Is your Apple Watch stuck on the Apple logo and won’t boot up? Maybe you forgot to charge it, or perhaps you’d turned it off for storage, and now it won’t wake properly anymore. Well, don’t despair and pick up your keys yet! In this article, we’ll go over the most common ways to get your Apple Watch to work without having to ask for help from the Apple Geniuses just yet.
For this article, we’ve combed through a few message boards like the official Apple Support Community, expert YouTube videos, and talked with a Genius with an Apple Certified Technician certificate to give you this list. Of course, we’d weeded out this list and only wrote down the most effective ways to “unbrick” your Apple Watch. This list would work for all models of the Apple Watch although some have their own quirks that could complicate or ease following the steps on this list.
Why Do Apple Watches Get Stuck on the Logo?
First of all, what do they call it when the Apple Watch gets stuck on the Apple logo? Similar to computers and iPhones, Apple Watches have operating systems (OS) in the form of the watchOS that runs the device. When this OS malfunctions during start-up, it’s called a “boot loop” where the device tries to restart again and again but gets stuck before fully setting up.
So, why does Apple Watches get stuck? The Genius we talked to said that there were two main reasons for these kinds of problems. It’s either a hardware or a software issue for the Apple Watch. For hardware problems, it might have been caused by a concussion, water damage, or loosened parts in the device. When it comes to the software, however, there are a wider array of issues that may plague it and involve both the Apple Watch and the paired iPhone. These issues include corrupted files, incompatible firmware, old and obsolete OS, or a badly flashed firmware upgrade.
You now know why your Apple Watch is malfunctioning so, we’ll move on to fixing it. For whichever Apple Watch model you own, at least one of these five ways would solve the error and fix your watch. Before you start, however, make sure that you’ve at least charged your Apple Watch for 30 minutes using the original Apple charging cable and USB power adapter.
True to the repairing adage of “have you tried turning it off and on again?” one of the first things you can try to fix your boot loop is to do a force restart of your Apple Watch. Hopefully, this would get the device past the boot loop and back to working order. Before you start a force restart, you have to make sure your Apple Watch is fully charged or is charging from the port. According to Apple’s Support page, you can force-restart any Apple Watch model using the following steps:
- Press both and hold down the digital crown button and side button for 15 seconds.
- Just to be sure, don’t let go until the Apple logo re-appears on the screen.
- Wait for the Apple Watch to boot up past the logo into the menu screen.
- If it goes back into a boot loop, try a force reset at least twice.
Do note that there’s a difference between restarting and resetting your Apple Watch. For a more in-depth explanation, we have an article on how to factory reset or restart your Apple Watch. The succeeding options to fix your Apple Watch stuck on the Apple logo assume you’ve at least tried this option before moving on to them.
Similar to restarting your device, using the “Find My” app on the iPhone or iCloud would allow you to force your way through a boot loop. To use this option, however, you must have allowed your iPhone to be connected to the app since your AirPods and Apple Watches automatically get registered. You can check if it is by going to your iPhone’s Settings, pressing your account icon, and clicking on “Find Me.” If the icon is lit up in green, it means you have it turned on.
When using the “Find My” app to help you through an Apple Watch stuck on the Apple logo, you’ll have to use the “Ring Your Device” feature by following these steps:
- Open the “Find My” app.
- Click on “Devices” on the bottom center of the screen.
- Select your Apple Watch.
- Swipe up the tab to see the options menu.
- Press on the “Play Sound” option until your Apple Watch plays the sound. You may have to do this a few times to get through to your watch.
The reason why this step might work is due to the “Find My” app ordering your Apple Watch to boot up to respond to the orders to “Play Sound.” This order would then hopefully interrupt the boot loop and let it boot normally to play the sound. If your Apple Watch is still in a boot loop after this option, the following steps open to you are more drastic and may cause errors when done incorrectly.
The “Find My” app’s original purpose is to, of course, find your Apple devices. If you need help looking for your lost AirPods, we have a guide to finding your lost AirPods using your iPhone.
There are two ways to update your Apple Watch’s watchOS. The first is through the Apple Watch itself, which is unavailable to you due to the boot loop. Because of this, you’re stuck trying the second option, updating the Apple Watch through your connected iPhone. You have to have your Apple Watch open and charged near your iPhone before starting these steps. Follow this guide to update your Apple Watch’s watchOS through your iPhone:
- Open the “Watch” app on your phone.
- Scroll down and click the “General” option.
- Find the “Software Update” option and select it.
- Click the “Download and Install.”
*This option may instead say “Install” if your device automatically downloaded the update already.
- Place your iPhone passcode and confirm the option.
- The app will then download the update and upload it to the Apple Watch.
- Wait for the upload to finish and the Apple Watch will reboot by itself.
This option usually fixes most Apple Watches stuck on the Apple logo as a lot of boot loops are due to improperly flashed watchOS installations. The Genius we talked to warned that some older Apple Watches are unable to update their watchOS in this way and could only be updated by having them repaired by an Apple Certified Technician.
This option is a more “nuclear” one since unpairing your Apple Watch not only unpairs the watch from the iPhone but also removes it from the Apple ID and resets the phone to its factory settings. Don’t worry since you can restore your data after reconnecting and pairing your device again to your iPhone and Apple ID using an automatic backup. To unpair your watch from your iPhone to fix the Apple Watch stuck on the Apple logo problem, do the following steps:
- Open the “Watch” app on your phone.
- Scroll down and click the “General” option.
- Find the “Reset” option and select it.
- Click the “Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings.”
- Confirm the option.
- Input your Apple ID password then press “Erase” in the upper-right corner.
- Wait for the process to finish.
- Boot up your Apple Watch and enjoy!
*If your Apple Watch was open and stuck during these steps, do a force restart for the changes to take effect.
The workaround fixes it because it is supposed to clear out all personalized settings on the Apple Watch and from its connection to the Apple ID. By returning it to factory settings, it should remove any incorrect or incompatible settings that prevent the Apple Watch from booting up. Do be warned that if you restore your settings from a backup, a boot loop may happen again. This would happen because the settings were the reason for the boot loop in the first place.
Should all four of our how-to fixing options fail to work for your Apple Watch and it’s still stuck at the Apple logo, your only option would be to go to Apple for help. There are three main ways to go about sending your device to an Apple Certified Technician.
The first would be to directly send your device to an Apple Repair Center. A second option would be to go to your local Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple Store technician and have them send your Apple Watch in for you. Your last option is to find an independent Apple Certified Technician to work on your device. While rare, their services may be cheaper to obtain.
More information on Apple’s repair services can be found on their website’s Service and Repair page. The list includes their service pricing, what you need to do to get your Apple Watch prepared for service, how long it would take, AppleCare+, their Express Replacement Service, and notes on the product warranty.
With an Apple Watch stuck on the Apple logo, there really isn’t a lot of options available to you when it comes to fixing it yourself. This is mostly because boot loops are just symptoms of something wrong with your watch. A lot of these issues are due to incorrect settings or badly done updates which could be solved by this guide’s fixes. Some issues, however, are hardware-based which would need testing and replacement at an Apple-certified facility.
A lot of the problems Apple Watches face are actually the same as those seen on iPhones. If you have a problem with yours or want to know how to fix one if it happens, we have an article on why iPhones won’t turn on and how to fix it.
Charles Grice is a civil engineer, urban planner, and blogger. He is keen on exploring and writing about the technical hacks for iOS, Android as well as Windows.