Ellie's main functionalities work without having to be connected to a phone. You only need a smartphone in order to program the Ellie device and if you want to keep caregivers updated on your progress. These tasks are done via a Bluetooth connection. If Ellie is not connected to a smartphone, it will still be able to sound the alarm and use the LED light to tell you which pills to take and how many.
That being said, once you program the device the information is stored in the device, so no smartphone is required for the device to sound the alarm in order to Ellie can connect directly through a smartphone's Bluetooth. After initial setup, no smartphone is required as long as your regimen doesn't change. The only time you need a smartphone is when you are programming the device.