How to use power saving mode on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has never been known for its long battery life. Case in point: Apple never deviated from its estimated 18-hour battery life until it launched the Apple Watch Ultra. In 2022, the company introduced a new Low Power mode when it launched the Ultra, and now it has extended the time between charges for Apple Watches running watchOS 9 and later.

Previously, the Apple Watch had a Power Reserve mode, which disabled all functions aside from your ability to see the time, turning your smartwatch into a normal watch until you could get it on a charger. This mode is different: it is more like the iPhone’s Low Power mode. When enabled, you can still use your Apple Watch, but it will disable or limit certain power-hungry features to save battery power.

On the Apple Watch, Low Power Mode turns off the always-on screen and limits sensor readings such as background heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. (Note that this also disables irregular heart rhythm notifications and high and low heart rate notifications.)

Low Power mode also limits LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. While you can still send messages or make calls from your watch, notifications will only be retrieved about once an hour. As a result, you may miss timely text messages and emergency alerts.

However, if you are in the middle of a workout, don’t worry: heart rate and GPS are not affected. Another option that lowers heart rate and GPS sampling is also in the works, but is currently unavailable.

This mode is a great option if you have an outdated Apple Watch but don’t want to upgrade (since battery life is often the reason people buy new watches). However, your mileage may vary. Battery life is highly dependent on individual usage, and the battery status of your watch also plays a role. You can only get so much out of Low Power Mode if your battery has deteriorated significantly over the years.

As with the iPhone version, you will be automatically prompted to enable Low Power mode once your battery power reaches 10 percent. But some people, especially those with Ultras, may want to be more intentional about how they use the feature, for example if they’re competing in an Ironman and need at least twelve hours of GPS and activity tracking. On the Ultra and Ultra 2, Apple says Low Power mode can extend battery life up to 60 hours. (Although you might get much further based on our testing.)

First things first: to use Low Power mode, you need watchOS 9 or later. (We’re currently using watchOS 10, but it will still run on watchOS 9 if you don’t like how the latest version updated the Apple Watch interface.) That also means you’ll need at least a Series 4. If you have an older watch and you think this feature is worth it, you may want to consider an upgrade.

Assuming your Apple Watch is equipped with compatible software, you can enable the feature in at least two ways.

The fastest way is through your watch Control Center.

  • If you’re still using watchOS 9, swipe up to access it. In watchOS 10 you have to press the side button. Then find the tile with the battery percentage and tap it.
  • You should see a readout of how much battery you have left. Press Switch low power mode to turn it on. You will then see an explanation of which features are disabled in this mode, which will appear each time you enable it.
  • From there you can tap To turn on or Encouragement for… The first enables indefinite mode. The latter gives you the option to temporarily turn it on for one, two or three days.

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You can also enable power saving mode by going to Settings > Battery > Energy saving mode. The benefit of doing it this way is that you get extra context about your battery life. Not only can you see how long your battery has drained since the last charge, but you can also see at which times you previously enabled Low Power Mode.

And you can tap Battery status from this menu to check how much the battery has deteriorated and enable optimized battery charging settings.

Update, March 12, 2024, 12:03 PM ET: This article was originally published on October 14, 2022 and has been updated to include information about watchOS 10 and how to access the Control Panel.

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