How to improve Apple Watch battery life
Never be without the time again
The Apple Watch has been on our wrist for several months now, and the good news is that battery life isn’t as bad as Tim Cook first led us to believe.
But there’s still room for improvement, and if you find yourself regularly running out of juice, we’ve got some tips to help.
Will you suddenly find yourself with Pebble Time levels of battery life? No, definitely not, but it may help you eek out an extra hour or two to help you survive the day.
Remove unnecessary glances and complications
Glances (the screens of information accessed by swiping up) and complications (the little widgets on the watch face) are extremely useful and quick ways of accessing information.
But they’re also constantly pulling down data from the internet (or even worse, GPS info), which, of course, has a negative impact on battery life.
It’s best to only select services that provide the most relevant information – do you really need instant stock market advice? Probably not.
Buy the bigger watch face
If you’re worried about Watch battery life but haven’t purchased one yet here’s a tip – buy the larger, 42mm watch face.
The 42mm Watch has space for a bigger battery, and Apple state, “Apple Watch battery performance claims are based on test results from the 38mm Apple Watch. A 42mm Apple Watch typically experiences longer battery life.”
Only get notified of the important stuff
Notifications use up precious battery life, they vibrate, and activate the screen when you look to see what it is. The amount you get can probably be cut back, a lot.
Go through your apps list, and select the apps which matter most. Maybe you can do without Twitter notifications, Youtube, or maybe Ebay?
To configure your notifications open the companion iPhone app, select My Watch, then tap Notifications.
You’ll be presented with a list of apps separated into two sections. By default the notifications for these apps are set to ‘Mirror iPhone’, this means whatever notifications you get on the iPhone, they’ll show up on the Apple Watch as well.
With Apple-built apps, the company allows you to fully customise them, for example, you can choose to be notified of upcoming events from the Calendar app, but skip invitations and shared calendars.
The second half of the list is made up of third party applications, such as Facebook or eBay. These can either be turned on, or off, without the full customisation options.
Keep your iPhone Bluetooth turned on
This one comes directly from Apple, “Disabling Bluetooth on your iPhone increases battery drain on your Apple Watch.
“For more power-efficient communication between the devices, keep Bluetooth enabled on iPhone.”
Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb are your friends
If you want to reduce power drain on your Apple Watch, you can activate Airplane Mode. This setting will disable all wireless features, but leaves non-wireless features enables (so it’s less harsh than the Power Reserve Mode).
You can also activate Do Not Disturb, which silences incoming calls and alerts, and also prevents the screen for lighting up.
Both Airplane and Do Not Disturb mode can be activated from either the Settings Glance on the watch (accessed by swiping up), or the companion app on the iPhone.
Turn off fitness tracking and the heart rate sensor
The heart rate monitor records your pulse every 10 minutes throughout the day, so if you’re not interested in the wearable’s fitness features, it would have a big benefit to the battery life if you simply turn those features off.
Open up the companion app on your iPhone, select ‘Privacy’, then ‘Motion & Fitness’. Here you can turn either one, or both of these features off.
Give the haptic feedback a rest
The Apple Watch’s Haptic Feedback engine is great at communicating notifications to your wrist, but if it’s constantly buzzing because you’re super-popular, it could be using up precious battery juice.
You can turn down, or even completely disable Haptic feedback in the ‘Sounds and Haptics’ setting on the Apple Watch, or in the iPhone companion app.
Dim the screen and use simple watch faces
The Apple Watch uses a power friendly OLED screen, but you can make it even more power-friendly by lowering the brightness.
Of course, it could make the screen harder to view, especially in direct sunlight, but ask yourself — do you really need it on full brightness all the time?
You can either adjust the brightness on the watch by opening settings and selecting Brightness and Text Size, or by going to the iPhone companion app, visiting My Watch and then Brightness and Text Size. There are three brightness settings.
Black pixels on an OLED display will consume less energy (because they turn off completely), so by selecting a simple design, with a lot of black, you could claw precious seconds, maybe even minutes of battery life back. Goodbye Mickey Mouse!
Use Power Reserve mode
This one is a no-brainer – the Apple Watch has a power saving mode, which conserves battery life by turning off all the functions that actually make it smart.
This includes notifications, fitness tracking, apps – pretty much turning it into a regular watch.
The Watch will prompt you to enable this mode automatically when battery life drops down below 10-percent, but it can also be manually activated in two ways – just in case you know you’ll struggle for power later in the day.
The first way is by holding the side button until the power menu appears, and dragging the Power Reserve slider to the right.
The mode can also be found in the Power Glance, simply by swiping up on the watch face to view Glances, navigating to the Power Glance, then tapping Power Reserve.
Want to disable Power Reserve mode? Simple turn your watch off, and then on again.
Keep it updated
We love a good software update, they usually come with ‘bug fixes and performance enhancements’, that usually means improved battery life!
To make sure your Apple Watch is always running the latest OS, open up the iPhone companion app, select My Watch, then General, then Software Update.
If you have an update available to download, make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi, your Apple Watch is on the charger and has over 50-percent battery. Select Download and Install, agree to the Terms and Conditions, and be patient while it installs.
Monitor your battery performance
Want to monitor your battery performance? This can be done in the iPhone companion app, selecting ‘My Watch” then ‘General’, then ‘Usage’.
Here you’ll be able to view your charging habits and usage times.
Purchase a power strap
If none of the previous tips are making a difference, maybe it’s time to implement extreme battery extension techniques – the Power Reserve Strap.
The Reserve Strap promises a massive 30 hours of additional usage, and makes use of the mysterious hidden port on the Watch.
The company have confirmed it fully complies with Apple’s Band Design Guidelines, and doesn’t void the AppleCare warranty or Apple’s T&Cs.
At $249.99 (around £159, AU$325) it’s pretty steep for a watch strap, but by boosting the Apple Watch’s battery life by 167%, it could prove to be worth the money.