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The best 4G LTE smartwatches you can buy
A 4G LTE or cellular connection on a smartwatch is a surprisingly useful feature. It can stay connected to the world without a tethered phone and power music streaming, messaging and calls, and emergency features. Many smartwatches boast LTE connectivity, but which are the best for your budget? We round up the best LTE smartwatches you can buy below.
Buying the right smartwatch with 4G LTE
Before splurging on an LTE smartwatch, do you really need cellular connectivity? If you constantly have your phone on your person and tethered to your smartwatch, you likely won’t require an LTE watch. However, you might occasionally leave your phone at home or require a secondary emergency device on your wrist. If you’re in the latter camp, an LTE watch might be for you.
Despite their advantages, LTE watches do have their drawbacks. They generally use a little more battery than their Bluetooth/Wi-Fi-only counterparts. Thanks to the added components required, they may also produce more heat and weigh slightly more. In addition, 4G LTE connectivity shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when buying a smartwatch. Smartphone compatibility, battery life, health and fitness tracking kit, and price are also worth thinking about.
Apple and Samsung dominate the LTE-enabled smartwatch market, offering practically every smart and health-tracking feature you could ever want. Both companies provide slightly cheaper variants of their devices, too. If you’re looking for an LTE smartwatch to pair with your Android phone or iPhone, picking a device from these two companies will serve you well.
Of course, there are other factors to consider. You may want a device with emergency features or live tracking if you’re a runner. If you prefer style above substance, aesthetics will be a top priority.
Finally, there’s something else you should consider above and beyond a smartwatch’s capabilities. LTE connectivity is usually a costly extra on smartwatches in terms of initial cost and connectivity costs each month, even though this shouldn’t be the case. When looking at your available options, consider any deals carriers offer. The best LTE smartwatch may not be the most economical option over time, especially if your plan is expensive.
The best 4G LTE smartwatches you can buy
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: This is the best LTE watch for Android phone users. Samsung melds the benefits of Wear OS with its excellent health sensor suite, making the Galaxy Watch 5 the most complete package on the market.
- Apple Watch Series 8: Unsurprisingly, Apple’s latest wearable is the best LTE watch for iPhone users. The Series 8 builds on its predecessor with minor nips and tucks for the same price.
- Google Pixel Watch: Fitbit doesn’t offer 4G LTE smartwatches, but the Google Pixel Watch is the closest you’ll get. It also offers the smoothest Wear OS experience to date with the bonus of Fitbit health tracking.
- Apple Watch SE 2: Apple’s new affordable wearable is the best for those on a budget in the Apple ecosystem. It trades several health features for its lower price, but that’s worth it if smart features are more important to you.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Samsung’s outgoing flagship smartwatch is now its best affordable option. It might be the stripped-down predecessor of the Galaxy Watch 5, but it’s still a viable option in 2022.
- Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE: One of few Garmin watches with LTE support, the Forerunner 945 LTE is the best cellular-enabled watch you can buy for running and training.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: The best 4G LTE smartwatch for Android users
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 tops several smartwatch charts, so it’s no surprise that it heads this particular list too. Its greatest strength is its versatility. Thanks to Wear OS, buyers gain access to many apps on the Play Store, Google app and service integration, and buttery smooth performance. Suppose you don’t particularly care about its smart features. In that case, the Galaxy Watch is also an adept fitness tracker, packing plenty of unique features you won’t find on other non-Samsung watches. The body composition and blood pressure monitors come to mind. Adding LTE to this load-out only sweetens the deal, allowing users who leave their phone at home to stream music, message contacts, or place and receive calls from their wrists.
The Galaxy Watch 5 line is not without its issues, though. We’ve heard reports that the Wi-Fi-only 40mm model has particularly weak battery life, and LTE connectivity will only worsen this. Some features, like Google Maps navigation, are still not functional through the watch’s baked-in LTE alone. Beyond LTE, some Galaxy Watch 5 features like the ECG are still exclusive to Samsung smartphones. Additionally, cellular connectivity doesn’t come for free. For this privilege, you’ll need to pay a $50 premium over the standard model. If you can get around these issues, the Galaxy Watch 5 is an excellent cellular-capable smartwatch for the general public, active users, and those seeking a secondary emergency device.
You can gain a bigger battery and a more rugged 4G LTE smartwatch with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro for a little more cash.
- Tougher build
- Comfortable on the wrist
- Better battery life on 44mm model
- Faster charging
- Reliable fitness tracking
- Good value for money
- Very similar to its predecessor
- Skin temperature sensor not ready at launch
- Small models still have short battery life
- Awkward touch bezel
- Some features exclusive to Samsung ecosystem
Apple Watch Series 8: The best 4G LTE smartwatch for iPhone users
The Apple Watch Series 8 continues where the Series 7 left off. It doesn’t bring many new big-ticket features, but it does add further polish to an already stellar smartwatch. The Series 8 gets a welcome software boost from watchOS 9, while its skin temperature sensor is the most impactful health tracking inclusion. It informs more accurate fertility cycle and sleep tracking, which makes the Series 8 the best choice for those who menstruate, too.
Battery life gets a boost thanks to Apple’s new low-power mode, but the Series 8 require a charge before much of its competition. Adding LTE connectivity exacerbates this, but it makes the device infinitely more useful. The LTE Series 8 can stream music and podcasts, use Apple’s Walkie-Talkie feature, and place/receive calls and messages. You’ll also get the benefit of Apple’s emergency features.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Apple Watch Series 8 LTE models aren’t cheap. Prices start at $499, or $100 more than the Wi-Fi-only alternative.
- Excellent Retina display
- Premium design and build
- Advanced health tracking sensors
- Crash detection
- Improved sleep tracking
- Plenty of watchOS 9 upgrades
- Battery life still hasn’t improved
- No third-party watch faces
Google Pixel Watch: The best Fitbit LTE smartwatch
OK, it’s not strictly a Fitbit, but the Google Pixel Watch is likely the closest we’ll ever get to a Fitbit with 4G LTE. The Pixel Watch is an excellent device in its own right. If you look past its first-generation issues, it’s a beautiful timepiece with a distinctive aesthetic. Although it uses an older chipset, it includes the smoothest Wear OS experience we’ve had thus far. As for its fitness tracking credentials, it leans heavily on Fitbit for tracking activity, monitoring sleep, and general wellness.
As its Google’s first foray into the segment, there’s the Pixel Watch is anything but devoid of issues. For one, its SpO2 sensor is not yet active. Battery life is below average, especially when lumping LTE into the mix. Speaking of LTE, we’ve heard several reports from users of setup issues with cellular. You might want to be sure that your carrier is Pixel Watch-friendly before purchasing one. Finally, some features on the Pixel Watch, like messaging, require your phone to be on even if your watch is connected to an LTE network. It’s a quirk related to Google’s text messaging sync system.
Google follows Samsung with its LTE model’s pricing. The Pixel Watch LTE will cost buyers $399 — a $50 premium over the base model.
- Sleek, modern design
- Access to (most of) the Fitbit ecosystem
- Clean, Google-centric Wear OS experience
- Very smooth performance
- Reliable heart rate sensor
- Fairly accurate GPS
- Disappointing battery life
- Only available in one size
- Missing key health tracking features
- No automatic workout detection
- Awkward to change bands
Apple Watch SE 2: The best affordable 4G LTE smartwatch for Apple users
While the Series 8 fails to be truly affordable, the Apple Watch SE 2 excels. For under $300, it’s the best LTE smartwatch you can buy, at least for those in the Apple ecosystem. Best of all, you lose none of the device’s smart abilities like the Walkie-Talkie, calls and messaging, and content streaming.
Affordable products are all about compromise, and Apple has stripped the Watch SE 2 of several health features to bring its price under control. The device lacks an SpO2 sensor, ECG, and skin temperature sensor. With this device, you won’t get any blood oxygen data, heart health information, or more accurate fertility tracking.
If you can look past these issues and can afford the $50 premium over the base model’s price, the Apple Watch SE 2 is a great gateway LTE smartwatch that packs all the essentials.
- Great value, priced lower than original model
- Speedy S8 processor
- Handy Low Power Mode
- Color-matched back panel
- A lot to like in watchOS 9
- Much improved sleep tracking
- Still no always-on display
- Limited screen real estate
- No SpO2 sensor
- No advanced health tracking features
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The best affordable 4G LTE smartwatch for Android users
The Galaxy Watch 4 might be 2021’s flavor, but it’s still a reliable smartwatch. In fact, you won’t find too many missing features versus the Galaxy Watch 5, at least in terms of raw processing power, smart capabilities, and software support. Yes, it lacks the skin temperature sensor and larger battery of the Galaxy Watch 5, but those are really the only notable omissions. In reality, these omissions aren’t deal breakers, either.
While the Galaxy Watch 4 LTE launched for $299, you can regularly find it discounted on popular retailers’ sites. If you can find the Galaxy Watch 4 at the right price and opt for the larger model, it’s an excellent budget cellular-capable smartwatch.
- Classy, durable designs
- Multiple size options
- Wear OS 3 is all-around good
- Large models have decent battery life
- Improved heart rate sensor
- Useful body composition metrics
- Slow, slow charging
- Poor GPS performance
- Sleep tracking needs tweaking
- Small models have short battery life
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE: The best smartwatch with LTE for runners
Finally, here’s an option for those who love the open road. The Forerunner 945 LTE isn’t Garmin‘s latest multisport watch, but it curiously remains the only Forerunner model with cellular connectivity. Despite its age, the 945 LTE remains a competent running and triathlon companion.
Its strength is Garmin’s health tracking and training features, from Body Battery energy management to its Training Readiness algorithm. Training Status and Garmin Coach also help users improve their training regimens, while Training Effect and Recovery Time provide post-workout recommendations. The 945 LTE also packs plenty of features for race day, including built-in mapping and onboard music support.
However, it’s important to mention that this is not an LTE smartwatch in the true sense of the term. You cannot use the cellular smarts to place calls or send messages, nor can you stream music while on the run. Instead, the cellular feature powers Garmin’s live race tracking and reporting system, emergency features, and spectator messaging. It’s a training watch with LTE enhancements.
That’s it for our list of the best smartwatches with 4G LTE, but there are plenty of others out there. Find additional recommendations below.
- Apple Watch Ultra (Amazon): The Apple Watch Ultra happens when a manufacturer kits out an already capable smartwatch with a tougher shell, larger screen, bigger battery, and outdoor features. It’s the best rugged smartwatch you can buy, and all models feature LTE connectivity.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (Amazon): Samsung’s older Tizen flagship may still be an attractive alternative for those with iPhones seeking a device with better battery life and a round face.
- Fossil Gen 5 LTE (Amazon): Fossil watches are gorgeous. Even though the Gen 5 platform is long in the tooth, if you’re seeking an LTE watch with style galore, the Gen 5 LTE is worth consideration.
- HUAWEI Watch 3 Pro (Amazon): The HUAWEI Watch 3 Pro is another older watch, but it’s an intriguing alternative for those in Europe who value battery life and aesthetics over fitness tracking and app support.
LTE smartwatches, or smartwatches with cellular and data capabilities, are wearables that can connect to the internet without a tethered phone. They’re often a little pricier than their Wi-Fi-only counterparts but are more useful when not tethered to its companion phone.
LTE on smartwatches is useful for those who are often without their smartphone and who require data connectivity for emergency features, communication, or content streaming.
Usually, LTE smartwatches are more expensive, and you’ll likely have to pay an additional monthly connection fee to your carrier.