Android Wear smartwatch LTE network choices

Disclaimer: These results are informal, based on trying it once casually. Don’t make purchasing decisions based on this article alone! Facts on the ground change all the time for LTE service providers in terms of what they allow and charge for it.

Ting Smartwatch LTE Cost

Ting GSM is recommended as currently the most economical LTE service for phone + data to LTE smartwatches. Ting GSM uses Tmobile, which is what Project Fi defaults to in non-Fi supported devices. With Ting you do not select a plan. You are billed according to the lowest bucket you fall into for each month. The current Ting cost for an LTE GSM smartwatch is:

$6 (base) + $3 (< 100 minutes phone) + $0 (SMS, assuming you’ll use phone-connected SMS) + $3 (< 100 MB data) = $12/month Ting LTE smartwatch

Ting LTE Smartwatch cost examples:

  • If you don’t make any calls that month (usage is 0 minutes) then subtract $12-$3 = $9 for that month.
  • If you used 400 MB of data that month (maybe watching YouTube on your LTE smartwatch) then you’d fall into the 500 MB bucket – adding $12+$7 = $19 for that month.

If you use the LTE phone and/or data features sparingly, you’ll save $3 - $6 per month with Ting vs. Project Fi. I would bet most people use less than 100 minutes/month of smartwatch phone calls, so $12/month for average Ting LTE smartwatch user may be reasonable.

And the key thing is Ting does not care what you put on Ting, so unlike Project Fi, your phone + data LTE smartwatch usage is totally legit on Ting.

Project Fi Smartwatch LTE Cost

  • Note: As of this writing, no phone+data smartwatches are officially allowed by Project Fi. The phone functionality of the Project Fi smartwatch may stop working at any time.
  • The free data-only SIM instead of the phone/voice for smartwatch is an excellent value on Project Fi and is officially allowed, sharing Project Fi data bucket with the main phone.

With Project Fi’s group pricing, the Android Wear smartwatch pools the same data with other devices. There are two ways to use Project Fi on an LTE smartwatch:

  1. data only FREE adding a data-only SIM to your Project Fi plan. You can currently add up to 9 devices this way (tablets, watches, old smartphones, etc.). I believe this is in accord with Project Fi terms of service.
  2. voice/text/data $15/month additional using voice/text/data Project Fi SIM. Note that smartwatch voice use is against Project Fi terms of service. Project Fi/Google Voice will NOT number forward to other Fi devices.

For #2, your Project Fi cost with smartphone + smartwatch would be:

phone watch subtotal
$20 voice/text $15 voice/text $35
$10 1 GB data $10 1 GB data $20

That’s $55/month total for phone + LTE smartwatch on Project Fi for 2 GB of shared data. You get refunded for data you don’t use, so your total monthly cost would be $45 for 1GB of shared data used and so on.

Users that don’t like to carry their smartphone (e.g. while exercising) and need voice calls may want the extra $15/month voice/data SIM for their LTE smartwatch. Also this voice/data SIM in the LTE smartwatch is a convenient backup phone for those who need to have two phones for reliability (on-call, VIP, etc.).

Smartwatch compatibility with Ting & Project Fi

FCCID Carrier Model Ting & Project Fi compatible?
ZNFW200V Verizon LG-W200V No
ZNFW200A AT&T LG-W200A Yes
ZNFW280 unlocked LG-W280A Yes
QIS-LEO-DLXX N/A Huawei Watch 2 No

Activate LTE smartwatch on Project Fi: Phone/Text/Data

  • This use is against Project Fi terms of service and may stop working at any time (or not work in the first place)
  • Project Fi/Google Voice will NOT number forward to another Fi device. Maybe a third-party number forwarder would allow one phone number to ring watch and phone.
  • You must use a unique @gmail.com address for your phone and watch.
  • You must order a VOICE/TEXT SIM, not a data SIM for the watch (see next section if you don’t want phone on the watch)
  1. Send a Project Fi group invitation to your second @gmail.com address (perhaps created just for this purpose)
  2. Using a Project Fi compatible smartphone, insert your second voice/text/data SIM.
  3. Activate the Project Fi SIM on your second @gmail.com address
  4. Power OFF the watch, and using the spanner tool that comes with the LTE watch, remove the AT&T or other SIM
  5. insert the Fi SIM into the LTE watch, then power on
  6. You should be immediately able to make/receive phone calls on your T-mobile compatible LTE smartwatch on Project Fi.

Project Fi says that devices compatible with T-Mobile will generally work with Project Fi.

Activate LTE smartwatch on Project Fi: data-only

  • This use case is in accord with Project Fi terms of service, no tricks needed.
  • You must order a free data-only SIM to get the free shared data
  1. Type the code on the SIM card attachment into a web browser
  2. Power OFF the watch, and using the spanner tool that comes with the LTE watch, remove the AT&T or other SIM
  3. insert the Fi SIM into the LTE watch, then power on
  4. You will have data-only (no phone on watch, texts via phone) LTE Project Fi smartwatch.
Project Fi APN LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE with Project Fi network
APN: h2g2 for Project Fi, don't adjust Network settings

On an Android Wear watch, you will get LTE emails/phone texts/hangouts/etc AS LONG AS your smartphone is on and internet connected. E.g. you forgot your smartphone at home on the charger–you will get emails etc. on your Android Wear smartwatch over Wifi or LTE.

Project Fi says that devices compatible with T-Mobile will generally work with Project Fi. I notice that the device is on T-mobile normally and may roam to AT&T (not guaranteed to roam, per Project Fi terms of service).

Android Wear LTE Project Fi Data Metering

The Project Fi app will break out the usage for each data-only SIM separately, so you can see what the LTE smartwatch vs. tablet vs. phone is using.

Android Wear LTE battery life

When using a data-only Project Fi SIM in your LTE Android Wear smartwatch, you might consider shutting cellular “off” when you don’t use it, since you’ll get an extra 1-2 days of battery life (3 days battery life without LTE instead of 2 days with LTE).

If you like to jog or do whatever away from your home every few days, then maybe just leave Cellular on.

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