A person is holding a white iPhone. The Apple Watch app for iOS is shown on screen.

The Apple Watch and iPhone may be two distinctly different pieces of hardware, but one can't exist without the other. When you buy a new Apple Watch, turning it on is only the first step — next comes pairing it with an iPhone.

When it comes time to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone, you'll need to use the Apple Watch app for iOS. You should be able to find it pre-installed on your iPhone (or via the App Store, if you've removed it previously).

How to pair Apple Watch to your iPhone

There are a few ways to pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone, depending on what makes the most sense for your needs.

How to automatically pair a new Apple Watch with your iPhone

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone. (You can also bring your Apple Watch near your iPhone to bring up a similar interface to the AirPods pairing screen, which will then launch the Watch app.)
  2. Tap Start Pairing.
  3. Move your phone over your Apple Watch until your Apple Watch is lined up in the center of the yellow rectangle.
    • You'll know you've successfully completed the step when you see a message that says "Your Apple Watch Is Paired".
  4. Choose whether to set up your Apple Watch from scratch or to restore Apple Watch from a backup.

How to manually pair Apple Watch with iPhone

If you can't get your Apple Watch to start the pairing process automatically, you can manually pair your iPhone and Watch. Instead of using the nifty QR-code-style process, you'll use your Apple Watch's name to start the pairing process.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone. (You can also bring your Apple Watch near your iPhone to bring up a similar interface to the AirPods pairing screen, which will then launch the Watch app.)
  2. Tap Start Pairing.
  3. Tap Pair Apple Watch Manually
  4. On your Apple Watch, tap i to view the device's name.
  5. On your iPhone, select your Apple Watch from the list.

    screenshots showing the aforementioned steps for pairing your iPhone with Apple Watch

  6. Choose whether to set up your Apple Watch from scratch or to restore Apple Watch from a backup.

How to pair an existing Apple Watch with a new iPhone

Unlike your iPhone, there's no easy way to manually make a backup of your Apple Watch to iCloud; backups are intrinsically tied to your iPhone's iCloud or iTunes backup. As such, while your Watch will sync its data to your iPhone regularly when you're connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you can't manually choose to back up your information (unless you manually unpair your Apple Watch, which will then automatically sync its latest data to your iPhone backup).

So what do you do when you want to switch iPhone models? Unpair your Apple Watch from your old smartphone, disable Activation Lock, and make a backup of your iPhone. Here's how!

How to pair an existing Apple Watch with a new iPhone

How to set up or restore your Apple Watch from a backup

Once you've paired your Apple Watch to your iPhone, it's time to set it up from scratch or from an existing backup.

How to set up an Apple Watch from scratch

Whether this is your first Apple Watch or you simply don't want to carry over old data, it's fairly simple to set up your smartwatch from scratch.

  1. After the pairing process is complete, tap Set Up as New Apple Watch.

    screenshots showing the aforementioned steps for pairing your iPhone with Apple Watch

  2. Tap either Left or Right to tell Apple Watch on which wrist you plan to wear it.
  3. Tap Agree to agree to the watchOS Terms and Conditions.
  4. Tap Agree to confirm.

    screenshots showing the aforementioned steps for pairing your iPhone with Apple Watch

  5. Tap OK to indicate you understand Shared Settings for iPhone and Apple Watch.
  6. Tap Create a Passcode to create a passcode for Apple Watch.
    • Tap Add a Long Passcode to add a passcode longer than four digits.
    • Tap Don't Add Passcode if you'd rather not have a passcode on your Apple Watch.
  7. On your Apple Watch, tap to create a four-digit passcode.
  8. Enter your passcode once more to confirm.
  9. If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE service, choose whether to Set Up Cellular on your Apple Watch.

  10. Set up Apple Pay (or set it up later). You may need to enter your card security code or the entire number, depending on which card you're adding.
  11. On your iPhone, tap Continue to indicate you understand Emergency SOS.

  12. Tap Install All to install all of the available watchOS apps on your iPhone (watchOS apps are included with iOS apps).
    • Tap Choose Later if you'd rather not install all of the available watchOS apps on your iPhone.
  13. Allow your Apple Watch to sync with your iPhone. When it's finished syncing, your Apple Watch is ready to roll! While you wait, you can view basic navigation tips on your Apple Watch, labeled "Apple Watch Basics."

How to restore Apple Watch from a backup

Not sure if you backed up your Apple Watch? Here's how backups work for Apple's smartwatch.

  1. After the pairing process is complete, tap Restore from Backup button.

    Note: You'll need to make a backup of your old watch on a device running iOS 11 before you can set up a new watch with that backup on iOS 11.

  2. Choose the relevant backup.

  3. Accept the terms and conditions.
  4. Tap OK to indicate you understand Shared Settings for iPhone and Apple Watch.
  5. Tap Create a Passcode to create a passcode for Apple Watch.
    • Tap Add a Long Passcode to add a passcode longer than four digits.
    • Tap Don't Add Passcode if you'd rather not have a passcode on your Apple Watch.
  6. On your Apple Watch, tap to create a four-digit passcode.
  7. Enter your passcode once more to confirm.

    screenshots showing the aforementioned steps for pairing your iPhone with Apple Watch

  8. If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE service and you haven't set it up yet (or cancelled your plan), you may be prompted to Set Up Cellular on your Apple Watch.

  9. On your iPhone, tap Continue to indicate you understand Emergency SOS.
  10. Set up Apple Pay (or set it up later). You may need to enter your card security code or the entire number, depending on which card you're adding.

  11. Your Apple Watch will now begin restoring from backup.

While you wait for your Apple Watch to restore, you can view basic navigation tips on your Apple Watch, labeled "Apple Watch Basics."

How to get more out of your Apple Watch

Once your watch is paired, you can start using it, but there's plenty to customize. That Watch app isn't just for setup, after all: It's also an easy way to manage your Apple Watch apps, settings, and features. You can do some management on the Watch itself, but it's much easier to tap around on your phone than it is to tap around on the tiny Watch screen. What you choose to do next, however, is up to you!

And if you have multiple Apple Watches or multiple iPhone models, here's how to use each with the other:

Apple Watch

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