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Tips on Getting the Most from the Apple Watch and Your Wireless Network

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Since the release of Apple watch in April 2015, a considerable amount of articles have been published on the features of the watch and how it connects to the iPhone through either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Unlike those pieces, this article analyzes the impact of the Apple watch on the wireless network.

The Apple watch is powered with watchOS and features Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy and 802.11b/g/n to connect to the iPhone 5 or later version. The Apple watch is single band and thus works only in 2.4 GHz. Although there are two modes of communication, the Apple watch’s primary mode of connectivity is Bluetooth to transfer data back and forth between watch and iPhone. If the Bluetooth is off, the watch switches to Wi-Fi to stay connected to iPhone. However, this switching process is not seamless for all wireless networks. Sometimes the watch loses connectivity to iPhone altogether if the Bluetooth is out of range or if it is disabled on the phone. Since the watch is single band, it cannot connect to 5GHz band. However there is a work around to allow it to talk to iPhone that is associated to an AP using 5GHz radio.

Steps to make Apple watch talk to iPhone on 5GHz

  • Forget the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz SSID on your phone. Enable the Bluetooth on the iPhone and make sure the watch is connected.
  • Connect to 2.4GHz SSID on iPhone and then disable the Bluetooth.
  • The Apple watch should now show connected to iPhone via Wi-Fi after a brief disconnect. Test it by pinging the iPhone from the watch by pressing the phone icon shown below in the picture.

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