Apple Releases watchOS 5.1.1 To Address Catastrophic Apple Watch Series 4 Bricking

For some people that purchases an Apple Watch Series 4, upgrading to watchOS 5.1 was simply a nightmare. WatchOS 5.1 was supposed to be simple maintenance release when it was made available to customers last week alongside iOS 12.1 and macOS Mojave. However, some Apple Watch Series 4 owners quickly found that the update rendered their fancy new smartwatches inoperable.


For some undisclosed reason, applying the update would force the Apple Watch to become stuck at the boot screen, which displays the Apple logo. No amount of resetting or shouted profanity was enough for the end-user to fix the issue by himself (or herself). In fact, the only way to resolve the problem was to get an actual replacement device from Apple... yikes.

To its credit, Apple pulled watchOS 5.1 shortly after widespread complaints of bricking were first reported, but the damage had already been done. Today, Apple has issues watchOS 5.1.1, which should be guaranteed not to brick your Apple Watch Series 4. In addition to a fix for the bricking complaints, the following issues are also resolved:

  • Apple Watch Series 4 automatically contacts emergency services if you are immobile for about a minute after detecting a hard fall. The watch will now also play a message that informs the responder that Apple Watch has detected a fall and shares your location coordinates when possible
  • Fixes an issue that could cause an incomplete installation of the Walkie-Talkie app for some users
  • Resolves an issue that prevented some users from being able to send or receive invitations on Walkie-Talkie
  • Addresses an issue where some previously earned Activity awards were not showing in the Awards tab of the Activity app for some users

While Apple has issued watchOS 5.1.1 and has hopefully taken care of all affected users by issuing replacement hardware, it is still a rather costly fix for the company. Since there is no way to physically connect an Apple Watch to a computer to put it into Recovery Mode (a la an iPhone or iPad), attempting to recover from a failure such as the one described above is impossible with Apple's direct intervention.