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Are Apple Watches Carrier Locked? (What You Should Know) 


I’ve been a fan of Apple Watch since the launch of Series 5. Built for style, performance, and precision, these watches come packed with unique features that make them worth the price point. But are Apple Watches carrier locked?

Apple doesn’t lock its watches to a specific carrier. In fact, models that feature Wifi and GPS technologies aren’t even regional, which means you can use them anywhere. The LTE-enabled series are regional based, but you can use them with up to eight Apple-approved carriers.

If you live outside the United States and you would like to own an Apple Watch instead of an Apple alternative like Fitbit, get the GPS-only model.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple Watches with active carrier plans allow you make calls and send messages right from your wrist, even in the absence of an iPhone o Wi-Fi network. 
  • You can make emergency calls as you travel and even stream music on Spotify with a carrier-enabled Apple Watch.
  • The only instance where an Apple Watch may be locked to a carrier is if you’re paying for it on an installment basis.

Carrier Locked vs Carrier Unlocked Apple Watch: What’s the Difference?

Carrier locked Apple Watches can only work with the specified carrier.

If you choose to go with an Apple Watch locked to a specific carrier, you’ll only be able to use that specific network alone. If you fail to pay the monthly subscription fee, you’ll have your account locked and only reinstated once you make a payment.

However, it’s possible to unlock the watch so that it works with other carriers as well, as you’ll learn later in this guide.

A carrier unlocked Apple Watch can use any carrier that supports iPhones and Apple Watches.

So, if you choose to go with an unlocked watch, you won’t have to worry about having your device locked to a specific network. The lack of restriction means you can switch from one carrier to another as you please.

As to what option is better, I would say that going for an unlocked Apple Watch is a great investment.

Even if carrier unlocked watches are regional, you do have the freedom to use them with a carrier of your choice, not to mention that you can change carriers as you please.

Are Apple Watches Compatible With All Carriers?

An Apple Watch can connect automatically to the strongest available wireless connection. These connections include cellular networks, nearby Wi-Fi, and your iPhone.

Keep in mind that an Apple Watch that supports cellular connection will operate on LTE networks. In the absence of the LTE connection, the watch will connect to UMTS if your carrier supports it. 

As of this writing, Apple Watch Series 6, 7, 8, SE, and Ultra work with a number of carriers in the United States of America.

These carriers include AT&T, Xfinity Mobile, Cellcom Wisconsin, C Spire, US Cellular, Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, and Spectrum Mobile.

The carriers that support family setup are Cellcom Wisconsin, California West Wireless, T-Mobile US, Verizon Wireless, and C Spire.

How to Unlock Apple Watch from a Carrier

Unlocking an Apple Watch locked to a carrier isn’t as difficult.  Here are two ways to do just that:

1. Remove the Carrier from Your iPhone

Because Apple already permits you to remove cellular plans, the first option to remove an Apple Watch from a carrier would be to disable your cellular plan.

You will need the iPhone linked to the watch to do this.

  • Launch the Apple Watch App on your iPhone
  • Tap My Watch.
  • Select Cellular.
  • Tap the information button.
  • From the two options that appear, choose “Remove Carrier Plan”

If you wish to terminate your cellular plan, you can do so by contacting your carrier.

2. Erase All Data and Unpair the Apple Watch

To use this method:

  • Make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch are close to each other.
  • Open the Apple Watch App on your iPhone
  • Choose My Watch and then select “All Watches”.
  • Tap on the Info option and then select “Unpair”.

You can go ahead and tap the Erase All option if you don’t want to remove the cellular plan and never pair the watch again.

For security reasons, confirm the process by providing your Apple ID and password to verify that you want to unlock your Apple Watch from a carrier.

How to Switch Carrier on Apple Watch

You can either get in touch with your carrier or do the switching yourself. The last option is more convenient, not to mention that it takes only a few minutes of your time.

To switch a carrier on Apple Watch:

  • Open Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Select My Watch.
  • Go to General Options and tap Cellular.

You will notice that the watch automatically switches carriers for you.

If there isn’t an automatic change, you should consider switching the carrier manually. To do so:

  • Look for the info option next to the current carrier’s name and tap it.
  • Choose Remove Carrier Plan and give the process some time.
  • Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch, and chose the Cellular option.
  • Select Setup Cellular and follow the on-screen instructions.

Can You Use an Apple Watch from a Different Carrier?

You cannot use an Apple Watch from a different carrier. The iPhone and Apple Watch must be on the same carrier to work properly.

Of course, there’s an exception to this rule.

It’s possible to use an Apple watch from a different carrier if you have it set up for a family member who doesn’t have an iPhone.

Note that it’s possible to change the carrier if you had an account set for a family member. To do this:

  • Open the Apple Watch on your phone.
  • Go to “My Watch Tab”.
  • Select Cellular.

The Watch will automatically switch to the carrier plan your iPhone is on.

You can also choose to buy a new carrier plan. If you wish to go in this direction, simply tap the “Add a New Plan” button and follow the instructions you see on the screen.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why Do I Need a Carrier for Apple Watch?

You need a carrier for your Apple Watch because, in absence of your Wi-Fi connection or iPhone, it enables you to use walkie-talkie, get notifications, make calls, send text messages, stream podcasts, and even play music.

2. Are Verizon Apple Watches Unlocked?

Apple doesn’t have any of its watches bolted to any technological settings.

However, Verizon has a policy that only allows gadgets onto the network if either they’re sold via Verizon or endowed via Verizon.

Final Thoughts

Apple Watches are some of the top smartwatches in the market right now. The brand’s latest release of Ultra only leaves us wondering what Apple has in store for its target market.

And the best part is?

The LTE-enabled models may be regional, but Apple doesn’t lock them to any carrier. That gives you the option to use the watches with up to 8 carriers in the United States.

Wifi and GPS powered models are perfect for anyone who wants to use Apple Watches from anywhere around the world. These work well provided you pair the watch to an iPhone. 

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Michael Jonathan

Michael Jonathan is the brainchild of Apelo Studio. He loves talking about wearable devices, and he is passionate about helping you push your wearable device to its limits. His creativity and ability to tear electric components apart and put them back together makes him an incredible troubleshooter and blogger.

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