Video shows Apple Watch Tattoogate in action

Video shows Apple Watch ‘Tattoogate’ in action


Using an Apple Watch with a tattoo gives some users a (s)inking feeling. Photo:
Using an Apple Watch with a tattoo gives some users a (s)inking feeling. Photo: guinne55fan

More Apple Watch owners with wrist tattoos are reporting problems using the device. The light sensors that enable the Watch to determine if it’s being worn apparently get confused by tattooed skin.

The problem — let’s call it “Tattoogate” — is possibly the result of metallic pigments used for the inking process, although nobody knows for sure. While the glitch affects only a small number of users, it’s definitely mauling the buzz of some frustrated Apple Watch early adopters.

Cult of Mac reader Michael Lovell spoke with us about his disappointing experiences with the Apple Watch, and even sent in a video demonstrating the problem. Check it out below!

“I noticed since Friday that the wrist activation/passcode would need to be entered every time the Watch would wake,” Lovell told Cult of Mac. “So I’ve had to leave that off to make the Watch usable.”

Michael also reported using the Workout app during a run — only to have it pause every few seconds. “I called Apple Support who seemed to think it was a faulty sensor, [and] said they will replace the Watch.”

Shortly after speaking with Apple Support, however, he tried the device on his other (non-tattooed) wrist, and discovered the Apple Watch works perfectly fine.

“I only bought the Watch because of the workout capability,” he said, “[It’s a] big disappointment if this isn’t fixed.”

The reason for the fault is Apple Watch’s wrist-detection technology, which uses light sensors on the back of the device. The Watch’s heart rate tracker also works by flashing infrared or green LED lights, which allow the device to detect blood flow.

So far, Apple hasn’t responded to our requests for comment on the topic, but we’ll update this post if and when we hear. The number of Apple Watch owners with tattooed wrists is very much a minority, but judging from the comments we received for yesterday’s report on the subject, this problem is definitely affecting a number of Cult of Mac readers.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.