How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

Step-by-step guidance to the first hour with your new sports watch
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Garmin sports watches are among the easiest wearables to set up and pair, and there are multiple ways to get devices paired to your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Whether it’s a Forerunner, Fenix, a Vivoactive or Quatix, you can’t really go wrong. Before you know it, you’ll have conquered all the hurdles the first hour throws at you and be up and running - literally.

Here's how to set up your Garmin watch, including guidance on pairing it to your iOS or Android device, downloading the Garmin Connect and Connect IQ apps, connecting to Wi-Fi and using Garmin Pay.

Get started pairing and connecting your Garmin watch

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

Charge the watch

Although Garmin watches arrive with a certain level of charge, you’ll want to get your new watch fully juiced before entering the set up. Hook it up so it's ready to roll once you're paired.

Download the Garmin Connect app

Whether you’re on iOS or Android, you need the Garmin Connect app to pair up your watch and ship all of that training data back to the phone. It’ll also allow you to receive messages and other smartphone notifications, if you wish.

Enable Bluetooth on your smartphone

This might sounds obvious, but Bluetooth is needed to pair the watch and then sync the data thereafter. You can’t pair directly through the Bluetooth settings, you must go through the app.

Setting up your Garmin

When you place the Garmin Watch on charge, it'll automatically power on when there’s enough juice to get you up and running. This process may vary slightly, depending on which watch you’re using, but you may be asked to complete a couple of tasks before pairing.

Set your language

Use the Up and Down buttons to scroll through available languages (English is the default in the US and UK regions) and select the Start/Stop

Pair with phone

Option and will be asked to choose “Yes” or “No”. Got that Garmin app at the ready? Fire her up.

Pairing with the Garmin Connect app

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

Download the Garmin Connect mobile app and select 'Create Account' or 'Sign In'.

If you’ve used a Garmin device before, you’ll be able to use your existing login details. Otherwise, account setup takes a couple of minutes.

Then within the Garmin app head to the More > Garmin Devices > Add Garmin Device.

The app will look for any devices looking to pair, which can save you time, so make sure your Garmin is close by.

If it doesn't pick it up, you can choose it from the list and then the app will restart.

If your Garmin has become unpaired and you're resetting it up, you can head to the settings menu on the watch > Phone > Pair and put your sports watch into a pairing state.

When pairing is available, your watch will show a 6-digit code, which can be entered into the pop-up alert on your phone. Type it in and setup will commence.

Once the initial connection has been established, you’ll be walked through some account more account set-up procedures: You’ll choose an avatar for the app, whether you want to share your profile or activities with others, and also some questions about vital states. That’ll mean entering gender, weight, height and birth date information.

If you have previous workout data, you can sync that to the watch too, in order to give the watch a head start on your fitness levels.

How to manually set up a Garmin

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

We wouldn’t advise this, but if you don’t choose to pair with your smartphone immediately, you’ll still be able to set a lot of the device preferences without delving into the app. This offers the watch enough information to inform workout data, but you’ll still want to pair with the phone at some point.

If you select “No” from the initial pair “Pair With Phone” option on the watch, you’ll be asked to select the following:

  • Miles or kilometers
  • 12-24 hour time format
  • Gender
  • Birth year (use the up and down key to select 19/20 and then select to move to years)
  • Height (same deal; it’s Feet > Select > Inches > Select > Select to confirm)
  • Weight (in pounds, although it could be confused for stones).
  • Set the time via GPS or manually.

Here, you can also pick which wrist you’re wearing the Garmin watch on and customize your Heart Rate Zones.

If you didn’t pair with the app initially, you can use the watch to enter pairing mode. select Menu > Settings > Pair Phone (on some earlier watches, the trail is Menu > Settings > Bluetooth > Pair mobile device). Then, open the Garmin app and follow the instructions similar to those listed in the previous section.

Holding down the power button (usually called 'Light') to access the main menu and selecting the phone icon from the carousel will also take you there.

Set up Wi-Fi on Garmin

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

If you have a Wi-Fi-compatible Garmin watch, the next step in the set-up process is to establish a connection to ensure all activity data, settings and, if compatible, music, are automatically synced when both are connected to Wi-Fi.

From the 'Set-up Wi-Fi' option in the app (it appears at the completion of set-up, or it can be found in the device menu under General > Wi-Fi networks).

The watch has its own Wi-Fi radio, but the connection takes place via the app. First, the watch searches for available networks and the app asks you to choose the network ID and enter the password. From there, you’re all set.

Connect to Garmin Connect IQ store

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

A big part of customizing your watch and making the most of its functionality is to connect to Garmin’s own mini app store, which is called Connect IQ - not to be confused with the regular Connect app. It exists as a standalone app and must be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

  • Head to the Device section of the Garmin app and choose Activities, Apps and More > Activities & Applications > Get More Applications.
  • This will encourage you to download the Connect IQ store app. Download the app as you normally would, agree to the terms and conditions and you’ll automatically be connected to your watch.
  • Here, you’ll see third-party add-ons from a number of providers which can be added to your watch. There’s music, navigation apps, watch faces, training tools and much, much more. If you’re looking for something in particular, use the search functionality.
  • Select an app of your choosing in order to add it to the watch.
  • Not all devices are compatible with all apps, so each app listing has a 'Compatible Devices' option allowing you to check. For example, Spotify only works on select D2, Fenix, Forerunner, MARQ and Vivoactive watches.

Set up Garmin Pay

How to connect and pair a Garmin watch to your smartphone

Some of the newer Garmin devices allow you to make contactless payments using the watch on your wrist. They are the as follows:

  • Forerunner: 645, 645 Music, 945.
  • Fenix: 6/5
  • Vivoactive: 4/3
  • MARQ: Athlete, Aviator, Captain, Driver, Expedition.
  • DS:Delta, Delta S, Delta PX

If you have a compatible watch head to the Garmin Connect app and select the Device screen and choose Garmin Pay. From here, use our guide on how to set up Garmin Pay.


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Chris Smith


Chris has more than decade of experience writing for the UK's foremost technology publications including TechRadar, T3 and more.

 A freelance journalist based near Miami, Florida, Chris has written for Wareable since its inception in 2014. From reviews of the latest fitness devices, and in-depth features on bleeding-edge wearable devices, to future-gazing interviews with some of the industry's brightest minds, Chris covers the lot. He also writes about sport for The Guardian and is the author of many technology guide books, while also dabbling in film, music, beer, travel and political commentary.

When he's isn't smashing away at the keys of his MacBook, Chris can be found at his favourite craft breweries, dangling his rod in the warm waters of the Florida Keys, or exploring the Shropshire countryside.

You can follow his on Twitter but beware, it's mostly sporting and political hot takes, occasionally interspersed with tech-based tweets.

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