Delayed Apple Watch Notifications: Causes & Fixes

The Apple Watch is a great companion device to the iPhone. Apple spent a lot of time making the two devices work seamlessly together. One feature that people love is the ability to receive their notifications on the watch first before the iPhone or only on the watch. But what happens when that goes wrong? Why are Apple Watch notifications sometimes delayed, and how can you fix it?

Apple Watch notifications might be delayed due to a temporary bug, a software issue, or because the notifications are muted. There are a few ways to fix this, like restarting the watch and iPhone, unpairing and pairing them again, installing software updates, and checking notification settings.

I’ve found that there are several reasons why the Apple Watch might have delayed notifications. Sometimes it’s a delay of only a few seconds, while it could be as long as three minutes. However, the Apple Watch should notify you instantly, even before the iPhone. So, let’s go through the causes of delayed Apple Watch notifications and the solutions you can try.

Why Apple Watch Notifications Could Be Delayed

The most common reasons why Apple Watch notifications could be delayed are:

A Software Glitch

If you recently upgraded to a new version of iOS or WatchOS, it’s possible that there’s a bug in that update. For example, when Apple released WatchOS 6.0.1 in 2019, many users found that their notifications were delayed by as much as 20 seconds after updating.

Ultimately, it turned out to be a bug in WatchOS, which Apple fixed with the subsequent release of WatchOS 6.1.

A Software Error

This might sound like the same thing, but it’s not. In this scenario, it’s simply an error that sneaks into the device.

iPhones and Apple Watches are basically small computers, and just like other computers have to be restarted occasionally to solve an issue; the same could happen to your iPhone or Apple Watch. Though these devices are made to perform exceptionally well, and Apple devices generally don’t have to be restarted often, it could still happen.

An Unstable Connection

Depending on how frequently your notifications are delayed, it’s possible that there could be a bad connection between your iPhone and Apple Watch. Since the devices usually connect through Bluetooth, which doesn’t have a very long range, your Apple Watch may lose connection with your iPhone if you walk away and leave your phone behind.

When this happens, the signal between the devices could become so weak that notifications take a while to come through to your Apple Watch.

Notification Settings

This won’t cause your notifications to be delayed, but it could cause them to not go through to your Apple Watch at all, so it’s still worth mentioning.

You can turn off notifications by going through notification settings or activating Do Not Disturb mode. You can also set Do Not Disturb mode to start automatically, which will mute your notifications.

How To Fix Delayed Notifications On Apple Watch

Knowing why something happens doesn’t always tell us how to fix it, so let’s go through the fixes that help most people stop their notification delays.

Check Your Notification Settings

The first step, just to be sure, is to check that your notifications aren’t disabled. To do so, first, ensure that your iPhone isn’t in Do Not Disturb mode. When you unlock the phone, look at the time at the top of the screen. If the Do Not Disturb option is enabled, you will see either a moon or bed symbol next to the time. If you see either symbol, open the Control Centre and turn it off.

Otherwise, go to the Settings app on your iPhone, select Notifications, and browse the apps to ensure all the relevant notifications are active.

Disable And Enable Notifications

It often happens that only notifications related to Apple’s built-in apps, like Messages and Mail, are delayed. If that’s the case, a simple solution that I’ve found often helps is to open the notification settings for that app, disable it, then enable it again. Do this for all the affected apps.

Check For Software Updates

Like WatchOS 6.0.1, bugs often sneak into official Apple operating system updates. But Apple is usually relatively fast at fixing these bugs, and new updates get released frequently. It might be worthwhile for you to check for a new iOS update on your phone and a new WatchOS update on your Apple Watch.

If an update is available, download and install it, then check if your notifications work correctly. Chances are good that this will solve the issue.

Restart Your iPhone And Apple Watch

The tried and tested IT support technique of turning it off and on again still works today, and the iPhone and Apple Watch aren’t exceptions to the rule. Restarting your devices clears out the RAM and removes bugs that might have gotten stuck there.

On the iPhone, it’s best to do a full restart. To do so, press and release Volume Up, quickly followed by the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power / Lock button. You will see the “Slide to Power Off” notification appear. Don’t do anything with it; continue to hold the power button until the phone restarts and the Apple logo displays on the screen, then release it.

On the Apple Watch, ensure that it isn’t charging, then press and hold the side button until you see the “Slide to Power Off” slider. Release the power button and then drag the slider to the right. Once it’s off, leave it for a few seconds, then press and hold the side button again to switch it on.

Over the years, we’ve grown used to being able to use many devices without ever having to restart them. However, there are still times when it really works, and you might be surprised to see how many bugs it can resolve.

Unpair And Re-Pair Your Devices

Many users have found that the simple action of unpairing their Apple Watch from their iPhone and then pairing them again resolves the issue of delayed notifications. It sounds like a complex process, but Apple makes it as easy as possible.

Using the Watch app, Apple will make a backup of your Apple Watch before unpairing it. When you reconnect it, the backup will be restored, and you can continue using your Apple Watch as you did before, but hopefully without the notification delay.

What To Do If Nothing Else Helps

If none of these steps fix your issue, it may be a bug in WatchOS or iOS that hasn’t been fixed yet.

Apple usually releases updates about once per month unless serious security patches have to roll out critically fast. So, it’s possible that the problem will only be fixed in the next update.

In this case, it’s worth checking on Apple’s Community pages to find out if anyone else has the same issue. This also lets you bring the problem to Apple’s attention so they can roll out a bug fix in the next update.


When everything works as it should, the Apple Watch is an amazing device that can make your life much easier. Unfortunately, as with anything, bugs can occasionally slip in and cause delays in the delivery of your notifications on the Apple Watch. But these bugs are usually easy to resolve, and if they’re not, Apple will eventually roll out a fix for the problem.


  • Levi Scott

    Levi Scott is a seasoned tech industry professional with a deep-rooted passion for technology, especially in the realm of wearables. His journey began with building DIY PCs, fostering a skillset that led him to work on innovative tech projects. Levi is adept at demystifying complex technologies and integrating them seamlessly into daily life.