How to fix an Apple iPhone XS that won’t connect or pair with Apple Watch [Troubleshooting Guide]

New smartphones are now capable of working with other smart gadgets like smart watches. Emerging among the most popular smartwatches for iOS devices would include but not limited to the Apple Series Watches, Samsung Gear Sport, Garmine Fenix 5, LG Watch Sport, and Motorola Moto 360. For these watches to work and sync with your iPhone, they must be paired beforehand. After pairing, you can start syncing data between your iPhone and smartwatch. But sometimes, things may not work between your iPhone and smartwatch due to some factors from software glitches to hardware damage. But prior to making a service appointment, you can try ruling out software-related factors by applying some workarounds.

Highlighted in this post are standard procedures that are used to deal with a pertinent issue on the iPhone XS that won’t connect or pair with an Apple Watch for some reasons. Feel free to refer to this walkthrough whenever you need more help in dealing with the same issue. Read on for more detailed solutions.

For those who are looking for a solution to a different problem, drop by our troubleshooting page for we have already addressed some of the most common issues with this phone. Browse through the page to find issues that are similar with yours and use the solutions we suggested. If they don’t work for you or if you still need our help, contact us anytime through our iPhone issues questionnaire.

Troubleshoot iPhone XS that won’t pair with Apple Watch

Before troubleshooting, check and ensure that Airplane mode is turned off and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on both your iPhone and Apple Watch. Also make sure that both devices are running the latest iOS version. After confirming all these requisites, you can proceed and troubleshoot both devices.

First solution: Reboot your iPhone and Apple Watch (soft reset).

If you were able to pair your iPhone and Apple Watch before and then suddenly they won’t, then it’s likely just a random glitch on either the iPhone Apple watch system. To clear this out, restarting both the phone and watch is recommended. Here’s how to restart/soft reset an iPhone XS:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. Release the buttons when the Slide to Power Off command appears and then drag the power off slider to the right.
  3. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone reboots.

After restarting your iPhone, restart your Apple Watch to clear out random glitches that might have halted its pairing functions. To restart your Apple Watch, simply follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side button until you see the Power Off slider.
  2. Drag the Power Off slider to turn off your watch.
  3. After a few seconds, press and hold the Side button again until you see the Apple logo.

Wait until both devices have booted up completely and then retry pairing.

Second solution: Disable/enable Bluetooth on your iPhone XS.

This tweak can also help rule out errors from corrupted Bluetooth connection. Turning Bluetooth off and on somehow refreshes the Bluetooth system and clears out minor pairing errors. Here’s how to disable and enable Bluetooth on an iPhone XS:

  1. Go to your iPhone Settings-> Bluetooth menu.
  2. Then tap the Bluetooth switch to turn OFF.
  3. While Bluetooth is turned OFF, restart your iPhone.
  4. After restarting, turn Bluetooth ON again from the Settings-> Bluetooth menu.

On your Apple Watch, follow these steps to turn Bluetooth off and then on again:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Toggle the Bluetooth icon, to turn the feature OFF for a few seconds.
  4. Tap the icon to enable Bluetooth again and wait for your Apple Watch to search for nearby Bluetooth devices.

If it sees your iPhone, then they should be able to pair or connect. To find out if they really do, retry pairing them.

Third solution: Toggle Airplane Mode on and off.

Another effective solution to wireless problems on iOS devices is the so-called Airplane mode trick. It works by simply turning the Airplane Mode function on and off shortly. Many iPhone users have found wonders from doing this trick when dealing with random problems with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Hence, it wouldn’t hurt if you’d give it a try this time and see how it does:

  1. Go to your iPhone Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  2. Tap the switch next to turn Airplane Mode ON. Doing so will disable all wireless radios on the phone.
  3. While Airplane mode is turned ON, restart/soft reset your iPhone XS.
  4. As soon as your phone boots up, head back to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  5. Then toggle the switch to turn Airplane Mode OFF again. All wireless functions are then re-enabled.

Also do the same to your Apple Watch to clear out minor errors affecting the watch’s wireless functions. After doing this trick, restart both your devices then retry pairing them when they’re all set.

Fourth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Network-related issues in general are often dealt with by a network reset. This would be necessary if the problem is due to some network errors like invalid options and network settings on the phone or Apple watch. To reset network settings on your iphone XS, follow these steps:

  1. From your Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset Network Settings. This will erase your current network settings including Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth connections.
  5. Enter your device passcode when asked to proceed.
  6. Tap the option to confirm network settings reset.
  7. To reset network settings and preferences on your Apple Watch, go to Settings-> General-> Reset menu, then select Reset network settings from the given options.

After the reset, default network options and settings are restored. To use online apps and services, reconnect your iPhone to Wi-Fi or cellular data. Also make sure that Bluetooth is enabled.

Once all wireless functions are activated, retry pairing your Apple Watch and iPhone XS and see if that works.

Fifth solution: Remove pairing then pair your devices again.

If none of the previous methods work, then your next option would be to remove pairing or unpair your iPhone XS and Apple Watch. The current pairing could have been corrupted and therefore no longer working. This means you have to pair your devices again. But before you do, you need to unpair them first.

Follow these steps to unpair your Apple Watch and your iPhone XS:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Navigate to and then tap on the My Watch tab.
  3. Select your watch at the top of the screen.
  4. Tap on the information or “i” icon next to your Apple Watch to unpair.
  5. Select the option to Unpair Apple Watch then tap again to confirm.

Wait for your device to finish unpairing then go to your Apple Watch and reset it with these steps:

  1. Tap on Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Erase all content and settings.
  5. Follow the rest of the onscreen prompts to complete the reset process.

After unpairing, restart your iPhone and Apple Watch then follow these steps to pair them again:

  1. On your iPhone XS, go to Settings-> Bluetooth menu. Make sure it’s connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
  2. Toggle the Bluetooth to enable the feature, if it isn’t already.
  3. Then hold the Apple Watch and iPhone XS close together. Make sure your watch is turned on.
  4. Wait for your iPhone to show a message that says, “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch.”
  5. If you see that message, tap Continue. Otherwise, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone then select the option to Start Pairing instead.

Keep both devices in close distance until the pairing process is finished.

Seek more help

If all else fails to fix the problem and you have ran out of options, then you can escalate the problem to Apple Support for further assistance and more advanced solutions. You may be dealing with a major system error on either the iPhone XS or Apple Watch that halts them from pairing. And that’s what you need to find out and deal with. You can also take your iPhone and Apple Watch to the nearest Apple service center in your area so that a technician can scrutinize both devices for any indications of hardware damage.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix the problem with your device. We would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word so please share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you so much for reading!