Can you use an Apple Watch with your Android phone?

Apple Watch and Android phone
(Image credit: Future)

Can you use an Apple Watch with your Android phone?

Best answer: No. While you can use a cellular Apple Watch while using an Android phone, the watch won't pair to the phone, so they won't exchange data. There are some ways around it if you really want to use an Apple Watch (in a limited way) and an Android phone without pairing them, but you'll still need access to an iPhone.

The Apple Watch needs an iPhone to get set up, and won't pair with Android at all

It's the perennial question every time new Apple Watch software of a new watch comes out: can you use the Apple Watch with an Android phone?

There's no getting around it: if you want to activate and set up your Apple Watch, you need an iPhone. You need to use the built-in Watch app on your iPhone to activate your watch, set up things like iCloud and Apple Pay and activate cellular connectivity if you have a watch with LTE.

There's no way to pair an Apple Watch with an Android phone after setup, either. While it is a Bluetooth device, the Apple Watch is made explicitly to work with the iPhone.

But if you're going to insist on taking this route, the best Apple Watch to get for it is probably the new Apple Watch SE 2, as it's the cheapest cellular model you can get brand new.

One workaround requires a cellular Apple Watch, and you'll still need an iPhone

To call this a 'workaround' might seem a bit disingenuous, but it's also technically correct, as this method lets you use your Apple Watch with an Android phone. Or, more accurately, it enables you to use your Apple Watch while using an Android phone. You'll need a cellular Apple Watch, along with access to an iPhone. You'll also want your nano-SIM card for your phone.

What you need to do is pair the Apple Watch with your iPhone, activate cellular capability on the watch, then swap the SIM card from your iPhone to your Android device, as outlined in our guide.

Because the Apple Watch with LTE can function semi-autonomously and has its own cellular line with your carrier, both your Android phone and Apple Watch will receive calls placed to you. You might also see text messages, though this might be less than reliable.

You also won't be able to offload any data, like fitness data, to your Android phone. Again, your phone and watch aren't paired at this point; they're just tied to the same cellular account. And of course, this won't work at all with the iPhone 14 or newer phones purchased in the US, since they only have eSIMs anyway.

From watchOS 7 on, another workaround appears

If you live with someone or are at least close with someone who uses an iPhone, it may be more possible than ever to use an Apple Watch with an Android phone. You still can't pair the two together, but thanks to watchOS 7 and Family Setup, you can now set up an Apple Watch on a friend or family member's iPhone, rather than having to have one of your own. You can then use the watch independently, though some features will be missing. Still, which ones are missing can depend on the Family Setup settings.

You might also need to trust your friend or family member not to look at your Apple Watch activity, so you at least have some sense of privacy. Family Setup is really intended for parents to keep track of their children (by giving the child an Apple Watch controlled by the parent.) 

So, while Family Setup makes independent Apple Watch use more possible than ever, it's not a solution for people looking for true blue watch independence.

Hope for the future

Despite the fact that you still can't properly use an Apple Watch with an Android device, I still think there's reason to hope. While I don't think Apple will ever let you pair the watch with an Android phone or make a version of its Watch app for Android, I think true independence is nearly here.

Between features like Family Setup or the introduction of the App Store on watchOS 6, we're seeing the Apple Watch become increasingly independent from the iPhone. It's not hard to imagine a day when an Apple Watch can be activated on its own, or at least without the aid of an iPhone.

It might be that, one day soon, the answer to the question, "Can you use an Apple Watch with Android," will be closer to "Yes" than "No."

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

With contributions from