Can You Use a Apple Watch for Calling? How to Stay Connected Without Your Smartphone

Left your smartphone behind? A smartwatch sporting eSIM technology can help keep you connected. Canstar guides you through how to make and receive calls, and stay in the loop, all from your smartwatch.

Smartwatches have come a long way in recent years. And now, many new models allow you to make and receive calls right from your wrist. Tapping into this functionality, Spark’s One Number Wearable plan enables customers to keep in touch sans smartphone. This means, provided you have an eligible iPhone and Apple Watch smartwatch, you’ll be able to stay connected while out and about. Even without your iPhone on hand.

For many years, smartwatches used Bluetooth to connect to smartphones. However, the growing popularity of models with in-built eSIM cellular capabilities has paved the way for standalone usage. This could come in particularly handy if you want to remain contactable in situations where a smartphone may prove cumbersome. Such as when out for a jog.

As it stands, Spark is the only provider in New Zealand currently supporting cellular network functionality for devices such as smartwatches. In the following guide, we’ll take a look at how the technology works and the plans available.

smartwatch and smartphone

Bluetooth and eSIM: What’s the difference?


Traditionally, Bluetooth has been the go-to technology when it comes to pairing your smartwatch with your smartphone. Establishing a Bluetooth connection between the two devices allows you to access many of the features on your smartphone.

However, with Bluetooth acting as the bridge between the two devices, you’ll need to ensure your smartphone is within wireless range. When paired, your smartwatch uses your smartphone’s cellular connection to make and receive calls, and send and receive text messages (depending on the model you’re using).

Meanwhile, a smartwatch with in-built wi-fi can directly connect to the internet without being paired with a smartphone (some models may also provide remote smartphone access). However, functionality is as a rule comparatively limited.


eSIMs pave the way for increasingly standalone smartwatch usage. And many new smartwatch models now sport an eSIM option. It’s worth noting that eSIM models are generally more expensive. 

An eSIM is an embedded SIM, designed to permanently sit in a device. The information stored on an eSIM is rewritable, allowing users to download a SIM from their mobile provider (which means no more replacing SIM cards).

In the case of smartwatches, eSIMs allow users to share their smartphone’s mobile number across the two devices. Essentially, you’ll have two devices linked to the same number and plan. Your smartphone will need to be on to use the mobile service. However, you’ll be able to use your smartwatch without your smartphone close by.

Spark: One Number Wearable plan

Spark’s One Number Wearable plan allows customers to share their mobile number with their Apple Watch. This allows customers to access calls and text functionality straight from the Apple Watch. Without having their iPhone nearby.

Priced a $12.99 a month, One Number does this by enabling sharing of the customer’s primary plan minutes, texts and data on their Apple Watch.

To get One Number up and running, customers will need the following:

  • Eligible primary phone – an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13.3 or later
  • Spark mobile plan – an eligible pay monthly mobile plan that’s active on your primary iPhone
  • Apple Watch with cellular – an Apple Watch (GPS + Cellular) with watchOS 6.1.1 or later

Eligible plans include a number of Spark’s Rollover and Endless Mobile plans. There is a maximum of two Apple Watches per mobile line.

How to activate the One Number plan

Spark advises that you don’t need to buy your Apple Watch from Spark to use One Number. It’s fine to connect a cellular Apple Watch bought elsewhere (as long as it is compatible with the Spark network).

To get One Number up and running, Spark advises that you’ll need to:

  • Check compatibility – in addition to a compatible iPhone and Apple Watch, you’ll need a compatible plan
  • Pair your iPhone and Apple Watch – set-up assistants on both devices work together to help pair the devices (further information is available via the Apple website)
  • Buy the plan via the Apple Watch app – go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and buy the One Number plan by following the onscreen instructions

Spark advises that to confirm your Apple Watch is connected, you should turn off Bluetooth or move away from your iPhone. You’ll then need to open your Apple Watch’s Control Centre, make sure wi-fi is off, and if the cellular data icon is green, your plan is working.

The Spark website has detailed step-by-step instructions on the set-up process (along with what to do in the event of an error message).

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apple watch series 7 smartwatch

Apple Watch Series 7: Bigger display, thinner borders

The Apple Watch Series 7 was released towards the end of last year, sporting a range of upgraded features, including the largest Apple Watch display ever. The always-on Retina display also sports thinner borders, maximising screen area while minimally changing the watch’s dimensions.

Apple says that the Series 7 (available in 41 and 45 mm sizes) is the most durable Apple Watch ever. It features a stronger, more crack-resistant front crystal. It is also the first Apple Watch to have an IP6X certification for dust resistance, while maintaining a WR50 water resistance rating.

Other Series 7 features include:

  • watchOS 8 – introduces more capabilities to the Home app, along with enhancements to the Messages and Photos apps
  • Health and wellness – including an electrical heart sensor and ECG app, a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, along with the new Mindfulness app
  • Sleep app – tracks your sleep, helping to create a schedule and a bedtime routine so you can meet your sleep goals
  • Fitness – the Apple Fitness+ subscription service spans a range of different workouts
  • Battery – an 18-hour battery life. Thanks to an updated charging architecture and a fast-charging USB-C cable, it takes about 45 minutes to charge from 0 to 80% (up to 33% faster charging than the Series 6).

The Series 7 (GPS and GPS + Cellular models) is available in a range of configurations, with further information available via the Apple website.

Compare broadband with Canstar Blue

To help you get a clearer picture of broadband providers in NZ, Canstar Blue rates all the big providers annually. We survey thousands of broadband customers and ask them to score their providers across categories including Value for Money, Network Performance and Customer Service.

Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ internet providers compares NOW, 2degrees, Bigpipe, Contact, MyRepublic, Nova Energy, Orcon, Slingshot, Spark, Stuff Fibre, Trustpower and Vodafone, and awards the best our 5 Star rating:

See Our Ratings Methodology

The table above is an abridged version of our full research, so to find out more about NZ’s best broadband providers, just click on the big button at the bottom of this story.

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About the author of this page

 Martin KovacsThis report was written by Canstar author Martin Kovacs. Martin is a freelance writer with experience covering the business, consumer technology and utilities sectors. Martin has written about a wide range of topics across both print and digital publications, including the manner in which industry continues to adapt and evolve amid the rollout of new technologies

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