10 Common Apple Watch Problems & Fixes

Apple Watch and Apple Watch 2 problems continue to frustrate users despite multiple Apple Watch updates and iPhone updates. Here are common Apple Watch problems and how to fix many of the problems without going to Apple for help.

Small, but annoying problems are common with new device categories. For most users, these Apple Watch problems are not a major issue, but some of these can break the Apple Watch experience for some users and it may require sending the Apple Watch back to Apple for a replacement in extreme cases.

Read: Best Apple Watch Accessories

The Apple Watch went on sale in 2015 and the Apple Watch Series 2 in 2016. Since then Apple delivered several WatchOS updates designed to fix problems and bugs that can prevent owners from using the Apple Watch or form using all the features.

At this point, there are not widespread Apple Watch problems to the level of iPhone 4 antenna problems or iPhone 6 bending complaints, but these issues and bugs are ones that you can fix or at least work around.

The first thing to do is install the latest Apple Watch update, which may fix your Apple Watch problem without additional troubleshooting.

Apple Watch Problems

Learn how to fix common Apple Watch problems.
Learn how to fix common Apple Watch problems.

With that in mind here are the Apple Watch problems you need to know about and what you can do about some of these issues and problems.

You may see these Apple Watch problems pop up on the 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch models. In most cases, the Apple watch issues impact the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport alike, but there are some issues linked directly to the more expensive Apple Watch models. Here’s how to fix common Apple Watch problems on your own.

Fix Apple Watch Bluetooth Problems

Some users complain that the Apple Watch Bluetooth connection to the iPhone is not consistent. This is not a problem on our Apple Watch, but if it does impact your Apple Watch you can fix this with a quick toggle on your iPhone.

Turning Bluetooth off and then back on  with your iPhone should solve this problem. If you continue to have this problem, you should attempt to re-pair the Apple Watch with your iPhone.

You should also make sure that your Apple Watch software is up to date and your iPhone software is up to date.

How to Fix Apple Watch No iPhone Connection Problems

Another issue that you may run into after using Airplane mode or turning your Apple Watch back on is a no iPhone connection error.

If that happens there are some things you can try to solve the problem on your own. The first step is to restart the iPhone by holding the side button and then sliding to power off.

You should also restart your iPhone so that it is set coming back online to look for the Apple Watch fresh. Hold the iPhone power button until you see the option to turn it off.

If that does not work you may need to jump to the last section of this guide to fix stubborn Apple Watch problems.

Fix Bad Apple Watch Battery Life

One option is to limit heart rate monitoring during workouts.
One option is to limit heart rate monitoring during workouts.

Overall the Apple Watch battery life is better than advertised lasting a full day in our tests, but there are some complaints from users who are experiencing bad Apple Watch battery life. Here are several solutions to fix bad Apple Watch battery life problems.

  • Limit notifications – Notifications light up the screen push the Taptic feedback and cause you to use the watch. Limit useless notifications and your battery life will improve. Limit these in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Use Bluetooth – When you are not connected to the phone by Bluetooth the phone resorts to WiFi which is not as power friendly.
  • Turn off heart rate monitoring – Go to Apple Watch app -> Workout -> Power Saving Mode -> On. This will stop using the hear rate sensor during workouts to help the Apple Watch battery last longer.
  • Reboot – Restart your Apple Watch. This simple solution can fix a lot of problems.

If all else fails you can turn on the Power Reserve mode to make the Apple Watch battery life last longer. Hold the side button and swipe left to right on Power Reserve.

You can open the Apple Watch app -> General -> Usage and scroll down to the bottom of the Apple Watch to see the battery usage and standby times. If these are the same then there is a problem with your Apple Watch and you may need to remove a problem app or start from scratch. You can also see your Power Reserve time on this page.

How to Fix Bad iPhone Battery Life With Apple Watch

Another common problem is bad iPhone battery life when connected to the Apple Watch. This is more common than complaints about Apple Watch battery life.

When this happens you will see the Apple Watch app listed as one of the highest users of power and your Usage and Standby time will show as the same, similar to the image above.

If this happens you need to restart the iPhone and the Apple Watch and wait for them to reconnect. This should fix the problem for most users. If this does not solve that issue, you will need to pair the Apple Watch with your iPhone again.

If this issue continues, make sure your iPhone and Apple WatchOS software are up to date.

How to Fix Apple Watch Scratches

The Stainless Steel Apple Watch scratches pretty easily along the sides of the metal case. This isn’t from abuse or rough treatment. Instead, this is due to the softness of the Stainless Steel.

Reports on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit detailed the scratches shortly after the Apple Watch release. The good news is that this is one Apple Watch problem that you can fix on your own for less than $10. Watch the video above and check out our walkthrough to fix Apple Watch scratches.

Apple Watch Problems for Users with Tattoos

If you have a wrist tattoo you might need to disable a feature to make the Apple Watch work.
If you have a wrist tattoo you might need to disable a feature to make the Apple Watch work.

Some users with wrist tattoos cannot use the Apple Watch to the fullest. The ink prevents the on-wrist detection for some users with dark wrist tattoos. This is not an issue with all wrist tattoos and this issue does not mean the Apple Watch cannot work on darker skin.

If you experience this problem, you can go to the Apple Watch app -> General -> Wrist Detection Off. This will remove the on body detection so that notifications come through, but this will not allow the Apple Watch to use Apple Pay.

How to Fix Slow Apple Watch Performance

You can try uninstalling apps if the Apple Watch performance is sluggish.
You can try uninstalling apps if the Apple Watch performance is sluggish.

One of the complaints about the Apple Watch performance is that it can slow down when you load a lot of apps on it. If you go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, you can limit the apps installed on your Apple Watch and this may fix the problem.

Go to the Apple Watch app -> Scroll down -> tap on an app you don’t use -> Tap on the toggle to turn off Show on Apple Watch. This will uninstall the app.

Read: 30 Apple Watch Tips & Tricks

This will not fix apps loading information slowly on the phone, but does help in some cases with general slowdowns. Apple WatchOS updates have helped with the overall performance of the Apple Watch, so once again make sure you update.

How to Fix Apple Watch Charging Problems

How to fix Apple Watch not charging problems.
How to fix Apple Watch not charging problems.

If your Apple Watch does not charge when it is on the charger there is most likely not a problem with your charger or the hardware of your watch, but you will need to take steps to fix this problem. On the Apple Support Forums there are several complaints about the Apple Watch not charging. If this happens to you, try the following steps which Apple walked one of the users through.

“Turn off the watch (hold side button (while not on charge) and then swipe to power off like iPhone)

Then Reset the watch

  1. Hold the Digital crown and the side button and the same time until you see the apple logo
  2. Put on charger and see if it charges.

If this does not work do the following:

  1. reboot iPhone
  2. go to apple watch app
  3. in the apple watch app go to > general > reset > erase all content and settings
  4. wait for watch to erase and reboot to language screen
  5. Set up the watch until you see the app bubbles”

If these steps fail, make sure all of the packaging is off of the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch charger. If that fails you likely need to contact Apple for a replacement.

How to Fix Apple Watch Digital Crown Problems

If the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch does not control the watch like you would expect or is difficult to turn you may need to clean it.

Apple recommends taking the watch bands off, turning the Apple Watch off and then run warm water over the Digital Crown for 10 to 15 seconds.

After this is complete allow the watch to dry, turn it back on and see if your issue is resolved. If not you may need to contact Apple for support.

How to Fix Stubborn Apple Watch Problems

Sometimes you will run into an Apple Watch problem that won’t go away. You can use the following process to unpair your Apple Watch and iPhone and start over. As part of this process the Apple Watch will backup and you will be able to restore that backup if you want to get back to where you were.

  1. On your iPhone open the Watch app.
  2. Tap on My Watch and tap Apple Watch.
  3. Tap Unpair Apple Watch.
  4. Next, tap to confirm and if you have Activation Lock on, enter your Apple ID password to turn it off.

This will trigger a new backup, which may take a little while. Keep the iPhone and Apple Watch close until this is done. After it completes the Apple Watch will restart and you can point your iPhone at it to start the pairing process again.

35 Exciting Things You Can Do With the Apple Watch

Answer Calls on the Apple Watch

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Answer Calls on the Apple Watch

You can answer a call on your Apple Watch using it as a small Bluetooth speaker phone. You only want to use this for shorter calls because the audio quality isn't as good as when you are talking on speakerphone on your iPhone. 

The Apple Watch only allows you to answer your calls on Speakerphone, so you won't want to use this all the time. It is very handy when you are working on a project or busy with your hands. Definitely be conscious of where you are taking calls. If you wouldn't talk on speakerphone, you shouldn't talk on your Apple Watch.

If you buy the new Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE, you can even make calls on the Apple Watch without your iPhone nearby. This requires adding the watch to your plan for $10 a month. You cannot answer a FaceTime video call on the Apple Watch. 

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28 Comments

  1. Logan

    04/29/2015 at 2:19 pm

    On day one with my Apple Watch sport, I wore my watch to play sand volleyball. I figured that it’s the sport edition, meant for somewhat strenuous activity. Also, I wanted to be able to track my activity as I repeatedly spiked so many balls, so well.

    After around 1 hour of game play, I went to push my digital crown button to light up the watch. It wouldn’t budge. One to two tiny grains of sand had got into the crease between the button and the watch. It took me the better part of the evening to get the sand out and make the digital crown usable again.

    Long story short, Apple Watch NOT sand friendly. Please pass this along.

    Reply

    • Soluble Apps

      07/22/2015 at 5:43 am

      I had the same problem.

      I’m sure you know by know, but the official fix for this problem is to run the crown part of the watch under a tap.

      Reply

  2. ELLIOTT S NEWCOMB

    06/01/2015 at 2:17 pm

    IMAGE ON APPLE SPORT WATCH TOO LARGE FOR SCREEN

    Reply

    • Dolores

      01/27/2016 at 9:21 am

      Elliott – I have this problem. Did you get a fix?

      Reply

    • Dolores

      01/27/2016 at 9:26 am

      PapaCat
      Jun 14, 2015 8:00 AM
      in response to Tendersyl
      My Sports Watch worked just find for the first few weeks. Now, several times a day it zooms to the maximum — actually about 100 times wha the maximum zoom should be. The watch becomes unusable for several hours a day, then mysteriously “unzooms by itself. I used to be able to “unzoom” it by double-tapping with 2 fingers, but that no longer works. I did find that if I connect it to its charging cord it seems to “unzoom” itself, but how many of us carry around the charging cord when going about our daily business. The first time it zoomed by itself I called Apple Support and was told that quickly pressing the crown 3 times toggles the zoom feature. It never worked for me — maybe you will have better luck. Like I wrote above, for about a week I was able to “unzoom” by double tapping with two fingers, but that no longer works. My watch seems to be getting worst each day, and my next step will be to bring it to the Genius Bar and see if they can run any diagnostics on it. Good luck with your problem.

      Reply

      • Gwen

        06/04/2016 at 7:56 am

        My Apple Watch is doing the same thing with zooming to the maximum and then can not get it to go back to normal for a long period of time. This is so frustrating. What is causing this? I have tried everything,

        Reply

        • Sandra Bayes

          02/15/2017 at 8:03 am

          I’m having the same problem with the face zooming to overly large. The solution is inconsistent. Sometimes tapping helps, sometimes pressing the crown, sometimes just clears up on own. Very frustrating!

          Reply

  3. Vikki

    06/25/2015 at 10:40 am

    I can send touch messages to my husbands watch but when he sends them back they’re not received. I have no idea how to sort this – help!?

    Reply

  4. wooinvinvi

    07/12/2015 at 9:30 pm

    I face trouble with apple watch connect to iPhone like this video : http://youtu.be/gyqTF210bYg . Please help me how to fix it . Thanks!

    Reply

  5. Sally

    08/26/2015 at 9:10 am

    I’m having trouble with my Apple watch. It is not recognizing the taps on the face of the watch, therefore, I cannot enter my password or even turn the watch off in an attempt to reset. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Reply

  6. Eric Nellis

    09/23/2015 at 4:44 pm

    Apple Watch digital touch only works from my wife’s watch to mine but not from mine to her watch

    Reply

  7. Amin haris S

    10/30/2015 at 1:41 am

    my apple watch suddenly down after i want to pairing my Iphone…. can anyone help me what can I do. this now my apple watch im charging but not charging.

    Reply

    • Katrina

      07/12/2016 at 8:23 am

      Can’t get my watch to turn on. It has a black screen. All was well yesterday. What can I do to get it back to working?

      Reply

      • Aaron

        07/12/2016 at 12:26 pm

        Had the same problem. Try holding down the digital crown and the power button at the same time and see how that goes. It took about 20 seconds for mine to power up.

        Reply

  8. Luke

    11/14/2015 at 7:00 pm

    My watch has low battery icon even after both phone and watch are fully charged. I have turned both off but still indicator shows on my watch. Help please

    Reply

  9. Jose Negron

    12/25/2015 at 9:56 am

    I receive an Apple watch today and pairing was easy. But from that point on, I can not do anything else. The watch ask to unlock the IPhone and the iPhone ask to unlock the watch?????

    Reply

  10. Keith

    03/06/2016 at 4:11 am

    I cannot get my watch to un zoom it’s that large cannot do anything even switch off only 6 days old

    Reply

  11. daymondkay

    03/15/2016 at 9:38 pm

    What about the timing and bolt symbol issue? Seems like a common error for me http://www.cupertinowatch.com/apple-watch-problems-fixes/

    Reply

  12. Dushwan

    04/11/2016 at 7:55 am

    I recently had a problem with my watch. I have the stainless steel sport 42mm. I purchased several bands to change out the look. some was purchased by apple and some from a 3rd party. Well I had the band on from the 3rd party pretty much all day and placed next morning after charging it all night it would not turn on. I was really alarmed. I tried several thing to get it to come on. after no response. i decided to get it ready to take back to the store. And soon as i removed the 3rd party band it responded. my guess is you cant use some of these bands that are not purchased by apple. Has anyone else had any problems similar?

    Reply

  13. Kiran

    05/13/2016 at 5:13 am

    I’ve just had the same problem Dushwan, but my watch has been working perfectly fine with a 3rd party strap and yesterday it stopped working. It powered off and now I can’t get it to power back on?! Any ideas?

    Reply

  14. Beth

    07/30/2016 at 7:06 pm

    Got the update and now when my watch times off it relocks. WTF?!?!?! I have tried everything. And I don’t want to go the the store or call and wait for he obnoxiously long line. Please help.

    Reply

  15. Cesta Sol9

    08/24/2016 at 4:49 am

    Beautiful watch

    Reply

  16. BETH LOWE

    08/28/2016 at 10:14 am

    Everytime I press the digital crown it takes a screenshot. The first few days it pulled up my apps like it was supposed to but then just start flickering back and forth between screens.

    Reply

  17. AA

    10/03/2016 at 3:09 pm

    My 42mm Ross gold speaker and heart rate sensor not working. Can you help please

    Reply

  18. Delia

    10/20/2016 at 9:04 am

    I didn’t charge my watch for like two weeks and now when I try to charge it I see the charging icon and the snake cable but it doesn’t turn on, even if I try to reset it, still not working. I don’t understand what happened.
    Anyone any idea?

    Reply

  19. Joasia

    02/20/2017 at 10:42 am

    The Activity blue stripe “stand” is not working for two days now.
    I did all suggestions from above and it doesn’t work :(

    Reply

  20. Mary lunt

    04/15/2017 at 5:15 am

    My Apple Watch screen display keeps fading. Can this problem be fixed? It is only 18 months old.

    Reply

  21. charlie malone

    04/23/2017 at 4:20 pm

    my problem as of 4 23 17 is that the watch has been dropped by from about 3-4 feet…unbeknownst to me the lens cracked , but the watch worked fine, i did not know that the lens had a small crack….some time later c. 3-5 weeks , the watch stopped working (just went black and did not ever regain life). shipped it to the repair facility in texas and was told that when the lens is cracked the warranty is voided. In other words, dropping the watch and cracking the lens voids the warranty even though dropping did not cause the damage that gave rise to the watch not working…i am of the opinion that the watch is too fragile and the cracked lens- voiding the warranty is a dodge so that apple will not have to make good on the warranty of a watch that is unreasonably fragile…the watch was c. 4 months old when it stopped working.

    Reply

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