Apple gadgets are supposed to “just work” but most iPhone owners will tell you that’s not always the case. This can be true of the Apple Watch, which occasionally may stop syncing with your iPhone altogether. Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy.
When Your Watch Won’t Talk to Your iPhone
The biggest tell-tale 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 it generally shows up when your iPhone is out of range of your Watch. Sometimes it shows up when they’re right next to each other.
You’ll also notice disruptions to services that rely on your iPhone, like push notifications or requests that rely on the internet (weather, news, and so on). Issues will likely affect all apps and connections, so if you’re getting Messages but not Facebook notifications then this is more likely an app-specific issue (consider checking your notification settings).
The issue can be made more confusing when the “not connected” icon isn’t present or your iPhone lists your Apple Watch as a connected device under Settings > Bluetooth. If you’ve noticed the issue, go with your gut and attempt some of the fixes below.
Restart or Unpair and Pair Your Watch to Fix
The old “if in doubt, turn it off and on again” trick rears its head again here with one caveat: the order in which you turn things on. While a simple restart should fix the issue, give yourself the best chances of success by first turning off the Apple Watch by holding the side button (not the digital crown) and then moving the “Power Off” slider.
Next, turn off your iPhone. Now boot the iPhone by holding the power button until you see the Apple logo and wait. Let the iPhone boot fully and unlock it so that you see the Home screen. Now boot the Watch by holding the side button and waiting.
With a bit of luck, your Watch will now be paired with your iPhone. You can test this by launching an app or using a face complication that relies on the internet. If things aren’t working or you still see the red “iPhone not connected” symbol, you may need to re-pair your Watch to get things working again.
Be aware that you may lose Activity data that has been saved to your Watch (workouts, active energy burned, stand hours, and so on) that has not been pushed to your iPhone. Historic workout and activity data will not be lost, since 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. 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 attempt to make a backup (probably unsuccessfully).
You’ll now need to set up your Watch again by holding it near your iPhone and following the on-screen prompts.
No Luck? Consider Erasing Your Watch
If your Watch is still not working correctly, you can erase it. On your Watch head to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. After confirming with your passcode, tap Erase All and your Watch will be reset to an “as new” state. You will lose everything on the watch, including any 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 near your iPhone and following the prompts. This should hopefully fix any issues you have 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 problems, that may be a sign it’s time to upgrade to a new Apple Watch.