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I test smartwatches and fitness trackers for a living. So over the years, you can imagine that I have a pretty good understanding of how to fix a problem. This site’s whole purpose is to help you go back on track quickly.
The postman delivered me a brand new Garmin Forerunner 255S Music this morning. I was excited to test it. I took my trusted iPhone and started pairing the device….without success! So I started again from scratch, checked my Bluetooth, charged the Forerunner’s battery, and ended up with an error message…Again!
It took me half an hour to sort out the issue. As I do not want you to waste your precious time, this article will guide you through the pairing process, what did not work and what did. My goal is that after reading this article, you avoid the frustration I felt and pair your Garmin device smoothly and effortlessly.
Can Garmin Smartwatches Be Used without Pairing Them to A Smartphone?
When receiving a new smartwatch, the first step is to pair it with your Android or iOS smartphone using the Garmin Connect App. Of course, some will tell you that it is unnecessary and that you can still use your Garmin smartwatch without going through the pairing process.
This is true, but I do not see the point of using a fitness tracker or high-end smartwatch to get partial data. After all, one of the key benefits of any wearable is to check on trends and go the extra mile by looking at the numerous health activities and training menus.
Imagine buying a beautiful car but without wheels…You may still enjoy the interior but will be limited to looking at your garage. Not exciting, in my opinion.
So let’s assume that you want to make the most of your Garmin device and decide to go the normal pairing road. What should you do?
How to Pair a Garmin with A Smartphone?
A new Garmin smartwatch or fitness tracker will come pre-charged, meaning that the battery will get enough power to last a couple of days and will undoubtedly be sufficient for the pairing process. I somehow recommend plugging it using the provided cable. It will bring two main benefits. The first one is that the battery will continue to charge, and the watch will not power off in the middle of the pairing process. It should not. In my experience, Garmin’s devices usually come with a battery charged between 70 and 80%.
The second benefit is that the smartwatch will automatically power on and be ready for pairing. Once you have selected the language from the watch menu, the next step is to pair the device and the phone, thus creating a data link that will open the doors to numerous analyses.
The procedure is simple, assuming you have already downloaded the Garmin Connect App and created an account. If you have not, I suggest that you start by installing it. Garmin Connect can be found here for iOS users and here for Android users.
Once installed, follow this simple procedure:
- Open Garmin Connect,
- Click on the three dots labeled “More” on the bottom right of the screen
- The “More” screen will open, scroll down until you find “Garmin Devices,” and tap on it
- The “Devices” screen will now show up. Tap on “Add Devices,”
- From the list, select the smartwatch or fitness tracker you wish to pair,
- Wait for the pairing process to complete, and you should be ready.
The procedure I just described looks simple and is simple…as long it works! And it does not always. It did not work for me, at least. So let me guide you through the process I had to go through. Hopefully, it will save you time and frustration.
Help! My Garmin Does Not Pair with My Phone. What Should I Do?
It looks like Garmin is aware that the pairing process is not flawless. They even designed and added a troubleshooting screen to the Garmin Connect App.
According to the screen, the elements to ensure are the followings:
- Ensure the [Garmin Watch] Bluetooth Pairing is turned on,
- Turn your Phone Bluetooth off/on
- Restart your [Garmin Watch]
- Quick and restart Garmin Connect
- Restart your Phone
- Ensure that the device’s six-digit code is entered on the smartphone when prompted.
The main issue is that, as simple as it may seem, this procedure is not always working.
In my experience, the critical point to focus on is the Bluetooth on your phone.
Why Are Bluetooth Issues More Frequent than You May Think?
We use Bluetooth on our phones for numerous devices. For example, on my iPhone only, I have more than 16 devices ready to connect. That’s a lot of potential interferences.
Bluetooth devices communicate with one another by delivering signals over a frequency band that ranges from 2.4 to 2.48 GHz. Interference might occur when an excessive number of devices operate on the same frequency. Therefore, if you have two or more devices that use Bluetooth in the same area, they may cause interference with one another.
The first thing I did was turn off the Bluetooth of all the devices registered on my phone. It did not work when I started the pairing process one more time, but at least it is an excellent way to sort out potential interference issues.
Restart Your Phone Instead of Garmin Connect Only
Garmin recommends closing Garmin Connect and restarting it. This is wise advice, but it looks a little bit superficial. I recommend going the extra mile and restarting your phone. A “soft reset” is an excellent way to sort out issues.
We all know that our phones are littered with many apps that often transmit data without us knowing it. If you do not believe me, check the amount of data you uploaded last month. You will be surprised.
The best way to clean your phone is to restart it and start with a clean slate.
It did not work for me, and my Garmin Forerunner 255 refused to pair.
But at least I knew that the issue was not linked to an excessive number of Bluetooth connections and an overused smartphone.
You can imagine that I was getting frustrated. So the last thing to try before calling Garmin Support was to restart the watch…which I did…And it worked! Problem solved! Watch paired.
To Wrap Up
The process described above is systematic and should solve most of the pairing issues you may face, assuming that your watch is in pairing mode.
Follow the three steps below, and I am confident that you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a new Garmin device in no time:
- Turn off most or all of the Bluetooth connections to limit the potential interferences,
- Restart your phone to start fresh,
- Restart your watch or Fitness Tracker.
Once Paired, the following steps will be to set up the smartwatch, which may take time but is at least much more fun than trying to pair an uncooperative Garmin smartwatch. If nothing works, the last option is to contact Garmin Support as the issue may be beyond a simple software issue.