Fuel your inspiration now!

Why is your smartwatch asking for a sim card?

The reasons why a smartwatch asks for a SIM card

Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Also, I may earn revenue for traffic. This allows me to build free and helpful content. Thanks for your support! See the Disclaimer here.

You bought the smartwatch you wanted and can’t wait to use it. However, all of a sudden, you see an ‘Insert SIM card’ message. What does this message mean? Did you buy the wrong smartwatch? How do I use a smartwatch with a SIM card? Did you buy one but you don’t know how to use it? No worries. That’s why we are here!

Believe it or not, this is one of the common questions these days. The short answer is you bought a standalone smartwatch or a smartwatch with cellular network capability.  They use a SIM card so they can communicate with the carrier. However, you can disable the cellular functionality by going to Settings if your smartwatch phone gives you that option. 

If you wondered why your smartwatch showed an ‘ insert SIM card’ you may need more information about standalone smartwatches or watches that use a SIM card.

Recommended reading: How to connect your fitness watch to a phone the right way

What is a smartwatch with a SIM card slot?

I am very sure you may have heard about ‘phone watches’, ‘watch phones’, or simply ‘standalone smartwatches’. They are watches with a SIM card slot that can be used to make/receive phone/text, receive notifications, etc. They have the functionality of a cell phone and connect to an LTE, 3G, 4G, or 5G. Most of them come with a SIM card. Depending on the product you may be able to activate it either online or you may need to bring it to the carrier. However, you will need the same network carrier and your phone number.

What is a SIM card?

A SIM card or Subscriber Identity Module is a smart card used to communicate with your carrier. It has a unique ID number and stores your data. The type of SIM card used on a smartwatch is a Nano card which is smaller and thinner than the earlier ones. However, it holds the same amount of data. However, carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile support the embedded SIM (eSIM) which is a small chip inside of a phone that is rewritable. One of the advantages of the eSIM is that you can change carriers with a phone call and easy to add to a data plan.

We will share very easy and simple steps to activate your smartwatch with a SIM card.

Before you activate your phone watch make sure you read the user manual to become familiar with your product.

How to activate a sim card for a smartwatch

Believe it or not, activating your smartwatch phone is easier than you think. In many cases, the user manual will instruct you to place the SIM card in the slot and activate t online. However, Follow these steps to help you enable the cellular functionality on your smartwatch:

  1. To activate your smartwatch with a SIM card you need to make sure that you have an account with a major mobile network company, such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint.
  2. Expect to pay for a second plan to activate your smartwatch SIM card. Mobile carriers will treat your smartwatch as if they were any other device. You may need to ask your carrier about fees and a second plan. Also, ask about insurance or any penalties or fees for cancelation.
  3. Depending on the smartwatch you need to bring your cell phone. Many watches require you to link to your smartphone at just one time.
  4. Once the mobile network company activates your smartphone watch expect around 24 hours for the activation.

Difference between a standalone watch and a smartphone

Thanks to technology you don’t have to stick to your cell phone. Standalone smartwatches can make your life easier and more convenient. However, can you live without your smartphone? Or can a smartwatch with a SIM card replace your cell phone? Can you ditch your cell phone completely? To answer these questions lets see let’s see the difference between a cell phone and a smartwatch phone.

Battery life

Although many standalone smartwatches can have a decent battery life they may need to be charged more often or every night.  You may not be able to make phone calls or text all the time in place of your smartphone. Also, they may require bigger batteries and chips which may make the phone watch bigger for small wrists.


A smartphone can deliver a great experience but a smartwatch with a card can be so versatile that will not interrupt your daily activity. Having a  smartphone watch can save you time, and give you peace of mind. If you are always on the go and like to have everything on your wrist, a phone watch can work for you.


Depending on the features and functionality, the cost of a standalone watch may be higher than a smartphone. Also, adding a smartwatch phone could be costly because you will need a second mobile network plan.

Screen size

A smartphone’s screen tends to be bigger than a watch phone’s which makes it easier to type text messages, browse the internet and even use the applications. However, you may find a smartwatch with a SIM card with adequate screen size, although – depending on your needs and preference – the experience may not be the same.


We still can’t get rid of smartphones, not only for their versatility but their capabilities are still better. For example: Sending text messages and making phone calls is easier using a smartphone. It is not that you can’t enjoy the features that a phone watch can offer. However, a smartphone cannot be fully replaced.

Network connection

The carrier signal may not be as strong as your smartphone’s.


Using a smartwatch with cellular functionality can make your life easier. You can check applications, text messages, notifications, and phone calls without accessing your smartphones. Also, it will help you to stay away from your phone for a while.


Although many phone watches have an SD card slot, Smartphones tend to have larger storage which allows you to store more applications and data.


You can take pictures and film videos with your smartwatch phone as you would with your smartphone. Many others can be used as remote control mobile cameras using an application. Quality can be the same as if it is taken with your phone.

Is a wristphone watch better than a phone?

You may ask yourself if a watch with a SIM card is better than a smartphone. The answer is it depends on your needs and preferences. If you like to check your messages while you are jogging or doing your normal activities without checking your phone a standalone smartwatch is an answer. If you are so used to your phone, getting a smartwatch phone will be challenging although it will help you stay away from your phone.

Can a smartphone be irreplaceable?

Many smartwatches with SIM can work like or even better than a smartphone. They can even send/receive texts or phone calls, browse apps, check your fitness progress, receive notifications, etc. However, you still need to have a mobile network account which means you are required to have a cell phone.

Although the capability of a smartphone watch has improved greatly, phone carriers treat them like a tablet. Also, the network signal may not be stronger than a smartphone. No matter how advanced your standalone smartwatch may be carriers may need to link it with your smartphone, so they can add it to your plan which will increase your monthly bill.

Now, you may ask yourself whether it is worth paying lots of money for a sophisticated smartphone watch that will never replace the smartphone at least for now. Keep in mind that although a standalone smartwatch can keep you away from your smartphone you still need to have it around.

What to do if you bought the wrong smartwatch?

If buying a standalone smartwatch was not your intention you can return your watch to the merchant depending on the return policy. Also, as we mentioned earlier, you can keep the watch and disable the cellular network functionality. As long as you did not activate

How to cancel phone plan on your wristphone watch

If you want to cancel your mobile network plan on your standalone watch you will need to contact your carrier for any penalties or fees that it may incur. It is very important to know that they may charge you for any cancellation. Check the documentation first and bring it to the carrier. Once it is the cellular function is deactivated you can use it as a regular smartwatch.


Many smartwatches that come with SIM card slots can have cellular network functionality disabled. It is a great way to help you decide whether you need a smartphone watch or not. I know that will come with a price. Before you buy a smartphone with SIM think about the costs, your preferences, your budget, and your user experience.

I would suggest you ask your carrier about the fees, and other carrier policies first. Keep in mind that standalone smartwatches will keep improving functionality, capabilities, and user experience. And hopefully… we can ditch our smartphones for good!