How to Read a Stopwatch on an iPhone

A detailed guide on how does an Apple Stopwatch work, and how to read a stopwatch on an iPhone.

Updated: May 18, 2022

There are two ways to use a stopwatch on an iPhone.

You can either use the default Digital Stopwatch, which looks like this: 00:00:00.

Or you can use the Dial Stopwatch, which looks like a real stopwatch. You can find the Dial Stopwatch by swiping left on the Clock app.

If you're using the default Digital Stopwatch, here's a quick guide on how to read an iPhone Stopwatch and what the different numbers mean.

SectionRepresentsWhat Does It Tell You?
First Two NumbersMinutesHow many minutes have passed since you started the stopwatch
Second Two NumbersSecondsHow many seconds have passed since you started the stopwatch
Third Two NumbersMillisecondsHow many milliseconds have passed since you started the stopwatch

The first two zeros show how many minutes have passed. If it says "00", this means that no minutes have passed. If it says "02", this means that 2 minutes have passed.

The second two zeros show how many seconds have passed. If it says "00", this means that no seconds have passed since you started the stopwatch. If it says "30", this means that 30 seconds have passed. The seconds will only reach "59" as a maximum. When it hits "60", it'll reset to "00" and a "01" will appear in the Minute section.

The third two zeros represent the milliseconds that have passed. If it says "10", this means that 10 milliseconds have passed. The milliseconds will only reach "99" as a maximum. When it hits "100", it'll reset to "00" and a "01" will appear in the Second section.

Here's an example of how to read an iPhone Stopwatch using the default digital settings.

ExampleElapsed TimeWhat Does It Tell You?
#100:00:00The stopwatch has not been started
#201:30:101 minute, 30 seconds, and 10 milliseconds have passed since you started the stopwatch.

How Does an Apple Stopwatch Work?

Here's a quick guide on how to use the Apple Stopwatch on an iPhone:

  • Open the Clock app
  • Click on the Stopwatch tab
  • You can either use the default iPhone Stopwatch, which looks like this: 00:00:00. Or you can swipe left to use the Dial Stopwatch.
  • Tap the Start button to begin the stopwatch
  • Tap the Lap button to start a new lap
  • Press the Stop button to stop counting
  • Tap the Start button to resume counting in the same lap
  • Tap Reset to remove the data and reset the stopwatch to zero

On the Dial version of the Apple Stopwatch, you'll find several different parts, including:

  • A circular dial that starts at 5 and ends at 60 - Which represents the seconds
  • An orange hand - Which either represents how much time is passing OR the time between the previous lap and the new lap
  • A blue hand - Which represents the time that's passing in the current lap
  • A smaller circular dial that starts at 5 and ends at 30 - Which represents the number of minutes that have passed
  • A digital stopwatch - Which represents the minutes, seconds, and milliseconds that are passing in the current lap

It also has the following buttons:

  • Start - which appears after you've opened the app
  • Stop - which only appears after you've tapped the Start button)
  • Lap - which only appears after you've tapped the Start button)
  • Reset - which only appears when the stopwatch has been started and stopped)

When you tap the Lap button, a list will appear of the different laps and the digital time that has passed during each lap. The laps are labeled Lap 1, Lap 2, Lap 3, etc.

What Is the Blue Hand on an Apple Stopwatch?

When you start an iPhone stopwatch, the orange hand initially represents the time that's passing.

The blue hand on the Apple Stopwatch only appears when you have started the iPhone stopwatch and then started a new lap.

When the blue hand appears, it represents the time that's passing in the current lap. The orange hand will continue moving around the stopwatch in the new lap.

However, the orange hand now only represents the number of seconds between the previous and the current lap.

For example, if you ran the stopwatch for 5 seconds and then created a new lap, the orange hand will always be 5 seconds ahead of the blue hand, which shows the time that's passing in the current lap.

How Accurate Is the iPhone Stopwatch?

Most stopwatches are only accurate to a certain extent.

Unless you use a professional stopwatch that has extreme millisecond precision, you can expect most stopwatches to be at a reading accuracy of around 0.1th of a second.

An iPhone stopwatch is believed to have a similar reading accuracy of around 0.1th of a second, with around a +/- 2 second uncertainty.

What Is the Uncertainty of an iPhone Stopwatch?

Just like most stopwatches, iPhone stopwatches have a degree of uncertainty to them. This means they can be out by a few seconds or milliseconds. The uncertainty of an iPhone stopwatch is believed to be around 2 seconds. This means it can either be out by + or - 2 seconds (+/-).


Author: Burak Özdemir

My name is Burak, and I used to have difficulties waking up in the morning due to unreliable alarm clocks. Over the past few years, I've dedicated part of my life to finding the best alarm clocks and sharing my knowledge with people through this blog.