Apple Watch disconnected 001

In addition to Bluetooth, the Apple Watch also relies on Wi-Fi to communicate with its paired iPhone. In fact, the device can provide a number of useful features over Wi-Fi when iPhone isn’t in Bluetooth range such as Messages, Siri and more.

It also automatically connects to known Wi-Fi networks that your iPhone, while connected to the Apple Watch over Bluetooth, has connected to before.

However, the Apple Watch won’t connect to a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, even if its paired iPhone has previously connected to it, as first noted by French blog iGen.fr.

I own a Time Capsule which supports dual-channel Wi-Fi networking.

I have set up two wireless networks on the device: one is 5GHz for devices that support fast wireless networking, and the other on the much slower 2.4GHz band for devices like the Apple Watch.

Then, I made sure to connect at least once to the 2.4GHz network on my iPhone when it was paired with my Apple Watch so that the watch would remember login credentials.

Read more: How to make Apple Watch connect with iPhone on a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network

In addition to 5GHz networks and those your iPhone’s never connected to, the Apple Watch also cannot connect to public networks requiring logins, subscriptions or profiles.

This is a software limitation because connecting to a password-protected public Wi-Fi without an iPhone at hand would require a software keyboard to input login credentials, which the Watch OS doesn’t support.

An Apple support document details when the Apple Watch will fall back to Wi-Fi.

  • 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

“If Bluetooth isn’t available, Apple Watch will try to use Wi-Fi. For example, if compatible Wi-Fi is available and your iPhone isn’t in Bluetooth range, Apple Watch uses Wi-Fi,” Apple explains.

When both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available, your Apple Watch will maintain connection with its paired iPhone over Bluetooth to conserve power.

“To enjoy every feature on your Apple Watch, you’ll need to enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your paired iPhone,” reads the document.

To enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your iPhone, just toggle the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switches in the Control Center.

Source: iGen.fr (Google Translate)

  • E Double

    fyi…. typing error ” In fat, the device can provide a number of useful features”

  • ADAM HAYNES

    “In fact”. You have “In Fat”.

    • Maxim∑

      ok calm down, want a cookie? someone already mentioned the typo

  • Rex

    Well this is beyond me. Don’t even know what 5Ghz Wifi is lol,

  • Christian Marcelo

    So can I listen to music let’s say Spotify since running around UCLA track when my iphone is connected to UCLA WIFI and leave my phone on a bench somewhere? So my watch can still listen to music since it switches from Bluetooth to WIFI?? The track isn’t reachable through bluetooth but WIFI yes…If you can answer this question I will go and buy this apple watch right now. My main purpose in getting an apple watch is listening to music wirelessly without all the bulk of a phone on my arm..

    • Nathan Hatton

      You can store playlists of music on the watch itself and listen to them wirelessly without the iPhone, regardless of bluetooth and WiFi. I think you get up to 2 gigabytes of space for music on the watch. You can choose what music you want on the watch from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. It will require bluetooth for the headphones of course. To use spotify though, I’m not completely sure. Typically watch apps that require wifi would need a phone, but that would be something to test/read about with that specific app.

      • Christian Marcelo

        Ok maybe I wasn’t clear. I know that you can store music offline. I’m talking about since the phone won’t be in Bluetooth range does it switch to wifi if I’m on the same wifi? the question here is does it switch from Bluetooth to wifi for music when the phone is out of reach via Bluetooth? Cmon Christian Zigreb.. Answer this question please

      • Eric Weber

        This should work as long as the iPhone and Apple Watch remain in range of the same Wi-Fi network. My only concern would be that if the UCLA network is a captive network and requires authentication then the Apple Watch may not be able to connect to it. Also I am not sure if Spotify has a native Apple Watch app to be able to play music directly from the Apple Watch to Bluetooth headphones. I know that you can see what is playing from Spotify on the Watch and you can control it but I believe that the sound must go through the iPhone at this point because they don’t have a native Watch App. Hope this helps.

      • Eric Weber

        I just did some tests and the only sound that I could get to play through Bluetooth headphones directly from the Watch is the synced, offline music. Even with the Pandora Watch App, it only controls the music playing on the iPhone. I also tried Sound Cloud but I didn’t know what else to try.

      • Christian Marcelo

        Do me a favor. Wirelessly Listen to Pandora via Bluetooth and move away from the iPhone As far as 50ft away (wifi range is more than that). Do you still hear the music? Thanks for the tests

      • John

        I know this isn’t going to help you much, but when your Watch is out of range of your Phone, the music stops playing HOWEVER if they are on the same wifi network, they SHOULD keep working but this is something I haven’t tested yet.

      • Christian Marcelo

        That’s what I want tested “watch and iPhone on same wifi network” streaming music Pandora/Spotify.. I haven’t bought the apple watch yet.

  • Björn

    Have you tried this trick to get Apple Watch to connect to 5ghz network?

    (from reddit user gers1978)
    Turn off the Watch
    * Forget the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi connections on the iPhone
    * Turn off Bluetooth on the iPhone
    * Connect the iPhone to the 2.4Ghz network, and then turn on Bluetooth
    * Turn on the Watch (this caused the watch to connect with the iPhone and connect to the 2.4Ghz network using the iPhone credentials)
    * Turn off Bluetooth on the iPhone and then test that Siri still works on the Watch or send an iMessage, etc
    * Turn Bluetooth back on on the iPhone
    * Disconnect/forget the 2.4Ghz network on the iPhone and connect it to 5Ghz network
    * Check again that with Bluetooth on iPhone turned off, Siri/iMessage/etc still works on watch and Watch MAC address appears in router attached devices list (it only appears when Bluetooth on iPhone switched off)

    • This is what Christian mentioned in his post. Although to be clear, Apple Watch still doesn’t connect to the 5Ghz network. It’s just not capable to. What it does is that it makes sure Apple Watch learns about the 2.4Ghz network, then the guy goes back to the 5Ghz one on his iPhone. So iPhone is on 5Ghz, and Apple Watch remains on the 2.4Ghz it connected to before.

  • John

    Besides the obvious response: Saving it for v2.0

    Does anyone want to offer a guess as to why Apple excluded this from the features list, especially when Apple seem to be moving all of their tech to a wireless world.

    • Probably to conserve power and minimize the size of components inside the watch

    • asch3n

      There is also a slight possibility that Apple decided the advantages of 2.4Ghz would also be beneficial. 2.4Ghz penetrates walls better and also usually has a larger range than 5.0Ghz. They might have assumed these were more worthwhile than just having a faster connection since the wifi is really more of a backup in this device than the main way of operating. Could be better for when you are in your backyard and your phone is on the counter in the kitchen.

      Just a speculation.

      • Scott

        That’s true, some channels on 5Ghz don’t like penetrating walls. Chip works just released their report and it turns out the watch has the same broadband chip as the iPhone 5S. It using the Broadcom BCM43342 chip that can do 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. For those of use that turned off 2.4 and switched over to 5 only I hope they might enable 5Ghz in an update with a disclaimer saying “Using 5Ghz may not be as effective when outdoors and may cause the battery to drain faster”.