The Apple Watch may be one of the best smartwatches on the market. But like all wearables, the small size limits just how long the battery can last. Traditional watches last for months, if not years, while some wearables, such as the Pebble range, offer more than 5 days battery life on a single charge.
In comparison, the Apple Watch lasts for a solid two days on a single charge, but depending on your usage, you may find it only lasts a single day or drains overnight. Let’s take a look at our full Apple Watch Series 2 review and then dive into what you can expect from your Apple Watch battery life.
Apple Watch battery life: How long does it last?
During our review, John found the Apple Watch Series 2 to deliver a solid two days worth of usage on a single charge. For the most part, I’ve had the same experience over the past six weeks. However, as I’ll touch on below, some apps can cause serious battery drain.
Out of the box and only running Apple’s core apps (albeit with notifications turned on and mirroring all the notifications on my iPhone), I’ve found that battery life is around the two day mark; towards the end of the second day, you’ll probably need to turn on Power Reserve if you want to be able to tell the time. Otherwise it’s good to get you through two days.
When you start installing apps, though, things get a little murkier… especially if you’re installing third-party apps. While we’ll touch on some tips on how to improve the battery life below, I’ll say this: there’s very little need to have apps on your watch. Rather than use it independently of the iPhone, I prefer to have the watch be an extension so to view Slack messages, Instagram feeds or my photos, I use my iPhone rather than the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch battery life: How do you improve it?
Now you know what to expect from your Apple Watch Series 2’s battery life, how do you tweak your watch so the battery lasts even longer? Let’s take a look at a few tips.
Turn it off at night
This is probably the biggest thing – at night, there’s no need to have your Apple Watch ping you with notifications or alerts, so why not just turn it off? Yes, you won’t get the sleep tracking function and your alarms but you’ll probably wake up with 20-30 percent battery more than if you didn’t turn it off.
If you have alerts from email, social media or communication apps during the middle of the night, there’s no reason to have them come to your Apple Watch when you’re sleeping. Do Not Disturb is certainly an option but it still requires communication between your iPhone and your Apple Watch which, again, is pointless while you’re asleep!
Tweak the settings
The first thing you’ll want to do is change a few basic settings that will help improve your Apple Watch battery life. Head over to the settings and disable the Wrist Raise feature. This does mean you’ll need to tap on the screen in order to turn the display on but by disabling this feature, you prevent your Apple Watch from having the motion sensors activated at all times. To turn it off, head over to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and navigate to General before sliding off the Wrist Detection feature.
If you have a lot of emails coming through to your phone, you’ll also want to disable these alerts or limit them to only VIP emails. Getting 500 emails a day sent to your watch definitely drains the battery. While limiting this to the most important ones will help your battery life, disabling email alerts entirely will have the most marked effect.
Limit the apps you use & remove unneeded apps
Over the past month, I’ve found the battery life on my Apple Watch Series 2 to vary wildly depending on which apps I have installed. In fact, installing too many apps will cause monumental battery drain. Some apps are definitely essential, but we recommend limiting the apps installed on your Apple Watch to the core apps you need on your wrist.
If you’ve already installed lots of apps you don’t need, you can easily remove them by heading to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, scrolling down to the app you want to remove and toggle the Show App on Apple Watch setting to off. This will then uninstall the app from your Apple Watch and similarly, if you want to install an app, you can simply toggle this setting back on again.
Close apps when you’re not using them
This is surprisingly a lot harder than it actually sounds as Apple doesn’t really give you an easy way to close apps that you’ve been using on the Apple Watch. To close an app, you need to launch the app, then press and hold the side button (below the Digital Crown) until you see the power off screen and then press and hold it again to quit the app and return to your homescreen.
Yes, it’s not the most intuitive way to close an app but closing apps doesn’t take more than a few seconds and doing so, specifically with apps you don’t really use, will make it much simpler to eek out a few extra hours of battery life.
Change accessibility settings
There are also a few accessibility options you can use to improve your Apple Watch battery life. In the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, go to General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion and turn off motion. This will limit animations and the automatic resizing of the interface on your home screen when you open, close or switch between apps and helps improve battery life by around 30 minutes on a single charge.
The ability to receive notifications on your wrist is one of the main reasons why people buy an Apple Watch, so it’s ironic that it’s one of the main sources of battery drain. To get notifications, your Apple Watch has to be in constant communication with your iPhone and using Bluetooth causes drain in itself. Add to this constant notifications from apps you use frequently and it’s a recipe for bad battery life.
For me, Slack is a major offender; on average I get about 100-200 slack notifications from the team on a daily basis and having these pop up on my watch causes a large amount of drain. The simplest way to see if any apps are causing battery drain is to head over to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to General > Usage to see battery usage. Here you’ll be able to see how many hours of usage you’ve got since you last charged the Apple Watch and more importantly, the apps that have been draining your battery life.
To limit which apps can notify you (and we recommend only keeping it to the essential apps), head over to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and then click on My Watch. From here you can then turn off notifications for all apps or on an app-by-app basis.
Go extreme for even more battery life
If these tweaks aren’t quite getting your Apple Watch to the end of the day, you can take extreme measures to eek out the battery life towards the end of the day. The first of these is to set your Apple Watch to grayscale mode which removes any color and displays everything in black and white. To do so, go to Accessibility and turn on Grayscale mode.
To prevent your Apple Watch from constantly beeping, lighting up or displaying notifications, you can also enable Do Not Disturb, which should then reduce the amount of background processing on your Apple Watch. To do this, swipe up from your home screen to enter Glances and swipe along until you see the Connected screen, where you’ll want to tap on the crescent moon to enable Do Not Disturb.
If you know your iPhone isn’t going to be displaying any notifications or alerting you for either a few minutes or several hours (if you’re on a train, in a tunnel or on an aeroplane for example), you can turn on AirPlane Mode to ensure your Apple Watch isn’t communicating with your iPhone when it’s not needed. To do so, head to the same Connected screen as above and tap on the aeroplane symbol.
If you’ve been having trouble with your battery life, you may have seen your Apple Watch enter Power Reserve mode when it reached 10% battery remaining. With Power Reserve enabled, your Apple Watch will only work as a clock and Apple says you should be able to tell the time for around 2-3 days in this mode.
If you know you don’t need notifications and essentially only want the core feature of being able to tell the time, you can enable Power Reserve by pressing and holding the side button below the Digital Crown and swiping to enable Power Reserve. This can be really useful not only when your battery is low (or you don’t need notifications) but also when you want a bit of privacy and don’t want to be alerted constantly.
Apple Watch battery life: How have you found it?
Do you have an Apple Watch? If so, how have you found the battery life? Let us know which version you’re using (Series 0, Series 1 or Series 2) and your battery life findings in the comments below!