Apple gadgets are supposed to “only” work but most iPhone owners will tell you that’s not always the case. This can be true for the Apple Watch, which can sometimes stop syncing with your iPhone completely. Fortunately, the fix is very easy.
When your watch won’t talk to your iPhone
The biggest sign that your watch isn’t playing ball is the “iPhone not connected” icon at the top of the watch face. It’s a red iPhone-like icon with a line on it, and it generally 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 disruptions to services that depend on your iPhone, such as push notifications or Internet-based orders (weather, news, etc.). The issues can potentially affect all apps and connections, so if you’re getting messages and not Facebook notifications, this is likely an app-specific issue (consider checking your notification settings).
The problem can be made more confusing when the Offline icon is not present or when your iPhone lists your Apple Watch as a connected device under Settings > Bluetooth. If you notice the problem, then go with your intuition and try some of the fixes below.
Related: What do the status icons on the Apple Watch mean?
Reboot or unpair and pair your watch with repair
The old “if in doubt, turn it off and on again” trick raises its head again here with one caveat: the order in which you run things. While a simple restart should solve the problem, give yourself the best chance of success by first turning off your Apple Watch by pressing the side button (not the Digital Crown) and then moving the “Power Off” slider.
After that, turn off your iPhone. Now turn on the iPhone by pressing the power button until you see the Apple logo and wait. Allow your iPhone to fully boot up and unlock it until you see the home screen. Now turn on the watch by pressing the side button and wait.
With a bit of luck, your watch will now be paired with your iPhone. You can test this by running an app or using an internet based face complexity. If things don’t work or you still see the red “iPhone not connected” icon, you may need to re-pair your watch for things to work again.
Know that you may lose activity data that was saved to your watch (workouts, active burnt energy, standing hours, etc.) that weren’t pushed to your iPhone. Your exercise and historical activity data will not be lost, as it is stored on your iPhone and backed up to iCloud.
To unpair, open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap on the My Watch tab followed by All Watches. Press 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, make sure that you want to unpair your watch, and your iPhone will try to make a backup (perhaps to no avail).
Now you will need to set up your watch again by holding it close to your iPhone and following the onscreen prompts.
Related: How to force your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone
No luck? Consider erasing your watch
If your watch is still not working properly, you can wipe it. On top of the watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. After confirming with your passcode, tap Erase All and your watch will be reset to the ‘as new’ state. You’ll lose everything on the watch, including any music you’ve synced, watch faces you’ve saved, and activity data that hasn’t yet been transferred to your iPhone.
You can now set up your watch again by holding it close to your iPhone and following the prompts. We hope this fixes any issues you have with connecting your iPhone and Apple Watch. Now check out these 20 Apple Watch tips and tricks to master your wearability.
If for some reason you’re still having connectivity issues, this could be a sign that it’s time to upgrade to a new Apple Watch.