Battery life has long been the Apple Watch’s biggest downside. The problem only became more prominent when the company went all-in on sleep tracking with watchOS 7 in 2020. Instead of increasing the hardware’s mAh, Apple introduced a workaround: an alert that pops up if the user falls below a certain percentage before bed. which requires recharging.
The Watch Ultra, which goes on sale today, finds Apple addressing the issue head-on. The larger body (49mm vs the Series 8’s 45mm) combined with downsizing of components like the haptic motor offers more internal battery space. As a result, the sports-focused model effectively doubles the Series 8’s 18 hours to 36, despite the slightly larger screen and doubled brightness (from 1,000 to 2,000 nits).
As for the rest of the line, Apple is again looking to improve battery life without any significant changes to the hardware. Instead, it addresses the issue through a new low-power mode that comes with watchOS 9. Prior to this announcement, the Apple Watch had power reserve mode, a feature designed as a sort of last resort when your battery drops to double digits. Once in this hibernation state, the device is good for nothing but telling the time.
The new low power mode is different. It’s about turning off power-hungry and perhaps unnecessary features to help you get more out of life – but for the most part, it’s still a fully functional smartwatch. During his Far Out Event.Apple said that Low Power Mode can give you up to 36 hours of battery life on a full charge Apple Watch Series 8 and 60 hours of battery life on a full charge for the new Apple Watch Ultra.
When you turn on low power mode, the system disables the always-on display, background heart rate and blood oxygen measurements, exercise reminders, automatic exercise detection, and irregular heart rate, high heart rate, and low heart rate notifications. This mode also reduces Cellular pings to hourly and on demand to conserve battery life.
Low Power Mode also extends the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life, increasing the duration of GPS-based long workouts like triathlons beyond 12 hours on regular power mode.
Here’s how you can turn on Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch:
- Head to Settings
- Scroll down to the Battery section
- Turn on the low power mode switch below that.
Once low power mode is on, you will see a yellow circle at the top of the screen. Plus, the battery percentage in Control Center, the charging animation, and the time in Nightstand mode will turn yellow.
Users will receive a notification asking them to turn on Low Power Mode when the Apple Watch battery level reaches 10%. During charging, the mode automatically turns off at 80%.
The company is also working on a reduced GPS and HR mode that will reduce sampling for both measures to increase battery life during longer workouts. This new mode will exist in a separate switch in the low-power mode and will be introduced later this year.
Since the Low Power Mode feature is part of the watchOS 9 update, all devices starting with the Apple Watch 4 will have it in their settings via a software update.