Handing off phone calls to Apple Watch

Jesse Hollington, iLounge:

If you have an Apple Watch, you already know that incoming phone calls and FaceTime calls will ring on your watch alongside your iPhone, so you can answer the call and talk on your wrist, Dick Tracy style. Switching the call back to your iPhone once you’ve answered it is straightforward enough as well — simply tap the green bar that appears at the top of the home screen to open the Phone app and transfer the call to there in one fell swoop. What you may not know, however, is that you can also send calls in the other direction — transfer an in-progress call from your iPhone over to your Apple Watch.

Great tip, especially if you have a cellular Series 3 Apple Watch.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, not likely you’ll be able to use this technique to jump from the iPhone’s cellular connection to the Apple Watch Series 3’s own cellular capability. Good point.



  • IanBlackburn

    Does cellular make a difference? I think this only works with your iPhone nearby and using it’s cellular connection not Apple Watch’s?

    • That’s basically correct. If the Apple Watch and iPhone aren’t connected, the in-progress call indicator simply won’t show up on the other device — in either direction.

      As I noted in the original article:

      Unfortunately, you’ll still need to stay in range of your iPhone even if you have a cellular-capable Apple Watch Series 3, since this method doesn’t do an actual transfer of the call; it’s more like using the Apple Watch as a remote speakerphone.

      Doing anything more advanced with cellular calls would require support from the carrier, and I suspect that’s not something that’s yet been worked out in the whole VoLTE / Numbershare / eSIM spec. While it seems like Apple could do this more easily for FaceTime Audio calls, that’s not the case — at least not yet.

      Another way to look at it is that despite sharing the same phone number, when the Apple Watch Series 3 isn’t connected to your iPhone, it works as an entirely separate “phone” for placing and receiving calls.

      • IanBlackburn

        Many thanks for the reply Jesse – makes sense.

        For ref when I first got my series 3 LTE on EE in the UK, it actually worked on a completely different number because it wasn’t set up correctly by EE. That is when I called home on the watch my wife saw a new number, and she could dial that number back and the watch would ring and not iPhone. EE eventually sorted that by connecting the numbers on their servers somewhere so I went back to my single iPhone number which is how it’s supposed to work, but it did prove that under the hood, there are actually two numbers and two connections here.

  • ah cool, didnt know i could open the Phone app on the AW and tap into the current iPhone call session.

    id find it more useful if there was a big “mute” toggle on the AW’s Phone screen. as an office jockey i routinely mute on/off during calls and currently i have to wake my iPhone every time to do this.

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  • IanBlackburn

    On a slightly related point I have terrible trouble with Apple Watch / AirPods / IPhone call combo. Essentially if I receive a call and I have my AirPods connected to my iPhone and am wearing my watch the AirPods go silent and don’t work at all on the call and I have to switch to speaker.

    However if I switch my watch to airplane mode before I answer on the iPhone the AirPods work for the call.

    This is only for calls, not music, podcasts etc which all work fine.

    I have been through Apple support, reset network connections, visited the Genius bar, and even had new AirPods and upgraded to iPhone X from a 7plus and nothing has resolved this.

    Anyone else had this issue?