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Stiksi

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 7, 2007
174
69
I know the procedure of moving an Apple Watch from phone to phone but I was not prepared for all the design potholes in the process.

First, there seems to be no way to manage Watch backups because they are rolled into iPhone backups. My iPhone had backed up today, so I thought I was fine.

When I wiped the watch, it apparently tried to do a backup but it failed to authenticate my iCloud password. It was correct, but it wouldn't accept it. Then when I started the pairing process on the new phone, I found out the damn Watch had not backed up for a couple months.

Then it was "pairing" and held my watch AND phone hostage for an hour. Then it failed, saying it's too far away when they were right next to each other. Then it was "unpairing" which took a while and worked on the watch, but the phone claimed it had failed and would not let me start the pairing process again. So, I tried to reboot the phone but that didn't help so I had to delete the Watch app and reinstall it.

Because restoring was clearly not working, I decided to try and set it up as a new watch, which meant losing everything and a couple hours setting everything up from scratch. Eventually, that worked, but I lost a lot of painstakingly made faces. In hindsight, I should have sent them to myself beforehand, but like a fool, I trusted it would work this time.

This is exactly like the phone to phone migration assistant that never works but worse because you can't connect the watch to your computer with a wire and do it right. Apple paints a picture of these migrations like they "just work" automagically and the truth is I have never had a single wireless migration go without a hitch. Usually, I end up setting the new device up from scratch if the restore from backup on a mac fails. Restoring from iCloud takes days for a 16GB device, weeks for a 256GB device. You Americans don't know how good you have it when you have data centers right there.

On the bright side, at least for the environment, this really makes me hang onto my devices as long as possible because I do remember what a nightmare migrating an Apple device is every single time. I handle all the setups in my family, so I still do it on a regular basis.
 

Puonti

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2011
1,364
938
That's painful to read, let alone experience. I sure hope this is the exception and not the norm.

For me the biggest "pain" in the process was a bit of uncertainty while the Watch was pairing (I believe) with the new phone - the circular progress indicator on the Watch didn't move for a few minutes at one point. The rest of it, though... no problems. Didn't have to manually unpair / pair anything. The new iPhone just asked if I wanted to move the Watch over as part of the setup process.
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68040
Nov 10, 2018
3,586
4,000
The iPhone can handle being paired to multiple watches. I never wipe my old watch until I've had a few days with the new watch. I've upgraded every year since the series 3 and haven't hit this. I try to launch the Apple Watch app every once in a while to make sure it has a recent backup for my watch.
 

Stiksi

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 7, 2007
174
69
The iPhone can handle being paired to multiple watches. I never wipe my old watch until I've had a few days with the new watch. I've upgraded every year since the series 3 and haven't hit this. I try to launch the Apple Watch app every once in a while to make sure it has a recent backup for my watch.
I actually use the Watch app quite a bit, especially before the migration but unfortunately it did not help. I only have one watch, I would dread having more than one because I anticipate it would only multiply my issues.
 

Runs For Fun

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2017
1,069
2,150
That's strange. I did the phone to phone migration and during setup it asked me if I wanted to use my watch with the new phone. I said yes and it did a sync for about 2 minutes and everything was good to go. I didn't have to re-pair or reset the watch. That's definitely not the expected behavior.
 
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MisterSavage

macrumors 68040
Nov 10, 2018
3,586
4,000
I actually use the Watch app quite a bit, especially before the migration but unfortunately it did not help. I only have one watch, I would dread having more than one because I anticipate it would only multiply my issues.
Do you have it launched while the watch is charging? That's what I do to try and kick it into backing up.

Sorry, I misread and was thinking about moving from one watch to another watch. You're asking about moving an existing watch to another phone. Although I also do that every year because I'm on the iPhone Upgrade Program.
 

perezr10

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2014
1,752
1,059
Monroe, Louisiana
I never thought of it as a difficult process. I simply unpair from my old iPhone and then restore from that backup on my new iPhone. Works pretty seamlessly for me.
 
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QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,611
1,726
Colorado Springs, CO
I've had 2 watches and 3 phones with 1 of the watches and only experienced a corrupt watch backup once. It sucked but wasn't that difficult to get it back the way I had it. It also got rid of a ton of faces and apps I didn't really use so that was a bright lining.

I'd say this is not the norm. Usually the restore process works fine.
 

Night Spring

macrumors G5
Jul 17, 2008
13,621
6,640
What I have concluded from my experience, is that the iPhone doesn't create watch backups unless the watch is unpaired. Bad design -- it should create regular backups, or at least have a way of manually creating a watch backup without having to unpair.

In any case, this means in order to switch phones while preserving the current watch settings, you would need to:

1. Unpair watch
2. Backup phone after unpairing
3. Restore this backup to new phone
4. Pair the watch to the new phone

I haven't switched phones in a while (still rocking my iPhone 6S!), so I haven't actually done this. This is a theory based on my observations of the dates of the watch backups I do have, and reasoning from that. Step 2, I believe, is the key step that most people don't realize is needed.
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68040
Nov 10, 2018
3,586
4,000
What I have concluded from my experience, is that the iPhone doesn't create watch backups unless the watch is unpaired. Bad design -- it should create regular backups, or at least have a way of manually creating a watch backup without having to unpair.

That can't be true. Every time I get a new watch I restore it from a backup and use it for several days before I unpair and erase my old watch.
 

ssledoux

macrumors 68040
Sep 16, 2006
3,404
2,789
Down south
Well, I haven’t ever gotten super in-depth with my watch details, so I always just unpair it from the old phone then set up my new phone, then set up the watch as new. A couple of annoying transfers and I just gave up.
 
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