How to Pair Your Apple Watch to a New iPhone

How to Pair Your Apple Watch to a New iPhone

So you just got a brand-new iPhone—but you’re keeping your old Apple Watch around. You might have noticed that simply switching the iPhone backup over to the new one doesn’t do anything with the Apple Watch. So how do you bring your watch over along for the ride?

How Apple Watch backups work 

There’s no particular system for backing up Apple Watch data on its own like there is for the iPhone. Apple pools in data relating to the Apple Watch—like your health stats, and app data—along with the main iPhone backup. As long as you have the latest iPhone backup on the iCloud,you already have an Apple Watch backup, even though you can’t access it from the Settings app. 

Because Apple Watch backup is already available on the iCloud, it can also be used to restore and pair the Apple Watch once you restore your new iPhone with the iCloud backup. But if you’re doing a fresh install, or if you’ve missed those steps, unpairing and repairing the Apple Watch is also quite easy. We’ll walk you through both processes below.

Before you do anything, make sure to go to Settings > General > Software Update to update your old iPhone. Then go to the Watch app, and from the My Watch tab, go to General > Software Update to update your Apple Watch. 

Make sure that Health data is enabled for iCloud updates. Go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud and enable Health

Next, back up your iPhone to iCloud manually by going to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now

How to pair Apple Watch to your new iPhone using iCloud backups

Apple has added a prompt to set up your Apple Watch with the new iPhone when you’re restoring from an iCloud backup. If you’re currently setting up your new iPhone, you can use this to pair the Apple Watch as well. If you’ve already set up your new iPhone, see the next section.

When you’re setting up your iPhone, and you get to the Transfer Your Apps & Data screen, you can restore your iPhone from iCloud Backup, or you can use your old iPhone to transfer the data. The Mac or PC restore option will also work, but your health data will only show up if you used an encrypted backup. 

When the iPhone restore process is happening, make sure you’re wearing your Apple Watch on your wrist, and it’s unlocked. After the transfer is complete, you will see a new screen that reads, “If you have an Apple Watch, you can pair it with your iPhone here.” Tap the Continue button to automatically set up your Apple Watch with your new iPhone. This will also bring in your latest data backup.

If you didn’t see this pop-up, not all hope is lost. After restoring from the backup, open the Watch app on your iPhone. Your iPhone will ask you to confirm that you want to use your Apple Watch with the iPhone. Now just follow the on-screen steps to finish the setup.

How to manually pair your Apple Watch to your new iPhone (with data backup)

The above method is smooth, but it doesn’t always work. Perhaps you’ve decided to set up your iPhone as new, without any backups. This will restore your Apple Health data to the new iPhone, and your Apple Watch backup as well, but there won’t be any prompts to pair your Apple Watch. 

If you’re opening the Watch app after setting up, and all you see is an option to Start Pairing, you’ll need to manually unpair and repair your Apple Watch. Don’t worry, though— once the pairing process is complete, you will be able to restore your Apple Watch data, and use it like it always was. 

First, you need to erase and reset your Apple Watch. This can be done from the Apple Watch itself. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Then type in your passcode, and tap Erase All to confirm. If you have a cellular Apple Watch, choose to keep your plan before erasing. Now, your Apple Watch will be reset to factory settings. 

You now pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone, like it was new. First, turn on your Apple Watch using the side button and put it on your wrist. Then hold the Apple Watch close to your iPhone and wait for the “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch” message. If it doesn’t appear, open the Watch app and go to All Watches > Add Watch

From the popup, tap Continue, and tap Set Up for Myself. After the setup is complete, you’ll be asked to hold your iPhone over the animation on your Apple Watch. 

Credit: Andrew Tsai

Apple will ask you if you want to make this your new Apple Watch for the iPhone. Tap the Customize Settings button, and then choose one of the backups to restore from. Then follow the onscreen steps to complete the setup. And there you have it: You’ve now paired your old Apple Watch with your new iPhone.

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