An unpaired Apple Watch will reduce the number of features and things you can do with your Apple Watch, and it can be frustrating when your watch keeps unpairing from your iPhone. We’ve compiled a list of things you can troubleshoot to keep this issue from happening.
An Apple Watch may be unpaired from an iPhone because it hasn’t yet been paired, it’s out of range, Bluetooth and Wifi are not turned on, or Airplane Mode is enabled. If the issue persists, the iPhone and Apple Watch may need to be restarted, unpaired and re-paired, or reset.
To learn how to perform these troubleshooting tasks and help keep your Apple Watch paired to your iPhone, continue reading.
Pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone
If your watch or your iPhone is new, and you haven’t already paired them together, you’ll want to pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone. If you’ve already paired your Apple Watch to your iPhone after purchasing, and it has since unpaired without you meaning it to, you can skip this step.
If you wake your Apple Watch and it shows a clock face, this means it has already been paired during setup. It has also already been paired before if your iPhone brings up a notification saying “Unable to Connect to Apple Watch.” These two signs mean that your Apple Watch is already paired with your iPhone.
To pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone for the first time, follow these steps:
- If your Apple Watch is not turned on, press and hold the side button to turn it on. Strap the watch to your wrist and have your iPhone nearby.
- Your iPhone should have a popup appear on the screen that says “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch. Tap continue, then tap Set Up for Myself.
- Hold your phone over the animation that appears on your Apple Watch screen, following the instructions on your iPhone.
- Tap set up as new (if it’s your first Apple Watch) or tap Make This Your New Apple Watch if you’ve used an Apple Watch before and you want to back up your data. Follow the onscreen instructions depending on which option you tap.
- Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
- Create a passcode on your watch to use features like Apple Pay.
- Customize the settings it brings up on the screen.
- Set up cellular and Apple Pay (optional).
Your Apple Watch will automatically sync and pair with your iPhone if you keep them nearby each other. A watch face will appear on your Apple Watch when it’s finished pairing.
Make sure your Apple Watch is in range of your iPhone
If you’ve already paired your Apple Watch to your iPhone and the red iPhone icon or red X icon appears on your watch face, your Apple Watch has disconnected from your iPhone. This disconnection can prevent you from getting notifications, messages, and calls directly on your Apple Watch.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your Apple Watch is within range of your iPhone. Bring your Apple Watch close to your iPhone, and a green iPhone icon should appear or the red one should turn green. This indicates that the Apple Watch is within range and connected.
Turn on Wifi and Bluetooth
If the Apple Watch is still having trouble connecting, make sure that wifi and Bluetooth are turned on on your iPhone. To check this, bring up your iPhone’s control center. Pull down from the top of the screen for newer iPhones, or swipe up from the bottom of the screen for older iPhones, and a setting shortcut screen will appear.
If you see the wifi icon and the Bluetooth icon are both blue, then they’re turned on and you can move on to the next troubleshooting issue. If both or either one of these is gray, tap them to turn them blue and tap on the wifi network to input the wifi password, and tap on your Apple Watch if it appears in the Bluetooth pairing list to pair it.
Bring your iPhone close to your Apple Watch to make sure it is in range so it can pair. You may need to restart your iPhone and Apple Watch to encourage your Apple Watch to pair to your iPhone.
Turn off Airplane Mode
While you have the control panel pulled up on your iPhone, ensure that the little airplane icon, which is for turning Airplane Mode on and off, is gray. If it appears orange, tap the icon to turn it off. Bring your iPhone close to your Apple Watch to make sure it is in range so it can pair. You may need to restart your iPhone and Apple Watch to encourage your Apple Watch to pair to your iPhone.
Restart your iPhone and Apple Watch
After you’ve turned on Bluetooth and Wifi and turned off Airplane Mode, it may not pair automatically. To encourage your Apple Watch to pair to your iPhone after you’ve done these things, you can try resetting your iPhone and Apple Watch. Make sure they are close together and off their chargers before restarting.
To restart your Apple Watch, press and hold the side button until you see a screen with four options: Cancel, Power Off, Medical ID, and Emergency SOS. Tap and hold the power symbol next to Power Off and slide it to the right. Once it turns off completely, press and holds the side button until the Apple Logo appears on the screen. This shows when the Watch is booting up again.
To restart your iPhone, press and hold one of the volume buttons and the side power button simultaneously until the power-off screen appears. Drag the Power Off slider and wait for the iPhone to turn off. After about 30 seconds of powering down, you can turn your iPhone back on by pressing and holding the side power button on the right until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone
If a restart doesn’t help your Apple Watch to pair to your iPhone automatically, you may need to unpair and then re-pair them. To unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap the My Watch tab.
Tap on All Watches to bring up the watches on your watch list. Keeping your Apple Watch close to your Apple Watch, tap the info button (a little lowercase letter i inside a circle), then tap Unpair Apple Watch. If prompted, click on Keep Cellular Plan, and type in your Apple ID password to disable the Activation Lock. Tap Unpair once more when prompted.
To re-pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone, tap Pair New Watch on the Apple Watch iPhone app, then tap Set Up for Myself. Keep your Apple Watch nearby so that your iPhone can find your watch. When it appears, tap Set Up Apple Watch, and follow the instructions given on your iPhone and your Apple Watch.
Backup and Reset your Apple Watch
If none of these troubleshooting tips help to get your Apple Watch to pair with your iPhone, you may need to perform a factory reset. This should be a last resort fix, as it can delete your Apple Watch data that you can only recover if you back it up ahead of time.
Refer to your owner’s manual that came with your Apple Watch for instructions particular to your Apple Watch model for backing up your Apple Watch data and performing a factory reset. The instructions on the Apple Support website should give you basic instructions for each model as well.
Once you’ve performed a reset, you’ll go through the initial setups like you did when you first purchased your Apple Watch, which includes pairing it to your iPhone.