The new iPhone 15
PleaseHelpwithAppleWatch's profile

3 Messages

Thursday, November 30th, 2023 9:42 PM

Family Setup Apple Watch & ATT = Monumental Frustration, Hours Spent on Support, And Still Watch Does Not Have Cell Service - HELP!

I recently bought two Apple watch SE (2nd generation) to function as a stand-alone watch for my kids (e.g., they don't have phones, so they will use the watch as a phone). 

Over the last 24 hours, I probably have spent 6 + hours with support with only partial success.  I have followed the generic instructions for adding the watch via family setup, which works as expected. The issue on both has been the configuration related to adding a cellular plan, in each case, following the on-screen prompts, I receive a message indicating that the eSIM has been deleted or is missing and provides a support number to call.

Watch 1: The support agent was able to get the cell service enabled for the first watch (on 11/29). I am unclear as to what he did on his end, but after confirming the IMEI and EID, and resetting the Apple watch various times, the watch finally got stand-alone cell service. This took approx 2 hours. I had to cut the call short due to family obligations, but the agent offered to call back at a specific time to assist with the second watch. I was surprised by the offer, pessimistic that anyone would call, and as expected, no call came.

Watch 2: So far, after 2 separate calls to support, various promises for call back and 3+ hours interacting with support, I still do not have cell service on the watch. It seems odd that each agent seems to be aware of issues, but they don't have a common set of instructions for how to assist.  If anyone from ATT can actually resolve the issue, I would be eternally grateful. I feel sorry for all the people who will get these family setup/standalone devices for the holidays - from my experience, they will be faced with countless hours of frustration trying to get it working. This does not seem to be an issue with Apple, it looks like a network issue with ATT.

Any advice would be much appreciated (aside from the generic steps on the ATT site, as they don't actually work).

Community Support


229.8K Messages

3 months ago

Hey there, we understand you're trying to set up and configure stand-alone Apple Watch, and we'll be happy to help you.


We're going to initiate a DM to help you with your Apple Watch and understand what's causing it. Please look out for a DM notification from us. (For your reference it is the bell icon on the top right-hand corner of the forums)


Looking forward to speaking with you!


Thank you for contacting AT&T Community & Forums.

Mike, AT&T Community Specialist

1 Message

3 months ago

I have having the same issue with 2 watches and I'm about to just return them. They told me it weas a known issue and someone would call me back....

3 months ago

Thanks to some dedicated people in advanced tech support, I have both watches functioning as stand-alone devices. From my MANY hours working through this, it is clear that it is a known issue. The most recent individual said she has spent all her time since Black Friday working this issue through, and ATT products and Apple are in talks to resolve the issue. That said, there is a workaround; the issue seems to be just getting to a support agent that is familiar with the workaround. I would advise you not to return the devices but to call support. Here are some data points to consider to eliminate some of the heartache hopefully:

When you call support, ask the agent if they are familiar with the missing/deleted e-sim issue and standalone apple watches. If they say no, terminate the call now and call back until you get someone that has experience. 

The workaround that was used is as follows (I did this while on the phone with the advanced support tech):

  1. From the watch, restore the device to its factory settings. Make sure you remove any cellular plan assigned and select the option to erase all data and settings
  2. start the pairing process using the apple watch - STOP at the Setup Cellular prompt
  3. the tech then re-sent an e-sim to the device, wait for them to tell you to proceed
  4. When given the go-ahead, click the option to set-up cellular, you should receive some ATT screens to set up e-911 address.
  5. When you return to the apple setup screen, you will once again be on the setup cellular screen. Click NOT NOW
  6. Proceed with the remainder of the setup
  7. Once the setup is done, at least for me, I had cell connectivity and was able to make and receive calls

I hope for all the folks getting these for the holidays, ATT resolves the issue - I probably spent a total of 10-15 hours across a number of support agents. There are some dedicated ones out there, which I am grateful for, but a clear gap in understanding of the issue and workaround across support agents. This seems like an easy win to at least make tech support agents aware of the issue - it's certainly not user issue!

Good Luck!

2 Messages

2 months ago

Having the same issue with my son’s Apple Watch (he doesn’t have a cell phone)…not looking forward to resetting the watch since he’s been using it on WiFi since Xmas…set-up already to his liking, but the eSIM doesn’t work and can’t get on AT&T network…ugh.

2 months ago

It’s a total pain and feels unconscionable that they haven’t resolved the issue ahead of the holidays. I’m sorry you have to deal with it. Every.Single.Person I know has this issue and are currently being harassed by their kids to get it working. Once resolved, works great tho. All I can offer is be persistent with support. They should credit  us all back for the time it took from us. Good luck! 

2 Messages

2 months ago

Was on the phone with a nice service agent for about 50min after I waited 20min on hold 2 days ago on 12/27.

Although we went through the steps above, the Watch still did not load up the eSIM…so Watch is still useless without WiFi.

the service agent assured me I would get a call back “within 24-48hrs”…it has been 56hrs+ and still no call back…

Looks like I’ll be calling AT&T again tomorrow…very frustrating.

1 Message

2 months ago

Also having the same issue. I’ve been on the phone at least 3 times for multiple hours. I have a ticket # and was told there are over 700 open. Also ridiculous that you have to go through the entire troubleshooting process each time I call for a status update. If you’re given a ticket #, you should be able to check

status immediately, even if the status is no solution yet. The fact that this has been a known issues for months and people are still getting the run around is ridiculous. I have been a long time ATT customer, I’m talking over 20+ years, this is frustrating enough that I may start shopping elsewhere.

I also work in retail, I know these things take time but the lack of customer support is really disappointing. I did get a credit on my service, I plan to keep that until this is resolved, I purchased a cellular line and won’t pay for it until I can use it. @ATTHelp, I hope you get some guidance from this mysterious “back office” that is making this miserable for everyone.

There have been so many opportunities to do better by your customers. You could have had associates tell customers at purchase about the known issue. You could have had associates recommend they setup in store to make sure there are no issues, you could have setup a direct tech line to troubleshoot…so many ways to be proactive, instead just a bunch of frustrated customers.

I know these are first world problems but do better ATT!

Not finding what you're looking for?
New to AT&T Community?
New to the AT&T Community? Start by visiting the Community How-To.
New to the AT&T Community?
Visit the Community How-To.