How to fix an Apple iPhone XR that suddenly won’t pair with Apple Watch [Troubleshooting Guide]

There are many possible reasons as to why you can’t pair your iPhone with a Bluetooth device. Generally, the problem can be attributed to the software, if not the hardware. Among the most factors to consider when pairing Bluetooth devices are system compatibility and devices proximity. This means that you can only pair your phone to a compatible Bluetooth device or vice versa. And for your devices to establish strong Bluetooth connection, they have to be situated within the required Bluetooth distance or close to each other. For as long as your devices are compatible and within the specified Bluetooth distance, they should work. Just don’t forget to enable Bluetooth on your phone and put your other Bluetooth device in discoverable mode.

Nevertheless, there also many factors that can interfere with Bluetooth connections. Tackled in this post are some of these factors that can impede Bluetooth connection between the iPhone XR and Apple Watch. If you’re having trouble pairing your iPhone XR and Apple Watch, then you can refer to this guide. Read on to learn how to troubleshoot the problem.

Before troubleshooting, make sure that both devices are within range and that your Apple Watch is in discoverable mode. On your iPhone XR, make sure Bluetooth is enabled. Retry pairing your devices and if that still failed, then you may begin troubleshooting.

First solution: Restart your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Should this be just a minor glitch on the iPhone or Apple watch system, then restarting the device will likely be able to resolve the problem. That said, start by performing a soft reset on your iPhone XR with these steps:

  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 the phone, restart your Apple Watch with 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 the watch.
  3. After a few seconds, press and hold the Side button again until the Apple logo appears.

Alternatively, you can force restart your Apple Watch by pressing and holding both the Side button and Digital Crown for at least 10 seconds. Then release both buttons when the Apple logo shows up on the display. Wait until the watch is finished rebooting and then retry pairing it with your iPhone XR.

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Second solution: Turn Bluetooth off and on again.

Minor glitches affecting the phone’s Bluetooth functions can also be remedied by simply turning the Bluetooth switch off and then back on. This somehow refreshes the Bluetooth connection and eliminates random errors that caused inconsistencies on the Bluetooth system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to your iPhone Settings-> Bluetooth menu, then tap the switch to turn Bluetooth OFF. After a few seconds, toggle the switch to turn Bluetooth back on again.
  2. Go to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  3. Then toggle the switch to turn Airplane Mode ON. Doing so will disable the phone’s wireless radios including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
  4. Restart or soft reset your iPhone XR while Airplane Mode is enabled.
  5. After the phone reboots, head back to Settings-> Airplane mode menu and then tap the switch again to turn Airplane mode OFF.

You can also do the same to your Apple Watch. To do so, simply head to your Apple Watch Settings-> Bluetooth menu, then toggle the Bluetooth control off and on again.

Or you can also toggle the Airplane mode icon on and off.

Third solution: Remove pairing or unpair devices.

If the problem continues, then you may have to unpair your devices. This will help especially if the current Bluetooth connection between your phone and watch gets corrupted. To unpair your devices, just follow these steps to forget your Apple Watch from your iPhone XR:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Then go to the My Watch tab.
  3. Tap your to select your Apple Watch at the top of the screen.
  4. Next, tap the information icon (i) next to the watch that you want to unpair then tap Unpair Apple Watch.
  5. Tap Unpair again to confirm.

You can also forget any other saved Bluetooth devices from your phone using the same method. Doing so can help prevent any other devices from interfering with your Apple Watch and iPhone XR connection. To do this, head over to Settings-> Bluetooth menu, then tap on the information (i) icon next to the name of the Bluetooth device you want to forget.

After forgetting Bluetooth devices, restart your iPhone XR and Apple Watch. Then set up and pair your devices again.

ALSO READ: How to fix an Apple iPhone XR that won’t sync with Fitbit

Fourth solution: Reset network settings on your phone.

Performing resets can be considered among the last options if the initial workarounds failed to offer solution. The problem might be due to some invalid settings or incorrect network configurations on the phone. In that case, resetting the network settings is imperative. Please note though that this reset will likewise delete your Wi-Fi network and other network information. So before you start, take note of your Wi-Fi passwords as you’ll have to re-enter them later to reconnect to Wi-Fi Internet. Once you’re all set, follow these steps to reset the network settings on your iPhone XR:

  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.

Your phone should reboot automatically when the reset is finished. Just wait until it boots up and then go to Settings-> Bluetooth menu to re-enable Bluetooth and then pair your iPhone and Apple Watch again.

Fifth solution: Reset iPhone and Apple Watch to factory default settings.

Resetting the phone and watch to factory defaults is usually needed if the problem continues. This will help get rid of complex system errors that might have ruined the Bluetooth system on both devices. This reset however will likewise erase all saved data on the phone thus, creating backups would be necessary beforehand. You can back up your files to iCloud or iTunes first and then follow these steps to proceed with the master reset on your iPhone XR:

  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 Erase all content and settings.
  5. If prompted, enter your passcode then follow the onscreen instructions to confirm factory reset.

Again, you may also have to consider resetting your Apple Watch. Doing so will rule out major system errors on the Apple Watch that might have caused the connection to fail.

Before erasing your Watch, disconnect it from your iPhone.

To do this, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Then go to the My Watch tab and tap your Watch at the top of the screen. Next, tap the information icon (i) next to the watch that you want to unpair then tap Unpair Apple Watch.

After unpairing your devices, you can reset your Apple Watch with these steps:

  1. Tap Settings on your Apple Watch.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Then select the option to Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. If prompted, tap Erase All to confirm.

After resetting the Apple Watch to its factory defaults, you can set it up as new.

Other options

Try pairing your iPhone XR with any other compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices or smartwatches. If pairing is successful, then the problem is apparently on the Apple Watch. In that case, you need to troubleshoot software-related issues on the Apple Watch or take it to the nearest Apple service center for a thorough hardware check-up.

For other recommendations and more advanced solutions, you may escalate the problem to Apple Support. This can be a bug that requires a dedicated fix patch from Apple.

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!

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