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Apple says it's fixing this glaring iPhone 13 and Apple Watch bug — hopefully soon!

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's new iPhone 13 can't be unlocked by an Apple Watch for a ton of people.
  • Apple has confirmed it's aware of the issue and plans a fix for an "upcoming update."

Early iPhone 13 buyers have seen their excitement tempered by an odd and irritating bug that prevents their Apple Watch from unlocking their new phone. The iPhone went on sale on Friday — by Sunday, Apple had acknowledged the bug and confirmed that a fix is on the way (opens in new tab).

The issue is a particularly irritating one and prevents Apple Watches from unlocking iPhones via a system that was put in place to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. That system makes it possible to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch when you're wearing a mask and Face ID isn't viable. Except Apple broke it with iPhone 13 and while the bug isn't impacting everyone, a Reddit thread on the matter is growing by the minute.

Apple says it's "identified an issue," however.

Apple has identified an issue where Unlock with Apple Watch may not work with iPhone 13 devices. You might see "Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch" if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Until the update is available, you can turn off Unlock with Apple Watch and use your passcode to unlock your iPhone 13.

For now, Apple suggests that those impacted by this bug should disable the Unlock with Apple Watch feature — a particularly strange suggestion considering the problem is that people can't turn it on in the first place.

This whole problem is an unfortunate detractor from the launch of the best iPhone Apple has ever put on sale — let's hope a fix comes sooner rather than later. Apple is already testing iOS 15.1, but I'd expect an iOS 15.0.1 release to arrive much sooner than that.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.