Opinions are still divided over the actual usefulness of smartwatches. A standalone smartwatch, however, can be highly useful as it lets you perform the basic functionality of your smartphone on the wrist of your hand.
What is a standalone smartwatch? It’s one with a SIM in it so you can make calls and access the internet for basic tasks. Modern smartwatches with LTE can operate independently of your smartphone for the largest part and are great for road travelers who have their hands on the steering wheel most of the times.
Best Standalone Smartwatch Reviewed
A standalone smartwatch can make your life easier, but there aren’t many to choose from. Many models are simply not available in North America, so the choice is often limited. We’ve reviewed the 4 best standalone smartwatches available right now in the market.
Be sure to read our buyer’s guide to understand what a standalone smartwatch can offer and if you even need one.
Apple Watch Series 4
Expensive but Incredible
The Apple Watch Series 4 improves on the Watch Series 3 in many ways. It features a larger screen and more accurate sensors for ultimate performance. You can also get it several colors.
If you are invested in the Apple ecosystem and own an iPhone, there simply isn’t a better standalone smartwatch than the Apple Watch Series 4.
Best for Everyone Else
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE
Excellent Battery Life and Performance
The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE is the best standalone smartwatch if you aren’t an iPhone user. Even iPhone users can greatly benefit from it. It features a fantastic battery life, is ruggedly built, and has that wonderful rotating bezel we all love.
Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier LTE is an incredible smartwatch worth the investment because of its battery life, functionality, and looks.
Expensive and with poor battery life, you’d think buying the Apple Watch Series 4 would be a bad idea, right? That’s until you actually get the watch on your wrist and fiddle around with it.
To put it simply, the Apple Watch Series 4 is phenomenal. It improves upon the Watch Series 3 with a bigger, more beautiful screen with specialized apps that take use of the added size. Additionally, Watch Series 4 comes with much improved health features and newer sensors, resulting in more accurate measurements and smarter functionality.
LTE performance of the device is also great, but the battery life takes an (expectedly) massive hit. This standalone smartwatch already suffers greatly with battery life without any LTE, but once you turn it on, don’t expect it to last even half a day.
Still, if you go on long drives frequently for several hours and prefer an easier way to talk to people while at it, the Apple Watch Series 4 will serve you incredibly well. It has one of the best apps support out there, and it’s a great motivator to get yourself in shape too.
- Gorgeous display
- Comes in different colors
- Accurate sensors
- Great apps
- Excellent fitness and health features
- Ridiculously expensive
- Poor battery life
The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE may be one of the most popular smartwatches out there. The Frontier version offers a sportier, urban and modern look that works well with both a suit as well as casual dresses.
Samsung uses its Tizen operating system on its smartwatches, and the Gear S3 standalone smartwatch is no different. If you want a more traditional look, you can also opt for the Gear S3 Classic, which also comes with LTE.
The Gear S3 supports LTE support with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile connections. You can use the watch to email, text, answer calls, and use Samsung Pay on outlets and stores that support NFC payment methods. We love the rotating bezel for navigating through the various screens on the standalone smartwatch and feel more watches should have it.
Perhaps most importantly, the Gear S3 boasts one of the best battery lives among standalone smartwatches. Sure, the battery life does suffer (as expected) when using LTE, but even then it trumps the Apple Watch Series 4 by a large margin.
- Fantastic build
- Great battery
- Qi wireless charging support
- Great performance
- Lacks sufficient apps
Android Wear had some difficulty keeping up with Apple’s watch operating system and Samsung’s Tizen, but with the major overhaul of Android Wear to the new Wear OS, things have taken a great turn. We loved the original LG Watch Urbane for several reasons, but the LG Urbane 2 adds so much more to the user.
From the beautiful, classy design to the gorgeous display, the Watch Urbane 2 feels like a premium piece of tech on your wrist. LTE support for AT&T and Verizon gives you the option to use it as a standalone smartwatch.
Functionally, the LG Watch Urbane 2 is one of the fastest Android smartwatches out there. It features 768MB RAM and the Snapdragon 400 processor. The battery life of the watch is average – nowhere near as good as the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier, but not close to being as bad as the Apple Watch Series smartwatches. Expect the battery life to take a hit with LTE though.
- Gorgeous display
- Rugged build
- Wear OS out of the box
- Great performance
- Bulky design
- Not available on T-Mobile
The LG Watch Sport is a sportier offering from LG and is another great Wear OS option for anyone who wants a standalone smartwatch. LG Watch Sport was one of the first smartwatches to offer LTE connectivity, and it continues to do so.
LG uses a beautiful, large screen on this standalone smartwatch optimized for viewability in the brightest conditions. The smartwatch has a lot of health and sports related functionalities. Additionally, you also have NFC payment option through Android Pay with this device.
Functionally, this watch is extremely powerful. It has the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset in it, which makes it incredibly snappy and fast. The design is also rugged and heavy duty.
The biggest and perhaps only major functional downside of the LG Watch Sport is how bulky it is. It’s not made for everyone’s wrists and is especially taxing on narrower wrists.
- Gorgeous display
- Built like a tank
- Great performance
- Bulky design
- Only available on AT&T
Let’s get rid of the confusion first: there’s no real “standalone” smartwatch. Every smartwatch is heavily dependent on the smartphone you’re using to some extent. For example, you can’t download updates for any smartwatch directly on the watch itself. You need your phone for that. Similarly, installing apps and transferring data such as music is often done through your smartphone.
What makes a smartwatch somewhat standalone is the ability to perform calls, send/receive messages independently, and eliminate the need of your smartphone for data connections.
A standalone smartwatch is just a smartwatch with LTE connectivity. It has a real sim embedded inside it, often linked with a specific carrier in U.S. and Canada. This lets you call, text, and use the internet (3G or 4G) on your smartwatch to check mail and perform other basic functions without the need of your phone.
This can be costly and it drains the battery really fast, but it’s excellent for travelers and individuals who drive long distances.
The battery life of your smartwatch is extremely important, especially if you plan to use LTE on it. LTE cuts the battery of any standalone smartwatch by more than half. In fact, you won’t find any smartwatch out there that can last beyond 9 hours on LTE.
To maximize the functionality of your smartwatch, it is highly recommended that you get a smartwatch that has enough battery life outside of LTE use to match your needs. This is especially important if you are looking to use the fitness and health functions of a smartwatch.
General functionality includes performance, compatible apps, screen size & quality, sensors, size & comfort, and more. Although this article focuses primarily on the LTE functionality of a smartwatch (hence making it standalone), it’s highly likely you’ll be using all the other features as well.
For this reason, you shouldn’t ignore the core performance and functionality of the smartwatch. It is also important to buy one that is compatible with your smartphone. There’s no point buying an Apple Watch if you don’t have an iPhone, as they are exclusive to the Apple ecosystem.
The biggest advantage of a standalone smartwatch is that it enables you to call and receive calls on your wrist. Additionally, you can send texts, check your email, make NFC payments, and more with a standalone smartwatch.
What are the biggest disadvantages of a standalone smartwatch?
The biggest disadvantages of a standalone smartwatch are that their battery life is often poor when using LTE. Additionally, smartwatches with LTE are often very expensive. Moreover, the LTE plans are often quite expensive as well. While standalone smartwatches are convenient, they are not cost effective.
Will my standalone smartwatch work with any network?
No, your smartwatch can only work with specific networks. This is because standalone smartwatches come with a sim embedded inside. This sim is linked to a specific network in U.S. and Canada. The price of your smartwatch can also vary depending on the network and the plans offered by that network for your watch.