Apple Watch iPhone pairing issues

Apple Watch can perform many tasks when it's not connected to your iPhone. However, a connection between both devices is essential over the long-term. After all, without an iPhone, setting up an Apple Watch is impossible. Unfortunately, connection issues do sometimes arise. When this happens, consider these troubleshooting tips.

How to tell when there isn't a connection

If you stop receiving notifications, messages, or calls on your Apple Watch, it's possible your Watch and iPhone aren't connected. There are a number of ways to confirm this.

  • You might also see a red X on the top of the Apple Watch face
  • When you swipe up on your Apple Watch face to enter the Control Panel, you see the word Disconnected.

Apple Watch connected to iPhone

Apple Watch iPhone connected

Apple Watch not connected to iPhone

Apple Watch disconnected

Apple Watch connected to Wi-Fi

Apple Watch WiFi

Apple Watch connected to Cellular (GPS + Cellular version only)

Apple Watch cellular

Troubleshooting your Apple Watch's connection status

Are both devices operational?

Sadly, I've run into situations when my iPhone isn't on because it ran out of battery late at night and I don't realize this until I check my Apple Watch. Before doing anything else, make sure both devices are powered on. Then check for a connection again.

Check your Bluetooth connection

Assuming both devices are on and operational, your next step is to make sure Bluetooth is activated on both the Apple Watch and iPhone

Here's how to check the connection on your iPhone:

  1. Enter Control Center by swiping up from the bottom edge of any screen. On iPhone X or later or iPad with iOS 12 or later, swipe down from the upper-right corner of the screen.
  2. Confirm Bluetooth icon is highlighted. If not, tap it to activate.

iPhone control center bluetooth

Toggle Airplane Mode

Another consideration is to toggle Airplane Mode on iPhone.

  1. Enter Control Center by swiping up from the bottom edge of any screen. On iPhone X or later or iPad with iOS 12 or later, swipe down from the upper-right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap the Airplane Mode icon to enable it.
  3. Wait a few seconds, then tap the icon again.

iPhone airplane mode

Restart your Watch

For your next step, reboot your Apple Watch and see if that does the trick.

  1. Hold the Side Button on your Apple Watch until the three horizontal sliders appear.
  2. Tap the Power Off slider to shut down your Apple Watch.

    reboot Apple Watch

  3. After your Apple Watch has shut down, hold the Side Button again until you see the Apple logo.

You can also do a force restart on Apple Watch:

  1. Press and hold the Digital Crown and Side button at the same time.
  2. Hold until the screen goes dark and the Apple logo appears.

Restart your iPhone

Still no connection between Apple Watch and iPhone? It's time to reboot your handset.

On the iPhone X or later:

  1. Press and hold the Side button and either volume button until the power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to turn your device completely off.
  3. After your device turns off, press and hold the Side button again until you see the Apple logo.

reboot iPhone

On the iPhone 8 or earlier:

  1. Press and hold the Top (or Side) button until the power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to turn your device completely off.
  3. After your device turns off, press and hold the Top (or Side) button again until you see the Apple logo.

Reset your iPhone's network settings

As a last ditch effort, you'll want reset your iPhone's network settings.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. At the bottom of the page, tap Reset.
  4. Select Reset Network Settings.

iPhone reset network settings

The last resort: Un-pair and re-pair

The time has come. If nothing else works, you should unpair and reset your Apple Watch.

How to unpair and reset your Apple Watch

Still have an issue?

At this point, your best bet is to take your Apple Watch and iPhone to your local Apple retail store and meet with a member of the Genius Bar team. You can make an appointment through the Apple website.

Try some new bands

When you get your Apple Watch up and running again, you might want to consider buying a new band, such as one of those below.

Marge Plus leather band ($11 at Amazon)

This leather band is soft and features beautiful white stitching for a great accent. Comes in a nice variety of colors.

JETech Metal replacement band ($20 at Amazon)

Get the metal band look for a lot less than Apple's first-party option with this band from JETech.

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