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How to connect and pair your Apple Watch to a new phone

You can set up your Apple Watch in seconds — including an additional watch.
By
May 2, 2022

Setting up an Apple Watch is simple if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem. Read on to find out how to pair your Apple Watch with an iPhone. Unfortunately, Apple designed its watches to pair with iPhones only, so Android phone users will have to get creative.

Read more: Apple Watch buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

QUICK ANSWER 

Pair your Apple Watch with an iPhone by tapping Pair New Watch in the Watch app. When prompted, use your iPhone's camera to scan the pairing pattern displayed on your watch screen and follow the onscreen prompts.


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How to pair your Apple Watch with an iPhone

To pair a brand new or recently reset device, strap it onto your wrist. If your iPhone is also new, make sure to complete its setup process. You will need to connect the phone to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to begin.

  • On your iPhone, open the Watch app and tap Start Pairing.
  • Choose between Set Up for Myself or Set Up for a Family Member.
  • Turn on your Apple Watch by holding the side button until you see the Apple logo. Bring it close to your iPhone and wait for a pairing screen (a cloud of dots) to appear.
  • Center your watch face in front of your iPhone, so it appears in the highlighted area in the phone’s viewfinder. This will automatically begin pairing the two devices. Once paired, tap Set Up Apple Watch and follow the instructions on your watch and iPhone to finish the process.
  • After a short period, a message confirming the pairing should appear on the screen.
  • From there, you either select Set Up as New Apple Watch if this is your first Apple Watch or Restore from Backup if you’re upgrading to a new watch or a replacement. Apple may also ask you to update the Watch to a later version of watchOS. If so, follow the onscreen prompts.
  • Next, and importantly, be sure to read through the Terms and Conditions. If you agree, tap Agree.
  • At this point, you might be prompted to sign in with your Apple ID. If not, you can sign in later in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. If the Find My service isn’t enabled on your iPhone, you’ll need to activate Activation Lock.
  • Apple will now ask which features you’d like to enable on your Watch, including Route Tracking, Siri, or a passcode to use Apple Pay. If you already have Diagnostics, Find My, Location Services, and Wi-Fi Calling enabled on your iPhone, these will be switched on on your Watch, too.
  • Once you’ve chosen all your preferences, your Apple Watch will need a couple of minutes to sync. You will receive a chime alert when it’s complete.

If you are upgrading from an older watch with a cellular plan, you will also need to remove the cellular plan in the Watch app on your iPhone and through the carrier.

See also: The most common Apple Watch problems and how to fix them

How to manually pair your Apple Watch

If the viewfinder method doesn’t populate or you prefer to start the process yourself, you can also pair your Apple Watch manually.

  • Launch the Watch app on your iPhone and tap Start Pairing.
  • Tap Pair Manually then tap the icon on your watch to view its name. Tap the corresponding name in the list on your phone.
  • Enter the 6-digit code that appears on your watch to begin pairing. Follow the onscreen prompts to complete the setup process.

Why won’t my Apple Watch pair?

An Apple Watch Series 7 and iPhone 11 Pro Max rest on a wooden table ready to pair.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

There could be several factors affecting the pairing process, from dodgy network settings to problems with the QR scanning method. Try the solutions below.

  • Keep your watch and iPhone close together to ensure they are within the proper range for pairing.
  • Check that your iPhone is not in Airplane mode.
  • If your watch is not turning on, you may need to charge it. Depending on how old your device is, it will take time to reach an adequate charge.
  • If your camera is not registering your pairing pattern, follow the directions for manual pairing your devices.

If you’ve bought a refurbished or second-hand Apple Watch, the previous owner might have not factory reset it properly. You can reset the Apple Watch yourself by going to the Watch Settings menu, then General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Once you’ve done this, restart the pairing process described above. Additionally, if you see an Activation Lock on your Apple Watch, the watch is still linked to another Apple ID. You’ll need the Apple ID details of the previous owner to activate it.

If you’ve had your Apple Watch for a while, but you’ve recently bought a new iPhone, you shouldn’t rush to factory reset your watch. You can save all your settings and pair it to your new iPhone by using iCloud to back up the iPhone currently paired to your Apple Watch. Then, when setting up your new phone, on the Apps & Data screen, you can select Restore from an iCloud Backup. Once your setup is complete, you should receive a prompt on your Apple Watch to pair it to your new iPhone. Tap OK and enter your passcode if you have one. You should then be able to use your old watch with your new phone without any issues.

Unpairing your Apple Watch

If any insurmountable problems do arise, unpairing and repairing your Apple Watch may be the only course of action. Luckily, this usually solves a lot of them:

  • Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi and has Bluetooth turned on.
  • Keep the watch and phone close to each other throughout the unpairing process.
  • Open the Apple Watch app on your phone.
  • Tap All Watches, then find the watch you would like to unpair.
  • Tap on the i (info) symbol next to the watch, then select Unpair Apple Watch.

Importantly, Apple recommends that you remove any transit cards stored in the Wallet app on your Apple Watch before unpairing it. You can do this by heading to the Apple Watch app on your phone, then My Watch tab > Wallet & Apple Pay > Express transit cards.


Read more: Apple Watch Series 7: Everything you need to know

FAQs

What do I do if my Apple Watch won’t pair?

If your Apple Watch won’t pair, review the solutions above. If it still doesn’t pair, try restarting your devices. Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS.

Can you pair an Apple Watch with an iPad?

You cannot pair an Apple Watch with an iPad. You will need an iPhone to set up your device.

Can you pair two Apple Watches with one iPhone?

If desired, you can pair more than one Apple Watch to a single phone. This can be handy for users with a separate watch for the gym or sleep tracking. Pairing multiple watches only requires a few steps in the Watch app, and you can switch between watches whenever you like. You can also pair a different device to your phone for a family member who doesn’t have an iPhone of their own.

Can you pair an Apple Watch with two iPhones?

You can only pair an Apple Watch with one iPhone at a time.