How To Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

The latest iPhones come with amazing features, such as water and dustproof, foolproof security, and a powerful processor for multitasking. We rely on the iPhone to complete daily tasks like work, communication, entertainment, online banking, and social networking.

The iPhone’s password protection is all good and effective until you get locked out of your phone. A locked or disabled phone can inconvenience your daily activities, as you will no longer access your contacts or complete work-related tasks like replying to emails. Luckily, you can unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch in a few steps.

In this article, we look at what causes an iPhone to lock, show you how to unlock iPhone with Apple Watch, and other alternative ways to unlock a locked iPhone.

What Causes An iPhone To Lock

Most iPhone users do not know how their iPhone lock while in their pocket or bag. Your iPhone will automatically lock itself as a security measure after several unsuccessful login attempts. The feature protects your data by preventing unauthorized individuals from successfully hacking your password code. Unfortunately, it is not every login attempt is from a security threat.

A child could innocently try to access your iPhone to watch cartoon movies or take photos. Equally, it could happen if you put the iPhone in a bag or pocket that you use with other things, such as front pants pockets, hoodie pouch pockets, and hip jacket pockets. You could accidentally enter the wrong password if you activate the screen as you reach for other things in your pocket.

Apple has put in place a few measures to help minimize accidental locks. The lock will only happen after many failed attempts. The iPhone will disable for one minute if you enter the wrong password 5 times in a row, 5 minutes for seven wrong entries, 15 minutes for eight wrong entries, and 60 minutes for nine wrong entries. The iPhone will indefinitely disable (lock) after ten wrong entries. Once your iPhone is disabled, you can unlock it easily with Apple Watch, iTunes, and iCloud.

How To Unlock iPhone With Apple Watch

Apple devices such as iPhone come with useful features that add convenience and functionality to how you access your data. Face ID has revolutionized how we unlock our iPhones easily and quickly without the need to use a passcode. Nonetheless, there are situations when Face ID will be ineffective in unlocking your phone, such as when you are wearing a mask or in a dark room. Apple has put in place alternative ways you can use to unlock your iPhone. Apple Watch makes it easy to unlock your iPhone when you are wearing a mask.

Setting up your iPhone to unlock with Apple Watch can come in handy if you reset your passcode and forgot the new one, or if the phone is disabled. Using an Apple Watch as an alternative to a passcode or Face ID can also help you access your iPhone if the screen is cracked and does not respond to your touch. Nonetheless, you will need to meet a few mandatory requirements to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch. The requirements necessary to unlock iPhone with Apple Watch include the:

  • iPhone X or a later device with iOS 14.5
  • iPhone with Face ID unlock and an Apple Watch Series 3 or later
  • Apple Watch should have watchOS 7.4 or later
  • Unlocked Apple Watch on your wrist
  • Apple Watch Wi-Fi and Bluetooth configured and turned on

1) How To Set Up Your Apple Watch Unlock Feature

Once you have met all the requirements for an Apple Watch unlock, you will have to configure the settings. You will only use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone if both items are paired. You can use the following steps to configure Apple Watch unlock:

  • Step 1: Pair your Watch with your iPhone
  • Step 2: Click Digital Crown (the rotating button on the side) to unlock the list apps
  • Step 3: Go to settings and turn on Wi-Fi
  • Step 4: Turn on Bluetooth
  • Step 5: Turn the passcode on and set up your password
  • Step 6: Enable wrist detection
  • Step 7: Turn on Unlock with the Apple Watch feature

2) Steps To Unlock iPhone With Apple Watch

Now that you have set up your Apple Watch unlock feature, you can start unlocking your iPhone with your Apple Watch. The method works only when the Apple Watch is on your wrist and the iPhone is nearby. You may also use the Apple Watch to lock your iPhone for enhanced security. You should tap on the Lock iPhone option on your Apple Watch to lock your phone.

Apple Watch unlock feature has a few limitations. You will not be able to make any purchases or sign in to apps that require Face ID. You also have to enter your iPhone passcode manually to unlock it for the first time if you take the wristwatch off or wear it. You also have to wear a mask or sunglasses to unlock the iPhone. That said, unlocking your iPhone with Apple Watch is easy and convenient. You need to use the following steps to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch:

  • Step 1: Raise your iPhone or tap the screen to wake it up
  • Step 2: Tap the phone’s screen or raise it to wake your iPhone
  • Step 3: Glance at your iPhone. It will detect if you want to unlock it.
  • Step 4: You will get a notification on your Apple Watch that your phone is unlocked.

How Else Can You Unlock Your iPhone Without A Passcode

You must have configured Apple Watch unlock feature to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch. You will still have to use the passcode even if you have set up Apple Watch unlock feature if you are trying to unlock it for the first time after wearing or taking off the wristwatch. In such a case, you will not be able to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch and you have to look for an alternative if you forgot your iPhone password. Apple has other ways customers can use to unlock their iPhone if it is disabled. You can use the following ways to unlock a disabled iPhone:

1) Unlock iPhone Using iTunes

iTunes can help you unlock iPhones that run on older operating systems or PC users. The iTunes unlocking method will not work with iPhones that run on macOS Catalina or later. The steps that you should use to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch include:

  1. Set up iTunes on your PC or Mac
  2. Turn the phone off. Ensure the iPhone is not attached to your PC.
  3. Press the correct buttons to enter recovery mode. Use the home button for iPhone 6 and earlier models, the volume down button for iPhone 7 models, and the side button for iPhone 8 and later models.
  4. Press and hold the right button until you see the recovery mode pop up.
  5. Locate the iPhone in iTunes and select the restore or update option.
  6. The phone will turn off and boot up once it finishes downloading your update.
  7. Disconnect your iPhone from the computer and set it up.

2) Unlock iPhone Using Finder

Using Find My iPhone is the easiest way to reset your passcode, but the option has to be enabled on your device. Use the following steps to unlock your disabled iPhone:

  1. Go to iCloud on your PC or Mac. Sign in to your account with your Apple ID and passcode.
  2. Select the Find iPhone option and enter login-in details.
  3. Click the all devices option and then choose the iPhone you want to Erase.
  4. Select Erase iPhone option to reset your iPhone, including the lock screen passcode.
  5. Confirm you want to erase all data.
  6. Set up your iPhone. Follow the setup instructions until you come across the “Apps and Data” screen.
  7. Select to restore from iCloud Backup or set up as a new iPhone if the backup is not available. You may also use restore from iTunes backup.
  8. Wait for the process to complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the Apple Watch to unlock my iPhone?

Yes. You can easily use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone. However, you will need an eligible iPhone and Apple Watch with a compatible operating system. The two devices must also be paired.

Do I need to wear the Apple Watch to unlock my iPhone?

Yes. You must wear the Apple Watch for you to unlock your phone.

Are there limitations if I use Apple Watch to unlock my iPhone?

Yes. You cannot use the Apple Watch unlock feature to log in into apps that require Face ID. You will also need to manually enter a passcode the first time you wear the watch.

Can I use the Apple Watch to lock my iPhone?

Yes. You can use your Apple Watch to lock your phone.


The use of a passcode ensures the security of your data, but it can be inconvenient when you are working on a project. Having to input the passcode every three or two minutes can reduce your productivity. The use of an Apple Watch unlock feature can help you keep your iPhone unlocked when wearing a mask. However, you will need to configure the Apple Watch feature in advance for you to use it.

META: Apple Watch brings convenience and flexibility on how you use your iPhone. Learn how you can use the Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone in a few steps.