iPhone not unlocking Apple Watch? How to solve the problem
On the Apple Watch, there is an option in watchOS that allows the iPhone to unlock the watch as long as the iPhone is unlocked (Settings -> Passcode -> Unlock with iPhone). Enabling this option means you don’t have to enter a passcode twice in the morning—one on your Apple Watch when you put it on your wrist, and one on your iPhone when you unlock it for the first time.
However, we’ve heard reports that the “Unlock with iPhone” feature hasn’t worked for some people since at least iOS 14.7. Apple was aware enough of the same issue on iPhones with Touch ID to issue a fix with the release of iOS 14.7.1, but it appears that Face ID-equipped iPhones are also affected, and iOS 14.7.1 does nothing to solve it. If you have a Face ID iPhone and the Unlock with iPhone feature isn’t working on your Apple Watch, here are a couple of possible solutions.
Disable Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Perhaps confusingly, some users have found that disabling the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature on the iPhone somehow returns the functionality of the “Unlock with iPhone” switch on the Apple Watch.
- On your iPhone, start Settings app.
- Press Face ID and password.
- Under “Unlock with Apple Watch”, turn the switch next to the name of the Apple Watch so that it is in the gray OFF position.
Of course, this is a workaround rather than a solution, because you’re turning off one feature to resurrect another, so you have to weigh up whether the trade-off is worth it in your particular use case.
If you often rely on the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature to access your “iPhone” when wearing a face mask, then the solution will not work for you, if so…
Disconnect and then reconnect your Apple Watch
Disconnecting the Apple Watch from the iPhone has worked for some who suffer from the problem. It will take some time, but if you miss the “Unlock with iPhone” feature on your Apple Watch, it will probably be worth the effort.
- Bring your iPhone and Apple Watch close together, then open See app on your iPhone.
- IN My watch tab, tap All watches.
- Press info (i) button next to the watch you want to disconnect.
- Press Disconnect your Apple Watch. (For GPS + Cellular models, choose to keep your cellular plan.)
- Press again to confirm. You may need to enter your Apple ID password to disable Activation Lock.
Before erasing all content and settings on Apple Watch, iPhone creates a new backup copy of Apple Watch. You can use the backup to restore a new Apple Watch. After your Apple Watch disconnects, you’ll see the message Start pairing. You can then pair the watch to the iPhone again in the usual way.
- Press and hold side button on Apple Watch until you see the Apple logo.
- Wait until the “Use iPhone to set up this Apple Watch” message appears on your iPhone, then tap Continue. If you don’t see this message, open See app on your iPhone, tap All watchesand then press Pair of new watches.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to re-pair your watch.
Note that some users who re-paired their Apple Watch to their iPhone found that, while that fixed the issue, they no longer received a notification on their iPhone that the Apple Watch had been unlocked, suggesting that Apple has some work to do do to remove everything. the error affects this behavior.
At the end of the day, neither workaround nor workaround (assuming it works for you) is ideal, but at the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be any other way to get iPhone Unlock working properly again. On the bright side, Apple is aware of the problem and we should see a fix coming in the next software update to iOS 14 or with the release of iOS 15 in September.