Unlock with Apple Watch isn't working for some iPhone 13 owners

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 24
Multiple users have found that they cannot unlock their iPhone 13 with the Apple Watch and instead receive an error -- and it's not clear why.




As the initial iPhone 13 orders begin rolling out to customers on Friday, many users are excited to spend time getting to know their new device. But, unfortunately, for a specific subset of Apple Watch wearers, the new iPhone may also bring a little frustration.

A new bug has cropped up -- seemingly exclusive to the iPhone 13 line -- where users can no longer unlock their iPhone by using Apple's "Unlock with Apple Watch" feature. Instead, when attempting to set up the feature, the iPhone 13 will display an error.

User Monzilla88 on Reddit first reported the issue to the subreddit r/AppleWatch on Friday. They state that both their iPhone 13 Pro and Apple Watch SE are up to date with the newest iOS and watchOS updates.

"Whenever I try to enable unlock with Apple Watch on my phone I get an error saying "Unable to communicate with Apple Watch," they posted.

Monzilla88 claimed that they had tried unpairing and repairing, hard resetting both devices, turning on and off passcodes, but not no avail. Another user reported that they had attempted to reset passwords, reset network settings, and setting up their Apple Watch as a new watch.

More than 20 other users self-reported the same problem, with others noting that the feature works fine on iOS 15 on older models of iPhone, including the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone X. The conversations about it are starting to erupt on the Apple Support forums as well.

According to one participant in the thread, Apple Support has been unable to fix the issue and is unsure of the cause.

Apple Watch owners are frustrated, as many users utilize the Unlock with Apple Watch feature to quickly unlock their iPhone while wearing a mask.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    There has been a lag for quite some time now. What’s so difficult to get this to work reliably?!
  • Reply 2 of 21
    fred1fred1 Posts: 851member
    Did they all turn on “Unlock with Apple Watch” under “Face ID & Passcode” in Settings?

    I wish it weren’t necessary to have WiFi turned on as well to make this work. Isn’t Bluetooth enough?
  • Reply 3 of 21
    I've decided to not even open my iPhone 13 Pro Max when it arrives today.  I'm sitting this "same-day unboxing" out this time.  I may even return it as I'm having 2nd thoughts that it's worth the 3 YR lock with AT&T for such minor upgrades over my iPhone 11 Pro Max (which works perfectly).  I just don't have that same excitement about this "13".

    I already have issues since upgrading to iOS 15 but my AW is working perfectly and want to keep it that way!
    edited September 24
  • Reply 4 of 21
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,508member
    fred1 said:
    Did they all turn on “Unlock with Apple Watch” under “Face ID & Passcode” in Settings?

    I wish it weren’t necessary to have WiFi turned on as well to make this work. Isn’t Bluetooth enough?
    No, because it uses wifi time-of-flight to work out how far you are from the Mac.
    caladanianfred1
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Good to know, I’m not the only one. The Apple Watch transfer to my 13 Pro was a horrible experience.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    There has been a lag for quite some time now. What’s so difficult to get this to work reliably?!
    lol. Coding is harder than people think, especially the details of this wifi time of flight distance stuff. 
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    I'm getting the same error trying to turn on unlock with Apple watch. 
  • Reply 8 of 21
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,933member
    fred1 said:
    Did they all turn on “Unlock with Apple Watch” under “Face ID & Passcode” in Settings?
    No, they didn’t… because it won’t turn on. “Unable to communicate with Apple Watch”

    Same problem here.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Always a good idea to wait a little while before upgrading devices -- just for this reason.

    But, thanks to those who do. Identifying these irritants wholly depends on you folks. 
    Japheynadriel
  • Reply 10 of 21
    I was so surprised that every time I pick up my iPhone I get this message saying unlocked with Apple Watch but I thought that was only meant to happen if I was wearing a mask.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    I have the same issue. Frustrating. It was a poor experience overall in upgrade from 12 pro. 
  • Reply 12 of 21
    Same here, getting a error , 🤬😡
  • Reply 13 of 21
    Apple Watch can  not  communicate with iPhone :-(
    edited September 25
  • Reply 14 of 21
    First world problems…
  • Reply 15 of 21
    fred1 said:
    Did they all turn on “Unlock with Apple Watch” under “Face ID & Passcode” in Settings?

    yes, that's where the problem occurs.  when you try to turn that on, it says it can't communicate with the watch.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    Apple support says to:

    Back up the phone
    Erase phone
    Restore
    Setup Unlock with Apple Watch

    This is from the Engineering department.

    I did a phone to phone transfer when I got my iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

    Note: I have not tried this yet. Will test and report on results. 
    edited September 25
  • Reply 17 of 21
    I habitually find an iTunes restore from an encrypted backup to get as many passwords etc. brought forward as I can. Reads like there’s another reason to use this, though my passcode hasn’t been all that onerous to type in on the occasions I’m wearing a face mask, mainly gas station fuel stops. 
  • Reply 18 of 21
    I suppose I’m glad to know I’m not the only one experiencing this issue.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    This feature and many others never ever worked RELIABLY…. Ever. Please Apple, fire all your SE’s that came from Microsoft. 

  • Reply 20 of 21
    Apple published an article acknowledging the issue and a fix in an upcoming software update.
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