Apple Watches: A Compatibility Guide

With so many generations of iPhones and Apple Watches on the market, it is hard to find the relevant information needed to establish whether or not your two Apple devices are compatible with each other. Thanks to advancements in software since 2015, when the first Apple Watch was marketed, operating systems have moved on and therefore it’s best to ensure you do your research before parting with your money. The last thing you want is to discover that the Apple Watch you have bought isn’t compatible with your iPhone.

The important point to note is: Not all Apple Watches are compatible with all iPhones.

Apple is continually updating their software and creating additional features for its devices, so it’s important to remember that not all Apple Watches are compatible with all iPhones.

As a very general rule, for the newer Apple Watch Series to sync with your iPhone, you’ll need to have an iPhone 6s or newer but read on to find out more.

If you own an iPhone 11, iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, you won’t have to worry about Apple Watch compatibility for a long time as the software currently being used is likely to stay relevant for quite some time. If, however, you have an older iPhone, here’s a guide to pairing the right Apple Watch with the right iPhone.

So, which iPhones are compatible with which Apple Watches?

We’ve put below a simple table showing what you’ll need to run each Apple Watch smoothly. For optimal performance, having the newest iPhone and Apple Watch combined with the latest iOS is the perfect combo. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great experience using slightly older devices.

You’ll see below reference to iOS – this is the software that your device runs, to find this out is simple, just get your iPhone, head into Settings then into General and tap About.

Apple Watch ModeliPhone Model Needed (or newer)iOS Needed (or newer)
Apple Watch Series 7iPhone 6siOS 15
Apple Watch SEiPhone 6siOS 14
Apple Watch Series 6iPhone 6siOS 14
Apple Watch Series 5iPhone 6siOS 13
Apple Watch Series 4iPhone 6iOS 12
Apple Watch Series 3iPhone 6siOS 14
Apple Watch Series 2iPhone 5iOS 11
Apple Watch Series 1iPhone 5iOS 11
1st Generation Apple WatchiPhone 5iOS 8.2

Apple Watch Series 7 Compatibility

The Series 7 Apple Watch is the newest instalment in Apple’s Watch Category. To run a Series 7, you’ll need at least an iPhone 6s or newer, the phone will also require iOS 15 or newer.

Apple Watch SE Compatibility

This watch has many of the same features that the Series 6 has, yet it is significantly cheaper. To run this watch seamlessly alongside your phone, you’ll need an iPhone 6s or newer and the device must be running iOS 14 and newer.

refurbished apple watch series 6 gps+cellular stainless steel - silver

Apple Watch Series 6 Compatibility

The Apple Watch Series 6 saw little change from the series 5, however is definitely worth the upgrade because of the enhanced battery life. To run an Apple Watch Series 6, you’ll need an iPhone 6s as a minimum, and the device must be running iOS 14 or newer.

refurbished apple watch series 5 space grey sport band gps

Series 5 Apple Watch Compatibility

The Series 5 features a built-in compass, emergency calls, and the ‘always-on’ retina display. It requires an iPhone 6s or newer with iOS 13 or newer.

refurbished apple watch series 4 black sports loop cellular space grey

Series 4 Apple Watch Compatibility

To run an Apple Watch Series 4 smoothly, you’ll need to have an iPhone 6 or newer – it’ll also require iOS 12 or newer.

refurbished apple watch series 3 cellular stainless steel gold

Series 3 Apple Watch Compatibility

The Series 3 Apple Watch is still available for purchase today and is the cheapest Apple Watch on the market. It does, however, have the fewest features. This budget model is available direct from Apple, which is a testament to its make and durability. The Apple Watch Series 3 requires an iPhone 6 or newer, running at least iOS 14.

Apple Watch Series 2 Compatibility

Released in 2016, the Apple Watch Series 2 comes with built-in GPS and it is also water-resistant for up to 50 meters. The Apple Watch Series 2 requires iOS 11 and is compatible with iPhone 5 and newer models.

refurbished apple watch series 1 stainless steel silver

Series 1 Apple Watch Compatibility

The Series 1 Apple Watch, released in 2016, is compatible with the iPhone 5 or newer generations. The iPhone device must have iOS 11 installed. The Apple Watch Series 1 isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the 1st Generation Apple Watch, it also doesn’t include built-in GPS.

refurbished apple watch series 1 space grey

1st Generation Apple Watch Compatibility

The first-generation Apple Watch came out way back in early 2015. If you’re asking yourself which watch is compatible with iPhone 5 and onwards, the 1st generation Apple Watch will work perfectly fine. It will work with an iPhone 5 or newer, running iOS 8.2 or newer, but doesn’t have GPS.