Apple Watch connected disconnected

Although not quite new, we reported this morning that Apple Watch can’t connect to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network. It’s not a bug or anything. It’s just a limitation of the current hardware found in Apple Watch. For those users that are not aware of this limitation, it can cause problems when believing that because you are on a known Wi-Fi network, Apple Watch and iPhone should still be able to connect even if they’re out of Bluetooth range.

There is just no way to make your Apple Watch connect to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network, but there are ways to work around that limitation. I’ve actually been helping people with that specific issue for a few days now, and because I’ve seen misinformation going around, I thought it would be best to just get things cleared up and explain how you can have both your iPhone and Apple Watch play nice with each other, even if your iPhone is connected to a 5Ghz network.

iPhone, Apple Watch, and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks

Again, this is a workaround, as there is no way to connect an Apple Watch to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network, but it does work.

Step 1: If not already done, set up two different networks on your router. The first network will be 2.4Ghz, and the second one will be a 5Ghz network.

Step 2: To prevent any kind of potential issue, forget all these Wi-Fi networks from your iPhone, if you previously connected to any of them.

Step 3: On your iPhone, connect first to the 2.4Ghz network. Technically, your Apple Watch should then remember that specific network. Although probably not necessary, I’d suggest performing a few task requiring an internet connection from your Apple Watch, just to make sure the connection between the device and iPhone is active. The transmission of data at that point will be via Bluetooth, as it is the preferred method for both devices to communicate between each other (for power efficiency purposes).

Step 4: As a test, and after performing the previous steps, I would suggest turning off Bluetooth on your iPhone. If everything went according to plan, your iPhone should still be connected to that 2.4Ghz network, and it should be using that same network to communicate with your Apple Watch, instead of relying on Bluetooth.

Note that you may see the red Disconnected icon on your Apple Watch for a brief moment. It may also say there is no connection with iPhone, but that’s just a temporary hiccup. I have experienced this myself but at every occasion, it switched to the Wi-Fi network a few seconds later.

At that point, it is safe to turn Bluetooth back on on your iPhone.

Step 5: From your iPhone, connect to the 5Ghz Wi-Fi network. If you choose so, you may even forget that 2.4Ghz network from your iPhone, because your Apple Watch will still remember it. From now on, even though your iPhone may be connected to the 5Ghz network, it will still be able to communicate with Apple Watch in case Bluetooth is unavailable. Apple Watch will be using the 2.4Ghz network it learned in step 3, and your iPhone will connect to the internet via the 5Ghz network.

At that point, you can even do a test by forgetting the 2.4Ghz network and disabling Bluetooth from your iPhone. Invoke Siri from your Apple Watch and tell her to make a call. This will be the real test to make sure it is indeed connecting to your iPhone.

As explained above, going through these steps will ensure that you’re taking full advantage of your 5Ghz network on your iPhone, while still being able to use the 2.4Ghz network from your Apple Watch. I have conducted these tests myself and can assure it works.

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  • What do you mean?

    • Rigs101

      It was a joke I read every post on idb

  • Javier

    Worked perfectly. Phone only knows 5GHz and watch on 2.4GHz. Thank you!

  • Liam C

    It didn’t work for me.

    Followed the instructions and tested at every stage (left Bluetooth off with wifi on for 10 minutes, then made a call via the watch).

    With iPhone on 5g, (2.4g not forgotten) and Bluetooth off, the connection is still there. As soon as I delete 2.4g (while still connected the 5g) the watch loses its connection within a few seconds.

    iPhone on 8.3 and Watch on 1.0.1

    Help is appreciated.

    • Christian Miller

      Same thing with my iPhone 6, iOS 8.3, WatchOS 1.0.1. As soon as I forget the 2.4 network, the watch is no longer on the network.

  • James G

    I was going to ask in the other article…but then this appeared. Thanks iDB!

  • raulortiz318

    Nice article, followed directions and works great. Funnily enough, the Watch seems faster loading apps and info with iPhone bluetooth turned off, and just relying on Wi-Fi.

    Seb, not sure if you know, but is the Watch still always communicating with the iPhone over Wi-Fi? Was wondering if it fetches certain data, like Messages or when using the Twitter app, directly from the internet.

  • Wassie

    I am so confused by this article:
    “There is just no way to make your Apple Watch connect to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network, but there are ways to work around that limitation.”

    “Again this is a workaround, as there is no way to conncect an Apple Watch to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network, but this does work.”

    Work how? What are you doing or even trying to do? What’s the advantage here? I quite literally can’t wrap my brain around what it is this procedure accomplishes and it doesn’t seem to be spelled out in the article. Or, in fact, in any article I’ve seen today covering the same trick. They all seem to say a variation of: “this doesn’t actually connect you to a 5Ghz network but it does work.” Which is, of course, oxymoronic. What do you mean it “works”? What is the benefit? Sorry I’m thick but I just don’t undestand what this does.

    • asch3n

      A lot of routers these days are “Dual-band” where they can simultaneously transmit 2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz wifi signals. 2.4Ghz was used by every device up until roughly 3-5 years ago (not sure when the switch started). Now more recent devices (not including the apple watch) can use a 5.0Ghz signal as well as 2.4Ghz. 5.0Ghz is a significantly faster connection, however it does not work as well through walls or at farther distance. 2.4Ghz is slower in general but can penetrate walls easier.

      Sebastian’s instructions are essentially this:
      1. Disconnect from all wifi on the phone
      2. Connect to 2.4Ghz signal on the phone which allows the watch to also connect and remember it
      3. Disconnect the phone from the watch and verify it is working as expected on the 2.4Ghz wifi
      4. Reconnect the phone to the speedier 5.0Ghz

      At this point, the watch is using the 2.4Ghz it is compatible with and the phone is using the 5.0Ghz. Note that you can leave the phone on the 2.4Ghz connection if you prefer, but it doesn’t matter.

      • Wass

        Thanks for your thoughtful, patient reply. Actually I’m very well acquainted with 2.4 v 5Ghz – I have a dual band network running at home. Nevertheless, I couldn’t understand was what was being accomplished here. But I think your reply helped me. Let me recap: ordinarily the Apple Watch would require you to use your iPhone on the 2.4Ghz wifi network but this will allow you to continue on the 5Ghz network for the iPhone and while the watch uses the 2.4Ghz. Is that correct? If so, I’m glad to hear it. I’m also stunned that Apple would not allow that by default. One further question: if you’ve got your phone connected to a 5Ghz network doesn’t your Watch just exchange data with it via Bluetooth? I assumed it only needed wifi when your phone was out of Bluetooth range. In which case, why would it matter what network your phone used? Thanks for your help.

      • asch3n

        The watch doesn’t require your phone to be on a 2.4Ghz network. The watch can only connect to wifi networks the phone has previously connected to. This is why you need to connect the phone to the 2.4Ghz network, so the watch can obtain info on the 2.4 network so it can connect whenever needed. Otherwise the phone is on a 5.0 network and the watch just will not connect since it isn’t able to.

        To my knowledge the watch does everything through the phone via bluetooth whenever possible. Only when bluetooth connection to the phone is unavailable will it check to see if it is in range of a known (a network the phone has previously connected to and transmitted connection info to the watch about) 2.4Ghz network.

  • Alex

    Thanks it’s working well. Why is it better to connect the iphone to the 5Ghz wifi? what about ipad, apple tv or macbook?

    • asch3n

      5Ghz wifi is a faster signal which will allow for speedier connections. If a device has 5Ghz capabilities, it is typically more beneficial to connect to a 5Ghz network.

  • Kye

    I agree with some of the other posters. As soon as I reach the end of the steps and forget the 2.4GHz wifi network on my phone, then I lose all connection between the watch and phone.

  • Interestingly, my Apple Watch never gave me issues with my 5GHz network… My iPhone is set to connect only to the 5GHz network and has never connected to the 2.4GHz one…

    • juswnahvfn

      Same Here, I’ve been connected to 5GHZ from day 1, No Issues, didn’t even know there were issues.

  • Adrian

    Upon the final step “forget 2.4 network from iPhone” watch loses connection 🙁 any new work around? Doesn’t seem to work on v1.0.1

  • craig

    i found like a few others, my watch wont connect to 2.4GHz when phone bluetooth is off but when i connect through 5GHz it works flawlessly, my watch is on 1.0.1 did they update from 1.0 so they now use 5GHz signal?

  • I followed the step-by-step very carefully and tried it twice, but in the end, when I turn Bluetooth OFF on iPhone, the Watch says it’s disconnected.

    One question: I set up two different networks (for 2.4GHz and 5GHz) with two different names. Is this right? Or should the networks have the same name? (but if they have the same name, I just see one network)

  • Ikemarrus

    just in case this helps anyone. I was having trouble connecting to wifi and called Apple. They asked me to power down (completely) the phone & watch. And then to power them both on again. Then, it just worked with bluetooth off (I have a 5ghz tri-band network that supports 5ghz but also support 2.4ghz connections – ). I didn’t have to set up a separate 2.4ghz network. They said that if that wouldn’t have worked, they’d have asked me to re-pair the watch & phone. But we didn’t need to do that step.