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How Can a Smartwatch Replace a Smartphone?

That Escalated Quickly

As indispensable as they have become in the past few years, smartphones are still a relatively new technology. Think about it: the iPhone — the smartphone that moved the device from the early adopters into the mainstream — has been around for fewer than ten years. However, in that decade, we’ve moved from smartphones being the ne plus ultra of digital communication technology to smartphones being, well, a bit of an inconvenience. It’s not that they’re big, but they do need to be carried around, either in a pocket, a bag, or in your hand. Sometimes, it would be nice if we could attach it to the body or wear it on the wrist. We need something smaller but just as useful. We need a smartwatch that does everything a smartphone does. But is this a realistic hope? How can a smartwatch replace a smartphone? Let’s take a look.

How Can a Smartwatch Replace a Smartphone? The SIM’s the Thing

lg-smartwatch-urbane-2, How Can a Smartwatch Replace a Smartphone?For a device to function as a comprehensive communication device — one that makes and takes calls and texts on a mobile network — it needs to have a SIM card. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, and it’s a card that contains information about the device’s phone number, carrier, contract, and contacts.

Today, however, most smartwatches don’t have a SIM card: not the Apple Watch, nor the Pebble, nor pretty much any fitness watch you can think of. Those devices rely on the connectivity of a synced smartphone to send and receive messages, update calendars, and do just about anything. Most smartwatches today simply act as a satellite of a nearby smartphone rather than a replacement for it.  However, there are smartwatches out there that do have SIM cards, and while they can’t do everything an iOS or Android or even Windows Phone device can do, they can potentially take the place of a smartphone.

The (Possible) Smartphone Replacements

First, the bad news: not a lot of smartwatches contain SIM cards. However, the good news is that there are a few very good options. For example, the LG Watch Urbane 2 and the Samsung Gear S2 can both function as a standalone communication device; the Gear S2 actually has a built-in eSIM card. Other viable options include the QOne, the Neptune Pine, and the Omate TrueSmart.

There are also some kids watch phones, like the LG GizmoPal 2, the LG GizmoGadget, Tinitell, and a few others, that have SIM cards. It’s important to note, though, that these kids watches are limited functionality devices designed to help children stay in touch with their parents, not replace a true smartphone.

Yes They Can

There are some smartwatches that can replace a smartphone, thanks to their SIM cards. However, there aren’t a ton of options if that’s the kind of device you’re after. Most smartwatch manufacturers are currently prioritising things like built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring, NFC payments, and product design over standalone capability. However, given the direction of the market, it’s probably safe to say that in another five years, there will be more smartwatches that can truly replace a smartphone.

Have you replaced your smartphone with a smartwatch? Is it a good solution for you? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

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  1. Greg Smith

    Hi Max – I wear a Samsung Gear S which has its own Sim card and can do most things a smart phone does. I often leave my smart phone at home and communicate just with the watch. Messages and internet browsing are a bit cumbersome but voice communication is fine.
    The only caveat is that my smartphone has to be turned on at home to forward messages and calls to my watch.
    For times when you want to travel light but keep in touch it is great.


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