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papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
I have found several posts about this and as those others found, turning off “Unlock With Apple Watch” in settings on the phone under Face ID and Passcode does restore the function. However that’s the setting that allows a phone to be unlocked when wearing a mask when you have your watch on. The unlocking of the watch was very consistent prior to ios 14.7 but after that it became 50/50 for me and then 14.7.1 killed it entirely except now when turning off that face mask unlocking. Clearly a bug that will hopefully soon be addressed since masks seem to be in our lives for the foreseeable future.
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Sep 16, 2014
2,671
1,935
It works sometimes for me, but it's hit or miss. It takes a lot of fiddling until it unlocks so I've just turned that option off for now as it's far easier to just type in the code once per day than to fiddle around until I can make it unlock automatically. Kinda takes the "automatic" out of it.
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
I have messed around with this a little more. When watchOS 7.6.1 was released it worked intermittently, kinda, the number pad had to be visible on the watch screen. Now it doesn’t work at all no matter what’s on the watch screen. I turned off “Unlock With Apple Watch” and checked again. It did work with a delay as long as the number pad was on the watch screen. Too much trouble for such a minor function. I turned on that Unlock With Apple Watch again since it appears masks are going to be necessary in many areas again.
 
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Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Sep 16, 2014
2,671
1,935
I have messed around with this a little more. When watchOS 7.6.1 was released it worked intermittently, kinda, the number pad had to be visible on the watch screen. Now it doesn’t work at all no matter what’s on the watch screen. I turned off “Unlock With Apple Watch” and checked again. It did work with a delay as long as the number pad was on the watch screen. Too much trouble for such a minor function. I turned on that Unlock With Apple Watch again since it appears masks are going to be necessary in many areas again.
I did the same. It's not a big deal to type in a passcode once per day in the morning.
 
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BugeyeSTI

macrumors 604
Aug 19, 2017
6,760
8,621
Arizona/Illinois
I updated my S6 last week to 7.6.1 and updated my iPhone to 14.7.1 today. Unlocking phone with mask and watch unlock from phone both work consistently and quickly since the update. I did update my phone and iPad using iTunes and not OTA but I have found in the past that either method works fine..

Update: I do notice I now have to swipe up on my phone to get the watch to unlock and it takes a couple of seconds for the whole process. It is consistent though..
 
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msvadi

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2010
363
68
Unlock with iPhone is obviously still broken. After updating to watchOS 7.6.1 (S6) and iOS 14.7.1 (Xs Max), it takes numerous attempts before iPhone unlocks the watch.
 
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lia1tan

macrumors newbie
Aug 4, 2021
11
3
United States
I thought it was just me and am relieved to see that I’m not going crazy. Every person I’ve talked to said that iOS 14.7.1 was suppose to fix it but it didn’t for me on my iPhone XR. In fact ever since updating I also don’t get any notifications from numerous apps (first and third party) unless I open the app.
 

msvadi

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2010
363
68
I noticed that waiting a couple of minutes after putting my watch on the wrist before trying to unlock it with the iPhone helps: the feature works every time from the first attempt (if I wait). Maybe it takes longer for wrist detection to kick in or for the watch to start communicating with the iPhone?

UPD: I initially thought that unpairing and restoring the watch solved the issue, but it did not. Unpair/restore disabled unlocking iPhone with Apple Watch. But when unlock iPhone with Apple Watch is enabled, unlocking Apple Watch with iPhone starts misbehaving.
 
Last edited:

msvadi

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2010
363
68
Another update:

After using this for a few days, unlocking Apple Watch with iPhone works consistently but with serious delays:

  • I have to wait a couple of minutes after putting the watch on the wrist before unlocking.
  • It now takes much longer to unlock: the iPhone displays a message "unlocking" for 2-3 seconds before the watch is unlocked.
It use to be instant with zero delays prior to watchOS 7.6.1 and iOS 14.7.1. Unpairing and restoring the watch does not help. I have not tried restore on the iPhone yet.

It's pretty disappointing.
 
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gwang73

macrumors 68020
Jun 14, 2009
2,416
1,974
California
Another update:

After using this for a few days, unlocking Apple Watch with iPhone works consistently but with serious delays:

  • I have to wait a couple of minutes after putting the watch on the wrist before unlocking.
  • It now takes much longer to unlock: the iPhone displays a message "unlocking" for 2-3 seconds before the watch is unlocked.
It use to be instant with zero delays prior to watchOS 7.6.1 and iOS 14.7.1. Unpairing and restoring the watch does not help. I have not tried restore on the iPhone yet.

It's pretty disappointing.
I wouldn't bother with restoring your iPhone and wait for 14.7.2 or 14.8 to release with a fix (hopefully). I don't think Apple will speed up the time to unlock though, but it should make it work consistently.
 

minimo3

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2010
790
938
It’s never really worked reliably with any version. just today it worked for about an hour then suddenly decided it needed a passcode on the phone to enable unlock with Apple Watch. The only reliable way to unlock Your phone with a mask is…. Get a touchID phone.
 

webbga

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2014
241
154
Cincinnati, Ohio
My Phone 12+ has stopped opening my Apple Watch 5 since the update. I will wait for the next update and see if that fixes it. Not a major deal to punch in 4 numbers in the morning
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,959
2,154
Well I know this is of no help to anyone here but my iPhone 11 Pro Max unlocks my Apple Watch 3 every single time.

Do any of you guys have Macs? If so does your Apple Watch unlock it reliably? I have had issues with that in the past but it seems to be sorted now....
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
I noticed something funny this morning. This function I would say works about 40% of the time. It’s so inconsistent that it’s less time consuming to just enter the passcode on the watch when putting it on. This morning I did that after removing both my phone and the watch from their chargers. About 10 minutes later I saw the pop up message on my phone that my watch was unlocked or being unlocked, duh ..I know. So the software for this feature is still quite buggy.
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
Yeah it seems like a 50/50 thing going by the posts in various forums. For me it’s just easier to use the passcode, much more reliable too.
 

EM2013

macrumors 68020
Sep 2, 2013
2,478
2,307
Waiting for 15 to see if it’s finally fixed.

Have to unlock iPhone multiple times before it finally unlocks the watch.

“It just works” ?
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
Waiting for 15 to see if it’s finally fixed.

Have to unlock iPhone multiple times before it finally unlocks the watch.

“It just works” ?
Hey mine was already unlocked - manually by me - when I got the unlocked message on my phone?‍♂️ It does “just work”, just not when you want it to.
 
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EM2013

macrumors 68020
Sep 2, 2013
2,478
2,307
Hey mine was already unlocked - manually by me - when I got the unlocked message on my phone?‍♂️ It does “just work”, just not when you want it to.
It works when it wants to ?

It unlocks on the fourth time, but not on the Lock Screen, you have to swipe to the Home Screen lol
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
It works when it wants to ?

It unlocks on the fourth time, but not on the Lock Screen, you have to swipe to the Home Screen lol
Oh yeah it never unlocks on the Lock Screen. Before 14.7 it did every time for me. There have always been several iOS features that would be nice if they worked but since they rarely do I eventually forget about them until maybe a year or so later someone will mention it and I’ll check it out and lo and behold it actually works now. Universal Clipboard is one of those things for me. I gave up on it a couple years ago then just a month or two ago someone posted something about it and I tried again and it worked!?‍♂️?‍♂️
 
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EM2013

macrumors 68020
Sep 2, 2013
2,478
2,307
Oh yeah it never unlocks on the Lock Screen. Before 14.7 it did every time for me. There have always been several iOS features that would be nice if they worked but since they rarely do I eventually forget about them until maybe a year or so later someone will mention it and I’ll check it out and lo and behold it actually works now. Universal Clipboard is one of those things for me. I gave up on it a couple years ago then just a month or two ago someone posted something about it and I tried again and it worked!?‍♂️?‍♂️
So it was 14.7 that broke it? I wasn’t sure when it stopped working. I know they released an update to fix it but it only mentioned Touch ID devices (think that’s when it stopped for me.)
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
So it was 14.7 that broke it? I wasn’t sure when it stopped working. I know they released an update to fix it but it only mentioned Touch ID devices (think that’s when it stopped for me.)
After 14.7 it never worked again, then after 14.7.1 it works every now and then. I have a Face ID phone. My guess is at some point in iOS 15, maybe after the first of the year it may be straightened out. Some have indicated that turning off that setting “Unlock With Apple Watch” that helps when wearing a face mask helped them. I tried that and maybe it improved to 50% of the time. But these days masks get used more and more so I turned that back on and just enter a passcode on the watch. This was again one of those features that would be nice in theory but since they can’t get it right it should just be ignored.
 
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papbot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
May 19, 2015
2,104
983
iOS 15 seems to have fixed this. I have tried several times since updating my phone and watch with the new watchOS and ios 15 on the phone works every time. You don’t always get that little notification banner at the top of the phone screen but the watch unlocks.
 

BugeyeSTI

macrumors 604
Aug 19, 2017
6,760
8,621
Arizona/Illinois
iOS 15 seems to have fixed this. I have tried several times since updating my phone and watch with the new watchOS and ios 15 on the phone works every time. You don’t always get that little notification banner at the top of the phone screen but the watch unlocks.
How does unlock phone with watch work on iOS15? Had to turn it off because it hasn't worked since I update to 14.7.1. Unlock watch with phone works fine after turning off unlock phone (wearing mask) with watch on 14.8
 
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