Apple Admits Tattoos Can Impact Apple Watch Heart Rate Sensor Performance

Shortly after the first wave of Apple Watch owners started using the device, a Reddit discussion was started by a user claiming that, due to his wrist tattoo, the device was unable to read his heart rate and issue notifications, as it failed to register contact with his skin.


Apple was at first silent on the matter, but on April 29 updated its support page and admitted there is an issue that effects the Apple Watch if the owner has a tattoo on his or her wrist (via Trusted Reviews).

Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.

As you can see, Apple stops at admitting the issue: It doesn’t offer any useful solution besides connecting the Apple Watch to another, external heart rate monitor, such as a Bluetooth chest strap. So, the harsh reality is that you are on your own when dealing with the matter, because Apple can’t help you. The problem gets severe if you have tattoos on both wrists.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email:

  • David

    Seems like common sense to me that tattoos could effect the performance of something that takes readings through the skin. I don’t see it as an “issue” rather a reality.

  • Remi Boucher

    I agree. It’s not Apple’s fault if you got a tattoo that change how your skin looks and reacts to light.
    Can’t wait for the iPad Pro “bendgate”, when people will try to bend it because everybody knows that you always put a thin 12″ tablet in your back pocket and sit on it :/

  • David


  • Yup. Every Apple launch needs a “_____-gate” of some sort.

  • Can’t wait to buy new pants to put a 12″ tablet in my pocket. Need moar pockets!