Apple Watch Ultra now claims 17 hours of multisport GPS battery time
In a nutshell: For athletes, Low Power Mode essentially turns off the display. Enough battery saving to last an Ironman.
Apple WatchOS 9.2 is now available for your Apple Watch Ultra and there are quite a few new features there for you to use including the Track mode (USA-only) and Race Route (rubbish). These were all announced at launch and have only now finally arrived on your wrist. Most of the new features work on Apple Watch Series 4 and newer.
Also on the wrists of Ultra owners today is a new battery life of 17 hours when recording a multisport workout. Apple specifically makes the following NEW claim:
Up to 18 hours indoor workout
Up to 17 hours outdoor multisport workout with GPS and LTE in Low Power Mode
Up to 12 hours outdoor workout with GPS
Up to 10 hours outdoor workout with GPS and LTE
and they test in these conditions
Tested with heart rate sensor on during workout sessions…Outdoor multisport workout (long-distance triathlon) with GPS and LTE in Low Power Mode, … tested without iPhone…Outdoor multisport workout (long-distance triathlon) with GPS and LTE in Low Power Mode testing conducted by Apple in December 2022.
What Is Apple’s Low Power Mode? and How to Enable Low Power Mode?
Low power mode fairly aggressively disables battery-eating features. It either totally disables the features or reduces the frequency with which they are used. You won’t want to routinely use this feature.
In a nutshell: For athletes, Low Power Mode turns off the display and reduces GPS+HR measurements
To use low power mode, scroll up the tray from the bottom of the screen and tap the battery percentage icon to show the slider control for Low Power Mode. Once you’ve enabled the low power mode a small yellow circle will appear at the top of the Watch screen as shown above. These are disabled:
- Always On Display (annoying)
- Heart rate notifications for irregular rhythm, high heart rate and low heart rate
- Background heart rate measurements (stops 24×7 HR and HRV readings)
- Background blood oxygen measurements
- Start workout reminder
- Fewer GPS and Heart Rate Readings. (quite significant!)
You can tweak Low Power Mode to only work when using the Apple Workout App. Like this…
If you go on long bike rides, long hikes or regularly complete an Ironman triathlon (hmmm) you might well want to regularly use this battery-saving feature. For anyone else that wants or needs accurate data then just keep your battery charged up.
What this means
Bottom Line: Apple Watch Ultra can now be used in an IronMan triathlon…just like Apple originally claimed.
I’ve not tested the 17-hour multisport claim and don’t intend to. I would imagine the claim is true and as described providing that you use a new watch/battery that hasn’t yet degraded.
Firstly, as I’ve said before, this claim ‘proves’ that using an external HR strap saves battery. At least it proves it with Apple as I have heard the opposite claim made by at least one other developer albeit on older tech. The rationale is that to the power required for the optical sensor is greater than the power used by a Bluetooth (or ANT+) connection.
Secondly, for some bizarre reason, Apple makes its claim whilst using LTE. AFAIK, LTE is a potential battery-guzzler so you should get even better battery life than 17 hours in a real race when you’re not using LTE. Perhaps Apple makes the claim thinking that you might extrapolate battery longevity to other long activities where you would use LTE – like a long hike or long bike ride? IDK.
Thirdly, Apple point out that the iPhone was not present. In the past, the presence of an iPhone would have enabled the Watch to save battery by piggybacking the iPhone’s GPS but now the Ultra doesn’t do that and all that is saved is the power to run the Bluetooth connection to the iPhone.
A tiny percentage of Ironman athletes will use the Apple Watch as their sole pacing and logging tool. Apple Watch Ultra is simply not up to the job of being the primary tool for cycling. It’s fine for swim logging and for run pacing and logging but that’s it. Almost every Ironman athlete will have a bike computer (as will most Half distance triathletes), logically Apple should really have introduced a more aggressive battery-saving mode for the cycling component of a long triathlon but that just isn’t going to happen.
So…these claims are pointless for real-life Ultra sports usage but it looks great as a marketing claim when aimed at those who don’t know better.
This content is not sponsored. It’s mostly me behind the labour of love which is this site and I appreciate everyone who follows, subscribes or Buys Me A Coffee ❤️ Alternatively please buy the reviewed product from my partners. Thank you! FTC: Affiliate Disclosure: Links pay commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.