How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone

The Apple Watch is a valuable tool for your health, connectivity, and more. However, it requires a connection to your iPhone for most of its uses (unless you use an Apple Watch as a standalone device), so an issue with syncing can be annoying.

Apple’s flagship wearable is designed to automatically stay in sync with your iPhone if you connect both devices to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

There are times, however, when a bug or another problem can cause your devices to sync — meaning that you’ll miss out on health, activity, messages, and other data.

If you’re running into a syncing problem on your Apple Watch, here’s how to fix it.

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How to identify connectivity problems

If your Apple Watch isn’t receiving messages or notifications from your iPhone, there could be a connection problem. Less apparent symptoms of a connectivity issue include Fitness or Activity data not syncing between your two devices.

The easiest way to check whether or not there’s a connection between your iPhone and your Apple Watch is to check the upper-right corner of your watchOS device.

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone
Check the upper-right corner of your Watch.

If your Apple Watch is disconnected, you see a red iPhone icon with a strike through it in the right corner of the display. Alternatively, there may also be a red X icon.

When your devices reconnect, there should be a green iPhone icon. You can also check your connection anytime by swiping up from the bottom and accessing your iPhone’s Control Center.

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone
A green iPhone icon means the connection is stable.

Make sure to try these easy diagnostic steps

Before moving ahead with any additional steps, it’s wise to make sure to see that the most straightforward cause of syncing issues isn’t the culprit.

Check your phone’s and watch’s connections

Your Watch and iPhone mainly communicate using Bluetooth, so if Bluetooth is turned off on either device, your Watch cannot sync.

On your iPhone, swipe down from the top-right of the screen. In the Control Center that appears, ensure that both the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons are enabled. They should be blue.

If one of them needs to be toggled, go ahead and tap it. Also, check if Airplane mode is on and if so, tap it off, so it’s grayed out.

If both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled with Airplane mode off, and you still have syncing issues, move on to the next step. 

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone-4
The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons should be blue. Airplane mode should be grayed out and off.

After checking your iPhone, let’s repeat these steps on your Apple Watch.

  1. Swipe open Control Center and verify that Wi-Fi is turned on and blue. If it’s grayed out, press and hold it, then connect to the same Wi-Fi network as your iPhone. Apple Watch WiFi only mode
  2. Back in Control Center, scroll down and check if Airplane mode is on, and it appears as an orange icon. If it’s on, tap it once to turn it off. Apple Watch Control Center airplane mode on

By default, when Airplane mode is on, it should only turn off Wi-Fi and cellular but keep Bluetooth turned on.

However, if you previously turned off Bluetooth while in Airplane Mode, your iPhone and Watch remember that and automatically turn off Bluetooth the next time you turn on Airplane Mode. Additionally, you may have manually set Airplane mode to turn all connections off.

To check your watch, open Settings > Airplane Mode and scroll down to Airplane Mode behavior. Confirm that Wi-Fi is off and Bluetooth is on. Apple Watch Airplane mode behavior

Toggle your watch’s Bluetooth off and back on

Refreshing the Bluetooth connection between the watch and your iPhone often solves this issue quickly.

  1. On your watch, open the Settings app.
  2. Choose Bluetooth. Settings for WiFi and Bluetooth on Apple Watch
  3. Scroll down and toggle Bluetooth off. Turn Bluetooth off on Apple Watch
  4. Wait 20-30 seconds and toggle Bluetooth back on. Toggle Bluetooth on Apple Watch

You can also refresh your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings via the same steps on your iPhone.

  1. Open your iPhone’s Settings app.
  2. Tap Bluetooth. Turn or toggle bluetooth off and on on iPhone
  3. Toggle it off, wait a few seconds, then toggle it back on.
    1. This refreshes the BT connection to all devices, not just your Apple Watch.

Restart your watch and phone

Another easy diagnostic step is to restart your iPhone and Apple Watch. You’d be surprised how many simple problems can be fixed this way. slide to power off on Apple Watch

We recommend powering off your iPhone first and then your Apple Watch. Power up in the same order.

Update your devices to their latest software versions

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your iPhone and Apple Watch are updated to the latest available versions of iOS and watchOS, respectively. Apple watch software update

Apple routinely issues bug fixes and other performance-enhancing patches in its software updates, so it’s good practice to download and install them as soon as they are available.

Manually syncing an Apple Watch

You can reset your sync data manually, meaning that the connection reboots.

This can mitigate many connectivity issues on watchOS and iOS, and it’s pretty simple to do.

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone-4
Resetting your sync data is simple to do in the Watch app.
  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Find and tap General.
  3. Scroll down and select Reset.
  4. From here, tap on Reset Sync Data.

This erases all Contacts and Calendar data from your Apple Watch before resetting the connection.

It may take a few minutes (or more) before all your data, like your contacts and calendars, returns to normal as this data sync reset processes (it works in the background, so you don’t need to stay on this screen.) 

Once the process is done, your Apple Watch should be connected to your iPhone.

Unpairing and re-pairing an Apple Watch

If resetting your sync data didn’t work, it may be time to un-pair and re-pair your two devices. 

We only recommend this step as a last resort before contacting Apple Support since unpairing factory resets your Watch.

Since your watch isn’t communicating and syncing with your iPhone, when you unpair it, your iPhone might not be able to back up your Watch’s data automatically.

So unpairing at this point may result in some data loss. Just be prepared that it could happen before you try this step.

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone

Unpairing your Apple Watch takes time but should fix most issues.

  1. On your iPhone, navigate to and open the Watch app.
  2. Select All Watches.
  3. Next to your Apple Watch’s name, tap on the “I” icon. 
  4. Next, tap on Unpair Apple Watch.
  5. Confirm by tapping Unpair Apple Watch again.

The unpairing process will take time — so you’ll have to be patient for a bit. Once it’s complete, it’s time to re-pair your Apple Watch and iPhone.

How to get your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone
Once you unpair your devices, you’ll have to pair them again.
  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Pairing.
  3. Then, tap on Set Up for Myself.
  4. Follow the instructions, including pointing your iPhone’s camera at your Apple Watch’s display.
  5. From here, tap on Restore from Backup to re-pair your Apple Watch from an earlier backup file.
  6. Tap on the name of your Apple Watch.
  7. Tap on Continue.

Keep your two devices close to each other while the pairing process is underway. Once that’s done, your connectivity issues should be fixed.

Is your Apple Watch still not syncing? Get Apple to look at your Apple Watch via its support team

The steps above will solve the majority of syncing issues, but if your Apple Watch and iPhone are still not syncing correctly, there could be a hardware issue or damage to either of your devices.

We recommend setting up an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar staff. Alternatively, you can send in your device for repairs through the mail.


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