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Some Apple Watch Users with Tattoos Report Sensing Issues

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A small number of Apple Watch users with arm sleeve tattoos are reporting sensing issues, with the watch locking up every time the screen goes dark and prompting the user for the passcode. According to one Reddit user, he wouldn’t receive notifications even when the watch was in contact with his skin, that is tattooed with black ink. On the other hand however, a Twitter user has reported that his Apple Watch is working perfectly with a full sleeve tattoo, and has had no issues with Apple pay or heart rate.

Apple watch tatoo 04 fixed

In an article by iMore, the fact that the ink pigmentation interferes with the Apple Watch’s sensors has been discussed in detail, and it seems that the effect is more pronounced if the tattoo happens to be a solid, darker colour. “This is has to do with the way Apple measures your heart rate”. Apple has explained in a support article that it uses various spectrums of light to track the blood flow through your skin. So anything that reduces that light’s reflectiveness, such as ink pigmentation within your skin, can interfere with the sensor.

While experiencing this issue, here’s how the Reddit user managed to work around it:

So I thought my shiny new 42mm SS watch had a bad wrist detector sensor. I was about to give up and call Apple tomorrow when I decided to try holding it against my hand (my left arm is sleeved and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well) and it worked.

  • EDIT: upon further testing it seems like notifications in general won’t come through unless it senses it’s on your skin. So when my friend texts me and the watch is on my wrist my phone shows an incoming text…when I move the watch to the top of my hand which is not tattooed the watch gets notifications.
  • EDIT 2: by turning off wrist detection messages are being pushed to the watch now. I believe this will hinder apple pay though because I can’t use the password (because the watch can’t detect my wrist), but at least it’s working now.
  • EDIT 3: here are a couple of pics of the tattoo Pic1 Pic2
  • EDIT 4: I spoke with Apple and informed them of my situation. the applecare specialist was really good, walked me through a bunch of steps to try and alleviate another issue I’m having (making calls from the watch). they are reporting to engineering and i should hear back from him this week regarding my call issue and the detection issue.

Are you experiencing a similar issue with your Apple Watch?

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