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Pairing an Apple Watch to your iPhone has become a seamless process over the years. Apple has made it so all its devices recognize each other quickly to give customers a smooth user experience. Unpairing an Apple Watch can, however, present more challenges. So, we'll cover how to pair and unpair the right way.
How to pair an Apple Watch
Before trying to pair your Apple Watch, it's a good idea to make sure your iPhone's iOS version is up to date by checking your settings. Once you've done that, ensure that Bluetooth is turned on and you're connected to a network: either Wi-Fi or cellular.
Step 1: Turn on your Apple Watch
Press and hold the side button on the Apple Watch to turn it on. A screen will appear showing the Apple Watch is in pairing mode and instructing you to bring it close to the iPhone you'd like to pair it with.
Step 2: Hold iPhone close to Apple Watch until recognized
A message will come up on your iPhone when the smartphone recognizes the Apple Watch nearby. Just tap Continue.
Step 3: Tap set up for Myself
The option to set up for someone else, like a family member, is also available.
Step 4: Point camera at the animation on the Apple Watch
An animation will appear on your Apple Watch that you must scan with your iPhone to complete the pairing process. If you can't use the camera for some reason, just tap set up manually and follow the prompts.
Step 5: Wait until the Apple Watch is paired
Once the Apple Watch and iPhone are paired, this screen will come up. Next, you'll be prompted to finish setting it up, which will allow you to customize your preferences, install new apps, and begin using your Apple Watch.
How to unpair Apple Watch
If you want to upgrade to a new Apple Watch and reset your current one before selling it or gifting it to someone else, you'll need to unpair it from your iPhone first. Failing to unpair your watch from your phone and simply restoring it to factory settings on the watch itself will trigger Activation Lock because your Apple ID and phone will still be associated with the watch (more details on this in the FAQ section below). This is a headache you don't want to deal with and totally did not happen to me once while exchanging an Apple Watch at Best Buy.
To unpair your Apple Watch completely from your iPhone and Apple ID, you'll need to do it through your iPhone.
Step 1: Place iPhone and Apple Watch close to each other
Step 2: Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
Step 3: Tap All Watches on the top left of your screen
This will give you a snapshot of all the Apple Watches associated with your Apple ID. Find the one you'd like to unpair.
Step 4: Tap on the Info button next to the watch to unpair
An info button will be visible on your iPhone, to the right of the Apple Watch you want to unpair.
Step 5: Tap unpair Apple Watch
Step 6: Tap unpair again to confirm
A confirmation will appear at the bottom of your screen, tap Unpair Apple Watch again.
Step 7: Enter Apple ID password and tap unpair again
At this point, you'll need to enter your Apple ID password as a security measure to unlink your Apple Watch from it.
A backup of your Apple Watch data and settings will be created, which is helpful if you want to reset your Apple Watch and not lose your data or if you're upgrading to a new Apple Watch.
What is Activation Lock?
Activation lock is a security feature on your Apple Watch (and other Apple devices) that prevents someone from using your watch in the event it gets lost or stolen. If you do a factory reset on the Apple Watch itself, it will continue to be linked to your Apple ID and paired to your iPhone, so you want to unpair it from your iPhone itself to prevent this.
Should I unpair my old Apple Watch before pairing a new one?
If you're upgrading to a newer Apple Watch, you'll need to unpair your old one from your iPhone, unless you decide to keep using both watches.
How do I unpair my Apple Watch without my iPhone?
If you're ever in a situation where you need to unpair your Apple Watch but don't have your phone (if it was lost, stolen, etc.) to do so, you can simply go to iCloud and log in with your Apple ID, then go to Settings and remove your Apple Watch under My Devices. This will prevent Activation Lock just like the in-person unpairing process above.