Cut the Cord: Can You Use AirPods with Your Apple Watch Without a Phone?

One of Apple’s most impressive feats is how the different devices, including the Apple Watch and AirPods, integrate. You can sync almost any two Apple devices seamlessly to share nearly anything. But much of the Apple Watch’s functionality relies on the iPhone. So is it possible to use AirPods with an Apple Watch if you don’t have your iPhone?

The Apple Watch can stream audio to your AirPods through Bluetooth even if you don’t have your iPhone. Some Apple Watch models may require that you have a WiFi connection to do so. You can also pre-download some music or audio to an Apple Watch to listen on your AirPods without the internet.

Whether you want to go for a run without carrying your iPhone or whatever the reason, let’s look at how you can connect the Apple Watch and AirPods without taking your iPhone.

Can You Use Your AirPods With An Apple Watch Without A Phone?

Can You Use AirPods With Apple Watch Without A Phone?

You can use any AirPods with an Apple Watch, whether you have your iPhone or not. The model of your AirPods doesn’t matter. They connect with the Apple Watch through Bluetooth, and all versions of the AirPods support this function. But there are a few crucial things you should keep in mind.

The WatchOS Version Of Your Watch

To use Generation 1 AirPods with an Apple Watch, you need at least WatchOS 3. For Generation 2 AirPods, your Watch requires WatchOS 5.2 or later. If the versions are incompatible, you won’t be able to pair your AirPods with an Apple Watch.

The Connectivity Of The Apple Watch

Apart from the versions, the Apple Watch comes in two basic models: the GPS model, which only has internet access through WiFi, and the GPS + Cellular version, which can access the internet using mobile phone data.

With the GPS (WiFi only) model, any audio that requires a live internet connection will only work when you have a working WiFi connection.

Can You Run With Apple Watch And AirPods With A Phone?

You can go for a run without taking your iPhone with you and still listen to music or podcasts over your AirPods. Apple Music and Spotify work perfectly for this; even Apple’s Podcasts app can do it.

The WiFi-only Apple Watch GPS won’t be able to stream music if you don’t have an active WiFi connection. You can resolve this issue in one of two ways:

  1. Get an Apple Watch with GPS and Cellular. You can use your mobile data to stream audio to your AirPods through the Apple Watch.
  2. Sync downloaded music on the Apple Watch to listen to music offline. You can do this on your iPhone by opening the Watch app, going to the My Watch section, and selecting Music. (Note that you might have to download the music or podcast to your iPhone first; otherwise, it may not appear in the Watch app.)

Can You Listen To Music On AirPods With Just An Apple Watch?

If you have an internet connection (WiFi or cellular, depending on your model of Apple Watch) and a pair of AirPods, you can listen to music without your iPhone intervening, but only after you’ve set it up. 

You have to pair the Apple Watch and AirPods with your iPhone first. Once you’ve done this, your AirPods should automatically pair with the Watch. Then you only need to use your iPhone to get the music onto your Watch, after which you can listen to music without your phone.

As mentioned before, you can do this by streaming your music directly, which requires your Watch to have an active internet connection, or you can sync downloaded music to your Watch from your iPhone. 

How To Download Spotify Music To Apple Watch

Apple Music comes included with Series 3 or later of the Apple Watch, so streaming your library is easy. But what if you’re a Spotify user? It’s also easy to set up as long as you:

  • Have Spotify Premium
  • Have an Apple Watch 3 or higher
  • Run WatchOS 7.0 or above

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Install Spotify on the Apple Watch. You have two options for doing this:
    1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone. Select Available Apps, and Spotify should appear in the list. Select it and choose Install.
    2. You can install Spotify directly if your Watch has the App Store installed.
  1. Once you have Spotify on the Apple Watch, open it and sign in using your Premium account. Users with free accounts cannot listen to music directly from the Watch.
  1. On Spotify’s home screen, you will see your playlists and the music you added to your library. You can stream any music by simply selecting your chosen playlist there.
  1. To download music, swipe right to access Spotify’s home screen.
  1. Once you’ve found the playlist you want to download, you can tap on the down arrow next to it to start the download.
  1. You can access your downloaded music by going to Spotify’s home screen and choosing “Downloads.”

You can also download Spotify podcasts or playlists to your Apple Watch using the iPhone. After installing the Spotify app on your Watch, follow these steps:

  1.  From the Spotify app on your iPhone, find the podcast or playlist you want to add.
  2. Tap the button with the three dots to open the “More Options” menu.
  3. Select the “Download to Apple Watch” option.

You should keep the Spotify app open on the Apple Watch and iPhone to make this go faster.

A Few Things To Note About Spotify On The Apple Watch

Apps on the Apple Watch aren’t as powerful and feature-packed as those on the iPhone, and Spotify is no exception. So when you download music, remember the following:

  • The amount of music you can download to your Watch depends on the storage capacity and model. Spotify claims you can download at least 10 hours of music, podcasts, and audiobooks, but your mileage may vary.
  • You are limited to downloading only 100 tracks per playlist. If you have more than 100 tracks in the playlist, it will only download the first 100.
  • You cannot download individual tracks on the Apple Watch. You must add the track you want to listen to, to a playlist, then download the playlist.


Apple’s unified ecosystem is incredible. Everything is so synchronized that using AirPods with an Apple Watch isn’t just possible but easy to do, even if you don’t have your iPhone with you at the time. As long as both devices are compatible, you should have no problem leaving your iPhone at home when you go for your next run.

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