Switching Apple Watch to a New iPhone

Switching Apple Watch to a new iPhone

If you’re anticipating delivery of a brand new iPhone X tomorrow, you may want to know how to easily transfer your Apple Watch over. There’s good news there, because Apple has already thought about this task. The process for switching Apple Watch to a new iPhone is remarkably easy. It all comes down to three steps.

Switching Apple Watch to a new iPhone

Step 1: Update Your Old iPhone and Your Apple Watch

I recommend doing this anyways, before handing the device off to someone else or trading it in. That’s just the nice thing to do, and it also works out to help with the following steps in switching Apple Watch to a new iPhone.

Go to Settings > General > Software Update, and make sure the latest version of iOS is installed. Next, open the Watch app and tap Settings > Software Update to ensure watchOS is up to date.

After you’ve updated to the latest version of iOS and watchOS, tap to the Home screen on both your iPhone and Apple Watch.

If you don’t have your old iPhone anymore, this won’t work out for you. However, you can restore from an Apple Watch backup, assuming you created one prior to getting rid of your old device. The drawback is that you’ll lose any Activity, Workouts, or settings on your Watch that changed between the last backup and now.

Step 2: Back Up Your Old iPhone

Next, you should create a new iCloud backup of your old iPhone. You can also do this using iTunes, if you prefer. Should you choose to back up via iTunes, make sure you encrypt the backup – if you don’t, you’ll lose your Health and Activity content. You don’t have to worry about this with an iCloud backup, since it’s automatically encrypted and includes your Health and Activity content.

To manually back up your iPhone to iCloud, simply go to Settings > [Your Name] > [Your iPhone] > iCloud Backup and kick off the backup.

If you don’t have your old iPhone anymore, you can proceed with your most recent backup.

Step 3: Set Up Your New iPhone

Finally, set up your new iPhone. When asked if you have an iCloud or iTunes backup, choose the most recent one to restore from. During setup, make sure you keep your Apple Watch close to the new iPhone. When asked if you want to use your Apple Watch with that device, tap Continue.

That’s All There Is to Switching Apple Watch to a New iPhone

That’s it. After setup, you’ll be able to start using your Apple Watch with your new iPhone as if nothing had happened. If you do run into further problems, see the “Get help” section of Apple’s support document on transferring an Apple Watch between iPhone devices.

12 thoughts on “Switching Apple Watch to a New iPhone

  • OK, so I ran the Quick Start to migrate my iPhone 7 to my new iPhone X. The 7 recognized that the X was there and told me to view the image on the 7 screen with the camera on the X, just like pairing the watch. Like magic, the migration happened, including it asking and me saying yes, pairing the watch, and after restoring from iCloud backup, the X is purring, So now, to clean off the 7 for return to Apple, I checked and the watch had been unpaired during the migration. So there, it “just worked” automagically.

  • I went through the whole setup process and didn’t get a request to link the watch to iPhone X.

    When I finished the phone setup, I unpaired the watch with the old phone so I could re-pair it with the new phone, which then gave me a message that implied that it had already been paired, but since I had just unpaired it, it would have to do it again. Say what?

    Fortunately the re-pair went smoothly, down to transferring the just-completed watch backup.

    But I remain utterly confused. The procedure certainly did not conform to either of the support documents.

  • Jeff et al:

    I can tell you how my switching went with my iPhone X and Series 3.

    I began by backing up my old iPhone 6s Plus to the cloud.

    As I was going through the setup process, and the iPhone X requested me to bring the old phone into the camera view for linking, the next thing it did was query if I wanted to link my watch to the iPhone X. I selected yes. My watch then notified me that a request was made to link the phone and to type the pin code on my watch into the new phone to complete the link.

    I did. The phone then displayed the progress of the synchronisation, which was identical to the watch face. It went pretty quickly and it was linked and synced.

    It was automatically unpaired to the old iPhone.

    That was it.

    Hope that helps.

  • I’ve been unable to get a straight answer from Apple. The workflow of the support document this article was based on, though, says nothing about unpairing the Apple Watch unless there’s a problem. So I guess hold the unpair method in your back pocket in case this workflow doesn’t … work. I believe this procedure is new to iOS 11, anyways, and perhaps hasn’t been very well tested yet.

  • As far as I understand those support docs, the problem is whether the activity data is up to date on the old iPhone.

    The unpairing of the Apple Watch triggers the backup of the activity and health data on the iPhone. Without unpairing, you can potentially loose some data because the Apple Watch might not have backed it up completely to your iPhone.

    So, unpairing the watch is recommended, I guess.

      1. Apple’s support document only says to unpair if the procedure doesn’t work. Otherwise, it transfers phones with no need to unpair

    1. Kinda, when I tried (a few days ago before this article) the app on my iPhone gave me instructions on how to reset the watch, which is essentially an unpair since it wipes the watch. Then I could pair the watch and restore it from backup.

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