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Apple Watch: How to activate and manage Cellular Data

The flagship feature of the Series 3 Apple Watch is being able to connect to LTE when out of range of your iPhone. To help ease customers into the experience, it offers a 3 month free trial for most carriers.

You may want to check in on Apple’s website to see if your carrier is supported. In the United States, that will be T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. Note that the Apple Watch does not currently support roaming, so it will only work on the network you activate it on.

How to activate and manage Cellular Data

How to activate Cellular Data

  1. Ensure you have an Apple Watch Series 3 that has cellular support. To check this, make sure your Digital Crown is red. This indicates that it is an LTE model.
  2. On your iPhone, head into the Watch app > Cellular > Set Up Cellular.
  3. From here, it will vary from carrier to carrier. Just follow along through your carrier’s set up process.
  4. Once complete, it may take several minutes to activate cellular service. In some cases, you may have to call your carrier to activate the service.
  5. To confirm cellular service, you must first disable Bluetooth on your iPhone or walk away from your iPhone far enough so that it is out of Bluetooth range. To disable Bluetooth on your iPhone, head into Settings > Bluetooth > and then toggle Bluetooth off.
  6. On your Apple Watch’s Watch face swipe up from the bottom, tap on the Cellular icon, and make sure Cellular is on. It may take up to five minutes to connect to Cellular. If you’re within range of a Wi-Fi network (2.4GHz only) it will prioritize Wi-Fi over Cellular. Otherwise, the Cellular icon will turn from white to green, indicating that Cellular is on. You’ll also see the green dots on the top left of your Control Center rather than the iPhone icon.

How to manage Cellular Data

  1. To check stats such as usage, on your iPhone head into the Watch app > tap Cellular. It may take a moment for the data to populate.
  2. From here you can check overall Cellular Data usage, and check usage on a per-app basis. Unfortunately statistics don’t sync up with your billing cycle so you’ll have to manage data usage manually. Luckily, most carriers (at the time of writing) currently allow unlimited data for smart watches such as the Apple Watch.

While it is debatable whether cellular is worth it on the Apple Watch, it may be valuable for those who exercise on a daily basis or like the freedom without an iPhone. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have a 3 month free trial waiting when you activate Cellular Data for the first time.

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

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