Can’t Unlock iPhone With Apple Watch? Here’s the Quick Fix!

With iOS 14.5, Apple made it possible to unlock a Face ID-equipped iPhone using the Apple Watch while wearing a mask. As long as your Apple Watch is perfectly set up and with you, this brand new feature will work as advertised. To unlock, lift your iPhone and look at the device. As simple as it sounds! Unfortunately, the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature is not working for some iPhone users in iOS 14.5. If you are one of them, check out these five tips and tricks to fix the “iPhone cannot be unlocked with Apple Watch” issue.

How to Unlock iPhone When Apple Watch Is Not Working? Try These 5 Fixes!

Especially when dealing with a brand new feature that requires you to do many do’s and don’ts, it’s better to check all the requirements carefully. Maybe you forgot to note an important requirement or your iPhone model or software version is not compatible with this feature. So, make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch are compatible and you have everything set up correctly. If you’re still encountering this issue, see the fixes in the table below to use Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone.

Prerequisites to Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

  • Make sure you have an iPhone with Face ID support. iPhone X, Xs, Xs Max, XR, iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, and iPhone 12 models support Face ID. If Face ID is not working on your device, the detailed guide linked here may help you fix the issues.
  • Make sure your iPhone is running iOS 14.5 or later.
  • Make sure you have Apple Watch Series 3 or later.
  • Your Apple Watch must be running watchOS 7.4 or later.
  • Make sure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on your iPhone and Apple Watch.
  • Make sure you have enabled passcode on your Apple Watch (Watch app on iPhone -> Passcode -> Turn passcode on)
  • Make sure Wrist Detection is enabled on your Apple Watch (Watch app on iPhone -> Passcode -> Wrist Detection)
  • Make sure your Apple Watch is on your wrist and unlocked.
  • Be sure to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Unlock with Apple Watch doesn’t use Face ID to recognize you and verify your identity.
  • Note that Apple Watch Unlock only works to unlock your iPhone.
  • Note that Unlock with Apple Watch does not authenticate you for use with Apple Pay, password-protected apps, or passwords stored in Keychain.

1. Turn Off/On Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be enabled for Apple Watch Unlock to work smoothly. If you can’t unlock your iOS device using Apple Watch, even if it’s enabled, turn it off/on.

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On your iPhone: Swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to access the Control Center. Next, tap on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons to turn them off. Wait for a while and then tap the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons again to turn them on.

On your Apple Watch: Hungry Go to Settings app and go to Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. Now, turn off the toggles for both connection options. Wait for a while and then turn the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options back on.

Turn WiFi off or on on Apple Watch

2. Unlock/Unlock with Apple Watch

If the connection doesn’t seem to be the problem behind the unlock feature not working as intended, try turning the main feature itself off/on. Be sure to try this simple but workable trick.

Go to the Settings app on your iPhone. Next, scroll down and select Face ID and Password. After that, under the ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’ section, toggle the switch right next to it. [Your name] Apple watch.

use-apple-watch-use-to-unlock iPhone

We also recommend resetting the wrist detection feature at this time. Go to Passcode in the Watch app on your iPhone. Then turn it off/on Wrist Detection feature.

enable wrist detection

Now try using Unlock with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask to see if that fixes the problem.

3. Force Restart Both Your iPhone and Apple Watch

If you still can’t unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch, force restart or hard reset both your iPhone and Apple Watch. A hard reset is reliable in fixing various issues. Therefore, it is also better to try.

To force restart your iPhone X or later (with Face ID): Press and quickly release the volume up button. Next, press and quickly release the volume down button. After that, press and hold the side button until your iPhone screen goes black and the Apple logo appears.

Force restart your iPhone
Credit: Apple

To force restart your Apple Watch: Press and hold the Side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously for at least 10 seconds or until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

Once your Apple Watch and iPhone have restarted, try to unlock the iPhone by picking up the device and looking at it while wearing a mask. Apple Watch provides haptic feedback and displays an alert when iPhone is successfully unlocked. If you didn’t want to unlock your iPhone, tap the “Lock iPhone” button on your Apple Watch. However, the next time you unlock your iPhone after tapping this button, you will have to type the passcode.

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4. Reset Network Settings on Your iPhone

If the problem persists, I suggest you reset the network settings on your iPhone. The reason I recommend you try this solution is because it has the ability to fix network-related issues that could cause the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature in iOS 14 to not work as intended.

go Settings app -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings. Now, enter your device’s passcode and confirm the action. After successfully resetting the network settings to factory defaults, connect your device to a Wi-Fi network. Also, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled on your device. After that, check if you can unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch.

Network Settings Reset

5. Erase Your Apple Watch and Pair Again with Your iPhone

If none of the above solutions worked in resolving the Apple Watch Unlock iPhone not working issue, then it’s time to erase the Apple Watch and pair it with the iPhone once again. Whenever the Apple Watch encounters complex problems, I trust this solution to save me. And I must say that in most cases it did not disappoint me.

You don’t have to worry about losing important data, as watchOS does the job of backing up data automatically. Go to the Watch app on your iPhone -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings. After resetting your Apple Watch, follow the onscreen instructions to pair the smartwatch with iPhone again.


Tips to Fix “Cannot Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch” Issue

This much! Now, hopefully Apple Watch Unlock has started working on your iPhone while wearing a mask. In most cases, you can fix problems by considering the requirements. So, make sure to check the prerequisites first and then move on to the other solutions we have listed above. Which of these methods went into solving unlocking problems on your iPhone and Apple Watch? Be sure to let me know the number that helps you fix the problem.

Moyens Staff
Moyens I/O Staff has motivated you, giving you tips on technology, personal development, lifestyle and strategies that will help you.