Recently bought yourself a smartwatch with cellular connectivity? If it doesn’t have eSIM functionality (which clones your smartphone’s SIM card), then you’re going to need a SIM card for your smartwatch to get 4G LTE.
SIM cards are often free to order, but you’ll need to opt into a mobile data plan to get 4G LTE on your wrist. Some SIM cards for smartwatches have unlimited data in the US. If you’re going to use your smartwatch for streaming music and videos we recommend you get a SIM card with a minimum 10GB monthly data allowance.
In this consumer guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about 4G connectivity and SIM cards for smartwatches. We’re also going to recommend a few SIM cards to get you started – and none of them are expensive.
If you’re looking for standalone smartwatches that can have SIM card support, check out our curated list of the best smartwatches that supports SIM cards.
Why does my smartwatch need a SIM card?
Smartwatches with cellular connectivity generate a 4G LTE signal in one of two ways:
• Via eSIM, which copies your smartphone’s SIM card (for example, this technology is used by the Apple Watch Series 3)
• Via Nano SIM, which is a physical SIM card you slot into the smartwatch to generate the 4G LTE signal and data allowance
While eSIM is the most convenient technology by far (since it allows you to piggyback on your smartphone’s SIM card and use the data allowance from there), physical SIM cards are still a thing. For example, the LG Urbane 2nd Edition has a dedicated SIM card slot and some people prefer it that way since it offers more network choice.
What providers offer a SIM card for my smartwatch?
All major mobile carriers in the US (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint) offer a SIM-only plan that’s compatible with unlocked smartwatches.
What you want to look out for is a Nano SIM card that’s open to all devices (this will typically be labeled as open to phones and tablets, or just tablets). SIM cards are often free to order. You just have to select the wireless plan that’s right for you to get started. There’s no annual contract if you choose a pay as you go plan.
SIM card for smartwatch compatibility and type
So long as you order the right type of smartwatch SIM card (Nano SIM is the common type for smartwatches), your new SIM card should work if it has a data plan attached to it.
However, you’ve also got to ensure your smartwatch is unlocked to every network. If you didn’t buy it through, say, Sprint or T-Mobile, then there’s a good chance it’s unlocked to all devices. But if you did, it might be locked to the carrier. If in doubt, ask the manufacturer or seller. They should be able to tell you once and for all.
If it turns out your smartwatch is locked to a mobile carrier, there’s a possibility it can be unlocked. For example, some AT&T smartwatches (such as the Samsung Gear S) are locked at the factory. You can unlock the smartwatch in one of two ways. Either you get it done through your carrier (which means requesting an unlock code from them), or you unlock it with third party assistance (which means buying a code – this isn’t endorsed by manufacturers, carriers or us and is at your own risk). You’ll need your device’s IMEI number to get started. There are a few services you can try:
• Doctor SIM
These are the three main ones. We recommend contacting them to ask them if they have access to unlock codes for your smartwatch. You can also buy unlock codes for your smartwatch on eBay, which is what we recommend since you’ll be covered by the eBay money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work out.
How much data do I need?
If you plan on using your smartwatch as a replacement for your smartphone (i.e. to stream music, videos and upload stuff), you’re going to need plenty of data. We recommend you opt for 10GB of data as a minimum under the circumstances. If you’re only going to use your smartwatch periodically, 6GB of data should suffice.
For those of you who want the security of unlimited data, there are SIM card plans out there that cater to your needs. Don’t want to commit to a contract? That’s no problem either, as there’s plenty of pay as you go SIM cards available too.
SIM card options for smartwatches
Here’s the key takeaway about SIM cards for smartwatches – you can use any SIM card with 4G or 3G connectivity so long as the carrier (network) is compatible with your device. There’s no special product you need to buy. Just make sure you get the right SIM card type (Nano SIM) and you’ll be good to go!
You have two choices with regards to plans – contract or PAYG. Contract SIM cards often offer a better deal with data but will tie you down for a minimum of 12-months. PAYG SIM cards work out more expensive overall but are the only choice if you don’t want to enter into a contract. In terms of mobile providers, the main one is AT&T. The SIM card you want from them is this one (the AT&T Compatible Nano SIM Card). With it, you just add a plan to suit your needs (for example, AT&T PREPAID).
These SIM cards will work with most smartwatches:
• AT&T Compatible Nano SIM Card
• Verizon 4G SIM (no annual contract)
• T-Mobile 3-in-1 SIM Card Starter Kit
You can also use your smartphone’s SIM card. Just remove it from your smartphone and put it into your smartwatch to get data instantly.
If you haven’t bought a smartwatch yet and are researching how to get 4G on your device after you’ve bought it, you can avoid the hassle of needing a SIM card by choosing a device with eSIM. eSIM basically copies your smartphone’s SIM credentials and uses the data from your smartphone plan. It’s stress-free and works flawlessly, which is why the latest-generation Apple Watch uses it to cover LTE and UMTS bands.