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Can Apple Watch Ultra replace your iPhone? Here’s the answer

Updated Nov 9th, 2022 12:39PM EST
Apple Watch Ultra gps lifestyle ad.
Image: Apple Inc.

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Since Apple Watch Series 3 brought a Cellular connection option in 2017, customers have wondered whether it was possible to replace the iPhone with just Apple’s smartwatch. Apart from the lack of apps, there was another concern, as the battery life was always a problem with Cellular Apple Watches. Now, with the Apple Watch Ultra and its giant battery, a YouTuber decided to put this Watch to the test and see whether he could replace his iPhone with the smartwatch.

Unbox Therapy posted a 20-minute video about his experience with the Apple Watch Ultra as its primary tech device, as he had turned off his iPhone 14 Pro Max. He wanted to discover whether the Apple Watch Ultra could successfully replace a smartphone for 24 hours and how long this smartwatch’s battery life would last.

Long story short, the YouTuber spent around 30 hours with his iPhone turned off while using his Apple Watch Ultra on Wi-Fi or via a cellular connection. He struggled with some tasks, such as connecting his Watch with his car – which wasn’t successful at all.

New Apple Watch Ultra: Action button.
New Apple Watch Ultra: Action button. Image source: Apple Inc.

In a moment of the video, he even talks about a feature request where you could use some of CarPlay features with an Apple Watch connection, such as Maps and audio apps. That said, he could still drive around using Apple Maps on the Ultra watch.

For calls, he used AirPods Pro 2 or the built-in microphone. Unbox Therapy also says he was able to reply to a couple of texts and emails, so his productivity wasn’t affected at all.

During the video, he gets impressed with the Apple Watch Ultra battery life, which lasted for a day and a half even without an iPhone connected to it.

The YouTuber was able to use the Watch without his iPhone, but I have a few considerations regarding his video, as, of course, each experience varies from user to user.

Here’s why you can’t replace your iPhone with an Apple Watch Ultra

Although you can read emails, start conversations through the Messages app, see directions, and listen to your favorite music and podcast episodes without your iPhone, there are several limitations regarding an Apple Watch.

The first one is the lack of apps. OK, the YouTuber could use his Starbucks app to get coffee and pay for things with Apple Pay, but if he didn’t have a car, he wouldn’t be able to call an Uber. If he wanted to get a bike from Bird or Yellow, he wouldn’t be able to do that.

Apple Watch Series 7 on a table next to AirPods Pro and an iPhone 13 Pro
Apple Watch Series 7 on a table next to AirPods Pro and an iPhone 13 Pro. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Foremost, the Apple Watch is still very reliant on an iPhone, as you need one to set up the Watch for the first time. In addition, apart from the excellent iMessage support, WhatsApp and Telegram lack proper functions for the Apple Watch – meaning it would be almost impossible to communicate with some people.

Unbox Therapy also doesn’t mention social media usage, as he probably waited to be in front of his Mac to check Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, the Apple Watch Ultra can be used for more than a day without an iPhone. You’ll probably lose a few messages and online interactions, but you’ll be reachable with a phone call or SMS. In addition, you’ll still be able to track workouts and your sleep data, although the full information will be available only on your iPhone.

Would you consider using your iPhone less, knowing that the Apple Watch Ultra can last more than a day with a cellular connection without an iPhone nearby?

More Apple coverage: iPhones and iPads saved United customers 13 million minutes in delays.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.