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How to fix the Apple Watch ghost touch issue that’s driving people crazy

Published Apr 11th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
Apple Watch Ultra 2 with the Modular Ultra watch face
Image: Joe Wituschek for BGR

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Reports a few months ago detailed a ghost touch issue for certain Apple Watch models that Apple was investigating. Some users discovered that their smartwatches’ displays behaved erratically as if someone was touching the screen, hence the “ghost touch” name for the Apple Watch issue.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 models were initially impacted. Apple instructed authorized service providers not to replace devices that displayed erratic screen behavior but to wait for a software update.

Fast-forward to mid-April and Apple has a software update, but it doesn’t fix the problem completely.

Moreover, it looks like more models are affected. The good news is that you can fix the problem yourself with a force restart until Apple figures out a permanent solution.

Apple issued a new memo to Apple Authorized Service Providers, per MacRumors.

As seen above, service providers were told not to replace any Apple Watch showing ghost touch issues. The list of affected devices also includes older models, like the Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, and Ultra 1.

Instead, repair shops should instruct users to perform a force restart on Apple Watches with ghost touch issues.

To restart, press the Side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously for 10 seconds. That should fix ghost touches, but the solution might not be permanent.

Apple also instructed repair shops to ensure that the Apple Watches showing the issue are updated to the latest watchOS version. The company issued a fix for ghost touches in watchOS 10.4, but it doesn’t look like it’s fully working.

It seems Apple continues to investigate the problem, and a more permanent fix might be coming down the road. When will it happen? We’ll just have to wait.

A different kind of ghost touch issue

I’m using the Apple Watch SE 2 and can’t say I’ve experienced the issues. However, the model is not included in the list of impacted devices that Apple just updated.

I will note that the Apple Watch SE 2 screen can experience ghost touching in certain conditions. For example, I’m training for a marathon and ran plenty of miles during the winter. That meant wearing additional layers, many of them covering the wearable. Towards the end of long runs, those layers might generate accidental touches, with sweating/water being a factor.

These ghost-like touches would only impact the Workout app rather than sending the screen into a frenzy. The easy fix is to enable the Water Lock button, which you’d use during swimming sessions. But this is an entirely different matter than the ghost touch issue that Apple is now addressing.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.