large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to unlock your iPhone with an Apple Watch

One of the best things about the Apple Watch is how well integrated it is with other Apple devices. You can change the music you’re listening to, record a workout or set a timer all from your Apple Watch.

But you may not know that there are even more handy features that Apple Watch owners are privy to. One of the most helpful is the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch. This is ideal in situations where your face is obscured, like when you’re wearing a mask or sunglasses.

However, there are some caveats to this. You will need to ensure that your iPhone is capable of Face ID, meaning it will need to be an iPhone X or later and use iOS 14.5 or later. Your Watch needs to be an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and run on watchOS 7.4 or later.

Plus, your Apple Watch and iPhone need to be paired, both with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. The Apple Watch also needs to have a passcode, as well as wrist detection turned on. It also needs to be already unlocked for this to work.

Now that you know the basics, keep reading to find out the simplest way to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch and check out our top picks for the best Apple Watches out there, if you’re interested in an upgrade.

What we used

The Short Version

  • Open Settings
  • Go to Face ID and Passcode
  • Enter your password
  • Click the Unlock with Apple Watch button
  • Click Turn On
  1. Step
    1

    Open Settings

    Unlock your iPhone and open the Settings app. It looks like a gear cog. Settings app on iPhone

  2. Step
    2

    Go to Face ID and Passcode

    Scroll down and find the ‘Face ID & Passcode’ button. It sits in the same section that starts with the General button, and it has a green picture next to it that looks like a face. The Face ID passcode option in iOS settings

  3. Step
    3

    Enter your passcode

    You will be prompted to enter your password once you try and enter the Face ID and Passcode section. Enter your passcode correctly to continue. Enter passcode to access settings in iOS settings

  4. Step
    4

    Click the Unlock with Apple Watch button

    Scroll down in the settings until you find a section labelled ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’. Click on the button here; it should be named after the Apple Watch that’s paired to your iPhone. Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch option in settings

  5. Step
    5

    Click Turn On

    There will be a pop-up prompt in order to finish the process. Click Turn On to activate the unlocking feature. You can turn it back off at any time.

    The next time you try to use Face ID to log into your iPhone while having a partially covered face, your phone should still unlock via a secure connection to your Apple Watch.
    Turn on unlock with Apple Watch button in iOS

FAQs

Will face unlock with Apple Watch work if I am wearing a mask?

Yes, the point of this feature is to allow you to unlock your phone even if you are wearing a mask, sunglasses or anything else that obscures your face.

Do I need to be connected to the internet for this to work?

No, while you do need both your Apple Watch and iPhone to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on for this to work, you don’t need to have an internet connection.

Can I do this on any iPhone?

You can use this feature on any iPhone after or including the iPhone X that is running on iOS 14.5 or later. For the Apple Watch, it needs to be an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and running on watchOS 7.4 or later.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.