Top 13.5 tips: How to make the battery last longer on Apple Watch Series 6 and SE
This is an article about the Apple Watch battery. An infeasibly long post about all-things power-related on your favourite smartwatch. If you’ve just come here for the tips to make the battery lasts 36 hours rather than the headline 18 hours, then please use the Table of Contents below to skip ahead to that section which is already updated to include watchOS 8 for 2021.
The Apple Watch has an official battery life of 18 hours. This headline claim never seems to change from one series to the next. The reality is that by disabling a few peripheral features you can easily & sensibly double the battery life to 36 hours.
All “Top 10 battery tips” articles boil down to different ways of temporarily or permanently disabling the screen, GPS, heart rate, playing music and a few other peripherals elements of the watch. Those first four are the ones that gobble up all the battery, so we will focus the tips on better managing those.
However you can still get good battery performance whilst using these key features, for example, I recorded GPS and Heart Rate on an 8-hour bike ride on the Watch SE and still had over 30% charge at the end.
Skip ahead for the top tips, or check out this section to better understand what to expect from the battery in your watch.
Battery: What To Expect
Whilst you can readily get a 36-hour battery life, expect to charge your Apple Watch 6 or Watch SE once a day, just do it whenever is most convenient for you. DO expect to be able to use the watch overnight to record your sleep.
If you have an earlier Watch model then it becomes more likely that you’ll end up charging it overnight rather than using it overnight. Tip: Buy a Watch 6 or Watch SE for the best experience.
If you are live-streaming Apple Music over LTE whilst recording a workout with your HR also being logged as you stare at a permanently-on screen, then expect that battery to be gone within about 30 minutes! Tip: Have realistic expectations.
Apple claims that an 18 Hour Life means 90 time-checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use and a 60-minute workout using music playback from Apple Watch over Bluetooth.
Apple Watch 6/SE Battery Facts – Battery Boosts
1000 charging cycles of your Apple Watch battery WILL reduce its performance/capacity to 80% of that on a new Watch. That’s about 3 years of once-daily charging. In fact, Apple suggests the Watch has a 4-year battery life after which you can replace the battery for about $100. Tip: Don’t buy a second-hand Apple Watch, it will come with a degraded battery!
Your Apple Watch 6 (review) has rapid charging and you can get from a zero charge to 80% charge in under an hour. So, for example, a 15-minute boost as you shower will give you at least 4 hours of charge. Tip: Do focus on minimising battery usage but remember it’s easier to keep the battery topped up if you are organised.
Your Apple Watch will come with a magnetic charging puck. Just because the other end fits into one of your old smartphone adapters does NOT mean that you will get fast charging. Tip: use a 2A adapter and use an Apple-branded ‘plug’ so you can be sure it will charge quickly. Perhaps get a spare charging puck for the car and for work so you can top up the charge frequently.
Apple Watch 6 / SE – Battery Saving Tips
Let’s start with some Sensible Tips …ones you might use!
- Avoid playing music on the watch. Generally, if your iPhone is nearby, the music will be played from that and that is what’s best for prolonging your Watch battery life.
- Keep your iPhone with you – when you are working out the GPS from your phone will be used rather than from your watch. This roughly halves the battery used in the workout.
- Avoid using the optical HR sensor during workouts – if you use a quality chest strap like the Polar H10 or armband like the Polar Verity Sense then this will save you 1-2% of battery as you don’t power up the optical sensor. That’s not as much of a saving as you might think because the watch will have to power the Bluetooth connection. External sensors will give you more accurate HR. You CAN pair an external HR sensor to the Apple Workout app and also to many other 3rd party sensors and apps too like iSmoothRun.
- Turn off the optical HR sensor during unimportant workouts or, perhaps more sensibly, turn it off if you are not especially bothered about it recording, say, a 6-hour hike and just record the GPS track if that’s what you really want.
- Permanently disable the Blood Oxygen/SpO2 sensor on the Watch 6. Unless you are monitoring a specific medical condition you won’t need it and it GOBBLES battery.
- Turn off Always-on Screen Mode – This tip for Series 5, 6 and later isn’t as sensible as it sounds. You will save battery by turning off the screen HOWEVER the always-on screen mode is really a clever screen saver that selectively and automatically disables energy consumption of different elements of the screen eg by blurring the image and not displaying ‘seconds’ on a digital clock. Really ‘always-on’ screen mode means super-quick-on.
- On watchOS 8 choose Focus Modes that automatically stop a range of distractions and hence automatically save power eg the Fitness Focus Mode can be automatically enabled when you start a workout and will automatically stop selected notifications & people.
- Disable Bluetooth or WiFi on the Watch in Settings> Bluetooth/WiFi. In one sense this will save battery by stopping syncing of any kind to your iPhone but perversely might increase battery consumption if you use watch GPS rather than a connected-GPS from your iPhone. Generally, it will save battery but you will lose functionality. This might be a sensible thing to do from time to time in emergencies.
- Stop automatic Background App Refresh in Watch Settings > General> Background App Refresh. This will save apps syncing data with your iPhone however watchOS already places restrictions on how often apps are allowed to do this so this may work really well for you and your apps…or not. It depends on your apps.
- Enable power save mode in running /walking workouts to entirely disable HR in Watch>Settings>Workout. This will save juice but…
- Reduce brightness display – the default mid-level brightness is perfectly fine, maybe too bright. Lowering the level WILL improve battery life in Watch>Settings>Dispaly & Brightness
- Set a bedtime schedule and even a wind-down schedule – This will quieten your watch and yourself. Importantly your watch should be put into the correct mode for the entire not and not keep coming on to light up your nocturnal activities…then again, some of you might want that.
- Manually Turn the screen off – A Doh moment…for your watch – Just do a screen-palm tap to turn the screen off.
- 13.5 Emergency Nuke: This option effectively turns off all the watch’s battery consuming activities but still shows the time. I can only see a point in this if, say, you want to save 2 hours worth of battery to use later and really need to see the time when you could instead simply turn the watch off. Watch Settings > General>Battery Health> Swipe right for Power Reserve. OR Swipe up to the control centre and choose battery. Warning: This also nuked my Watch Faces and required a full restore to correct.
Apple Watch 6 / SE – Silly Tips
These are some tips I’ve pulled off similar posts from other sites. They are all ‘correct’ in that they will save the battery life but they are mostly silly because you want to use the watch’s smart features rather than turning it into a non-smart LED watch from the 1970s. That said if you are nearing the end of your daily battery charge with no means of re-charging then it’s useful to know what you need to do to keep the watch running. Although, if you spend 3-4 minutes disabling these features you will, by definition, be using the screen and that in itself will probably consume more power than some of these will save! Apple needs to implement power-saving profiles perhaps extending the Focus profiles that appear in watchOS 8.
- Turn off Siri – Siri is not great in any case. Hey…just don’t use it except when you need to, leave it turned on and ready for emergency action!
- Disable notifications – OK you can disable notifications for specific apps and that is sensible just to remove annoyances rather than to save battery.
- Use a Silent, non-Vibrating Mode. The sounds and haptics from the Apple Watch are well designed and non-intrusive. I’d keep enabled modes that don’t annoy you and then use a specific Focus Mode to control how you are interrupted at key times of the day. You won’t save too much battery by disabling all these modes.
- Use Greyscale Mode. I’m not sure how much battery greyscale mode will save but it will eke out a few extra minutes a day probably. You bought a pretty watch for the pretty screen…so use the colour! In any case, the AW SE and AW6 both have clever ways to automatically save battery when the watch face is displayed ie most of the time.
- You might think that using a watch face that’s mostly black will save juice. It will save some but as said elsewhere the Apple Watch is quite clever at how it manages screen power.
- Disable bold text, it makes the white space for the characters very slightly smaller. White needs more power to display.
- Disable Fitness Tracking Settings>Motion & Fitness>Fitness tracking. This will stop the watch saving steps, stairs climbed and other activity data.
- disable GPS Settings>
- Stop automatic app install and automatic app updates. Watch App>My watch>General>Automatic App Install OFF. It’s just a silly thing to do that you will forget to undo when you need it to.
- Unlock with your iPhone is a neat way to cut down the screen usage a tiny fraction and save an even tinier fraction of battery. Do it…but not to save battery.
- Disable activity reminders – Depending on your personal preferences, these are either useful or annoying and do take up some power to display them. Watch>Settings>Activity
- Optimise Raise to Wake. I find that the Watch SE behaves properly when it comes to turning on the screen from a wrist raise or twist. If it doesn’t work for you, check that you have correctly told Apple which wrist you wear the watch on and wear it on that wrist; if you think about it, the motion from the other wrist is different. You can also be more controlling in which action wakes up the screen and in so doing you will save power throughout the day Watch>Settings>General>Wake Screen. eg You could choose crown rotation to wake the screen
Apple Watch Battery History & Specs
Not a lot of people know that the Apple Watch Series 3 42mm LTE has the biggest battery capacity of all Apple Watches; conversely, many people WOULD guess that the Watch Series 6 has the quickest recharge time. With those two fascinating facts in mind let’s talk about more battery details of the Apple Watch than any sane person would ever need, or want, to know.
Apple Watch Battery Recharge Time
Apple Watch 6 has made significant gains in recharge times and when you are talking about a watch with sub-2-day battery life it’s this statistic that’s more important than small improvements to the overall battery life.
The changes in recharge times probably reflect a change in the precise kind of lithium-Ion battery that’s used. ie Series 6 is probably a new battery type.
- 0 to 80% charge: 1.5 hours for Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5, SE and 1 hour for Series 6.
- 0 to 100% charge
- Unspecified for Series 0, 1 and 2
- 2.0 hours for Series 3 and 4
- 2.5 hours for Series 5 and SE
- 1.5 hours for Series 6
Apple Watch Battery Specifications
Here are the battery capacity figures where known. From Series 3 onwards there haven’t been massive increases in battery capacity. Some of the capacity changes will reflect physically different sizes of battery. The battery life you experience can increase even with a lower capacity battery, most notably when more power-efficient components are used elsewhere inside the watch. Newer components make a significant difference…buy the newest watch you can afford.
- Apple Watch Series 0 (first generation), Series 1 (second generation)
- 38mm: 205 mA·h, 3.8 V, 0.78 W·h
- 42mm: 246 mA·h, 3.78 V, 0.93 W·h
- Apple Watch Series 2
- 38mm: 273 mA·h, 3.77 V, 1.03 W·h
- 42mm: 334 mA·h, 3.8 V, 1.27 W·h
- Apple Watch Series 3
- 38mm: 262 mA·h, 3.81 V, 1.00 W·h
- 38mm LTE: 279 mA·h, 3.82 V, 1.07 W·h
- 42mm: 342 mA·h, 3.82 V, 1.31 W·h
- 42mm LTE: 352 mA·h, 3.82 V, 1.34 W·h
- Apple Watch Series 4
- 40mm: 224.9 mA·h, 3.81 V, 0.858 W·h
- 44mm: 291.8 mA·h, 3.81 V, 1.113 W·h b
- Apple Watch Series 5
- 40mm: 245 mA·h, 3.85 V, 0.944 W·h
- 44mm: 296 mA·h, 3.814 V, 1.129 W·h
- Apple Watch SE – Unknown
- Apple Watch Series 6
- 40mm: 265.9 mA·h, 3.85 V, 1.024 W·h
- 44mm: 303.8 mA·h, 3.85 V, 1.17 W·h
Other Apple Watch Battery-related Tips
I think we’ve covered the important ones. How about these
- Your iPhone can show a battery widget for the power left in your connected Apple Watch.
- The Control Center shows the battery percentage. Just swipe up on the Watch.
Battery Take Out
Apple is paranoid about the battery. It is integral to the user experience and you can rest assured that Apple has tweaked everything it can and ensured that developers don’t play rough and ready with the amount of juice their apps consume. It’s all VERY tightly controlled.
That said, the Watch comes pre-configured effectively with one overall power profile that Apple has deemed will suit the most number of people. Maybe it won’t suit you.
Thus you can get some quick wins by turning off SpO2 and keeping your iPhone with you all the time. In general turning stuff off will save juice but it’s just not worth doing that for many trivial actions the Watch performs. Exceptions would be music, GPS, heart sensor, screen and LTE usage, so use those wisely bearing in mind the tips above.
Me? I effectively just turn off SpO2, use a chest strap, use a proper night mode and live with whatever consequences flow from that.