10 Ways to Improve Apple Watch Battery Life with WatchOS 3

Users have complained about Apple Watch's battery life since its release. Depending on how much you use the Apple Watch, it can last anywhere from six hours to two days. Regardless, the Apple Watch’s battery needs to be charged each night. Compared to other wearables and fitness trackers, that’s considerably less battery life than the average every-fifth-day charging schedule. However, just as there are changes you can make on your iPhone to improve your battery life, there are multiple changes you can make on your Apple Watch to improve battery life. We’ve got ten tips to fix your Apple Watch’s bad battery life. If you’ve got the Apple Watch Series 2, chances are you’re already getting a better battery life. Want to stretch that even further? Make your Apple Watch battery last longer with the tips below.

Related: How to Fix Bad Battery Life with iOS 10 on iPhone

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

First and foremost, make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the lastest watchOS. We’ll be using watchOS 3.1 for this article. However, if you refuse to upgrade, most (if not all) of the tips below should work with older operating systems, although the way to find the setting might be slightly different. Regardless of the device, we all want to save as much battery life as possible. These tips will certainly improve your Apple Watch’s battery life, but some of the tips will require more sacrifice of features than others. We’ll start with the battery saving tips that you’ll notice the least and move on down to the settings you’ll only change if you’re really dedicated to that longer battery life. Let’s get started.

Get Rid of Unused Apps

Any apps you have on the Apple Watch have to communicate with your iPhone. It takes power for information to go back and forth, not to mention the time spent in the apps that drains your battery life. Look at the list of apps you have on your Apple Watch and decide which ones you really need and want to keep. Even if you think you already have it down to the basics, try to get rid of a couple more. Only keep the apps you use on a daily (or at least, weekly) basis. To do this:

  • On the iPhone, open the Watch app. Tap My Watch.

  • Scroll down to the bottom of the main My Watch page. You’ll see the list of all apps you have installed.

  • Tap on any apps you want to get rid of on Apple Watch.

  • Toggle off Show App on Apple Watch.

Reduce “Mirror iPhone” Notifications

While you may only have a few third-party apps left on your Apple Watch, your watch can still receive notifications from lots of other apps. This is a nice feature to have because it allows you to receive notifications from any app that’s on your iPhone without having that app on your Apple Watch too. However, there’s sure to be some mirrored iPhone alerts that you just don’t need on Apple Watch. So let’s turn those off. Here’s how:

  • In the Watch app on iPhone, tap My Watch.

  • From this page, select Notifications.

  • Scroll down to the section labeled: Mirror iPhone Alerts From.

  • Look through the apps and toggle off alerts from any apps you don’t need notifications from.

The less your iPhone has to search for notifications from these apps, the more battery you’ll save.

Turn Off Background App Refresh

This tip is a no-brainer. Background App Refresh automatically refreshes apps that are in the background so that the most recent information is displayed immediately when the app is opened. But having this function on means that any apps you have open in the background are draining your Apple Watch battery life. When you turn this off, only the apps used in the complications of your watch face will continue to refresh in the background To do this:

  • From the Watch app on the iPhone, tap My Watch.

  • Select General.

  • Tap Background App Refresh

  • Toggle off Background App Refresh.

  • You can also selectively turn off Background App Refresh for specific apps if you don’t want to turn it off altogether.

Turn Off Automatic Downloads

When you download an app on your iPhone, it automatically downloads to Apple Watch, if there’s an Apple Watch version of the app. This communication between devices takes up battery power. We all randomly download apps on iPhone to try out that we may never use again, much less on Apple Watch. Turn off this automation to save battery power and manually add apps you want to see on Apple Watch within the My Watch tab instead. To turn off automatic downloads on Apple Watch:

  • From the My Watch tab in the Watch app on iPhone, tap General.

  • Toggle off Automatic App Install.

Turn Off Prominent Haptics

A major power drain on the Apple Watch is Haptic Feedback. Your Apple Watch will play a prominent haptic (vibration) to let you know a notification has come through. However, you can turn off these prominent haptics to reduce how often your Apple Watch plays them, thereby reducing the amount of power Haptic Feedback uses. To do this:

  • In the Watch App, within the My Watch tab, choose Sounds & Haptics.

  • Toggle off Prominent Haptic

Turn Off Raise Wrist to Wake

When you lift your wrist, the Apple Watch screen automatically lights up so you can glance at the time, notification, or complications. However, this function constantly wakes the Apple Watch up, even when we don’t intend to view the screen. You can, instead, turn off Raise to Wake and simply tap the screen when you want to view it. This will certainly help you save battery life over the course of the day. To do this:

  • From the Watch app on iPhone, tap on My Watch and select General.

  • Tap Wake Screen.

  • Toggle off Wake Screen on Wrist Raise.

Reduce Transparency & Motion

On iPhone, you can turn on Reduce Motion to save battery life. Doing so turns off the transitional animations you see when moving from screen to screen. Similarly, you can reduce transparency and motion on Apple Watch in order to improve your battery life. This will change some of the look and feel of using your Apple Watch, so you may want to try it out and see if the additional battery life is worth the changes. If you decide it isn’t, it’s easy to turn back off. To turn on Reduce Transparency and Reduce Motion on Apple Watch:

  • Open the Watch app on iPhone. From the My Watch tab, select General.

  • Tap Accessibility.

  • Tap on Reduce Motion. Toggle on Reduce Motion.

  • Return to previous screen and tap on Reduce Transparency. Toggle on Reduce Transparency.

Simple Black Watch Face

The simpler your watch face, the less power it uses. And black pixels on Apple Watch require less power than a white or color pixel. Which means, choosing a watch face such as the Numerals, Utility, or Simple faces and not using complications can work to save a decent amount of battery life, especially if you’re unwilling to turn off Raise to Wake. Of course, not using complications removes some of the functionality of the Apple Watch, which is why this tip is further down on the list. It comes down to what’s more important: extra battery life or using a prettier watch face with complications? You decide. If you want to change your watch face, you can do so from iPhone. To do this:

  • Open the Watch app on iPhone and tap the Face Gallery tab at the bottom of the screen.

  • Here you can scroll through your various options. Click on one of the simple watch faces to edit. Customize your watch face. Turn off complications for maximum battery life.

  • Tap Add.


Turn on Grayscale

This tip is not something I imagine most people will want to do. With that said, it’s a great way to save on battery life, because all those pretty colors take power. Black uses the least amount of power on Apple Watch, so it follows that grayscale would use the least power possible. So it’s up to you. If you do want to turn on grayscale, here’s how:

  • In the Watch app on iPhone, within the My Watch tab, select General.

  • Tap Accessibility

  • Toggle on Grayscale.

Last Resort: Power Reserve

Most people know that their Apple Watch has Power Reserve. But it’s not like Low Power Mode on iPhone. When you activate Power Reserve, your Apple Watch becomes a watch. You know, the kind that can only tell time. So it’ll help to preserve your Apple Watch battery life, but is anyone using their Apple Watch as merely a timepiece? Who knows. If you want or need to put your Apple Watch in Power Reserve to save battery life, this is how:

  • From your watch face on Apple Watch, swipe up to open your Control Center.

  • Tap the percentage, which shows how much battery you have left.

  • Select Power Reserve.

  • To turn Power Reserve off, press and hold the side button on the Apple Watch.

You have to restart your Apple Watch to turn it off since literally everything but the time was shut down when Power Reserve was activated.

There you go! These tips are great, but they won’t matter much if your iPhone dies; check out our top tips for improving battery life on iPhone.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.
Conner Carey's picture

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.