An Apple Watch rests atop an iPhone 7 Plus and an iPhone SE

Apple designed your Apple Watch to be used with one iPhone at a time, but that doesn't mean you can't cheat the system!

While you can connect and switch between multiple Apple Watches and your iPhone with relative ease, the same isn't true for a single Apple Watch and multiple iPhone models. This is because an Apple Watch relies on the iPhone to sync its backup data, among other things — moving to a new iPhone requires moving that whole backup over, as well.

That said, it's certainly not impossible to use your Apple Watch with multiple iPhone models: I'd just advise against it.

Ask yourself: Do you really need to switch to another phone?

Your Apple Watch can store up to 30 days' worth of data locally, which means you can still record workouts and offline data without an iPhone nearby. You can also use Apple Pay, listen to music, and will be able to do much more once the Series 3 is released.

In short: You can do a lot with your Apple Watch even if your original iPhone is nowhere to be seen. Just about the only thing you'll miss out on is regular internet connectivity (unless you own an upcomingSeries 3).

The quick (but expensive) way: Get another Apple Watch

Okay, so this isn't really using the same Apple Watch with multiple iPhone models, but it's close. Thanks to the way Apple's Health infrastructure works, any device that's synced with your Apple ID can back up encrypted workout data to iCloud; as such, you can wear Apple Watch #1 (tied to iPhone #1) for your morning workout, and Apple Watch #2 (tied to iPhone #2) to your evening workout, and the Health app will record both and combine all records that evening.

If the reason why you want to switch your Apple Watch is that you want regular internet access (you swap between a work phone and a home phone, for instance) and you plan to regularly switch between iPhone models, it might just make more sense to pick up a second Watch. Yes, it's pricy (though less so if you choose to pick up a used Series 1 or 2). But as we note below, the process to switch to a different iPhone is slow; if you want to regularly switch phones, the money might be worth the agony of waiting for your devices to update.

The long way: How to switch your Apple Watch to a different iPhone

If you only plan to switch your watch between iPhone models every now and again, this process is lengthy, but it works. To do this, you'll need to unpair your watch and restore it, back up your original iPhone, and pair your watch to the second iPhone. Note that you will not see your Watch's data on the second iPhone — the watch won't be able to find any of its backups, because they only exist on phone #1 (unless you restore phone #2 from phone #1's backup). You'll essentially be creating two different Apple Watch backups, each of which you can restore when you sync with the phone in question.

In other words: Since Apple Watch backups are stored on iPhone, any changes you make while using your first iPhone won't carry over to your second. If you want everything to be the same each time, you'll need to repeat any app or complication installations and redo any configuration changes every time you switch from one to the other.

That said, any Health data you record will sync and be uploaded to iCloud, so you shouldn't miss out on workout readings — you just won't have your streaks and goals available.

  1. Back up and unpair your Apple Watch on iPhone #1. This process may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
  2. Pair and set up your Apple Watch on iPhone #2. This process will take anywhere from 5-30 minutes depending on what you sync.

    The first time you set up your Apple Watch on a new iPhone will take some time; any subsequent switches where you restore from backup should be quicker.

  3. When you want to switch back, back up and unpair your Apple Watch on iPhone #2. This process may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
  4. Pair and set up your Apple Watch on iPhone #1.

Questions? Troubles? Thoughts?

If you ran into any issues during the process be sure to let us know in the comments so we can try to help you out! Also, if you're a double-iPhone Apple Watch user, please give us a shout on Twitter — we want to pick your brain (first question: WHY? 😉)!