Skip to main content

How to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch

Unlocking your iPhone is a straightforward process. You enter a PIN, password, or use something like Face ID or Touch ID. But did you know you can also unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch?

Apple developed this feature in scenarios where the Face ID sensor on the iPhone can’t get a clear full view of your face. Maybe you are wearing a mask, or you had any kind thick ornamentation, a bike face mask, or anything of its ilk. In such scenarios, the Apple Watch on your wrist can grant you access to your phone. Here’s how you can enable it.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • An iPhone with Face ID running iOS 14.5 or later

  • An Apple Watch Series 3 or newer running watchOS 7.4 or later

Before we get going with the setup process, there are a few things you must keep in mind. Your Apple Watch should be in a paired state with your iPhone; that it means it is receiving notifications and alerts that are sent to your phone. Next, for a digital handshake to happen for identity verification, your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be enabled on both devices.

Moreover, since this is a fail-safe method of authentication, you should be wearing something like a face mask that covers your mouth and nose, or sunglasses or ski goggles over your eyes. Once you've made sure that these conditions are met, you can proceed with the settings part.

Using Apple Watch to unlock an iPhone.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

How to get your Apple Watch ready for iPhone unlock

Now, this whole process is a two-tier strategy. First, you need to set up a passcode on your Apple Watch. You can initiate this process from the iPhone directly, but it's much simpler to do it straight on your Apple Watch. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: On your Apple Watch, open the Settings app.

Step 2: In the Settings app, scroll down and tap on Passcode.

An Apple Watch displaying a passcode prompt.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Step 3: On the next page, select the Turn On Passcode option.

Step 4: Enter a four-character numerical password. Verify it, and you're good to go.

Setting up iPhone for Apple Watch unlock.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

How to set up unlock with Apple Watch

Once you've set up a passcode for your Apple Watch, it's time to enable the watch unlock feature on your iPhone.

Step 1: Open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Step 2: Scroll down and select the Face ID & Passcode option.

Step 3: Enter your phone's passcode at this point and proceed to the next page.

Step 4: On the Face ID & Passcode dashboard, enable the toggle underneath the Unlock With Apple Watch banner.

Step 5: If you have multiple Apple smartwatches, you can enable the unlock feature for each one from the list.

The next time you are wearing a mask or heavy goggles that don't allow Face ID authentication, your Apple Watch will do the job for you. Just wake up your iPhone's screen, glance at it, and the Apple Watch on your wrist will handle the unlock process. You don't even have to enter a passcode on the Apple Watch screen, which is convenient. Whether you have the latest iPhone 15 or an older iPhone 13, this is a great feature to take advantage of. And now, you know how to do it!

Editors' Recommendations

Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
How to send a voice message on your iPhone
A screenshot of a voice message being recorded on an iPhone.

Typing out text messages to people is one of the simplest functions of your iPhone. However, there are times where you need to send a message but can't easily type on your keyboard — whether you're out grocery shopping, cooking, doing dishes, etc.

Read more
The best iPhone 15 Pro Max cases in 2024: the 20 best ones
Renders of iPhone 15 Pro Max cases next to each other.

It’s no surprise that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s most feature-packed smartphone to date. It is important to note that even though the iPhone 15 Pro Max is both durable and lightweight, with its 6.7-inch screen and titanium casing, it can still get damaged during an accident and crack or shatter. To keep your newest iPhone in good condition, it is highly recommended that you invest in one or two protective cases to keep it safe and secure.

Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the 20 best iPhone 15 Pro Max cases that you can purchase right now. Take a look below; we are confident that you will find something that meets your needs.

Read more
How to take a screenshot on an iPhone (any generation)

There's no print screen button on your iPhone, but you can take a screenshot on an iPhone with just a couple of button presses. It doesn't matter if you have the iPhone 8, iPhone 15, or any other model of iPhone — they can all do this. Using screenshots is a perfect way to share problems with smartphone updates, funny things you see on websites, or that weird text you just got. All you need to know is what the right buttons are, which we'll cover here, alongside a few techniques to spruce up your iPhone screenshotting game.

Read more