I have an original 1st generation Apple Watch Sport paired to an iPhone 6.

While at home, I had a scenario where my iPhone's battery died while I was typing out a text message. Without thinking, I held down the Digital Crown to send my message using Siri.

To my surprise, a few moments later I felt my Apple Watch ringing with a phone call from my friend.

Somehow, I was able to send texts and answer phone calls on my Apple Watch, despite my paired iPhone having a dead battery.

How is this possible?

1 Answer 1


This is WiFi calling and iMessage in action.

iMessage is a messaging service that is brokered through Apple's iCloud servers and delivers point to point messages to multiple devices instead of needing SMS to deliver a message to a mobile phone. This allows messages on macOS, iPad, iPod touch and Apple Watch to send and receive messages "from" and "to" mobile numbers.

WiFi calling is even better - it links the carrier directly to your Apple devices that are not your iPhone. It is basically a VOIP bridge from the iCloud authenticated devices to a gateway server that bridges the call to the telephone network.

Make and receive Wi-Fi calls from another device

If your carrier supports Wi-Fi Calling on iCloud-connected devices, you can also make and receive Wi-Fi calls on other devices. You can use Wi-Fi Calling on these devices, even if your iPhone isn't on the same Wi-Fi Network or turned on:

  • iPad or iPod touch with iOS 9 or later
  • Apple Watch with watchOS 2 or later
  • Mac (2012 or later model) with OS X El Capitan

Wi-Fi Calling isn't available on Mac Pro (Mid 2012).

Make sure that you're signed in to iCloud and FaceTime with the same Apple ID that you use on your iPhone. Also make sure that your devices have the latest software.

Apple Support - Make a call with Wi-Fi Calling

Pretty amazing time to be alive — our phone calls, video conferences and messages are now bits to be sent and received as digital data streams.

  • Good answer! However T1 lines exist since the early 60's. It's the digitization of the last mile what makes this amazing time.
    – EDP
    Jul 29, 2017 at 22:29
  • 1
    Yes indeed @EDP - I almost left out the last part. Also “digital” wireless is still ultimately analog whether it’s LTE or 64 QAM encoding that pushes digital data over analog media. The ubiquity of battery powered and high quality data streams is the real breakthrough and probably deserves top billing.
    – bmike
    Jul 29, 2017 at 23:04
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    Good point about analog vs digital. If there's cables, wireless or even loudspeaker coils, it's technically analog. Better call it bits & packets :-)
    – EDP
    Jul 30, 2017 at 13:34

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