Apple Fitness+ subscription for iPhone vs Apple Watch: what’s different?

all you need is iPhone to use Apple Fitness+

Apple is finally releasing its Apple Fitness+ subscription service to all iPhone users, whether they own an Apple Watch or not!

That is excellent news for folks sharing their Fitness+ subscriptions with family members who don’t have their own Apple Watch. 

Now everyone with an iPhone 8 and above can subscribe or join their Family’s subscription and access Apple’s Fitness app AND all of the Fitness+ training’s video and audio workouts, including guided meditations and Time to Walk or Run.

Plus, AirPlay 2 is available to watch those workouts on the big screen.

Now, you might wonder what the differences are between using Apple Fitness+ with an iPhone only versus using it with an Apple Watch–and that’s what this article is all about.

So let’s dive into the details.

Related reading

What is the difference between the iPhone Fitness+ subscription and Apple Watch?

First off, let’s start with some good news. Apple’s Fitness app is now available on all iPhones with iOS 16+

So when you carry your iPhone with you, its motion sensors track your steps, distance, and flights climbed to estimate active calories burned and contribute to your Move ring.

The Fitness app also connects to many third-party apps to track activity. Workouts you complete in these apps count towards closing your Move ring.

iOS 16+ Fitness app on iPhone

Without an Apple Watch, the Fitness app shows your Move Activity Ring, tracks your daily activity and move goal, and displays your movement trends over time.

You also get awards, participate in challenges, and use the Sharing tab to share your activity with your Family, friends, trainer, or coach.

And if you or a family member in family sharing subscribe to Apple Fitness+, you also get the Fitness+ tab in the Fitness app when using iOS 16.1 and above.Fitness+ for iPhone only

Now, without an Apple Watch, the Fitness app cannot track your stand or exercise activity, so you see just one Activity Ring. 

Fitness+ on iPhones only vs. Apple Watch

With iPhone, Fitness+ gives you many of the same opportunities as the Apple Watch.

You get all the videos, audio workouts, meditations, awards, activity sharing, and many on-screen metrics, including coaching, timers, and trainer callouts. Apple Fitness+ for iPhone only users in the Fitness app

Since Fitness+ is part of the Fitness app, it also tracks your progress in the Move ring.

The only limitation for Fitness+ is that it requires an iPhone 8 or later, and your iPhone must run iOS 16.1 or higher.

If you recently purchased a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, Apple also offers three free months of Fitness+.

iPhone-only users can also use Fitness+ on their iPad, Apple TV or use AirPlay to stream Fitness+ workouts and meditations to compatible third-party devices, including AirPlay-enabled Roku devices. 

With Apple Watch, Fitness+ also collects your heart rate. And that heart rate information is the most significant difference and advantage between the Apple Watch versus the iPhone.

With heart rate data, your Fitness+ experience shows you real‑time AND personalized metrics, including active calories burned during the workout, your real-time current heart rate, and the Burn Bar. Apple Fitness+ on watch and iPhone

With Apple Watch, you also track all three of your Activity rings (Stand, Move, Exercise) on-screen and see celebrations when you close them.

Finally, with an Apple Watch and Fitness+, you can enjoy the subscription’s audio‑guided walks, runs, and meditations with your watch and wireless headphones and leave your iPhone at home!

Support for iPad, Apple TV, and AirPlay too! Fitness+ on Apple iPad

Once you start using Fitness+ on your iPhone or iPhone and Apple Watch, you can add the Fitness app to your iPad or Apple TV.

For iPad and Apple TV, the Fitness app is available to download and install in the App Store for both iPhone-only and Apple Watch users.

If you have an AirPlay 2 compatible TV or device, you can also AirPlay from your iPhone to that device. And some of those TVs also show your on-screen metrics!

Final thoughts

Well, it’s just about time that Apple offered Fitness+ and the Fitness app to everyone. We know it’s going to have a big impact on allowing folks with iPhones to track their activity and understand their trends.

Expanding Fitness+ to all iPhones is a real boon for Apple Family Sharing since most families have loved ones that don’t own Apple Watches but want to do the workouts.

Previous articleNow Playing status icon and notification missing after watchOS upgrade? Here’s what you can do
Next articleCompass app not working on Apple Watch? Check these tips
A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.