Does A Smartwatch Or Fitness Tracker Work Without A Phone?

does a smartwatch or fitness tracker work without a phone

In this day and age, we would all expect our modern fitness trackers and smartwatches to work without a smartphone, but this is not always the case.

Bluetooth technology has long been needed to bridge the gap between using a smartphone’s fitness tracking features remotely and independently of the phone, but there are some smart features on certain fitness trackers that have the smart technology built in.

So can a smartwatch or fitness tracker work without a phone? A fitness tracker without a smartphone connection is not an industry, but certain smart device models and many fitness trackers prioritize building the smart technology into the mainframe of the smartwatch or activity tracker.

As you can likely tell, there are many different variables that go into this question. For accurate data and health metrics, using an accompanying smartphone or a fitness tracker app are best, but this is not always necessary.

An Apple watch, such as the Apple watch SE, is a great example of a fitness watch that is a perfect standalone smartwatch all on it’s own, but there are other brands that offer this as well. In this guide, we are going to tell you all there is to know about smartwatches and fitness trackers not needing a phone connection.

Can even the best fitness tracker work without a cellphone?

It must be said that even the best fitness tracker is not really meant to work without a smartphone. The best fitness trackers almost always come with an accompanying app which is meant to be used on a smartphone.

For an activity tracker without a smartphone component, there are some drawbacks to be aware of as well.

For one, using a smartphone typically helps to save battery life on a fitness tracker, because when you use a fitness tracker, battery life is consistently draining.

A phone and accompanying app create long battery life, by freeing up some of the activity tracking and allowing other use to occur on mobile devices.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, many of the top standalone smartwatch brands also require some advanced features, such as sleep tracking, sleep quality, music control, distance traveled, and even certain phone notifications, to be accompanied by a compatible smartphone.

You can use built in GPS for certain fitness features and activity tracking, but other attributes will be contained on fitness apps that also show certain fitness goals.

So in summary, while there certainly are many trackers and smart watch models that work without a compatible phone, having a phone to access various activity tracking apps is always better.

Can you use your smartwatch without phone?

In terms of using your smartwatch or fitness tracker without a cellphone, this depends greatly on the individual model.

Devices that require a smartphone, which is most trackers on the higher end of the price spectrum, can also expand upon the fitness data of everyday activities when smartphone paired.

Entering particulars for heart rate monitoring, calorie counter specifics, and more can record more specific data through smart watches via a brand specific app.

You will also be missing out on smartphone notifications that send real time fitness information to your smartwatch like heart rate, ECG monitoring and more.

But if you want to use things like voice commands, answer calls, stream music, and more that require a smartphone, using the smartwatch alone may not be conducive to your routines.

Are there any standalone smartwatches?

There are indeed numerous smartwatches that do not require a phone.

Devices from Apple, the Garmin Forerunner and Vivoactive series, including the Vivoactive 3 and the Garmin Forerunner 235, have certain features that do not require a phone at all.

Advanced heart rate monitoring, heart rate tracking through pulse ox, and more are just some of the features that can all be unlocked without having a phone.

These smartwatches are also water resistant, come with wireless charging, and feature many of the same bells and whistles you can find on other devices that require a phone.

The main feature of these smartwatches is onboard storage capabilities through a SIM card which diminishes the need for a compatible smartphone, though it must be said, especially for Apple devices, an iPhone will be needed to operate and set up their watches.

How to use a smartwatch without a cellphone

Most fitness trackers work with a built in clock and SIM card that can open up some features, such as heart rate statistics, that you would normally only be able to relay with a connected smartphone.

To use these devices to stay active and track something simple like heart rate statistics, not much input beyond simply navigating the required buttons or touchscreen features on the smartwatch main frame.

Using something like Google fit is also a great consideration to bypass some of the features that would normally only be available on various apps.

If you have something like a Garmin specialty watch, such as the more rugged devices in the Fenix or Epix lines, all that needs to be done can be done exactly on the phone by navigating the buttons and screens to record your performance tracking statistics.

Essentially, the way in which a smartwatch works without a cellphone is that everything can be done right on the watch instead of having to cross reference with a connected phone.

Things you can do on your smartwatch without a phone based solely on battery life

One of the most obvious things you can do is calorie tracking that can show you calories burned for a specific activity. The ability to show calories burned is a fairly common feature easily contained on the face of the smartwatch.

Built in GPS on a fitness band or smartwatch unlock many features when in GPS mode such as distance traveled dynamics, as well as specific data based on your fitness activity and the surrounding environment.

With GPS, you can also navigate certain distances and use GPS to track and record performance dynamics based on the particulars of the activity you are performing, including differences that may be accounted for in tough terrain.

But in the end, most of the time you will need a smartphone to see advanced breakdowns of various activities that you otherwise would only get minimal information for with a smartwatch alone.

Why would you want a smartwatch or fitness tracker without a smartphone?

Financial considerations may be one main reason to consider. Devices that use Bluetooth and require an accompanying phone can be a bit more expensive than smartwatches alone.

Safety can also be a consideration to consider. According to the NCBI, just focusing on a smartwatch without constantly having to check a phone can reduce the risk of accidents when outdoors.

Fitbit devices, for example, do not always require a companion app beyond initial setup.

The same can be seen with something like an iGank simple walking pedometer, which uses simple pedometer technology to record extended periods of walking across numerous health statistics.

A reduction in radiation exposure is also perhaps a bit less than using devices that require a smartphone as well. However, there is still some exposure with a wearable device alone.

And last but not least, having a smartwatch alone is just convenient. It’s nice to not have to worry about two devices and to allow everything you need to be contained on the smartwatch alone.


In summary, you can certainly use a smartwatch with no need for a phone and vice versa. There are numerous models that limit or outright do not need a smartphone at all to use the many performance tracking features of the device.

You do not always have to opt for models that require a connected phone, and sometimes, this can be quite convenient, not to mention liberating.

Want to find out more about smartwatches and fitness trackers? Read these:

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At Best GPS Tech we found it frustrating that there were limited websites available, willing to provide an honest opinion on the latest GPS technology to aid our interests. We enjoy creating content around GPS products from the industry leaders such as Garmin, FitBit and more. We hope you find the site informative in helping you make the right buying decisions.

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