How not to lose Apple Watch Activity + achievements when migrating to a new iPhone / by Paulo Fierro

As an app developer I have lots (hundreds?) of apps installed, some I use and others are to see how certain unique features work or to compare implementations of certain ideas.

As an app developer I also upgrade my iPhone every year in order to test and build against the latest hardware. I always set my phone up from scratch, as a new device, and take this time as a spring cleaning of sorts. When I picked up my 6s Plus last Friday I realised that this would not be an option this time around.

This was because of two reasons:

  1. for privacy reasons health data is not backed up to iCloud
  2. an Apple Watch can only be paired with one phone at a time.

This means that I would lose all of my Activity data from my watch, but most importantly all of my Achievements too. I guess those Achievements work if I care so much about them — some are damn hard to get.


So in order to not lose that data we have to do a little dance:

  1. Unpair your watch from the old phone. This automatically takes a backup of the watch data onto the phone — there is no way to do this manually that I’m aware of.
  2. Take a backup of the old phone. The fastest way to do this is via iTunes, and remember to set a password. Encrypted backups contain certain information other backups don’t, including your health data.
  3. Connect your new phone to iTunes and restore the backup you just made.
  4. Pair your watch to the new phone and restore the Watch backup when prompted.

Once this is complete you should be exactly where you left off with all your apps and settings including activity history and achievements.

In retrospect this was so much easier than setting it up from scratch that I think I'll be doing this in the future regardless.