Pairing an Apple Watch should be a relatively simple affair, but things don’t always go as planned. Here’s how to pair and what to do if things aren’t working the way they should.
Make sure your watch and iPhone are compatible
watchOS 8 is the latest version of Apple Watch software at the time of this writing. To use an Apple Watch with watchOS 8, you’ll need an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 15 or later installed.
You can install watchOS 8 on Apple Watch Series 3 or later and Apple Watch SE. All new Apple Watch models purchased from Apple will ship with the latest version of watchOS installed, which means you shouldn’t buy an Apple Watch unless it meets the minimum iPhone requirements.
Older Watch models aren’t compatible with the latest version of watchOS, but that doesn’t mean they’re still useless. Models like the Apple Watch Series 2 should still be compatible with an iPhone 5 or later running iOS 11 and above. You can still do things like log workouts and receive notifications, but you’ll miss out on the latest software updates and features.
watchOS 9 is on the horizon and should be released in fall 2022 for Apple Watch Series 4 and later. Will require iOS 16 running on an iPhone X, iPhone 8 or later.
Pair your Apple Watch automatically
Pairing your Apple Watch is simple, assuming everything goes according to plan. All you need to do is turn on the wearable by pressing and holding the side button, then bring it closer to your iPhone.
The watch pairing screen should appear on your iPhone. Choose “Set up for me” or “Set up for a family member” and then use your iPhone’s camera to scan the watch face.
You’ll be asked if you want to set up the watch as a new Apple Watch or restore it from a backup. If you are replacing an older model, choose the backup option which will restore your previous settings, watch face settings, and other preferences. You may need to enter your Apple ID and password, which you do if prompted.
At the end of the setup process, you’ll be able to turn on features like Find My and Wi-Fi calling, create a passcode, and decide which apps to install on your watch. If you have an Apple Watch with cellular, you’ll be able to activate it or choose to activate it later (you’ll need a compatible cellular plan for this to work).
Now wait for your iPhone and Watch to sync. Once you’re done, you can further customize it using the Watch app on your iPhone.
This setup process applies to new Apple Watch models and any Watch models that have been unpaired and wiped, ready to use with another iPhone. If you see a watch face when you turn on the watch, the watch is already paired with another iPhone and will need to be erased before you can use it.
Without warning? Pair your watch manually (or delete it)
Sometimes the prompt to pair your watch with an iPhone doesn’t appear when you turn on your watch for the first time. Fortunately, you can pair your watch manually, but you’ll need to download the free Watch app for iPhone first if you don’t already have it.
Make sure the Apple Watch you want to pair with is turned on, then launch the Watch app and tap “All Watches” in the top left corner. Tap “Add Clock” and follow the setup process.
You can use the “Pair manually” option to choose your Apple Watch from a list of nearby devices if you can’t or don’t want to use the camera to pair.
If you can’t pair your watch (or see a watch face when you turn it on), your watch is probably already paired. You can check in the “All Watches” section of your iPhone to make sure it’s not already paired with your device.
To pair the watch again, you will need to delete it. If Find My is enabled on the watch, you will need to ask the original owner to erase the watch. They can do this remotely through Find My on iCloud.com or by using the Find My app for iPhone. They will then be able to use the “Remove from account” option to remove the watch.
A Watch can also be removed using the Watch app on the iPhone it’s paired with. Under “All Watches”, tap on the watch in question followed by the “i” icon and select the “Unpair Apple Watch” option.
Pair an iPhone with more than one Apple Watch
You can use your iPhone with more than one Apple Watch by following the same steps outlined above. If you don’t see the pairing dialog, please launch the Watch app, then tap “All Watches” and select the “Pair New Watch” option.
This is useful if you have more than one watch with different finishes, if you’re borrowing a spare watch and don’t want to erase the old one, or if you’re trying out a new model (the Apple Store gives you 14 days to return your watch in good condition). , as long as you bring all the packaging).
While it is possible to use multiple Watch models with a single iPhone, you cannot use multiple iPhones with a single Watch. To use a watch with another iPhone (even an iPhone that’s linked with your Apple ID), you’ll need to unpair it and pair it again. Think of Apple Watch as an extension of your iPhone, rather than a standalone device.
Apple Watch not pairing? things you can try
There’s a long list of things you can try if your iPhone isn’t communicating with your Apple Watch, but most assume the two devices are already paired. If you’re having trouble getting an Apple Watch to communicate with an iPhone in an unpaired state, the first thing to do is make sure it’s not paired.
It’s paired if you see something other than the welcome or pairing screen when you turn it on. If you see a watch face or an invitation to enter a passcode, you have a paired watch. Return it to the previous owner and have them unlink it using the Watch app or remotely wipe it and then remove it from your account using iCloud.com or Find my app.
If you’re sure the watch is in a “like new” state, the next thing to do is make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on your iPhone. You can do this in Settings > Bluetooth or Settings > Wi-Fi, or by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen to reveal Control Center. You also need to make sure that Airplane Mode is also disabled.
You can also try updating your iPhone to the latest iOS version in Settings > General > Software Update. You’ll need iOS 15 for a watchOS 8 device or iOS 16 for watchOS 9.
If everything is enabled and up to date, it’s also worth restarting your iPhone. If not, you can always take your iPhone and Apple Watch to an Apple Store for guidance. Apple shouldn’t charge you unless a device requires a hardware repair, and it should be able to point you in the right direction in terms of getting a fix.
Does Apple Watch freeze during pairing?
You can reset your Apple Watch if it freezes during setup by pressing and holding the Digital Crown button and then tapping “Reset” when it appears. Once your Apple Watch restarts, start the pairing process again.
Do more with your Apple Watch
Your Apple Watch can do all sorts of things, like act as a pedometer, track your workouts, call emergency services if you fall, and monitor your heart health.
Check out our top Apple Watch tips and tricks to get the most out of your wearable.
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