10 ways to fix Apple Watch not connecting or pairing with phone

Normally, an Apple Watch should connect or pair with an iPhone without any problems. However, if your Apple Watch won’t connect or pair with a new iPhone, won’t connect to your existing iPhone, or you’re getting an error message on your iPhone explaining that you can’t connect to the Apple Watch, this tutorial can help. Let’s explore the different ways to fix your Apple Watch not connecting or pairing with your iPhone.

1. Restart iPhone and Apple Watch

You need to start troubleshooting to fix your Apple Watch not connecting or pairing to your phone by simply restarting your Apple Watch and the paired iPhone.

Follow the steps below to restart your Apple Watch:

  1. Long press the side button on your Apple Watch (not the Digital Crown) until you see the power menu. Tap on the power icon.
  2. Slide the Power off slider to the right to turn off your watch.
Restart the Apple Watch
  1. Wait 10-15 seconds, then turn the Apple Watch back on using the side button.

To restart your iPhone, go to “Settings → General → Shut Down” to turn off your iPhone. Wait a few seconds and then turn the iPhone back on.

Iphone restart

2. Hold Apple Watch and iPhone close to each other

If you are pairing a new Apple Watch or your Apple Watch keeps disconnecting from the paired iPhone, you need to keep both of them close by. The farther apart they are, the higher the chance they won’t be able to connect or mate.

3. Charge devices

Both iPhone and Apple Watch must be at least 50 percent charged when pairing. If one of the devices has a low battery, you will encounter problems when connecting the Apple Watch to your iPhone.

Tip: You should also try turning off the battery saver mode on your Apple Watch. Also, learn how to maximize Apple Watch battery life.

4. Turn on Bluetooth

Bluetooth must be enabled on both Apple Watch and iPhone, otherwise the watch will disconnect from the phone. To make sure it’s enabled on both devices, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings → Bluetooth on your Apple Watch.
Apple watch bluetooth
  1. Turn on the switch next to “Bluetooth.”
Activate Apple Watch Bluetooth
  1. Similarly, on your iPhone, go to “Settings → Bluetooth”. Activate Bluetooth via the switch.
iPhone Bluetooth

5. Disable Airplane mode

You also need to make sure Airplane mode is turned off on your Apple Watch and the connected iPhone. If Airplane mode is enabled on any of the devices, you will encounter problems connecting your Apple Watch to your iPhone.

  1. On your watch, open Settings → Airplane mode. Turn off the switch next to Airplane Mode.
Apple Watch airplane mode
  1. Similarly, go to “Settings” and turn off the switch next to “Airplane mode” on your iPhone.
Iphone flight mode

Good to know: Are you frustrated because you’re not getting notifications on your Apple Watch? Read our guide on how to fix the problem.

6. Update the Apple Watch app

An outdated version of the Apple Watch app on your iPhone can also cause connection problems between the two devices due to bugs in the older version. Therefore, you need to update the Apple Watch app to the latest version.

  1. Open the App Store on your iPhone and search for “Watch”.
  2. Next to the Apple Watch app, tap the refresh button.

7. Update iPhone and Apple Watch

Likewise, you need to check the software of your iPhone and Apple Watch and update them to the latest versions. If either one has an older version, it can conflict with the new version, which can cause connection problems.

To update iOS on your iPhone, go to Settings → General → Software Update.

Iphone update

To update watchOS, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Go to “General → Software update”. Install the update if available.

Apple Watch update

Tip: When updating the watch software, try using a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network instead of a 5GHz network as the Apple Watch Series 5 and earlier only support a 2.4GHz network. Read on to learn more about the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

8. Unpair your devices

If the Apple Watch still won’t connect to your iPhone, you’ll need to unpair and then pair it again.

Follow these steps to unpair Apple Watch from iPhone:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap All Watches at the top, then tap the information icon (i) next to your watch.
Apple watch settings iphone
  1. On the next screen, tap Unpair Apple Watch.
Unpair Apple Watch
  1. Wait for the Apple Watch to be unpaired.
  2. Pair the watch with your iPhone again by holding the watch close to your iPhone. If you see the “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch” pop-up on the iPhone, tap “Continue” and then follow the on-screen instructions.

Pro Tip: You can try to unpair the Apple Watch by going to “iPhone Settings → Bluetooth”, tapping the information icon (i) next to your Apple Watch and selecting “Unpair”.

9. Pair your Apple Watch with a new iPhone

If you bought a new iPhone and your Apple Watch won’t pair with the new phone, you need to unpair the watch from the old iPhone first.

If you have access to the old iPhone, use the previously mentioned steps to unpair it from the watch and then pair it with the new iPhone.

However, if you don’t have the old iPhone, you need to erase the Apple Watch first. On your watch, go to “Settings” and then to “General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings”.

Reset the Apple Watch

Your Apple Watch will be unpaired from the old iPhone. Bring the watch close to the new iPhone to pair it.

Good to know: Once paired, learn how to create custom watch faces for your Apple Watch.

10. Reset network settings on iPhone

Apple Watch not connecting or pairing to your iPhone can be fixed by resetting your iPhone’s network settings. This will restore all network settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. to their default values, which will fix any issues affecting the connection between the Apple Watch and iPhone.

To reset network settings on your iPhone, go to Settings → General → Transfer or reset iPhone → Reset → Reset Network Settings.

Reset iphone network settings

frequently asked Questions

Does resetting your Apple Watch reset your iPhone?

Resetting your Apple Watch will not factory reset your iPhone or erase anything from the phone.

How many phones can an Apple Watch pair with?

You can only pair an Apple Watch with an iPhone. However, you can pair multiple watches to the same iPhone.

All images and screenshots by Mehvish Mushtaq.

Mehvish Mushtaq
Mehvish Mushtaq

Mehvish is a tech lover from Kashmir. With a degree in Computer Engineering, she has always loved helping anyone who finds technology challenging. She has been writing about technology for over six years and her favorite topics include how-to’s, explanations, tips and tricks for Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, social media and web apps.

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