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, standalone watches with sim card can be your lifesaver. Simply put, it’s like having a basic feature phone on your wrist that frees you from social media addiction.
Before you ditch your cell phone, some proper investigation is needed to choose the best smartwatch that can replace your smartphone. Below are our well-researched insights to help you make an informed decision.
What is a Standalone Smartwatch & Why You Need One in 2019
A stand-alone smartwatch works independently over various cellular networks without having to connect to a smartphone. Instead of being an extension of your smartphone, these watches are independent devices with cellular connectivity, and capable of phone functions.
The earliest known module of watch phone with a dial was Samsung 9110 from 2009. LG followed suit in the same year with a 3G watch phone, making LG GD910 the first ever cellular wristwatch. The technology became sleepy for almost a decade, but in recent year mainstream watchmakers such as Apple and Samsung have made a strong push towards smart wrist devices with cellular connectivity.
The success of smart watchmaker Omate’s Kickstarter campaign reminds us of what consumers truly desire: the convenience of a mobile phone packed in the discreet size of a wristwatch. Despite its small size, the Omate smartwatch has powerful features: touchscreen, HD camera, smart OS, GPS, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, dual-core processor…everything you fancy in a phone.
The success of smart watchmaker Omate’s Kickstarter campaign reminds us of what consumers truly desire: the convenience of mobile phones packed in the discreet design of wristwatches.
The main benefit of having a smartwatch without phone is instant mobile network access without digging into your pocket. Imagine making calls without having to carry your phone with you – a truly liberating experience! Plus, you will be able to check social updates, track your activities and even stream Youtube videos right from your wrist.
Some have voiced concerns about radiation hazard from wearing smartwatches, but the potential harm is negligible compared to smartphones. The pros of having a standalone watch phone significantly outweighs the cons. Here let’s take a look at the top rated cellular watches worth trying.
If you are an early adopter who loves the idea of a wearable cellphone, below are our top picks for the best simcard enabled smartwatches of all price levels. We hope with this guide, you will be able to purchase the best smartwatch that works like your phone.
A glorious design update from Apple Watch series 3 with more powerful features, Apple Watch 4 is exceeds our expectations of what a wrist device can deliver. Although nearly doubling the price of its predecessor, Apple Watch 4 is still the best smartwatch today that comes with 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 display than the previous model, the case of Watch 4 seems even slimmer and more lightweight.
The display size now comes at 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. Clicking the digital crown is a very pleasing experience as the haptic feedback is super fast and responsive.
Health is the key focus for Apple Watch Series 4. It now automatically detects and tracks all your workouts including Yoga and Hiking. Heart rate tracking is also enhanced with the two-in-one eletrical and optical heart sensors, and instantly alerts you when your heart rate is too low or too high. It is water resistant up to 50m so you can take it to swim and surf.
The highlight of it all is the fall detection & emergency SOS feature, which is said to save lives. The watch will ask if you are OK after detecting a (potentially fatal) fall, and if left unanswered after 1 minutes, it will reach out to emergency services and share your live location. It can be a very useful feature for looking after seniors and loved ones.
Of course as a cellular smartwatch, Apple Watch Series 4 can perform a long list of smartphone functions such as taking phone calls, music streaming and notifications. The biggest complaint we have about Series 4 is its battery life. Although you can last a whole day with a single charge, it’s still not a device you can take into the wilderness for days.
Building on its previous models, the Watch 3isn’t any bulkier even with a slightly bigger battery. It’s able to deliver an outstanding battery life when used as a traditional smartwatch, and the OS has been improved from earlier models that feels as fast as it should.
The wearable is loaded with all the features you want in a smart wearable including fitness tracking, GPS, Apple Pay, and a myriad of apps to chose from. Music streaming is smooth on cellular network, and heart rate tracking is pretty accurate. In short, a watch made for fitness buffs and outdoor enthusiast.
There are some complaints about the watch face too small to use social media, but hey, that’s exactly why we use it – to get away from our addiction to smartphone apps.
Apple might be dominating over half of the smartwatch market right now, but Samsung’s Galaxy Watch with LTE is 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.
The device kept Samsung’s signature rotating bezel design, which makes navigating the app galleries and interfaces much easier on a small screen. Samsung has also upped its fashion game: The strap is interchangeable and comes with a variety of options on Samsung’s website, which is essential to match the wrist device with different outfits.
In terms of features, the wrist device runs on the latest Tizen OS with improved performance robust fitness tracking. Compared to Gear S3, it has added more sensors and now tracks 39+ activities. It’s also waterproof up to about 50m, making it suitable for swim tracking. With its GPS tracking and built-in altimeter and barometer, this is a truly a watch for the outdoors.
Although Galaxy Watch runs on Tizen OS, it’s absolutely compatible with most Android phones (5.0 and higher) and iPhones (iPhone 5 and above). As a truly independently connected smartwatch that runs on 3G/4G/LTE, you can take phone calls, receive messages, and stream music etc while phone free.
Samsung Gear S3 is another high-end LTE smartwatch that works independently. 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 time. You can also change straps to go from sleek business-casual style to a rugged outdoor adventure look.
Apart from being able to taking phone calls and receive SMS on 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 reviews are pretty positive.
Huawei Watch 2 is another strong contender for Apple Watch alternative with 4G LTE connectivity, although the 4G connection only come in select countries (China, Australia, etc). Listed on Amazon for $350, its price point comes close to Apple Watch 3 and Samsung Gear S3.
The appearance of it reminds us of a sports watch and for good reasons. Packed with fitness and health tracking features, this watch is clearly designed for the active lifestyle. The 1.2” display is smaller than most, with a scratch-proof ceramic bezel that claims to be harder than steel.
Although there is not a single killer app that makes this watch a must-buy, it is a feature-rich timepiece and one of the few 4G LTE smartwatches.
The Gear S2 watch offers a standalone phone experience with a slightly cheaper price than S3, and less robust features as well.
Armed with a speakerphone and cellular connection, it works like a phone for calling and checking messages. It has built-in GPS which means you can use it for navigation. Powered by Samsung’s own Tizen OS, it can access limited apps such and is not as widely compatible with smartphones like S3 does.
Although pretty powerful as a standalone “watch phone” for its own sake, the Gear S2 watch still doesn’t feel like a fully smart device to replace your phone yet. But if you are just looking to place calls and check messages, it does the job.
This LG cellular watch features a large, round watch face that has 480×480 pixel P0OLED display – more crisp than most smartwatches. It does make the watch bigger than most though, but its top-end specs makes up for its bulky size.
With an improved display and battery from the original, this LTE watch runs on a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and delivers a reliable performance on Android Wear OS. There is a button to launch Ok Google, but the service is said to be crashing often. Another button launched the ambient mode, which is helps to extend battery life.
With its native LG health app, you can track your health data, fitness goals even stress level. LG Health data is limited, but you can integrate 3rd party apps such as myFitnessPal to track more detailed data. All in all, a pretty robust smart watch phone with a hefty price tag.
LG Watch Sport is the go-to phone is you want top-notch fitness features while phone-free. Strength training and personal coaching is its selling point, but the smart wearable also comes with additional features like GPS navigation, OK Google and NFC.
What’s most notable about this watch design is the bulkiness, but it is a wearable designed for the outdoor and feels durable. 1.38” display with a 480×480 resolution makes the UI very easy on your eyes, and the 430 mAh battery lasts up to 35hrs.
With many built-in sensors, the sport watch is capable of some heavy-duty fitness tracking, and lets you set up customizable goals. The selling point is the watch’s ability to record a myriad of exercises including aerobics and upper body workout, which is a rare feature in smartwatches. Priced at $350 on Bestbuy, it’s worth a try for the athletic types.
Pine by Neptune started out on a kickstarter campaign that claims to create the “most connected independent smartwatch”. The problem Neptune tries to solve is the inconvenience of having to carry two devices just to use a smart wrist device. The result was one of the most successful Canadian kickstarter campaign that reach 800% of its funding goal.
The boxy watch face design is a bit unusual in the smartwatch world, but the 2.4” screen is big enough for a full QWERTY keyboard – no more squinting your eyes to make out the type letters as you type. It comes with a micro sim card slot and is compatible with 2G/3G/4G network.
What’s more, the powerful wristwatch features two cameras: a front-facing VGA camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera. And that is not all – it’s also packed with all the high-end smartwatch features such as fitness tracking and GPS. At the time of writing, Neptune is working on a new wrist computer called Hub but there is no way to buy it yet.
ZTE Quartz is one of the most affordable standalone watches without sacrificing performance. Running on the Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform, the wrist device is touted to be super-responsive with a long battery life up to 36hours.
The watch features a sharp 1.4inch display with glass protection that is water and dust proof. It also offers interchangeable wristbands and customizable watch face, so that you can make it fit every occasion. In terms of software, the watch runs on Android Wear 2.0 with a 1.1GHz quad-core processor, so have no worries about sluggish performance.
Other features include built-in GPS and sensors as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection, which makes it a great companion for outdoor activity. One downside though is the lack of heart rate and sleep tracking. But with all essential features packed in a 3.14 ounce watch at $199, what more can you ask?
Low cost with robust features
Classy Design that doesn’t feel cheap
Great call quality
Long battery life even with always-on display enabled
If you are looking for a 4G LTE standalone for under $200, LEMFO LEM7 is your best bet. The round watch face mimics the design of a traditional watch, but the internal specs match that of a smartphone.
At 1.39 inch with 400×400 pixels, the display is optimal for image viewing and using apps without squinting your eyes. It has a 2MP camera that can come in handy for photo enthusiasts. The device runs on Android 7.0 and support fitness tracking, GPS and Bluetooth music streaming.
The watch works on 4G/3G/LTE network for making & receiving phone calls, sending & receiving SMS etc independent of your phone. It comes with various sensors such as step counter & heart rate monitor to track your health, and can be charged on its own powerbank.
Most standalone smartwatches come with a touchscreen. As a buyer you would want to consider if the touch screen is big enough for navigating apps and text input, given that you will do more than just checking time. Display resolution matters too: higher pixels count means the watch face will be more legible in bright conditions.
And for wearers with smaller wrists, you’d want to go for slimmer design and smaller watch faces. If you prefer the classy watch look, check out one of the hybrid smartwatchesinstead.
High end connected watches tend to offer a myriad of fancy features that set the bar very high for the average consumer, but carefully evaluate your needs and situation before buying. When it comes to watch functionalities, there is no one-size-fit-all solution.
If you are a fitness buff, a cellular watch with robust health tracking and coaching features will definitely help. But if you are only in need of making occasional phone calls and checking emails from your watch, these fancy features are not necessary. But if you are outdoorsy, GPS tracking and emergency SOS features might be very helpful for you.
If you wish to replace your phone with a connected watch, performance should be a big factor. Can the cellular watch reliably make/receive calls? How is the call quality without pairing with a phone? Do apps launch and run smoothly on 3G/4G/LTE connection?
Although a faster process often leads to better performance, you also need to pay attention to what OS (operating system) your desired watch is built upon, and whether it’s compatible with your iPhone/Android devices. Each OS connects to a different wearable app ecosystem, and it’s best to make sure the apps you want to use frequently are offered by these OS.
Although smartwatches have overcome many technical hurdles, battery life is still a work in progress. It’s quite annoying to run out of battery while you’re out and about with your cellular watch phone, so make sure the battery can last up to at least a full day while on data network.
For the athletic types, it’s even more critical to pick up a watch with long battery life. Imagine when you are hiking up a mountain for days on end, or cycling while streaming music and relying on the watch GPS navigation – battery tend to run out faster when using cellular connection, and your 4G/3G watch is not useful if always offline.
Not every independent smart watch comes with a built-in sim card slot. In fact, more recent high-end models such as Apple Watch 3 and Huawei 2 use eSIM (short for embedded sim).
The good news for eSim is that it reduces the need for a simcard slot, makes for a slimmer watch body & reducing consumer pain for installing the sim. The bad news is that changing your carrier/number can be quite a hassle since it’s pre-programmed into your watch.
Many standalone watches are still using simcard slots (nano or micro sim card). Depends on where you buy your watch from, you might need to purchase a data plan for your watch separately.
Standalone watch phones are going to change the way we live the connected life. Development in this space is still underway, but the past few years of progress has shown us endless possibilities.
Very soon, we could be performing not just phone capacities but also personal computer tasks right from our wrist. Wearable wristwatches are definitely becoming slimmer, smarter and sexier. Personally, I’m very excited to see what’s to come when AI/AR/IoT technology is more integrated into smart wristphones.
Are you excited as well? Let me know in comments below.