Apple devices are supposed to “just work,” but most iPhone owners will tell you that’s not always the case. This can be true for the Apple Watch, which can occasionally stop syncing with your iPhone altogether. Fortunately, the solution is quite easy.
When your watch doesn’t talk to your iPhone
The biggest telltale sign that your watch isn’t playing ball is the “iPhone not connected” symbol at the top of the watch face. It’s a red icon that looks like an iPhone with a line through it and usually appears when your iPhone is out of range of your watch. Sometimes it appears when they are next to each other.
You will also notice interruptions in services that depend on your iPhone, such as push notifications or requests that depend on the Internet (weather, news, etc.). The issues are likely to affect all apps and connections, so if you’re getting Messages but not Facebook notifications, it’s more likely an app-specific issue (consider checking your notification settings).
The problem can become more confusing when the “not connected” icon is not present or your iPhone lists your Apple Watch as a connected device in Settings > Bluetooth. If you have noticed the problem, follow your instinct and try some of the solutions below.
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Reboot or unpair and pair your watch to fix
The old “when in doubt, turn it off and back on” trick is back here with a caveat: the order you turn things on. While a simple restart should fix the problem, get the best chance of success by first turning off the Apple Watch by holding down the Side button (not the Digital Crown) and then moving the “Power Off” slider.
Then turn off your iPhone. Now start the iPhone by holding the power button until you see the Apple logo and wait. Let the iPhone boot up completely and unlock it so you can see the home screen. Now start the watch by holding the side button and waiting.
With any luck, your watch will now be paired with your iPhone. You can test this by launching an app or using a web-based face complication. If things don’t work or you still see the red “iPhone not connected” symbol, you may need to re-pair your watch to get things working again.
Please note that you may lose activity data that has been saved to your watch (workouts, active energy burned, standing hours, etc.) that has not been sent to your iPhone. Historical workout and activity data won’t be lost as it’s stored on your iPhone and backed up to iCloud.
To unpair, open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap the My Watch tab followed by All Watches. Tap the “i” button next to the watch you want to unpair and tap Unpair Apple Watch. If you have a cellular watch, you can choose to keep (recommended) or remove your data plan in the next step. Finally, confirm that you want to unpair your watch and your iPhone will try to make a backup (probably without success).
You will now need to set up your watch again by holding it close to your iPhone and following the on-screen prompts.
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Unlucky? Consider erasing your watch
If your watch is still not working properly, you can delete it. On your watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings. After confirming with your passcode, tap Erase everything and your watch will be reset to a “like new” state. You will lose everything on the watch, including music you have synced, watch faces you have saved, and activity data that has not yet been transferred to an iPhone.
You can now set up your watch again by holding it close to your iPhone and following the prompts. Hopefully this should fix any issues you’re having getting your iPhone and Apple Watch to communicate. Now check out these 20 Apple Watch tips and tricks to master your wearable.
If for some reason you’re still having connectivity issues, that may be a sign that it’s time to upgrade to a new Apple Watch.