Does Your Smartwatch Need a Data Plan?

When Apple preannounced their Apple Watch, some naysayers complained that the watch doesn't work as a standalone device. It requires an iPhone to be fully functional. But those critics should be careful what they wish for. There are competing smartwatches that can accept a SIM card and access the Internet directly via a cellular carrier, but those wearables may require a data contract, and that can cost as much as a phone or tablet would cost.

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Considering that the quantity of data displayable and downloadable on a watch should be much less than a tablet, this is prohibitive.  While users might stream videos via Netflix, surf the web, and download apps on a tablet, a smartwatch is more likely to be accessing weather, news, and texts; small potatoes compared to a phone or tablet.

Apple's decision to tether the Apple Watch to an iPhone might make more sense, as the cellular carriers try to turn wearables into a cash cow. Smartwatches are a luxury item, not a necessity and at $200 to $300 or more, they are not impulse purchases. If wearables are to take off, they need to be more affordable, not more expensive. The data plan money grab doesn't help.

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP,,, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.