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Moving Your Apple Watch to Your New iPhone

We have all been here before — well, if not all of us, certainly a lot of us. Apple has begun shipping its new line of iPhones, and if you are once again replacing an old iPhone with a new one, you are probably vaguely familiar with the steps you need to take to get your old iPhone’s settings, apps, and data onto your new iPhone. However, this time around, there may be more to transfer: if you have an Apple Watch, you also want to move your watch’s settings and data.

It’s not hard to make your Apple Watch and your new iPhone the best of friends, but you have to do things in the right order, which may mean a brief period of delayed gratification. In particular, you want to make sure your watch data is backed up and ready to move before you set up your new iPhone. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Unpair your Apple Watch and your old iPhone. When you do this, the Watch app on the iPhone makes a backup of the watch’s data before it severs the connection, and stores the backup on the iPhone. Note that this backup is crucial: your Apple Watch’s contents are erased when unpairing it from your iPhone! Apple’s support note, “Unpair your Apple Watch and iPhone,” describes the process in detail.

  2. Next, back up your iPhone. You can back it up to iCloud (if you have enough storage space) or you can back it up to your Mac with iTunes. When you back up your iPhone, regardless of the method, the backup contains your Apple Watch backup as well as other data and settings. If you back up to iTunes, choose to make an encrypted backup; otherwise, the backup won’t contain your Health and Activity data. The support note “How to back up your devices using iCloud or iTunes” describes how to back up your iOS device.

  3. With your old iPhone now backed up, turn it off, and, if applicable, transfer your SIM card from your old iPhone to your new one.

  4. Activate and set up your new iPhone and, during the setup process, connect to Wi-Fi. If you backed up to iCloud, choose Restore from iCloud Backup when asked; if you backed up to iTunes, connect your new iPhone to iTunes during the setup and, when asked, choose Restore from iTunes Backup. Apple describes the entire process in “Transfer content from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to a new device.” When you finish, your new iPhone should have the contents that were on the old iPhone — including your backed-up Apple Watch data.

  5. With your new iPhone set up and ready to rock and roll, it’s time to pair your Apple Watch with your new iPhone. Because your new iPhone now contains the watch backup that you made on your old iPhone, the pairing process offers you the opportunity to restore from backup. The Apple Watch setup and pairing process is described in detail in Apple’s “Set up your Apple Watch” support note.

If all goes well (and it usually does), your new iPhone and your Apple Watch should once again be in sync. Nonetheless, you’ll still have a little bit of work to do. That’s because the Apple Watch backup won’t contain the following items, so you’ll have to set them up again manually:

  • Paired Bluetooth devices
  • Cards associated with Apple Pay
  • The passcode for your Apple Watch
  • The playlists synced to your Apple Watch

No, it’s not a simple push-a-button-and-it’s-all-done process, and it may take you some time before everything is back in place. But the minor fuss is worth it because at the end you’ll have both a new iPhone and your Apple Watch working in blissful harmony with it.

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