Can’t activate my new series 5 on AT&T


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 23, 2015
Rocklin, CA
You got bad information from the AT&T rep. You can buy your watch from Apple, AT&T, or even BestBuy for example there is nothing special about buying only from an AT&T store other than a rep gets a commission.

The watch is designed to add a cellular plan right from the watch and should only take about 5 minutes to complete. You can set it up while you are preforming the initial watch setup are at any time later. The only possible catch is that not all AT&T plans support adding a "wearable" device. Here are the currently supported plans that allow you to complete the setup / activation directly from your Apple Watch Series 3/4/5.

A "wearable" plan is a specific type of line that has a unique phone number assigned, it is designed to share an unlimited data plan with other devices, that's why the limited number of supported plans as listed below.

Plans that directly support adding wearable plans:
  • AT&T Unlimited & More
  • AT&T Unlimited & More Premium
  • AT&T Mobile Share Flex (various versions)
The Apple Watch (GPS + Cellular) uses an eSIM that is populated OTA and replaces the need to get a physical NANO-SIM. If an carrier rep wants to send you a new SIM for your watch, just say thanks and try a different customer service rep.

Yeah, I have no idea...Every time I went through the cellular setup, AT&T's website would error out, and tell me it had to be reviewed by an AT&T rep. I spent a couple of hours searching and trying various things, and nothing worked, including unpairing and repairing and starting over from scratch. Keep in mind, this was my first cellular version so I wasn't moving a plan from an earlier watch. Not sure that matters but it's working now so that's all I can
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: BrianSoCal


macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2005
After 90 minutes of online chat support, a trip to my local AT&T store where I spent over an hour, and 30 minutes on the phone with AT&T tech support I now have an Apple Watch Series 5 with functioning cellular service!

cliff notes from my experience today:
-Chat support was useless (total waste of time)
-Store employee was eager to help, just not up to speed on how to set up a wearable or add NumberSync. At one point they were trying to add a second phone line to my unlimited plan and realized it couldn’t be correct when it would increase my bill $50 a month. They eventually added a separate wearable line for the watch but never got it functioning before the watch battery drained.
-phone advanced tech support was on the money, quick and efficient and made sure to test it out before they let me go.

This should have still been an easy process through the Watch app on the phone. Not sure why it wasn’t working. Definitely something AT&T should resolve to make it an “Apple Like” experience.
  • Like
Reactions: BrianSoCal


macrumors 6502
Nov 12, 2010
I didn’t have to go to a store but getting my series 5 activated with AT&T was quite the ordeal. It took multiple phone calls with AT&T, 3 Apple Watch unpair/pair attempts, over 10 new order requests with AT&T, 2 new phone numbers for the watch and about 3 hours on the phone to finally get service turned on.

All this while Sprint can do the same in 15 minutes and 1 attempt?

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2003
My wife, whose patience greatl’y exceeds mine, got my Series 5 cellular connection completed after 2 1/2 hours on the phone with an AT&T technician. We have a family plan, and (believe it or not) the bottom line of the problem was that the driver’s license they had for her was an expired license.;
I have to say, I'm glad AT&T caught that before the state troopers did... Checking the time with an expired license is a serious offense!