Possible to use NON-cell Watch with an iPhone that has no cell plan?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by nagromme, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    A used iPhone with no cellular plan (no SIM, no data plan, no voice plan) can be a great WiFi-only “iPod Touch.”

    I know it’s a rare case, but can a recent-ish no-plan iPhone also be used to allow you to have an Apple Watch? (Not a cellular Watch of course.)

    I seem to keep running into people who want an Apple Watch yet are committed to either a no-data flip-phone or a cheapie Android phone. And who are almost always on WiFi anyway—which means a spare hand-me-down iPhone (non-activated) might in theory allow them to use an Apple Watch.

    They’d get fitness tracking, weather, timers/alarms, etc., but no calls/texting. They’d also get the value of iOS app notifications, iMessages, FT audio, and music/media control. When they leave home, it’s up to them whether to take the extra iPhone along or not—either way, fitness tracking continues.

    Some of them already have a hand-me-down iPhone which they use and like on WiFi. So I started to wonder:

    Limitations aside... would this work? Can you activate a non-cellular Apple Watch by pairing with an iPhone that has no carrier plan?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. matrix07 macrumors 601


    Jun 24, 2010
    Sure. Why not? Keep in mind it’ll work only on WiFi, like you don’t get notifications when you’re walking around. That’s a big limitation.
  3. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    For the flip-phone folks, and those with no cell coverage anyway, the limitations seem to be OK.

    I just hope there’s not some software quirk in the way. I’ve never heard of this actually being done.
  4. exgymnast macrumors member


    Sep 23, 2015
    When I spoke with Verizon, they stated that the watch does not have to be paired with a phone and that it could have it's own number. Of course a lot of the features that are shared with the phone would not exist, but it would still work perfectly fine.
  5. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    They’re definitely wrong about that: even the non-cellular Watches must be paired with an iPhone to work at all. (They can then do some things like fitness tracking when temporarily away from that phone.)

    But that’s not my question - I was wondering about pairing a non-cell Watch with a no-plan iPhone. Possible in theory! I was hoping for firm confirmation of this unusual case.
  6. dave006, Sep 28, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018

    dave006 Contributor


    Jul 3, 2008
    Just West of East
    You are correct that @exgymnast got bad information from a Verizon employee. Here is a Verizon Knowlege-base article that covers the details quite well.

    Short answer is that the LTE watch must be paired an iPhone with a post-paid plan and Verizon uses what they NumberShare to manage the phone numbers(s). Yes, the watch will have it's own phone number but you can't call from or to it without setting up NumberShare.

    Link: https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-215386/

  7. exgymnast macrumors member


    Sep 23, 2015
    Got it that you have a different question, but not wrong. I did it by mistake then switched to the pairing. You can only do one or the other.
  8. musicpenguy macrumors 65816

    Oct 29, 2006
    For the watch to have cellular access so does your phone - it is an extension of that main phone line - sadly no option yet to have the phone be the primary number.
  9. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Thanks! Just to get things back on track: my question is NOT about a cellular Watch.
  10. Shanghaichica macrumors G4


    Apr 8, 2013
    From my understanding you can’t even set the watch up without pairing it to a phone and once you unpair it won’t do anything.
  11. Nekomichi macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2016
    Apple Watch (GPS-only) can be set up with any iPhone 5S or newer, and doesn't require an active cell plan. It'll function like normal except without calling or texting features.

    As a matter of fact, even LTE watches can be paired with iPhone without any kind of cell plan (it'll just automatically skip the SIM step). An LTE watch without a paired eSIM can still make emergency calls though.
  12. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Thanks! (They won’t need to unpair - they’ll keep using the no-plan iPhone... just not as a phone.)
  13. perezr10 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2014
    Monroe, Louisiana
    I believe some people have taken the SIM card out of their android phone and put it into an iPhone. Paired with the iPhone, and put the SIM back into their Android phone. It works but I think some features were missing.

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12 September 26, 2018