March 20

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Can I Use a Smartwatch Without a Smartphone?

By Victor Dietrich

March 20, 2020


Wearable technology has been around for a good number of years now, and the innovations in the space keep coming. One of the first pieces of wearable technology, the wristwatch, changed the way some of us interact with exercise and our smartphones by giving us a window into what is happening via our smartphones on our wrists. It also enables us to monitor some health metrics, which has inspired many couch potatoes to get active.

But what if you have a smartwatch but no smartphone? Is it still usable, and what are you missing out on by not having it linked to a smartphone? Let’s explore this.

What is a Smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a wrist band that collects data from your movement and uses its sensors to monitor how far you walk, how many steps you take, your heart rate, how many stairs you climb, and many other things. The amount of data collected by the smartwatch is dependent on what model of watch you have.

What Is Still Useful?

Those health metrics that a smartwatch provides can remain inherently useful because a history is kept on the watch. You’ll need a model with a screen to be able to see them, however, so the activity bands won’t be much use unless paired with a smartphone. You’ll be able to see your daily steps activity and some data about exercise if you record it using your watch, but it won’t have much historic data or statistics available. If your smartwatch has a heart rate monitor, you can see a small amount of history there too, and a live view of your current heart rate.

What is Limited?

You won’t be able to use your smartwatch with the many apps available for smartphones that can give you really valuable information from the data collected by your smartwatch. If you’re a runner, walker or cyclist, apps that can track your workouts and give you data about segments or complete routes will be unavailable to you. So too will much of the historic data offered by these apps, particularly useful if you’re training or trying to improve your times or distances. If you’re training for an event, these metrics and comparisons can be invaluable and are only accessible if you can sync your smartwatch to a smartphone.

If the smartwatch, like the Apple Watch, is able to display incoming messages, notifications, and calls from your smartphone, you’ll miss out on this too. Some smartwatches, via a Bluetooth connection, can even be used to make and receive phone calls if connected to a smartphone.

As you can see, the smartwatch still has some value even if you don’t have it linked to a smartphone, particularly the more entry-level options. Some require a smartphone and simply won’t work without one – like the Apple Watch, for instance. Others are able to connect to your computer instead of a smartphone for the download of your health and movement statistics. It’s clear, however, that to get the most from your smartwatch, you’ll want it to be connected and synced to a smartphone.

​I also get a lot of questions from extreme sports fans about swimming, diving and other water sports, the answer is yes there are loads of solutions out there for you. I suggest you read my guide on the best waterproof smartwatches before making a purchase.

Victor Dietrich

About the author

I was born and raised in Vienna Austria. When I was 16 years old I started working for a watchmaker in the city, 50 years later I retired after running the business for the previous 10 years. I am now a contributor to ExpertCog where I share my knowledge on watches.

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