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Apple Watch 5 Cellular vs GPS (2021): Which Smartwatch Better Suits You?

If you’re on the market for a new Apple Watch Series 5 and are on the fence whether to get the one with cellular technology or the GPS only model, this detailed comparison will help you. The Apple Watch 5 GPS + Cellular model costs a hundred dollars more than the Apple Watch 5 GPS (Wi-Fi) only variant. Is it worth paying more for or are you better off saving on the GPS smartwatch? Keep reading to find out.

Apple Watch 5 Cellular vs GPS Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm)Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm)
Amazon product Amazon product 
PriceAmazon product Amazon product 
RatingAmazon product
Amazon product 
Amazon product
Amazon product 
DisplayRetina displayRetina display
Cellular ServiceYesNo
Casing MaterialAluminumAluminum
Stainless steel
Screen Size1.78″1.78″
Screen Resolution448 x 368 pixels448 x 368 pixels
Dimensions44 x 38 x 10.7 mm44 x 38 x 10.7 mm
Weight36.7 g30.1 g
Storage32 GB32 GB
Music Streaming
YesOnly with Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
Call & Text AlertsYesYes, with Wi-Fi
Water ResistanceIP68-rated, 5ATMIP68-rated, 5ATM
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Calorie Burn TrackerYesYes
Swim TrackingYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
CompatibilityiOS 12+iOS 12+

Major Differences

The Apple Watch 5 Cellular + GPS model gives you internet connection even without your phone

apple watch 5 cellular vs gps
Stay connected even without your phone through the Apple Watch 5 with cellular LTE

Perhaps the major difference between the Apple Watch 5 GPS + Cellular and the GPS only smartwatch is the e-SIM on the cellular version. You can activate this e-SIM with your phone provider easily. As a result, you can connect to the internet through data anytime, even without your phone or a Wi-Fi connection close by.

Having a cellular service on the Apple Watch Series 5 lets you get messages, make and take phone calls, stream music and podcasts on apps, and access maps and directions even without your phone. If you use the maps on the Apple Watch 5 GPS only variant, it doesn’t give navigation and only shows coordinates and locations.

The Apple Watch 5 GPS + Cellular model will be especially helpful for you if you:

  • often run without your phone;
  • often listen to music or podcasts while running or working out where there’s no Wi-Fi;
  • work or go to a school where smartphones are not allowed;
  • are a first responder or do something similar;
  • often leave your phone at home or in a locker but wear a watch all the time;
  • simply want the safety of having a back-up device to access the internet in case, for some reason, your phone runs out of juice; and
  • want the International Emergency Calling service because you often travel abroad.


The Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular + GPS has more casing material options while the Apple Watch 5 GPS only comes in an aluminum frame

You can easily identify an Apple Watch 5 Cellular + GPS model through the red ring on its digital crown

The Apple Watch 5 GPS + Cellular and GPS models sport the same curved profile and offer a wide array of band and loop color choices. Both come in aluminum casing materials and sport a curved profile and thin bezels.

However, if you want the more expensive casing materials such as stainless steel, titanium, ceramics, they are only available in the Apple Watch 5 GPS + Cellular models. They look gorgeous, especially the white ceramic case, but they also cost a pretty penny.

Both sport Apple’s OLED Retina display that delivers stunning readouts and brighter watch faces. The latest Apple Watch Series 5 models come with an Always-On display so your preferred watch face will always be visible. You can tell the Apple Watch 5 Cellular model apart from the GPS only one through the red ring found on its digital crown with haptic feedback.

Activity Tracking

Both Apple Watch 5 variants come with the same activity and fitness tracking features

Both models of the Apple Watch Series 5 offer topnotch fitness features

As mentioned earlier, the only major difference between the Apple Watch 5 Cellular and the GPS models is the built-in e-SIM in the GPS+Cellular variant. When it comes to fitness and activity tracking, they offer the same.

Among their health and fitness features include:

  • monitoring heart rate and rhythm through the ECG app;
  • getting alerts when the noise is too loud through the Noise app;
  • tracking menstrual cycle through the Cycle Tracking app;
  • setting fitness goals in the Activity app;
  • prompting you to get moving through the Activity rings and completing challenges with friends
  • tracking swims, sets, distances, and calories through the Pool Swim workout feature;
  • detection when you have fallen and automatic dialing of local emergency services when you don’t respond for 60 seconds; and
  • making emergency calls even when abroad.

Smart Features

Both the Apple Watch 5 variants use Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC pairing and come with a built-in magnetometer

Outdoor enthusiasts will get a thrill out of the built-in compass

Apple’s connectivity features for the Apple Watch 5 GPS+Cellular and GPS only models don’t disappoint. It uses Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC for smooth and effortless connectivity. Despite its tiny footprint, the Apple Watch 5 Cellular model offers good LTE reception and connectivity.

In addition, the Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular and GPS only models are equipped with a built-in magnetometer for its compass. It can identify your exact location and elevation and becomes especially more useful when navigating trail hikes or doing other outdoor activities.

These Apple smartwatches are also compatible with Siri. You can turn on its “Raise To Speak” feature so you don’t need to say “Hey, Siri” to activate Apple’s smart assistant. With this feature, raising your wrist will wake up the Apple Watch 5 and you can say what you need right away.

Battery Life and Additional Features

Both Apple Watch 5 Cellular and GPS only models can be submerged for up to 50 meters and advertise a battery life of up to 18 hours

Expect shorter usage hours when using the LTE on the GPS+Cellular variant

With an IP rating of 68, both the Apple Watch 5 Cellular and GPS only models are waterproof and dust resistant. In addition, they also have a rating of 5ATM, which means it is water-resistant for up to 50 meters. You can use either smartwatch for swimming in the pool or ocean, but not for scuba diving, water skiing, or other water activities of similar nature.

While all Apple did a great job with all the Apple Watch 5’s health and fitness features, their battery life is wanting. For both the Apple Watch 5 Cellular and GPS only models, Apple advertises a battery life of up to 18 hours, but real-life use proves to be shorter than that.

Expect shorter usage hours if you often use the LTE of the Apple Watch 5 Cellular + GPS variant. Although the LTE of the smartwatch turns off when it detects your iPhone nearby, the battery life of these smartwatches can still be longer. Hopefully, this is something an update can address.


While the Apple Watch 5 Cellular model is definitely useful, the GPS only model is enough if you always have your phone or are connected to Wi-Fi all the time

Amazon product

If the cost is no object, of course, the Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular + GPS model is the clear winner. It’s like having a stand-alone smartphone on your wrist, thanks to its cellular technology and built-in e-SIM. However, you should also factor in the additional monthly cost charged by your network provider when purchasing the GPS + Cellular model.

If you’d rather save, the Apple Watch Series 5 GPS + Wi-Fi only model offers the same fitness and health trackers that the Cellular + GPS model can. For those who don’t usually go outdoors and are always attached to their phone, the GPS only variant is more than enough.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Former Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about food, people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.