5 Best Smartwatches with Call & Text Features – Without Phone

Can a smartwatch make calls or send texts? Yes, for sure.

In fact, the whole point of writing this guide is to introduce you to smartwatches on the market that can call and text (without a phone).

But before we dive in, let’s take a step back and understand the basics.

To offer these connectivity features, a smartwatch must have the necessary hardware specs, which include a speaker and a microphone.

If these conditions are met, any watch has the hardware support to make on-wrist calls.

Next, you’ll want to make sure that your smartwatch supports both Bluetooth calling and cellular calling. What’s the difference?

Bluetooth Calling on a Smartwatch: It relies on a connection with your smartphone. Your smartwatch in this case basically piggybacks on the cellular connectivity of your smartphone. This feature is convenient as it allows you access to calling as well as the contact list and call history without reaching out for your phone.

Cellular Calling on a Smartwatch: Cellular calling, on the other hand, allows your smartwatch to make and receive calls independently of your smartphone. Your smartwatch must have built-in LTE connectivity (a SIM card or eSIM). You must have a separate cellular plan for these watches to enable this feature.

The same goes for texting on a smartwatch. However, the overall experience of texting is largely defined by the operating system of the watch (WearOS & WatchOS). Features such as a QWERTY keyboard, emoji support, and voice-to-text functionality depend on the operating system.

Now that you understand the basics, let’s jump straight into the guide.

Smartwatches for Standalone Texting and Calling: Top 5 Picks

Here is a short summary of all the watches featured in this roundup:

NameCompatibilityRatingPrice
Apple Watch Series 9 CellularIOS★★★★★
Apple Watch SE 2 CellularIOS★★★✰✰
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 PRO LTEAndroid★★★★★
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 LTEAndroid ★★★✰✰
Google Pixel Watch LTEAndroid★★★★✰

Apple Watch Series 9 Cellular:

Key Specs: Display: 1.9-inch (484 x 396 pixels) | Dimensions:  45 x 38 x 10.7mm | Weight:  51.5g | Water resistance: 5ATM | eSIM embedded: Yes | Battery life: up to 18 hours

For iPhone folks, there is no better standalone smartwatch than Apple Watch Series 9 cellular. In fact, it offers the best connectivity experience on the market.

The foremost advantage is its seamless integration with iOS. This will allow you to conveniently access notifications, calls, and texts directly from your wrist. You can control what notifications come through to your watch, take notes on the fly, and do a whole bunch of other things.

The embedded eSIM technology in the watch allows it to function independently, so you can make or receive calls even when your iPhone isn’t nearby. This feature is especially useful during outdoor activities or whenever you want to leave your phone behind.

Bear in mind, to activate these features, you’ll need a separate cellular plan for your watch, which can cost around $10-15, depending on your carrier and location.

Note: Apple Watch Series 9 also has a GPS-only or Wi-Fi model selling at a cheaper price tag. This model lacks the eSIM and so cannot offer cellular features. All other watches in this roundup have an affordable GPS model.

Also, I have added only the large-sized models but there are two sizes available for each watch except for Google Pixel Watch.

iWatch Series 9 isn’t the first to feature texting support, but it is the first to include a QWERTY keyboard. For those who don’t know, smartwatches used to offer a T9-style classic keyboard that gets quite cumbersome. So the QWERTY keyboard is a big plus on this watch.

Texting on a smartwatch didn’t feel like a pleasant experience until Apple perfected it on Series 9. The watch has a large display and a high-resolution screen with thin bezels. The interface powered by WatchOS works like a charm.

So you will find it convenient to view and compose messages. Here is what you can send in a text message:

  • Voice notes
  • Emojis
  • photos
  • Videos

The Series 9 also supports music streaming and includes Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. With Apple Pay, you can make contactless payments, and it’s not even dependent on cellular connectivity.

There are also countless third-party apps available to enhance your experience. While some popular apps like Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook aren’t directly available, there are workarounds, like using the built-in web browser or downloading bridge apps like WatchChat2.

One downside of the Series 9 is its battery life, the other is its premium price tag. It lasts for about 18 hours under normal use, but the battery drains quickly during LTE calls, lasting only for about 90 minutes.

Apple Watch Series 9 excels as a mini iPhone, offering excellent connectivity features. Its smooth iOS integration allows easy management of calls, text messages, and notifications. Plus, its built-in LTE connectivity lets you stay connected, even when your phone isn’t nearby. Moreover, it supports music streaming, Apple Pay, and numerous third-party apps. However, the price tag is quite high, the battery life could be better, and it only is locked behind Apple’s walled garden.


Pros:

  • Seamless iPhone integration
  • Ultra-thin bezel Retina display
  • Plenty of third-party apps
  • QWERTY keyboard for easier texting
  • Contactless payments via Apple Pay
  • Independent functioning without the iPhone

Cons:

  • Compatible only with iPhone
  • Average battery performance
  • Extra expense for a cellular plan

Apple Watch SE 2 Cellular:

Key Specs: Display: 1.78 (368 by 448 pixels)  | Dimensions: 44 x 38 x 10.7mm | Weight:  33g | Water resistance: 5ATM | eSIM embedded: Yes | Battery life: up to 18 hours

As it goes with Apple Watches, there is always an underpowered, budget-friendly option that offers all the core features.

Apple Watch SE 2 cellular is a greater alternative for budget-conscious users, children, and senior citizens.

Interestingly, it offers all the connectivity features of its premium siblings, so you aren’t missing out on anything in this department.

Here is a brief run-down of its capabilities. Most of them are repeat

  1. It supports Bluetooth and cellular calls from the wrist, given that the eSIM is activated and a cellular plan is in place.
  2. Messaging capabilities are robust, including support for iMessages along with features like Autocorrection, Dictation, Quickpath, and Scribble. Users can send photos, emojis, videos, and voice notes directly from the watch.
  3. The watch also offers contactless payments via Apple Pay, widely accepted worldwide.
  4. Music streaming is simple, with options for Apple Music and third-party apps like Deezer and Spotify available on the App Store.
  5. Pre-installed apps abound, but users can further personalize their experience by adding third-party apps from the largest collection available on the Apple Watch.

The features that you will miss out on in this watch compared to Series 8 include:

ECG monitoring

Always-on display

SpO2 tracking

Fast Charging

However, as I looked, people mostly complained about aesthetic features rather than practical ones. For example, the larger bezel on the SE 2 is a common complaint.

Apple Watch SE 2 Cellular is a budget-friendly alternative to the iWatch Series 8. Despite its lower price, it provides all the essential connectivity features. However, it does miss out on some fancy features like advanced health tracking and fast charging. Also, the screen is surrounded by a pretty noticeable bezel.


Galaxy Watch 5 Pro LTE:

Key Specs: Display: 1.4 inch, 450 x 450 pixels AMOLED  | Dimensions: 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5mm | Weight: 46.5g | Water resistance: 5ATM | eSIM embedded: Yes | Battery life: Upto 36 hours

When it comes to LTE smartwatches for Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro stands in a league of its own. This watch can change many hats: it can be your personal assistant, fitness coach, and outdoor companion.

Note: You will get the same LTE capabilities on its sibling Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 which is slightly less expensive. However, it’s not as durable, its battery doesn’t last as long, and it lacks some outdoor features.

The user interface of the watch is powered by the latest Wear OS, that not only means buttery smooth performance but also access to thousands of third-party apps.

Its powerful Exynos W920 chip and 1.5GB of RAM ensure everything works fast, from notifications to calls and texts.

Speaking of calling, Samsung has truly nailed this feature. The watch’s built-in LTE lets you make calls straight from your wrist. Last I heard, they can take calls even on Whatsapp.

The calling feature is perfectly complemented by its enhanced texting capabilities. With the new QWERTY keyboard, texting on your watch has never been easier. You can quickly reply to messages, send emojis, and even voice notes, all from the comfort of your wrist. The watch’s high-resolution display makes for a pleasant texting experience.

Also, you can stream music from apps like Spotify and YouTube Music. For contactless payments, we have both Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

It comes with a 590mAh battery that will comfortably last through the day, even with LTE usage. And when it’s time to charge, its new 10W charging feature gets it to 100% in just over an hour.

This watch manages battery drain better than most others when using LTE, however, it is still far from perfect. WearOS is to blame here.

But it’s not all work and no play. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is also your ultimate health companion. It comes packed with improved sensors that can track your sleep, body composition, and even your toughest workouts. Its durable titanium casing and sapphire glass display make it suitable for any outdoor adventure, all the while keeping you connected.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro LTE is compatible only with Android and works best with Samsung Phones. Marketed primarily as an outdoor watch, it offers great connectivity features. Even when it is not paired with a phone, you can make and receive calls, send texts, and respond to notifications. The latest updates added a QWERTY keyboard and WhatsApp Calls.


Pros:

  • Exceptional LTE connectivity
  • New QWERTY keyboard for easy texting.
  • Long-lasting 590mAh battery with fast charging.
  • Robust health and fitness tracking capabilities.
  • Durable and comfortable design with titanium casing.

Cons:

  • Certain features like Google Maps navigation and ECG are still exclusive to Samsung smartphones.
  • Expensive

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 LTE:

Key Specs: Display: 1.4-in(450 x 450 pixels) | Dimensions: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8 mm | Weight:  30.3g | Water resistance: 5ATM | eSIM embedded: Yes | Battery life: up to 24 hours

The Galaxy Watch 4 LTE may be older, but its connectivity department is on par with the newer Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro. It runs on WearOS, just like its siblings

Basically, it runs WearOS which also powers its latest siblings. You can connect the dots.

I won’t go into all the connectivity details, as they are identical to the Watch 5 Pro. So, your choice between the Watch 4 and the Watch 5 Pro won’t depend on connectivity.

So how to pick?

  1. As you can expect, Galaxy Watch 4 LTE is the cheaper option.
  2. The latest Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is more likely to get the latest OS update (WearOS 4).
  3. The sapphire glass and titanium casing on GW5 pro speak of its high durability.
  4. Visuals, such as text and images, appear clearer and more detailed on the Watch 5 Pro, thanks to a brighter and sharper AMOLED screen.
  5. When compared head to head, the Galaxy Watch 4 comes up with a shorter battery life. So, you would need to charge the Watch 4 more frequently.

I added this watch to give you a cheaper alternative to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Galaxy Watch 4 LTE basically runs the same operating system (WearOS), so all the standalone features of its pricier siblings are available in this watch too. Just remember, it’s not that great in the health tracking area, and might not get the upcoming Wear 4.0 update.


Google Pixel Watch

Key Specs: Display: 41mm AMOLED | Dimensions: 41 x 41 x 12.3mm | Weight: 36 g | Water resistance: 5ATM | eSIM embedded: Yes | Battery life: up to 24 hours

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is compatible with Android phones, but there are still pickles. It works best when it is paired with Samsung phones. Samsung still holds select features from other Android users.

So what are our options? Google’s very own Pixel watch. Like the Samsung watch, it can be your wrist-bound communication hub.

This smartwatch’s user-friendly Wear OS interface, last-gen Samsung chip, and a generous 2GB of RAM offer snappy performance.

However, where it truly shines is in its core communication features.

The Pixel Watch offers LTE compatibility, allowing you to make or receive calls directly from your wrist (without a paired phone).

Texting on the Pixel Watch is just as impressive. The beautiful edge-to-edge display makes for an easy and enjoyable texting experience. Whether you are quickly replying to messages, sending emojis, or even voice notes, the Pixel Watch makes it a breeze.

The Pixel Watch doesn’t stop at basic cellular connectivity features. You can download offline playlists from YouTube Music, or Spotify. Plus you get access to Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Pay, and more.

However, the Pixel Watch struggles with battery life, particularly when LTE is enabled. You won’t be able to get 24 hours of performance from this watch unless you turn off most of its connectivity features.

Google Pixel Watch 4G/LTE is fully unlocked for Android phones. Any upgrade to the WearOS will be featured on this watch first, at least for a couple of years. Plus, it has got superior RAM and storage capabilities compared to any other Android watch in the market. The user interface is fast and intuitive, and it is the best platform to experience Google apps like Messages, Assistant, and Maps.


Pros:

  • Access to Google Suite is an added bonus
  • Beautiful edge-to-edge display for easy texting.
  • Seamless calling feature.
  • Robust performance with 2GB of RAM.
  • Universal compatibility with Android phones.

Cons:

  • Disappointing battery life with LTE enabled.
  • Only available in one size.

Honorable Mentions:

These watches didn’t make the cut, let’s find out why?

  1. Fitbit Versa 3: While this watch is not the latest offering, its lack of LTE connectivity is a major shortcoming. Additionally, after Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, several connected features have been removed. Nonetheless, it still allows users to make Bluetooth calls and send pre-written responses directly from the watch.
  2. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: This is Garmin’s only watch equipped with a speaker and microphone for wrist calls. It didn’t make our list mainly because it needs to be tethered to a phone for calling features and offers an inferior texting experience.
  3. Fossil Gen 6: There is no cellular support on this watch. However, it can take Bluetooth calls. Its integration with WearOS 3 still needs polishing. Texting functionality, however, is on par with the Google Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
  4. Apple Watch Ultra: This rugged Apple Watch is expensive. Though it has cellular/LTE capability built in, I think Series 8 is a more sensible option if you’re primarily interested in connectivity features.
  5. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 LTE: Great watch, but it is powered by dying Tizen OS. Samsung would cut off the support for its operating system anytime now, and there would be no chance to upgrade to the latest operating system (WearOS).

Best Smartwatch with standalone features: How I Picked?

I have been covering wearable tech for some years now, so before even writing a single word, I knew where to look for the best connectivity experience.

Here is the simplified process for you.

  1. Compatibility: I had to bear in mind that the Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhones. Samsung Watches can pair with Android phones, yet some of their features are exclusively for Samsung phones. On the other hand, Google Pixel Watch is built for Android devices.
  2. Calling Capabilities: I made a list of all the watches, over 15 in total, that came with speakers and microphones. These are the fundamental prerequisites for making calls.
  3. Texting Experience: The choice of the operating system, which governs the user interface, greatly impacts the quality of the texting experience. I found that WearOS and WatchOS were standouts in this aspect. I set a QWERTY keyboard as my basic requirement and also considered the types of files that could be sent, like emojis, voice notes, and photos. This brought down my list to 10 watches.
  4. Cellular Capability: Finally, I examined whether these watches had the cellular capability or integrated eSIM, which further shortened my list to a mere 5 options.

As you will find out, most watches in the final selection offer nearly identical experiences in terms of cellular connectivity. So, your ultimate choice will likely depend on:

  1. Your budget
  2. Your existing device ecosystem (Samsung, iPhone, or other Android Phones)
  3. Your expected battery performance

FAQs: Smartwatch with call & text function

Yes! If a smartwatch has a cellular connection (like LTE), you can make calls.

I repeat, you don’t need a paired smartphone to use this feature.

No, you don’t need a traditional SIM card. Many smartwatches these days switched to a new tech called eSIM. It’s a built-in chip that can be programmed to function as a SIM card.

The eSIM technology is quite common in the latest phones (iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S20) these days, but in smartwatches, it has become a norm.

Yes, it does. In fact, activities like calling, especially standalone calling, can use more battery.

The battery drain is natural when you use the connectivity features like calling, texting, or music streaming on a smartwatch. The problem here is the size limitation for the battery in the watch.

However, recently I have witnessed more and more watches adding a huge-sized, powerful battery to offset the battery drain. For instance, Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a 590mAh battery, whereas Apple Watch Ultra has 542 mAh.

Whatsapp released a WearOS app just recently, so we can send WhatsApp messages directly from a couple of watches now.

  1. Galaxy Watch 4
  2. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
  3. Galaxy Watch 5
  4. Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
  5. Google Pixel Watch

The list will surely expand with more and more watches adapting the latest WearOS in 2023.

You might have found this symbol in Samsung Galaxy watch models. It simply means that a Smartwatch can connect to a cellular network and access the internet on its own, without needing a phone.

You would have to activate eSIM on these watches and buy a separate monthly plan to enable this functionality.