Battery life has long been the Apple Watch’s biggest drawback. The problem only got worse when the company went all-in on sleep tracking with watchOS 7. Instead of increasing the mAh on the hardware, Apple presented a workaround: a warning that pops up if the user drops below a certain percentage. before going to sleep, requiring a recharge.
The Watch Ultra, which goes on sale today, notes that Apple is addressing the issue immediately. The larger housing (49mm to 45mm on the Series 8), combined with a downsizing of components such as the haptic motor, provides more internal space for the battery. As a result, the sports-focused model doubles the Series 8’s 18 hours to 36, despite a slightly larger screen and double the brightness (from 1,000 to 2,000 nits).
As for the rest of the line, Apple is once again trying to improve battery life without significant hardware changes. Instead, it addressed the problem by rolling out a new Low Power mode with watchOS 9. Before this announcement, the Apple Watch had a Power Reserve mode, a feature designed as a sort of last resort when your battery is in the doldrums. double digits. Once in that sleep mode, the device isn’t good for much other than telling the time.
The new Low Power mode is different. It’s about cutting out power-hungry and perhaps unnecessary features to give you more life, but for the most part, it’s still a fully-featured smartwatch. At the “Far Out” event, Apple said Low Power mode can give you up to 36 hours of battery life on a full charge for the Apple Watch Series 8 and 60 hours of battery life on a full charge for the new Apple Watch Ultra.
When you enable power-saving mode, the system turns off the always-on display, background heart rate and blood oxygen readings, workout reminders, automatic workout detection, and notifications for irregular heart rate, high heart rate, and low heart rate. This mode also reduces mobile pings to hourly and on-demand to conserve battery life.
Low Power Mode also extends the battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra by extending GPS-based long duration workouts, such as a triathlon, to over 12 hours in normal power mode.
Here’s how to enable Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch:
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to the Battery section
- Below that, turn on the Low Power Mode switch.
Once Power Saving Mode is enabled, you will see a yellow circle on the top of your screen. In addition, the battery percentage in the control center, the charging animation, and the time in night mode turn yellow.
Users will receive a notification prompting them to turn on power-saving mode when the Apple Watch’s battery level reaches 10%. While charging, the mode will automatically turn off at 80%.
The company is also working on a reduced GPS and HR mode, which will reduce sampling for both measures to extend battery life over longer workouts. This new mode will live in a separate switch under the Low Power Mode and will be rolled out later this year.
Since the Low Power Mode feature is part of the watchOS 9 update, all devices from Apple Watch 4 will have it in their settings via a software update.