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

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,195
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!
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,195
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.
 

exgymnast

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2015
62
21
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.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,195
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.
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.
 

dave006

Contributor
Jul 3, 2008
3,382
696
Just West of East
They’re definitely wrong about that...
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/

Dave
 
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exgymnast

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2015
62
21
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.
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.
 

musicpenguy

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2006
1,595
565
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.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,546
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Thanks! Just to get things back on track: my question is NOT about a cellular Watch.
 

Shanghaichica

macrumors G4
Apr 8, 2013
11,861
8,531
UK
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.
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.
 

Nekomichi

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2016
114
72
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.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
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Thanks! (They won’t need to unpair - they’ll keep using the no-plan iPhone... just not as a phone.)
 
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perezr10

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2014
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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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