Wear OS smartwatch location accuracy without phone

LTE position accuracy

I experience better than 50 meter location accuracy from Wear OS Smartwatch using 4G LTE. It appears that Wear OS does NOT use WiFi to get location. Smartphones DO use WiFi to get a coarse position, even without GPS or Cellular. Wear OS watches do NOT get location from 3G, only 4G networks.

“Find My Device” does NOT work for Wear OS UNLESS you have a watch with GPS (outdoors with view of satellites) or 4G connected.

With my phone off (battery dead), Google Maps 9.27 on an LG-W200A Wear OS LTE smartwatch without a GPS chip found my location. Despite having no phone connected and no GPS in the watch, my location was found in less than 15 seconds to within 30-50 meter accuracy using 4G LTE. As I walked down the city street and turned corners, the same accuracy held, updating every 10 seconds or so.

No WiFi-only Wear OS “Find My Device”

Google Maps on Wear OS with only a Wifi connection does NOT give location. With smartphones, WiFi alone can be used for ~ 100m location accuracy in urban areas.

“Find My Device” does NOT work for Wear OS on WiFi alone. You need a watch with GPS (outdoors with view of satellites) or 4G connected.

Details

I was in a city area where there were a few 4G LTE macro cells in range. The observed accuracy better than 50 meters was well within expectations of LTE location accuracy without GPS.

If sufficient 4G towers are in view, an Wear OS LTE smartwatch without GPS can make phone calls and get sufficient location accuracy in Google Maps from the smartwatch alone.

In rural areas the accuracy may be considerably worse if few macro cells are in view and GPS is not available (terrain/car/building blockage of satellites).

Notes

Thanks to @TomasFEWS Tomas Rodriguez for help experimenting with Wear OS location performance.

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Written by Michael Hirsch, Ph.D. //

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