How to pair your Apple watch to a new iPhone without losing health data or any other data

apple watch on a table

Got the latest model iPhone, a new iPhone, or a new-to-you iPhone? Learn how to pair your Apple Watch to that new iPhone so you don’t lose any of your important health data.

Your health data is some of the most private and sensitive data on your Apple Watch and iPhone. Given the importance of your health information, Apple allows you to decide if you want to transfer your health information to your new device–it’s optional.

And thanks to how great the Apple Watch has become, you don’t really need to go out and pick up the latest and greatest Apple Watch Series. Instead, you can keep rolling with your current Watch and update its watchOS, while spending your cash on that new iPhone model.

So if you decide to transfer this health data (including activity tracking) to a new device, you want to make sure you do it right!

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Your Health data on Apple Watch and iPhone

Apple takes the privacy of your health information seriously. Any information you provide, create, or gather about yourself is encrypted with your device’s passcode when you lock your iPhone. So no one else, not even Apple, can access your private information.

Apple Watch content including your health information routinely backs up to your companion iPhone. This happens automatically, in the background without you needing to do a thing!

Anytime your iPhone backups to iCloud, Finder, or iTunes, your iPhone backup includes this Apple Watch data in that iPhone backup.

There are currently 3 ways to migrate your health data to a new iPhone
  • iCloud
  • iTunes or Finder (encrypted)
  • iOS Quick Start migration tools

If you use iCloud and iOS 12+, Apple stores your Health information in iCloud and automatically encrypts it as it syncs between iCloud and your devices and while it remains stored in iCloud.

That means iCloud protects your health records data by encrypting it both in storage and during transmission. health app and iCloud

If you don’t use iCloud on your devices, you can also back up your Health information using encrypted Finder or iTunes backups. However, iTunes and Finder require you to manually choose to encrypt your backups–it is not an automatic feature.

Decide you don’t want health data stored in iCloud?

To stop storing your Health data in iCloud, go to Settings >Apple ID > iCloud and toggle off the Health app. iCloud settings turn on Health app sync in iCloud

How to transfer health data from your Apple Watch to a new or different iPhone using iCloud

Today, we are going to take you through the steps needed to pair Apple Watch with your “new” iPhone. Obviously, you don’t need the latest iPhone or the latest Apple Watch.

This process also works with new-to-you products, meaning they are older models (used, refurbished, floor models, etc.) but are new to you.

For folks with cellular Apple Watches (LTE), your watch’s current plan automatically transfers over (as long as you continue with the same carrier and use the same phone number.)

Step 1: Backup your Apple Watch

Before pairing your current Apple Watch with your new or new-to-you iPhone, you need to create an Apple Watch backup. When you backup your Watch, it includes health data and syncs that information to your iPhone’s health app.

Unfortunately, for the Apple Watch, there isn’t a simple “Back Up Now” option like there is for iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Instead, you actually need to force unpair the Watch from its original iPhone counterpart.

When doing so, the iCloud Backup works its magic, and all of your apps and data are stored, including your health information!

Unpair Apple Watch

Here are the steps you need to take to unpair your Apple Watch:

  1. On your currently paired iPhone, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud and confirm that Health is toggled on iCloud settings on iPhone toggle on Health app
  2. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
  3. Tap the My Watch tab and tap your watch at the top of the screen
  4. Select the “i” next to the watch you want to unpair
  5. Select Unpair Apple Watch apple watch unpair from iPhone

From here, your watch automatically backs up, as it unpairs from your iPhone.

Step 2: Set up your new iPhone and pair your Apple Watch to your new iPhone

Now that your Watch is “free” from the grips of its old counterpart, it’s time to get started with your new phone.

Apple includes a few different ways for you to pair your Apple Watch and iPhone.

During Initial iPhone Setup

For the first option, make sure that both your iPhone and Watch are connected to power or have at least 50% charged and linked to WiFi.

It’s also important that you keep both devices close to each other so that they can communicate.

We recommend keeping them within inches or centimeters of each other, rather than feet or meters apart.

During the setup process on your iPhone, Apple asks if you want to use your Apple Watch “with this iPhone”.

You can opt to Set Up Later, but you’ll want to tap the big Continue button.

Your iPhone then walks you through the necessary steps of setting up your Watch. These are straightforward, and the whole process is pretty seamless.

At one point during the process, Apple asks you to create or enter your passcode

Make sure you enter or create a device passcode!

Passcodes help ensure that your information stays private (for your eyes only) and also allows for proper syncing between devices. create a passcode on your Apple Watch during set up

Once the process completes, you can head into the Apple Watch app to make sure that everything is paired properly.

What if you already set-up your new iPhone and didn’t pair it to your Apple Watch?

If you already surrendered your old iPhone and set-up your new iPhone but forgot about the Apple Watch, you might be able to restore the last backup made for your Apple Watch.

Restore your Apple Watch from an iCloud Apple Watch backup
  1. Connect your Apple Watch and iPhone to power and place them next to each other
  2. Open the Watch app on your iPhone
  3. Tap Start Pairing
  4. Once the Watch pairs, tap Restore from Backup restore an apple watch from a backup
  5. Choose the backup you want to restore–this process may take some time, so be patient!

As a reminder, it’s important to create a backup of your Apple Watch, which can be done by unpairing it from the old iPhone.

If for whatever reason you don’t have any listed backups for your Apple Watch and you don’t have the old iPhone, it’s best to erase the watch completely so that you can start fresh.

Here are the steps you need to take to pair your Watch
  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
  2. Wait for the “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch” message to appear
  3. Press Continue
  4. Hold your iPhone over the animation on your Apple Watch
  5. Select set up as new 
  6. Sign in with your Apple ID

Once these steps have been completed, you will be able to begin using your Apple Watch with your new iPhone.

How to transfer health data from your Apple Watch to a new or different iPhone using iTunes or Finder

As mentioned above, when you backup your iPhone using Finder (macOS Catalina+) or iTunes (Windows and macOS Mojave and below), you need to encrypt that backup so it includes your health data.

Step 1: Create an encrypted backup

  1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes or Finder
  2. For Finder (macOS Catalina+)
    1. Open a new Finder app window
    2. Select your old iPhone from Location in Finder’s Sidebar
    3. Tick the box for Encrypt local backups
    4. At the prompt, create an encryption password and choose to save the password in your keychain or write it down/save it somewhere.
    5. Once you confirm your password, your backup starts immediately and overwrites and encrypts your previous backups
  3. For iTunes
    1. Open iTunes
    2. Select your old iPhone
    3. Choose the Summary tab
    4. Tick the box for Encrypt local backup Mac macOS encrypt local backups
    5. At the prompt, create an encryption password and choose to save the password in your keychain or write it down/save it somewhere.
    6. Once you confirm your password, your backup starts immediately and overwrites and encrypts your previous backups

Step 2: Set up your new iPhone and pair your Apple Watch

  1. Turn on your new iPhone and wait for the Hello screen
  2. Follow the steps on-screen to choose your language, region, connect to a WiFi network, set up a passcode and Face ID/Touch ID, and so forth
  3. When you get to the screen to choose how you want to transfer apps and data, select Restore from Mac or PC Apple iPhone restore from Mac or PC using iTunes or Finder
  4. Connect your new iPhone to your computer
  5. Select your device when it appears in Finder or iTunes
  6. Choose Restore Backup
  7. Review the listed backups and choose the most recent or relevant
  8. Tap Restore and enter your encryption passcode or retrieve it via keychain
  9. Keep your iPhone connected to your computer and wait for the restore to finish
  10. Once your iPhone completes, turn on and connect your Apple Watch and iPhone to power and place them next to each other
  11. Confirm that WiFi and Bluetooth are on
  12. Open the Watch app on your iPhone
  13. Tap Start Pairing pairing message on apple watch
  14. Once the Watch pairs, tap Restore from Backup
  15. Choose the backup you want to restore–this process may take some time, so be patient!

Apple Watch won’t pair? Let’s fix it!

If you run into trouble and your Apple Watch won’t pair with your iPhone, try manually pairing.

Manually pairing also works when your iPhone’s camera is in use or not working.

See a watch face when you’re trying to pair?

Your Apple Watch is already paired to an iPhone. Erase your Apple Watch content and reset settings.

  1. Go to the Settings app on your Apple Watch or go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap My Watch
  2. Tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings erase all content and settings on apple watch
  3. For Apple Watches with a cellular plan (LTE), you’re offered two options
    1. Erase All–completely erases your Apple Watch including your cellular plan
    2. Erase All & Keep Plan–erases your watch’s data but restores it without changes to your cellular plan apple watch cellular plan erase options

How to pair your Apple Watch manually

  1. On your Watch, press and hold the Side button until the Apple logo displays on the screen
  2. On your iPhone, tap the Watch app icon
  3. Tap Start Pairing on the iPhone–wait for the pairing animation to appear on the watch
  4. On your iPhone, scroll to the bottom and tap Pair Apple Watch Manually  pair your apple watch manually
  5. On the Watch, tap the Info icon to see the name of your watch and pair manuallyi icon on apple watch when pairing
    1. If you don’t see the “i” icon, it’s likely your Apple Watch is already paired to an iPhone–you need to unpair the watch from that iPhone before proceeding
  6. On the iPhone, tap the Apple Watch that corresponds to the name displayed on your Apple Watch
  7. On the iPhone, enter the 6-digit code that appears on the Apple Watch to complete pairing pairing codes for apple watch and iPhone

Pairing an Apple Watch includes downloading and installing the latest available version of watchOS for your Apple Watch. This process may take several minutes to even several hours to complete, depending on your internet speed.

Is your Apple Watch still not pairing?

  • On your iPhone, check that airplane mode is off and that both WiFi and Bluetooth are turned on
  • Make sure your Apple Watch and paired iPhone are close together. We recommend inches/centimeters apart rather than feet/meters
  • Close any apps on your iPhone that use your iPhone’s cameras
  • Restart both your iPhone and your watch
  • Force restart your Apple Watch. Press and hold both the side button and Digital Crown and release when you see the Apple logo
  • Update your iPhone’s iOS via Settings > General > Software Update
  • Reset the network settings on your iPhone via Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
  • Check that the Apple Watch isn’t already paired with your iPhone or another iPhone–open the watch app on the iPhone and tap the My Watch tab to check

Wrapping it up!

The process to pair Apple Watch with a new iPhone is pretty easy, and thanks to the magic of iCloud or iTunes/Finder. Apple has really created the best backup service for its ecosystem of products, and it’s something that brings users back time and time again.

If you run into any issues during this process, feel free to let us know in the comments. We will be sure to answer any questions you may have or walk you through any troubles that may arise.


  1. Since the new Apple Watch update September 2020) I haven’t been able to get a vo2max reading. I’ve unpaired and paired abs recalibrated etc but no look. Please can anyone help?

    • Hi Kristy, Have you tried working out your cardio routine for more than 20 – 25 minutes at a high intensity? The VO2 Max on Apple Watch requires users to workout in the high-intensity zone for more than 20 minutes.


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