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10 annoying Apple Watch problems, and how to fix them

It may be one of the most accessible smartwatches on the market, but the Apple Watch doesn’t always work perfectly. We’ve been lurking on forums, digging through comments, and gathering opinions on issues, glitches, and plain old annoyances. These are the Apple Watch problems we found most commonly reported. If you’ve been suffering, don’t let that Apple Watch wind you up, we’ve got workarounds and possible fixes for you to try that should help.

Glitch: Bluetooth won’t connect or frequently disconnects

There are a couple of different possible glitches at play here. Some people find that their Apple Watch will disconnect from their iPhone, even when they’re in close proximity. Others are having Bluetooth problems when they’re trying to use headphones for a run or a workout. There are a few different things you can try to get Bluetooth working again.

Workarounds:

  • Proximity matters for Bluetooth, and different devices have different ranges. Some people report better performance after switching the device they were using to the same side of their body as the Apple Watch. You could also try switching your Apple Watch to the other wrist. Such a small change in distance shouldn’t really make a difference, but it’s worth a try.
  • If the issue is with Bluetooth headphones and music streaming, then sync your playlist onto your Apple Watch and turn the Bluetooth on your iPhone off. This should allow your music to play seamlessly without annoying disconnections, and you can still sync data from a run or workout at the end of the session.

Potential fixes:

  • If the issue is with your iPhone, then try turning Airplane mode on your iPhone on and off again. Alternatively, you can go to Settings > Bluetooth and toggle it off, then wait a few seconds and toggle it back on again.
  • Press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch until the slider appears, then drag Power Off to the right. To turn it back on, hold down the side button until the Apple logo appears.
  • If the iPhone is giving you problems, try un-pairing. Open the Apple watch app on your iPhone. Tap on Apple Watch > Unpair Apple Watch > Unpair. It might take a while. Once it’s done, set the connection up afresh.
  • Your final resort is to erase all content and settings on your Apple Watch. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Once it’s done, you’ll have to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone and other devices again.

Annoyance: Poor battery life

Battery life is definitely one of the main weaknesses of the Apple Watch, but it should generally still get you through the day before needing a refuel. If you find that your Apple Watch battery is draining suspiciously fast, then you may have a problem.

Workarounds:

  • You can choose to put your Apple Watch in Power Reserve mode, so it only shows the time. Press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch until the sliders appear, then drag Power Reserve to the right.
  • Open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go into Notifications and turn off anything that you don’t need.
  • Go to Settings > Brightness & Text Size on your Apple watch and reduce the brightness.
  • On your Apple Watch go into Settings > General > Wake Screen and toggle off Wake Screen on Wrist Raise. You can also do this in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone via General > Wake Screen.
  • Buy an Apple Watch strap with a battery in it.
  • Turn off the heart rate sensor by opening the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tapping Workout, and then toggling Power Saving Mode on.

Possible solutions:

  • Start by simply turning it off and on again. Press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch until the slider appears, then drag Power Off to the right. To turn it back on, hold down the side button until the Apple logo appears.
  • Maybe an app is causing problems. Try uninstalling everything you don’t need. Tap and hold on the Apple Watch screen until your app icons begin shaking, then pick the app you want to get rid of and tap Delete App. Don’t worry, it won’t uninstall the app on your iPhone. You can also get rid of apps on your Apple Watch by opening up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap on any app you don’t want and toggle Show App on Apple Watch to off.
  • The last thing to try is to erase all content and settings on your Apple Watch. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Once it’s done, you’ll have to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone and other devices again.

Issue: Draining iPhone battery

Some people have had problems with the battery on their iPhone when using the Apple Watch. It is going to use some power, but it shouldn’t be draining excessively. If it seems to be draining your iPhone battery rapidly, take a look in Settings > Battery on your iPhone and see if the Apple Watch app is top of the Battery Usage list.

Workarounds:

  • Make sure that your Apple Watch and iPhone are linked via Bluetooth, because it should use less power.
  • Open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go into Notifications and turn off anything that you don’t need.

Potential fixes:

  • Turn both your Apple Watch and your iPhone off and on again. Hold down the side button on the Apple Watch and swipe Power Off to the right. Hold down the side button again to turn it back on. For your iPhone, hold down the Sleep/Wake button on your iPhone and drag slide to power off to the right. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button again to turn it back on.
  • Go to Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone and make sure you have the latest software.
  • Open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to My Watch > General > Software Update and make sure it’s up to date, too.
  • Open the Apple watch app on your iPhone. Tap on Apple Watch > Unpair Apple Watch > Unpair. It might take a while. Once it’s done, set the connection up as new.
  • You could also try erasing all content and settings on your Apple Watch. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Once it’s done, you’ll have to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone and other devices again.

Problem: Apple Watch won’t charge

If you find that your Apple Watch won’t charge up, then you’re not alone. Remember that it can take a few seconds for the charging icon to pop up when the Apple Watch is completely drained. Here’s what you should check before you start to panic:

Potential solutions:

  • If it’s brand new, then make sure that you don’t have any plastic still attached to the Apple Watch or the charger.
  • Use the Apple Magnetic Charging Cable and the USB Power Adapter that came with your Apple Watch.
  • Check that both surfaces are clean and remove any case or anything else you might have on your Apple Watch.
  • Try plugging the cable into your laptop, computer, or another power adapter in a different socket.
  • Hold down the side button on the Apple Watch and swipe Power Off to the right. Hold down the side button again to turn it back on.
  • Once again, hold down the side button on the Apple Watch and swipe Power Off to the right. This time, hold down the side button and the Digital Crown together for at least ten seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
  • The last thing to try is to open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • If none of this works, then it’s time to contact Apple.

Glitch: Apple Watch crashing or freezing

There have been a few reports of Apple Watches crashing and freezing up. If you find that your Apple Watch crashes frequently or locks up and won’t respond at all, there are some things you can try.

Potential solutions:

  • If you’re able to, then hold down the side button on the Apple Watch and swipe Power Off to the right. Hold down the side button again to turn it back on. This might only be a temporary fix.
  • If your Apple Watch is locked up and unresponsive, try holding down the side button and the Digital Crown together for at least ten seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
  • Open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, go to My Watch > General > Software Update, and make sure it’s up to date.
  • There’s a chance that a specific app is causing issues. If you’ve noticed crashes and freezes are frequent with a specific app, then try removing it. Open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap on the problem app and toggle Show App on Apple Watch to off.
  • Sometimes a factory reset will get rid of glitches like this. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings to try it, but you will have to set your Apple Watch up again.

Problem: Apple Watch isn’t tracking activity

Some users have stated that their Apple Watch has failed to properly track their steps or exercises. Fortunately, there are a few things you can check to try to fix this.

Potential solutions:

  • On your iPhone (that’s paired to the watch), launch the Watch app, and then go to My Watch (tab) > General > Wrist Detection. Turn this on if it isn’t already.
  • Make sure your Apple Watch isn’t too loose on your wrist. Adjusting the band may help the watch better track your activity.
  • Keep your personal information, such as your height and weight, updated as the Apple Watch uses this info to determine things like how many calories you burn. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap My Watch > Health > Edit.
  • Your watch may need re-calibrating. Start this process by opening the Watch app on your iPhone. Tap My Watch > Privacy > Motion & Fitness > Reset Calibration Data. Then follow Apple’s calibration instructions.

Issue: Apple Watch won’t turn on

There have been reports of Apple Watch devices not turning on, and the screen not responding when touched.

Potential solutions:

  • If you’ve enabled Power Reserve, the watch won’t respond to wrist movement or tapping. Try pressing the side buttons to see if the watch will turn on.
  • It may sound silly, but try charging your Apple Watch. The battery may have simply run out.
  • Press and hold the Digital Crown and side button for at least 10 seconds to trigger a forced restart. You’ll know you did it right if you the Apple logo appears.
  • If the watch comes on after the restart, but never fully starts, or if you’re met with a red exclamation mark, reach out to Apple Support, as you may have run into a hardware issue that can’t be fixed on your end.

Annoyance: Notifications don’t appear on Apple Watch

You’re used to seeing and checking notifications on your iPhone, and they’ll continue to appear there when your iPhone is unlocked, but when it’s locked or asleep you should get those notifications on your Apple Watch. If you’re wondering why you aren’t getting notifications on your Apple Watch, it’s probably because your Apple Watch is locked or Do Not Disturb is enabled.

Solutions:

  • If you set a passcode for the Apple Watch (this is done on your iPhone), it’ll lock automatically when you’re not wearing it, when it loses contact with your skin, or while it’s charging. Consider removing the passcode, or tightening the watch band. If you forgot your passcode, you’ll need to erase the Apple Watch. To do so, launch the Watch app, tap My Watch > General > Reset > Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings, and tap to confirm. If you don’t have your iPhone paired with your Apple Watch, follow the steps on this page to erase everything on the watch.
  • If Do Not Disturb is the culprit, there will be a moon symbol on the watch face. Turn this on/off by swiping up on the watch face, swiping to the Settings glance, and tapping the crescent moon icon.

Problem: Apple Watch won’t update

Some users have been unable to update their Apple Watches to the latest version of watchOS. This has become such a common problem than Apple has published official steps outlining what you should do.

Official solutions:

  • Restart — not force restart — the Apple Watch and the iPhone paired to it. Try updating the Apple Watch again.
  • If the install won’t download or start, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab, and go to General > Usage > Software Update. Then, delete the update file and try to download and install the update again.

Issue: Slow Apple Watch performance

A number of Apple Watch owners have said their devices are performing slower than expected. There are a few things to try to increase overall performance.

Official solutions:

  • Start by making sure that both the Apple Watch and iPhone have been updated to the latest versions of watchOS and iOS.
  • Unpair your Apple Watch, then pair it again.
  • Consider cleaning the screen of the Apple Watch. Apple recommends using a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth, which you can lightly dampen since the watch is splash- and water-resistant. Dry the screen with a similar cloth, and make sure the watch is removed from the charger and off before doing so.
  • The slow performance could be due to the number of apps installed on the Apple Watch. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab, and scroll down to find the installed apps. Tap on an app you don’t use or no longer want, and toggle off Show App on Apple Watch. This will uninstall the app.