How to Unlock iPhone With an Apple Watch & What to Do if It Doesn't Work

Aug 30, 2023 • Filed to: Remove Screen Lock • Proven solutions


man wearing apple watch with iphone by him

There are plenty of reasons why Apple devices are in such high demand. The quality of the products is unquestionable – few can argue the superior quality of the iPhone’s camera, for instance. Almost all devices are long-lasting. They have a great resale value. They offer cutting-edge features.

However, perhaps the greatest advantage of Apple products is just how well they integrate with one another and work together.

With a quick little tap, you can have your iPhone’s camera working as your Mac’s webcam. You can use your iPad as a second Mac display. Take calls using any device.

Moreover, you might be able to use the Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone.

Now, you cannot just unlock any iPhone with your Watch. The devices must be paired, and you’ll need to follow a few steps to enable this option. Here’s how to unlock your phone using your Apple Watch like a pro.

Part 1. Can I Use an Apple Watch To Unlock My iPhone?

phone, earphones, and apple watch on a table

The iPhone face ID is one of the simplest, most practical ways to unlock your phone. While you’ll need a passcode just as another security layer, you won’t have to worry about someone else breaking in if they know it, going through your messages, or collecting your private information.

With face ID, only you can unlock your phone, sign in to your favorite apps, and even authenticate purchases.

The problem is that neither face ID nor traditional passcodes aren’t always the most convenient option. If you wear sunglasses, safety goggles, a face mask, or other face coverings and can’t take them off for some reason, face ID won’t work. If you have gloves on and can’t type in your passcode, your passcodes won’t work.

What could work is your Apple Watch.

Depending on the Apple Watch version you own and your iPhone model, you could use your watch to unlock your phone in any circumstances. It’s easy, secure, and convenient, above all else.

Part 2. Requirements for Unlocking iPhone With Apple Watch

unlock requirements

Unfortunately, not every iPhone can be unlocked with your Apple Watch, and not every Apple Watch can unlock your iPhone. Both devices must meet some requirements before you can adjust your settings to enable this option.

To be able to use your Apple Watch to unlock your phone with the utmost ease, you’ll need:

  • An iPhone with Face ID – iPhone X and newer models;
  • iOS 14.5 and newer versions;
  • An Apple Watch series 3 and newer models;
  • watchOS 7.4 and newer versions.

Additional requirements you’ll need to meet include:

  • Your iPhone and Apple Watch need to be paired;
  • Both devices need to have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on (but a connection to a WiFi network isn’t necessary);
  • You need to have a passcode on your Apple Watch;
  • Wrist detection on your watch needs to be turned on;
  • The watch needs to be on your wrist and unlocked.

You’ll also need to wear items such as sunglasses, face coverings, ski masks, or others that prevent you from using your iPhone Face ID.

Part 3. How To Unlock iPhone With an Apple Watch

a cyclist wearing an apple watch

If you meet all the aforementioned criteria, setting up the feature to unlock your iPhone using an Apple Watch is easy. You’ll just have to follow a few steps:

  • Step 1: Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcodeon your iPhone;

iphone face id and passcode settings

  • Step 2: Type in your passcode;
  • Step 3: Find and enable Unlock with Apple Watch.

Remember that your Apple Watch’s wrist detection must be turned on for this option to work. When you tap to enable Unlock with Apple Watch, if your wrist detection isn’t turned on, you’ll get a prompt on your phone asking you to turn it on.

You can turn on wrist detection on your watch by following these steps:

  • Step 4: Go to Settingson your Apple Watch;
  • Step 5: Tap on the Passcode;
  • Step 6: Toggle Wrist Detection

apple watch wrist detection settings

Now that you’ve enabled the option to unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch, it’s time to simply start using the feature. To unlock your phone, you’ll need to:

  • Have your Apple Watch on your wrist, unlocked;
  • Tap on your iPhone or raise it to your face to activate it;
  • Glance at your phone while wearing a face mask, sunglasses, or another item that’s preventing you from using Face ID;
  • Swipe up on your phone’s screen.

Your Apple Watch will send an alert when you’ve used it to unlock your iPhone. If you accidentally unlock your phone, simply tap on the Lock iPhone on the screen of your watch to lock it.

However, remember that the next time you want to use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone, you’ll first need to type in your passcode.

Part 4. What To Do if You Can’t Unlock Your iPhone With a Watch

person wearing face mask unlocking their iphone

Generally speaking, unlocking your iPhone with an Apple Watch should be a simple, seamless task. Unfortunately, though, that’s not always the case. A glitch or a bug could be preventing you from enjoying this feature, so take a look at a few things you could try to fix it.

1. Check All Settings & Reconfigure

As mentioned earlier, there are a few requirements that your devices need to meet to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch.

If you’re using the correct versions of iPhone (iPhone X, iOS 14.5 and newer) and Apple Watch (series 3, watchOS 7.4 and newer), try to reconfigure your settings.

Make sure that you have:

  • A passcode on your watch;
  • Wrist detection turned on;
  • Feature Unlock with Apple Watchturned on on your iPhone.

If all the settings are correct, try one of the following options.

2. Restart Your WiFi/Bluetooth Connection

Your iPhone and your Apple Watch need to have both WiFi and Bluetooth turned on. If they’re turned on on both devices, try turning them off and back on again to restart the connection.

Remember, you only need WiFi and Bluetooth on but don’t need to be connected to a WiFi network.

If the problem persists, you could also restart your devices and try again.

3. Reset Your Face ID

In some instances, it’s the Face ID feature that’s causing trouble, so you might want to try and reset it. It’s much easier than it may sound, you just need to follow the next few steps:

  • Step 1: Go to your iPhone’s Settings;
  • Step 2: Select Face ID & Passcode;
  • Step 3: Tap Reset Face ID.

When you tap on this, you’ll need to go through the process of setting your Face ID as usual. You’ll need to type in your passcode, hold your iPhone in front of you (in portrait orientation), tap to get started, and put your face in the provided frame.

Move your face to complete the circle, then tap on Continue. Repeat the face scan process the second time and select Done.

4. Do a System Repair on Your iPhone

If your Apple Watch unlock is still misbehaving, you might need to do a full system repair. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to use verified apps like Dr.Fone to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Dr.Fone iPhone system repair is designed to be fast, efficient, and safe. It can repair virtually any system glitch in less than five minutes, ensuring your phone operates seamlessly.

To perform a standard system repair with Dr.Fone, follow the next few steps:

  • Step 1: Download and launch Dr.Fone on your computer;
  • Step 2: From the Toolboxon your left-hand side, select System Repair;


  • Step 3: Connect your iPhone to your PC using a cable connection;
  • Step 4: Select your device type in the new window that opens;
  • Step 5: Select iOS repair;

dr.fone ios repair

  • Step 6: Select Standard Repair Mode;
  • Step 7: Follow the on-screen instructions and select Enter Recovery Mode;
  • (Alternatively, select Guideif your phone is unresponsive);
  • Step 8: Select the iOS firmware you want to download and install on your device;
  • Step 9: Wait for the download to finish, then select Repair Now;
  • Step 10: Wait until the process is complete, then select Done.

dr.fone finishing ios repair

If it was a system mistake preventing you from unlocking your iPhone with your Apple Watch, the option should be functioning well after the Dr.Fone iOS repair.

5. Reset Network Settings

If the problem wasn’t due to a system glitch, you should try resetting your iPhone’s network settings. The process is simple, just:

  • Step 1: Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network;
  • Step 2: Type in your passcode.

Resetting your network settings will clear out data from your internet, local network, and devices, including WiFi passwords, some Bluetooth connections, and more. However, your paired devices, such as the Apple Watch, shouldn’t be removed.

6. Reset Your Watch and Pair It Again

Finally, if you’re still experiencing issues, you might need to reset your Apple Watch and pair it with your iPhone again.

It’s all quite simple:

  • Step 1: Press and hold the power button;
  • Step 2: Drag the slider under Power offto the right;
  • Step 3: Press and hold the power button to turn the device back on.

To perform a hard reset, simultaneously press and hold the power button and digital crown.


Using your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone is convenient when you cannot use the Face ID feature. It allows you to seamlessly unlock your phone when wearing sunglasses, goggles, face masks, or other face coverings that prevent the Face ID from working.

Enabling this option is a straightforward process, and if there’s ever a glitch, there are several options you could try to repair it.

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Alice MJ

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