Why Does an Apple Watch Gets Disconnected?
The Apple Watch uses Bluetooth to connect to the paired iPhone, and it will show as connected in the Settings Glance with a green phone icon. If the watch moves out of the range of Bluetooth, it will use a known Wi-Fi network to communicate with the phone. This will be displayed as connected in the Settings Glance, indicated by a green cloud icon.
If both connections are not available, then the watch’s face will display as disconnected. It is essential to note that disconnection is not the same as unpairing, so there’s no need to re-pair the Watch with the iPhone.
Once the watch is back in range or a known Wi-Fi network becomes available, the connection will be re-established. Temporary disconnections are quite normal on the watch when the iPhone is out of Bluetooth range (ideally 10 meters or 33 feet), powered off, or undergoing an iOS update.
Only connecting through either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth: The watch may only connect through either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but not both. In some situations, the watch continues to display a disconnection. Instances of this problem have been reported following an iOS or WatchOS update. Furthermore, some watches may experience disconnection from cellular networks.
Random disconnections: In certain instances, the issue also occurs with other Bluetooth devices, such as AirPods, Apple TV, and more. At times, the watch gets disconnected as soon as the paired iPhone is locked. Additionally, there are cases where the watch disconnects upon receiving a call on the iPhone or when calls are routed to the watch.
Change of language after disconnection: In rare occurrences, the watch’s language has also been known to change after disconnecting, for example, from English to Chinese. Interestingly, when the Watch shows as disconnected, the iPhone, at times, shows the watch as connected. Lastly, in some cases, the issue starts to occur when a person does not wear the watch for a day or two.
- Remove any extender link from the watch’s strap (if used) and see if that clears the problem.
- Make sure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on the iPhone.
How to Fix a Disconnected Apple Watch
If your watch gets disconnected frequently, it is highly likely that there is a problem with some software modules involved in hand-shaking the two devices. Since a defective unit is very unlikely, you can follow the solutions from top-to-bottom.
1. Enable and Disable Airplane Mode on the Watch and iPhone
If the communication modules of the watch and paired iPhone are not in the required state to establish a connection, the disconnected watch will fail to connect back to the phone, cellular plan, or other devices.
Here, enabling and disabling the Airplane mode on the watch will solve the problem.
- Open the Control Center on the watch and tap on the Airplane icon.
- Wait for a minute and disable the airplane mode. See if the issue is resolved.
- If the issue persists, disable Wi-Fi on the watch and check if that clears the problem.
2. Restart the iPhone and Apple Watch
If you are experiencing persistent disconnection issues with your Apple Watch, it could be due to communication module malfunctions in either the watch or the paired iPhone.
In this case, restarting the iPhone and Apple Watch will clear the disconnected problem.
- On the watch, press and hold the side button.
- Wait till the Power slider is shown and then slide it to shut down the watch.
- Once done (around 30 seconds), press and hold the side button.
- Wait till the Apple logo is shown and then release the button.
- Once properly powered on, see if the problem is solved.
Restart the iPhone
- Press and hold the side or top button of the iPhone.
- Wait till the power slider is shown and then slide it to shut down the iPhone.
- Once done (around 30 seconds), press and hold the side or top button.
- Once the Apple logo is shown, release the button, and once properly powered on, check if the watch is connected.
- Power off the iPhone and while keeping the phone off, restart the Apple Watch.
- Power on the iPhone and check if the watch is connected.
3. Update The Apple Watch and iPhone to the Latest OS
If the OS of the Apple Watch or iPhone is outdated, they will not be compatible with each other, causing the disconnection issue at hand.
To fix this, update the OS of both the iPhone and Apple Watch to the latest build.
Before updating, back up the data on both devices and ensure they are fully charged. Additionally, ensure to connect them to a stable Wi-Fi connection. Moreover, check that the watch and iPhone have sufficient free space available to complete the update.
Update the iPhone
- Launch the iPhone Settings and go to General > Software Update.
- If an iOS update is available, install it and restart the iPhone.
- Restart the Apple Watch and check if the disconnection problem is solved.
Update the Apple Watch
There are two ways to achieve this. Either through the Apple Watch itself or through your iPhone.
Through the Watch App on iPhone
- Launch the Watch app on the iPhone and go to My Watch > General > Software Update.
- If a WatchOS update is shown, install it and restart the watch.
- Restart the iPhone and see if the disconnected problem is solved.
Through the Watch Settings on Apple Watch
- Open the Watch Settings and navigate to General > Software Update.
- Install the update (if available) and restart the watch.
- Restart the phone and check if the issue is cleared.
4. Disable VPN on the Paired iPhone
Whenever the watch goes out of the Bluetooth range of the iPhone, it will disconnect via Bluetooth and will connect by using a known local Wi-Fi network. If a VPN is enabled on the paired iPhone, the watch will not be able to connect to it and thus will show a disconnected message.
Here, disabling VPN on the paired iPhone will solve the problem.
- On the iPhone, navigate to Settings > General > VPN.
- Disable it and restart the phone.
- Restart the Apple Watch and check if the problem is solved.
5. Disable Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch
If the Apple Watch goes into power-saving mode, it will cut out many essential services and processes, leading to the issue. To fix this, disable Power Saving on the Apple Watch.
- Launch the Apple Watch Settings and open Workout.
- Disable Low Power Mode and see if that clears the problem.
6. Disable and Enable Bluetooth
The watch uses Bluetooth to connect to the paired iPhone or other devices. If the Bluetooth modules of the watch are in an error state, it will not connect back to the paired phone or other devices.
In such cases, disabling and enabling Bluetooth on the watch or iPhone will solve the problem. We will go iteratively over different possibilities.
On the Apple Watch
- Launch Settings on the watch and go to Bluetooth.
- Disable it and wait for a minute.
- Enable Bluetooth and see if the issue is resolved.
On the iPhone
- Navigate to the iPhone Settings > Bluetooth.
- Disable it and wait for a minute.
- Enable Bluetooth and in the list of devices shown, select the Apple Watch. Verify if a connection is established.
- If not, disable Bluetooth on the iPhone and restart it.
- Enable Bluetooth and select the Apple Watch in the list of devices. Check if the problem is solved.
On the iPhone and Apple Watch
- Disable Bluetooth on the iPhone and enable Airplane Mode on the Apple Watch.
- Enable Bluetooth on the iPhone and disable Airplane mode on the watch. See if the issue is resolved.
- If not, disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the iPhone.
- Restart the Apple Watch.
- Enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the iPhone. Confirm if the watch is connected.
7. Re-pair or Reset the Apple Watch and iPhone
The watch will show disconnected if its core OS modules are damaged. Similarly, an iPhone will not connect to a watch if essential components of the phone’s OS are damaged. This might have occurred when the latest OS update cannot properly replace the modules of the previous installation.
In such a case, resetting the Apple Watch and iPhone to factory defaults will get the job done.
Before resetting, remember to back up the data on the watch and phone as it will be wiped. Additionally, make sure to fully charge both devices.
Unpair the Apple Watch with the iPhone
- Launch the iPhone Settings and go to General > iPhone Storage.
- Open Watch and remove all old backups.
- Place the Apple Watch close the iPhone and open the Watch app on the iPhone.
- Navigate to My Watch > All Watches > problematic watch.
- Tap on Unpair Apple Watch and confirm to unpair the watch.
- Uninstall the Watch app from the iPhone and restart the iPhone.
- Reinstall the Watch app and pair back the watch with the iPhone. See if the issue is resolved.
Reset the Apple Watch
You may reset the Apple Watch that best suits your scenario either through your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Through the Watch App
- Launch the Watch app and go to My Watch > General > Reset.
- Select Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings.
- Confirm to reset the watch and once done, set it up. See if it does not get disconnected again.
Through the Watch Settings
- Open the Watch Settings and go to General > Reset.
- Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
- Confirm to reset the Apple Watch and wait till the process completes.
- Once done, set it up and check if the disconnected problem is solved.
Hard Reset the Apple Watch
If the watch does not show in the Watch app or you cannot open Settings on the Watch itself, then hard resetting is the last option left.
- Connect the Apple watch to a charger and lock the watch.
- On the passcode screen, press and hold the side button.
- Release the button when the Power Off slider is shown.
- Press and hold the Digital Crown button.
- Release the button when Erase Content and Settings are shown.
- Tap on it and select Reset.
- Confirm to reset the watch and once done, set it up. Confirm if it is clear of the disconnected issue.
Reset the iPhone
- Navigate to the iPhone Settings > General > Reset.
- Tap on Erase Content and Settings.
- Confirm to reset the iPhone and wait till the process completes.
- Once done, set it up as a new device.
- Pair it with the watch and hopefully, you will not get any more disconnected messages.
If none of the above works and you have an iPad available, enable Bluetooth on the iPad and see if that solves the problem. If this does not work, contact Apple Support. If the watch is under warranty, you may claim a replacement, otherwise, get the watch checked for a hardware error.