How to Unpair Apple Watch and iPhone

Unpair Apple Watch and iPhone
image credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Contributor / Getty Images.

Upgrading to a new iPhone is pretty exciting. In fact, you may be so excited that you'll want to run right home and set up your new phone. But if you've got an Apple Watch that you used with the old iPhone, there's one step you need to take before setting up your phone. You need to unpair your Apple Watch.

When you set up an Apple Watch, you connect it to your iPhone in a process called pairing. This is what allows your Watch to get notifications from the phone and to send data like your exercise levels to the Health app on the iPhone. 

An Apple Watch can only be paired to one iPhone at a time (it works differently in the other direction: multiple Watches can be paired to the same phone), so you have to make sure that you've unpaired your Watch from your old phone before you can pair the Watch to your new one.

If you don't, it's not the end of the world, but you will lose some data from the Watch. But why lose data if you don't need to? Follow the instructions in this article to backup your Apple Watch data, unpair the Watch, and then connect your Watch and its data to your shiny new iPhone.

How to Unpair Apple Watch From iPhone

Unpair Apple Watch and iPhone, step 2

To unpair your Apple Watch from your old iPhone before upgrading to a new iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. On the old iPhone that's paired to the Apple Watch and is going to be replaced, tap the Apple Watch app to open it.
  2. Tap your Watch at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap the i icon next to your Watch.
  4. Tap Unpair Apple Watch.
  5. In the menu that pops up at the bottom of the screen, tap Unpair [Watch Name].
  6. Next, you'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password. This is crucial, because it's used to turn off all kinds of features on the Watch, such as Activation Lock and Find My Watch. If you don't do this, you won't be able to unpair and your Watch will continue to be connected to your old phone.
  7. When you've entered your password, tap Unpair.
  8. The unpairing process begins. It will take a few minutes, in part because when you do this the data on your Watch is backed up to your iPhone.
  9. When your Apple Watch reboots to the language-choice screen, you've completed unpairing it from your iPhone.

After Unpairing, You Can Upgrade

At this point, you should follow the standard steps to upgrade your phone: make a backup of the old phone (since you unpaired your Watch in step 8, this will include both the data from your iPhone and the data from your Watch); use an encrypted backup if you want to store secure data like Health info and saved passwords; activate the new one and restore data onto it, etc.

What If You Upgrade to a New iPhone Without Unpairing?

setup apple watch, step 1

The unpairing process described in the last step is pretty easy, but what happens if you upgrade to a new phone without unpairing your Apple Watch? There are two options. 

First, if you restore from backup during set up of your new iPhone, this should also restore most or all of your Apple Watch data.

However, if you set up your iPhone without restoring from a backup, you'll lose whatever data is stored on the Watch.

Depending on how much data you store on your Watch, this may not be a big deal. The most common data stored on your Watch is from the Health app or data from the apps you've installed on the Watch. If you don't have this data, or don't care about keeping it, you're in the clear. 

In that case, follow these steps to prepare your Watch for pairing to a new phone:

  1. On your Apple Watch, choose the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. When the Watch has rebooted to the language-choice screen, tap your preferred language.
  6. Then, on your new phone, tap the Apple Watch app to open it and set up the Watch as you would a brand-new Watch.