Apple Watch Ultra: A Viable iPhone Replacement or Not?

The Apple Watch Ultra is an amazing piece of technology. It has many valuable features that are not included in the standard Apple Watch, and it also supports cellular technology so that you can use it on the go. At a price close to that of an iPhone, some have been wondering if it’s possible to replace their iPhone with an Apple Watch Ultra.

The Apple Watch Ultra is not a perfect replacement for an iPhone. It can work well without one, and you can use it for a day or so without having your iPhone near you, but it still requires an iPhone to pair and set it up, and limited app support means you can’t do everything on the Ultra.

Many people have tried to survive for a day or two without an iPhone by using only the Apple Watch Ultra, and some features work great that way, but we don’t always realize how dependent we are on our phones, for better or worse. Some of the things are simply beyond the scope of the Apple Watch. Let’s compare what works and what doesn’t when you replace your iPhone with the Ultra.

Can Apple Watch Ultra Replace Iphone?

Setting Up The Apple Watch Ultra

It’s impossible to set up your Apple Watch Ultra if you don’t have an iPhone. Everything in the setup and configuration process is managed by the Watch app on the iPhone, so without it, the Watch Ultra is virtually useless.

It is possible to have someone else set up the Watch Ultra for you on their iPhone. This will link you to their family group on their Apple account, and you can then use the Watch Ultra as a simple iPhone replacement if you wish.

For this to work correctly, you have to enable a cellular plan for the Apple Watch Ultra, even if you’re mostly going to be using Wi-Fi. The problem is that you will have to occasionally link the Watch with the same iPhone again, as this is the only way to tweak specific settings and install updates.

What Works When Replacing An iPhone With A Watch Ultra

Apart from the initial setup, there are quite a number of things that an Apple Watch Ultra can do that could effectively replace your iPhone.

Make And Receive Calls

You can make and receive phone calls on your Apple Watch Ultra without using an iPhone. This requires the activation of a cellular plan on the watch, though.

The call quality is decent. The Watch Ultra has good speakers that can get quite loud, so you can clearly hear the person on the other end. The microphones aren’t great for phone calls, though. They are better at canceling background noise than those on other Apple Watch models, but your voice likely won’t be as clear as it would be when using an iPhone.

Send And Receive Text Messages

iMessage works perfectly on the Apple Watch Ultra, so you can easily send text messages to other Apple users. You can even message Android users through regular SMS. The Watch Ultra’s on-screen keyboard works surprisingly well despite how small the keys are.

Use Apple’s Maps App

You can navigate using the Maps app on the Apple Watch Ultra, and it works very well thanks to the Ultra’s excellent GPS tracking.

Use Apple Pay

You can use Apple Pay and all its associated features with the Apple Watch Ultra. Any bank cards that you have linked with Apple Pay will work by tapping the Apple Watch, and you can also transfer money to other Apple Pay users.

Listen To Music, Audiobooks, And Podcasts

You can stream music, audiobooks, and podcasts on your Apple Watch Ultra through the Apple Music, Books, and Podcasts apps. The built-in speakers aren’t great for this, so you might want to use Bluetooth earphones like AirPods for better sound quality. Of course, streaming requires an active Wi-Fi or cellular internet connection.

Though it’s possible to download all these media to your Apple Watch Ultra to listen without streaming, you need an iPhone to do that.

News And Stocks

The Watch Ultra will give you access to the latest news and the Stocks app if you have an active internet connection.

What You Can’t Do On The Apple Watch

So far, we’ve seen that you can perform most of your day-to-day activities without an iPhone, using just an Apple Watch Ultra. This might make it seem realistic to get rid of your iPhone entirely. However, you should also keep the negative aspects in mind.

Setup Of The Apple Watch Ultra

We’ve already mentioned that you need an iPhone to set up, configure, and update the Apple Watch Ultra, but remembering is still crucial.

App Support

The Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t have excellent app support; at least, not nearly on the same level as the iPhone. Though you can load most of Apple’s apps on the Watch, third-party app developers don’t really support the Apple Watch too much apart from syncing notifications from the iPhone.

Social Media

Social media platforms, including the likes of Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, don’t support the Apple Watch at all. You cannot scroll through them and watch videos or browse photos. The apps are simply not supported on the Apple Watch Ultra. This might change in the future, but it’s not there yet.

That might not seem too big of a deal, especially for someone who doesn’t use social media much. But this extends to text messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. You cannot use these on the Apple Watch Ultra either, apart from receiving notifications synced from an iPhone, which limits your text messaging to only iMessage and SMS.


One of the things most people first notice they’re missing is the camera. Many of us don’t even realize how often we use the cameras built into our iPhones until we don’t have them with us.

When you see that beautiful sunset or have an experience you would like to record, you will suddenly remember that you can’t unless you have a camera.

Battery Life

The Apple Watch Ultra has excellent battery life (up to 30 hours with power saving turned on). But it was never designed to be a phone replacement, so people who have to use the Watch as their full-time device quickly find that the battery doesn’t last as long as they’d hoped.

In an experiment performed by Tom’s Guide, where the researcher tried to replace the iPhone with an Apple Watch Ultra for 24 hours, she found that the battery ran down to 7% in only a few hours. That’s after she had to use Watch to send messages, make payments, make phone calls, and navigate around town using Maps.

The iPhone has a large, high-capacity battery designed for this kind of use, and the Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t. The fact that it can perform all these functions doesn’t mean it can perform them optimally, and the battery life will suffer when you try.


The Apple Watch Ultra, like other Apple Watches, was designed to be a companion device. It works optimally when it’s synced and partnered with your iPhone. Though it can handle many of your daily tasks, it wasn’t made to do that full-time. We may be approaching a point where a smartwatch could replace an iPhone entirely, but we are definitely not there yet.


  • Levi Scott

    Levi Scott is a seasoned tech industry professional with a deep-rooted passion for technology, especially in the realm of wearables. His journey began with building DIY PCs, fostering a skillset that led him to work on innovative tech projects. Levi is adept at demystifying complex technologies and integrating them seamlessly into daily life.