With a standalone smartwatch and SIM card, You’ll be able to make all of your calls straight from your new smartwatch. A standalone smartwatch differs from standard smartwatches – which connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth or other means – in that with the standalone version, the smartwatch itself has a SIM card and 4G LTE capabilities and can write and receive texts and make phone calls on its own, meaning it can “standalone” from your smartphone.
However, which smartwatch you buy will make all the difference. We’re here to help you make the right decision. In this article, we’ll detail the best smartwatches on the market and help you decide which smartwatch is best suited to fit your personal needs. Whether you are a casual user, a busy businessman or woman constantly checking your emails, or a hardcore techie who needs the state-of-the-art model, we’ve got you covered! This article will analyze the key aspects of each smartwatch, including price, battery life, user interface and style, and secondary features, and help you find the best standalone smartwatch with the features that you want.
Carry on reading or, if you are the kind of person who won’t settle for second best, save yourself the time and jump straight to our number 1 standalone smartwatch.
What Should I Look for When Buying an LTE Smartwatch?
Buying anything, especially something as expensive as a smartwatch, can be stressful. If a product costs too much, you find yourself wondering if you’re being ripped off. If it’s too cheap, you’re concerned that you’ll have ended up buying a piece of junk. And once you’ve landed on a price range, knowing what to look for in your new smartwatch becomes an entirely separate task.
Do you want the fastest processor? Or maybe the longest battery life? Maybe you just want to buy a watch that you’re sure won’t break on you after a month or two? Maybe you have a more specific interest that needs to be met – like fitness or gaming. Whatever you’re looking for – and so that you can focus on the traits that you care about – we’ve reviewed the best watches out there and ranked them based on these criteria.
Criteria #1: Processing power. First things first, if you’re buying a standalone smartwatch, you should make sure it’s a powerful machine. A modern smartwatch has the same processing power as last decade’s computers, and you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a watch that isn’t up to your modern tasks. The processor is essentially the brain of a computer. It’s doing all of the thinking and handling all of the input commands of the user. While shelling out for a top-of-the-line processor may be a little pricey, as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” A better processor means less time staring at your watch waiting for it to load and more time using what you paid for.
Criteria #2: User interface. A good processor is important, but it can feel like a waste if the watch isn’t easy to use. An intuitive and simple user interface will save you the time and nuisance of constantly navigating through menus and Googling how to use your new smartwatch. Incredibly powerful pieces of technology from computers to smartphones to smartwatches have flopped commercially because customers found the user interface ugly or difficult to use.
Criteria #3: Battery life. Nobody likes seeing that “battery low” notification and then realizing they forgot to bring their charger to work that morning. Luckily, smartwatch batteries last longer than their phone counterparts, so you won’t necessarily have to bring your charger with you everywhere you go.
Criteria #4: Price. While I said earlier, “You get what you pay for,” sometimes you’re paying for something that just isn’t worth it. Some watches just don’t justify their price, while others do, but you’re better off spending an extra ten or twenty dollars for a superior watch. We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons so you can buy the best standalone smartwatch that fits your budget.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Standalone Smartwatch
We’ve used the criteria above as research points to find the best standalone smartwatches on the market. We also took into account the operating system and certain specific features – for example, Samsung’s durability or Apple’s large internal memory – so you can decide what’s best for you.
#1: Samsung Galaxy Watch3 LTE (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 – the latest in the Samsung LTE smartwatch series – has it all, and at a more affordable (although still not cheap) price than its competitors. Using new eSim technology, you will actually be able to use a different carrier than the one you have for your phone plan, and you’ll have 4G LTE service, although the overall performance of your watch will be better if your phone and smartwatch are on the same carrier.
The S3 uses the latest technology in smartwatch screens, the “Corning Gorilla Glass SR+”, to prevent scratches and make this watch more durable than ever, while also being water-resistant. It also comes with an updated operating system and 1 GB RAM for increased performance but still manages to have an impressively long battery life that lasts up to two days and can be charged wirelessly.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 features a brand-new rotating bezel that gives the watch a sleek design and simplifies the user interface. The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 works best with Samsung phones, but is compatible with any Android or iOS device, and can also be used as a standalone smartwatch, so no need to worry about your current phone. If this all wasn’t enough, the Watch3 is powered by a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, so it’ll be fast enough to keep up with your smartphone or laptop.
Coming in at about $250, the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 gives you the most bang for your buck, and it’s this affordable price, along with its superior battery life, that earned it the number one spot on our list as the best standalone smartwatch on the market over our very formidable second choice, the Apple Watch Series 5.
Don’t take just our word for it. The customers agree, and this smartwatch boasts glowing reviews on Amazon, with most reviewers giving it four or five stars.
#2: Apple Watch Series 5 (Best Watch)
As usual, paying for the newest Apple product may involve breaking the bank a little, but the product is worth it. If you’re willing to pay top dollar for the best standalone smartwatch, here are a few reasons why you may prefer that Apple Watch Series 4 over the Samsung Galaxy Watch3.
Reason #1 to Choose the Apple Watch
For some people, having an Apple product is enough on its own to justify spending a little more. And it’s easy to understand why: Between Macs, iPhones, and now Apple Watches, Apple has created a network among its own products that works better when you have the full package. This smartwatch naturally can be paired with your phone, but it also accepts a SIM card and can be used on its own.
The user interface has also been a fan favorite for up to a decade. Most iPhone users find Android unappealing to look at and difficult to navigate. This smartwatch lives up to the standard set by the iPhone and comes with a sleek UI that you’ll figure out in no time at all. Plus the new always-on display, which dims when your wrist is not raised but remains on to show the wearer the time and other information, makes the Apple Watch Series 5 a fashion statement just as much as a choice in which piece of technology to buy.
Reason #2 to Choose the Apple Watch
Another reason to choose the Apple watch over its Samsung counterpart is its massive internal hard drive. With Apple, you are fitting an impressive 32 GB of memory onto your wrist, compared to the 4 GB of the Samsung Galaxy Watch3. The newest Apple smartwatch also boasts a new operating system to go along with it, which can be run on the older models of the smartwatch, but was tailor-made for the up-to-date model.
Apple has made it clear that they’re the cream of the crop in the mobile phone industry, and smartwatches are no exception. People just love Apple, and while we gave our number one spot to Samsung, Amazon customers actually prefer the Apple Watch 5 to the Samsung watch, with a whopping 90 percent of reviewers giving this smartwatch a five-star review, with an insignificant four percent rating the newest Apple watch three stars or less.
All of this aside, the 40 mm standalone 4G LTE version of the watch, which can make calls and send and receive text messages, starts at an expensive $500 and is even more expensive if you want the larger 44mm version or added features such as a customized band. This, along with the Apple watch’s inferior battery life which lasts a little less than a day, caused us to give the number one spot on our list to Samsung. However, if you have the cash, this may be the best standalone money can buy.
#3: Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Best for Fitness)
While the Apple and Samsung standalone smartwatches both have apps and features available that are geared towards fitness (both smartwatches come with a heart rate monitor), it’s more of a secondary feature, while the Garmin Vivoactive 4 makes fitness the main goal. This is one of the only smartwatches available which is geared towards fitness and has standalone LTE capabilities, as opposed to products like the Fitbit which rely on an external smartphone.
The Vivoactive 4 comes with 20 apps preloaded onto it, most of which focus on fitness. These include a GPS, a calorie counter, a heart rate monitor, and a sleep monitor, as well as apps for different sports and activities such as yoga, running, and swimming, and it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, so no need to worry about taking it off before getting in those laps in the pool.
With this watch, you can also display animated workouts right on your screen. The workouts include strength exercises, cardio, and pilates. This top-of-the-line fitness watch also features a monitor for your stress levels. It can connect to Spotify and stream your music directly, so no need to bring your phone with you to the gym. Going on a long hike? This smartwatch’s battery will get you through even the most brutal of treks and lasts an incredible seven days!
While reasonably priced, the Vivoactive costs more than the Samsung Watch but is considerably cheaper than the Apple Watch. Samsung and Apple make fitness a side-benefit, while Garmin makes it the focal point. Whether you’re hiking the Appalachian trail, pumping iron in the gym, training for a marathon, or going to the pool and sauna, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the only standalone smartwatch for you.
#4: LEMFO KW88 (Best Low Cost)
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Sometimes you aren’t willing to spend a large amount of money on a famous or top tier product, and that’s okay. Maybe it’s your first smartwatch, or maybe you just don’t think the best ones are worth the money. The LEMFO KW88 comes in at around $150 and will give you plenty for that cheap price.
This watch comes with the Android 5.1 operating system and a quad-core processor with 512 MB of RAM, as well as the Google Play store so you can download additional apps. The LEMFO KW88 also has a GPS, heart rate monitoring capabilities, a pedometer, and a built-in camera. With the LEMFO KW88, you don’t need to splurge to get the authentic, modern standalone smartwatch experience.
There are no two ways about it, this watch does not pack the same punch as the Apple or Samsung smartwatches, with its biggest drawback probably being that it can only utilize the older 3G and not the modern 4G LTE. But if you’re looking to save, the LEMFO KW88 is still more than capable, with an up-to-date processor and all of the core functions that make a smartwatch so smart. This standalone smartwatch is the perfect choice for anyone on a budget.
#5: Burg Neon 16A (Best For a Minimalist)
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Maybe technology isn’t your thing, or you don’t want another device to worry about, or all you really want in a standalone smartwatch is a wearable phone. Sometimes you don’t want everything but the kitchen sink. The Burg Neon 16A was designed with simplicity and function in mind. It features Bluetooth capabilities, as well as standalone texting and calling, and has expandable memory of up to 16 GB.
There’s really not much else to write about this watch, and that’s by design. This smartwatch is compatible with both iOS and Android operating system. A nice side benefit of its simple design is that this watch has a battery that lasts up to three days.
This watch costs even less than the LEMFO smartwatch, but because it’s so bare-bones, I’d only recommend it if that’s specifically what you want, otherwise, even if you’re on a budget, you might as well go with the LEMFO watch. It appeals to a more niche client and is a little difficult to find for sale, but if you want to keep it simple and don’t need all those fancy features, Burg is the way to go.
Can You Use a Smartwatch without a SIM Card?
A SIM card essentially the ‘phone’ part of a phone or smartwatch. Without a SIM, a smartphone basically becomes an iPod Touch. It will be able to do use all of the features a smartphone can except calling and texting, and you’ll need a wifi connection for any Internet-based task. That is to say that you can use a smartwatch without a SIM card, but this means that it will depend on your smartphone.
While some smartwatches can take calls and send texts without a SIM or eSim, they aren’t standalone products and are simply acting as an extension of your phone, and as such, you’ll need to have your phone and watch connected and within a certain distance of each other. A truly standalone smartwatch needs either a SIM card or eSim technology. Most of the standalone smartwatches with LTE capability can also use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, but if you’re not using the LTE feature, you’re better off saving money and buying a watch without it.
What If I Don’t Need LTE?
As we mentioned above, you could simply opt-out of the LTE feature on a smartwatch, or you could buy a watch that doesn’t have LTE capabilities. It’s possible you’ve read the full breakdown of all of our watches and decided that they’re not for you, or that they’re all too expensive. You can save more, but it would mean deciding to forgo the LTE feature. For a lot of people, this isn’t a game-changer. As long as you keep your smartphone nearby, a non-LTE smartwatch will have all of the same essential features as its LTE counterpart. Your phone doesn’t need to be on hand, just close enough to connect to your watch through Bluetooth.
Wearable tech is still pretty new, and as such, there’s a lot of confusion around smartwatches. It’s important to keep in mind what you’re really looking for and know what’s what. If you want the watch that doubles as a phone that you’ve been dreaming of since you saw them on Star Trek when you were a kid, then you need a smartwatch with independent LTE capabilities. If you’re just looking for something to streamline the way you use your phone, then LTE isn’t necessary. Plus, if you do forego LTE, you can easily find a smartwatch for under $100, especially if you’re willing to stay away from the big brands and buy a less up to date model.
Verdict: Your Best Standalone Smartwatches with SIM Cards
If you want the smartwatch that’s the best overall value, pick the Samsung Galaxy Watch3.
Samsung has been the best deal in smartphones for a while with their Galaxy phones, and it looks like their smartwatches are no different. At $250, there isn’t really anywhere else you can expect to get 1 GB of RAM, a sleek design with a functional bezel, a dual-core processor, and 4 GB of storage.
If you are willing to spend more, get the Apple Watch 5.
Apple does it again. Sure you have to pay a little more (okay, a lot more), but this is the watch to beat. I don’t need to say any more than 32 GB of storage on your wrist and the stylish Apple design that fans go crazy over.
If you want to keep the price low, pick the LEMFOKW88.
Nothing fancy. Just 3G capability, 512 RAM, and access to the app store all for $150. There just isn’t a cheaper LTE smartwatch out there. Believe me, I’ve looked. A lot.
Ultimately, everyone wants something different, and all standalone smartwatches offer different features. As a recap, The Samsung Watch is the most bang for your buck, while the Apple Watch is probably the best watch, but by far the most expensive. The Vivoactive is the go-to for fitness aficionados, and the LEMFO watch is the best cheap option. Finally, the Burg watch is the perfect choice if all you want is the basics. The choice is yours, and we hope our list helps you pick the best standalone watch for you.