About Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular on your Apple Watch

Learn about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for your Apple Watch and how your watch uses both. And how cellular on Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) fits in.

Control Center on iPhone X

To enjoy every feature on your Apple Watch, you need to turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your paired iPhoneOpen Control Center on your iPhone, then make sure Wi-Fi  and Bluetooth  are on.

Your Apple Watch uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to communicate with your paired iPhone. If you have cellular, your watch can also stay connected through a cellular network. Your watch switches between these intelligently to choose the most power-efficient connection. Here's how:

  • Your Apple Watch uses Bluetooth when your iPhone is near, which conserves power.  
  • If Bluetooth isn’t available, your Apple Watch will try to use Wi-Fi. For example, if compatible Wi-Fi is available and your iPhone isn't in Bluetooth range, your Apple Watch uses Wi-Fi.
  • If Bluetooth and Wi-Fi aren't available, and you set up a cellular plan, cellular models of Apple Watch can connect to cellular networks. 

Connect to a compatible Wi-Fi network

Your Apple Watch can connect to a Wi-Fi network: 

  • If your iPhone, while connected to your watch with Bluetooth, has connected to the network before.
  • If the Wi-Fi network is 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz.

For example, your Apple Watch won't connect to 5GHz Wi-Fi or public networks that require logins, subscriptions, or profiles. When your Apple Watch connects to a compatible Wi-Fi network instead of your iPhone connection, the Wi-Fi icon appears in Control Center.

Choose a Wi-Fi network

Turn Wi-Fi off or on

  1. Touch and hold the bottom of the screen.
  2. Wait for Control Center to show, then swipe up.
  3. Tap the Wi-Fi icon. The icon will dim and your device will disconnect from any network that you're connected to.

Only Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) can disconnect from Wi-Fi networks. After you disconnect, your Apple Watch won't automatically re-join the Wi-Fi network that you disconnected from until you do one of these things:

  • You turn on Wi-Fi in Control Center.
  • You walk or drive to a new location. 
  • It's 5:00 a.m. local time.
  • You restart your device.

Use a cellular network

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) can connect to cellular. With a cellular connection, you can make calls and use data or apps when you don’t have your iPhone or Wi-Fi. Learn how to add your Apple Watch to your cellular plan.

Check your signal strength

  1. Touch and hold the bottom of the screen.
  2. Wait for Control Center to show, then swipe up.
  3. Check the Cellular button.

Control Center on Apple Watch showing 4 green dots.

The Cellular button turns green when you have a connection. The green dots show the signal strength. 

Control Center on Apple Watch showing that you're connected to Wi-Fi.

The Cellular button turns white when your cellular plan is active, but your Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone or Wi-Fi.

Turn cellular on or off

  1. Touch and hold the bottom of the screen.
  2. Wait for Control Center to show, then swipe up.
  3. Tap the Green cellular button, then turn off Cellular.

Some apps might not update without a connection to your iPhone.

Check the connection between your iPhone and Apple Watch

  • Check your watch face. If you see the red Disconnected icon or the red X icon on the watch face, you don't have a connection.
  • Check Control Center. Touch and hold the bottom of the screen, wait for Control Center to show, then swipe up. If you see the red Disconnected icon or the red X icon, you don't have a connection.
  • Tap the iPhone icon in Control Center. If your devices are connected, your iPhone should make a "ping" sound.

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