How to fix an Apple iPhone XR that won’t connect or sync to Apple Watch after updating iOS [Troubleshooting Guide]

Pairing an iPhone with a smart watch is now becoming a trend. New iPhones are engineered to pair and sync with various types of smart watches, be it an Apple Watch, Fitbit tracker, or other smart watches. The syncing process between these devices is usually done through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Thus, enabling these features is a must-do to get started. The overall pairing process is simple. However, bumping into syncing problems is inevitable.

Outlined below are possible solutions to a relevant issue on the iPhone XR and Apple Watch after installing iOS version 12.1.4. Read further to find out what to do if your iPhone XR won’t sync or connect to your Apple Watch after updating iOS.

For owners 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 problems with this device. Browse through the page to find issues that are similar with yours and use the solutions we suggested. If they don’t work or if you need further assistance don’t hesitate to contact us by filling up our iPhone issues questionnaire.

How to troubleshoot iPhone XR that won’t sync with Apple Watch?

Before troubleshooting, make sure that your iPhone and Apple Watch are in range, if possible, close together. Also verify and ensure that you’ve signed into iCloud using the correct Apple ID. Airplane Mode must also be disabled on both devices. You can check on that by opening the Control Center. If the Airplane Mode icon is enabled, then tap to disable it. Then enable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controls. If you see the Airplane mode icon on your watch display, swipe up to open the Control Center then tap the Airplane Mode icon to turn it off.

Restart your phone and watch then retry pairing them again.

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

Minor Bluetooth pairing problems including those triggered by an iOS bug are usually resolved by restarting the devices that you want to pair. Thus, if you haven’t already, restart or soft reset your iPhone XR to clear out random Bluetooth errors and to refresh its system. Here’s how:

  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 iPhone reboots.

On your Apple Watch, refer to the following steps to restart it:

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

After restarting your phone and watch, try pairing them again and see if they’re able to sync this time.

ALSO READ: How to manage storage on your Apple iPhone XR and offload unused apps

Second solution: Turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth OFF and ON.

The update might have ruined your existing Bluetooth connection or disabled the phone’s wireless functions. Note that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be enabled for your Apple Watch and iPhone to sync. If the update altered your settings and disabled these features, then you will need to re-enable them manually. If these features are already enabled on both devices and they won’t sync, refreshing them can help.

To refresh Wi-Fi functions of your iPhone, go to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu, then toggle the switch OFF and ON. This gives a quick restart to your phone’s Wi-Fi features and effectively clears out random Wi-Fi errors and associated symptoms.

To refresh Bluetooth connections on your phone, go to Settings-> Bluetooth menu, then toggle the switch to turn Bluetooth OFF and ON again. This will refresh your Bluetooth connections and likewise eliminate minor pairing and syncing errors.

Alternatively, you can toggle the Airplane Mode switch on and off. This trick has aided many iPhone owners who have dealt with various types of wireless connectivity issues as well as Bluetooth pairing problems.

  1. Navigate to your iPhone Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  2. Then toggle the Airplane Mode switch to enable the feature. All wireless radios on the phone are now disabled.
  3. While Airplane mode is enabled, restart/soft reset your iPhone to clear and refresh its internal memory and operating system.
  4. After the phone reboots, head back to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  5. Then toggle the switch to turn Airplane Mode back ON again.

You can also do the same procedure to your Apple Watch to clear and refresh its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions. Then place your iPhone close or next to your watch then pair them again.

ALSO READ: How to shoot 4K videos on Apple iPhone XR

Third solution: Forget Apple Watch and other paired Bluetooth devices.

If your devices were able to pair and sync before but suddenly failed, then unpairing the devices can help. This is often needed if the existing connection was ruined or corrupted. After unpairing your devices, you can pair them again and sync like it’s the first time they do. Here’s what you should do then:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.
  2. Tap the My Watch tab.
  3. Then tap to select your watch at the top of the screen.
  4. Tap the information “i” icon next to the name of the watch that you want to unpair.
  5. Then tap the option to Unpair Apple Watch.
  6. Tap Unpair again to confirm.
  7. After unpairing, restart your phone and watch then pair them again. When pairing, hold your Apple Watch close to your iPhone then wait for the “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch” message to show up on your phone.
  8. Then tap Continue.
  9. If you don’t see the above message, open the Apple Watch app style=”font-weight: 400;”> then select the option to Start Pairing instead.

Keep your watch and phone close together until the pairing process is finished. You may opt to set up your Apple Watch as new or restore from a backup. Just tap on the option to choose.

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

Wireless features including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections may also be impeded by network settings errors. Software updates can also cause network errors especially when they automatically override settings. To clear this out, you can reset the network settings to default. Here’s how:

  1. From your Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and then tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset network settings.
  5. If prompted, enter your passcode then follow the onscreen instructions to confirm network settings reset.

The phone should reboot when the reset is done. After it restarts, you will need to set up Wi-Fi and enable Bluetooth connections. To refresh network connections of your Apple Watch, simply restart the watch. Then try syncing your iPhone XR to your Apple Watch again.

Fifth solution: Reset all settings on your iPhone and Apple Watch.

If the previous reset doesn’t do any good, then you can try resetting all settings on the phone can be considered the next option. This reset clears all customized settings and invalid options including those that caused conflict to the phone’s Bluetooth functions. Ruined settings from automatic update overrides are also rectified in the process. Like the previous reset, this won’t affect any saved data on the phone so you creating backups won’t be necessary. Here’s how to get started:

  1. From your Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and then tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset all settings.
  5. If prompted, enter your passcode then follow the onscreen instructions to confirm all settings reset.

Restart the phone and Apple Watch after the settings are reset to defaults. To use disabled features by default, particularly Bluetooth, you need to enable them individually. Then retry to pair your iPhone and Apple Watch whenever everything it set.

Other options

You may have to consider resetting your iPhone XR and Apple Watch to factory defaults if none of the prior methods is able to fix the problem. This will help clear out major post-update system errors on either device that might have halted them from pairing or syncing. Just don’t forget to back up all important data beforehand. After the reset, you can pair and sync your iPhone XR to your Apple Watch as new. Restoring to a previous backup can also be deemed among other last resorts if all else failed to solve the problem. You can restore your device to a previous iOS backup either through a recovery mode restore or DFU mode restore.

Try to pair or connect your iPhone to other compatible Bluetooth accessories. If it connects and successfully pairs with other Bluetooth-enabled devices, then there must be some problems with the Apple Watch that need to be addressed. For further assistance and more advanced solutions, contact Apple Support and tell them of the post-update Bluetooth problem on your iPhone XR and Apple Watch. A dedicated fix patch may be needed.

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!