason to buy cellular data is for calling people or checking messages with your phone at home. You need a load of processing power for that, which will quickly burn through your battery life.
Your best solution is to buy a massive watch like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which counterbalances the LTE power suck with a 590mAh battery that normally lasts over three days per charge. Our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review exhibited some mixed feelings about the watch’s thick and heavy design, arguing that the standard Galaxy Watch 5 is probably enough for most. But for cellular buyers, the extra capacity will absolutely come into play for making phone calls or streaming music.
This model costs significantly more than the Galaxy Watch 5, and aside from some useful offline maps and trackback support (which don’t require LTE), the Pro has no exclusives over the cheaper model. But the guarantee of better longevity for cellular or GPS tasks may be the raison d’etre that the Bluetooth-only Pro lacked.
Most companies stop selling last-gen devices when the new models arrive, but Samsung still sells the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic. It can do so because, when you compare the Galaxy Watch 5 vs. 4, most of the differences are restricted to its design, battery, and sensors. The last-gen model has the same processor and RAM and will receive a few more years of software support.
Plus, only the 4 has the Classic rotating bezel for scrolling through notifications, something the 5 and 5 Pro designs abandoned. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic comes in a heavier stainless steel case with 42mm and 46mm size options, which you may prefer to the 40mm and 44mm aluminum Galaxy Watch 5 series.
Because of that, if you spot the Galaxy Watch 4 4G LTE on sale, and don’t mind accepting a couple of downgrades like the shorter battery life, it’s certainly not a bad purchase. Originally, the LTE version overheated when used for exercise in direct sunlight, but Samsung provided a patch that resolved most of the underlying causes. It’s still shorter-lived than the Galaxy Watch 5, but has the battery to beat other competing watches like the Pixel Watch.
You might expect the Series 8 to be the “best” option for iPhone owners, and it’s certainly a better watch than the Apple Watch SE 2 (opens in new tab). But it also costs $150 more and charges twice as much for its cellular upgrade. The SE 2022 costs just $50 extra for cellular, making its price comparable to the Galaxy Watch 5 4G/LTE. If you can stomach the downgrades in display quality and sensors, the SE 2 will suit more people’s budgets.
To better target worldwide buyers, Apple has two cellular models of its watches for UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G bands). We couldn’t find Samsung’s international carrier list to compare, but Apple does seem to have the largest list of supported carriers (opens in new tab) around the world, so almost no one will miss out.
You can use the cellular upgrade to stream music, check notifications, text friends, or make and answer phone calls. Apple claims in its battery summary (opens in new tab) that the Apple Watch SE 2 has the same 18-hour lifespan as the GPS model, taking into account “4 hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone via Bluetooth.” For an actual LTE phone call, it’ll only last about 1.5 hours from full charge, so you’ll need to use it very sparingly. It can also last 5 hours with active GPS and LTE during a workout.
Since we haven’t reviewed the Apple Watch Series 8, we defer to our colleagues at sibling site iMore. In their review (opens in new tab), their main complaint with the watch was that it didn’t do enough to improve on the Series 7, which we did review and found very impressive despite being an Android-focused site. If you can find the Series 7 LTE on sale, it’s not that much of a downgrade from the Series 8 compared to the SE 2022, as it’s only missing the new temperature sensor and crash detection.
One reason to choose the Series 8 over the SE 2022 is that the latter hasn’t received the latest software with a QWERTY keyboard, making it much easier to text people without your phone nearby. It also has a larger display with thinner bezels, charges twice as fast, and has exclusive ECG and temperature sensors.
On the other hand, its cellular version is quite expensive at $500, with the same unreliable 18-hour battery life. It’ll still only last 90 minutes for an LTE phone call. Your only upside is that it lasts 6 hours with active GPS and LTE instead of just 5 hours.
The Apple Watch Ultra comes with LTE support built-in, just one of many luxury perks that correspond with its absurdly high price. Another perk is the larger battery, helping the watch hit 36 hours with regular use with 8 hours of LTE taken into account, or 18 hours with continuous LTE active. It’ll even last an extra hour (2.5 total) for a cellular call, giving you some vital wiggle room, or 10 hours with GPS + LTE.
Our colleagues at iMore loved the Ultra (opens in new tab), recommending it over the Series 8 and SE 2022 as “the best Apple Watch for most people this year.” And our wearables editor Andrew Myrick, who bought both the Ultra and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro with his own money, recommends the Ultra over the Pro if you can stomach the price. It’s a fantastic device with military-grade protection, a beautifully bright 1.9-inch display, and a surprisingly lightweight design given its size.
That said, this’ll cost you $500 more than the Apple Watch SE 2 and still requires you to own an iPhone to enable the cellular features. So we don’t blame anyone at all for balking at the price.
With all of the above picks, you can use cellular data to perform a variety of tasks like phone calls and messaging. Garmin’s LTE watch features are more spartan, focused on what athletes and adventurers would need rather than more casual users. You’ll subscribe directly to Garmin for its cellular service, which means it isn’t tied to a specific carrier.
With the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, you can send an automated message to emergency contacts if you’re in danger, then message the 24/7 Garmin IERCC so they can contact local emergency services to come find you. It’s especially handy if you’re someone that hikes or climbs in remote locations without a phone, and want a tool to seek help in a pinch.
It also has more joyful uses, like the option to receive “spectator messages” on your wrist for encouragement or updates while you’re mostly off the grid. You can send your Livetrack location if you’re running a marathon, or even use Live Event Sharing to send your current pace to your contacts so they know how you’re doing.
The Forerunner 945 LTE is one of the best Garmin watches available, with fantastic battery life, full-color mapping, and all the latest software that was originally exclusive to the newer Forerunner 955. That model has some slight improvements, but has no cellular option, making the 945 LTE a unique option for serious explorers and sportspeople.
Best LTE smartwatch: How to choose
Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
If you have an Android phone, you’ll want to stick to Samsung or Google. We didn’t like the Fossil Gen 5 LTE. While we do like the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, because the LTE version isn’t available worldwide, most people can’t take advantage of it. Otherwise, your selection is pretty limited.
Both Samsung and Google support a wide range of carrier networks, but may not support every MVNO, so you’ll want to check that before you buy any of these. With that out of the way, though, either the Galaxy Watch 5 series or Pixel Watch should serve you well. Samsung promises a longer battery life, especially with the Pro, which makes a difference when LTE guzzles so much energy to use. But if you mostly plan to keep your phone on you and will only use LTE in rare instances, the Pixel Watch is a compelling alternative.
As for iPhone owners, Apple does a better job than most explaining how much cellular data each watch can handle before it dies. The Apple Watch Ultra is clearly the best LTE smartwatch on this entire list with its 18-hour LTE lifespan — as long as other Apple Watches can last with GPS alone — but it also costs hundreds more than any other option. It and the Forerunner 945 LTE are for those who need something rugged and reliable for extreme situations and will pay the price for it.
Otherwise, the Apple Watch SE (2022) is our recommendation, unless you can’t live without the few upgrades that the Series 8 gives you.