Ever since the Apple Watch was first unveiled this past September, one of the looming questions about the device has been how well the battery might fare during the course of a normal day’s usage. Initially, Apple was extremely coy about the device’s battery life, only to reveal this past March that users can expect about 18 hours of battery life throughout a typical day.
But now, with the first round of Apple Watch reviews finally out in the wild, we can finally take a look and see whether or not battery life on Apple’s ballyhooed wearable is as solid as advertised. As with any new Apple product release, the first collection of Apple Watch reviews are exhaustive and extremely long. To help interested buyers cut to the chase, below is a sampling of the more pertinent reviews as they pertain to Apple Watch battery performance.
First off, John Gruber of Daring Fireball had glowing things to say about the device’s battery life.
After more than a week of daily use, Apple Watch has more than alleviated any concerns I had about getting through a day on a single charge. I noted the remaining charge when I went to bed each night. It was usually still in the 30s or 40s. Once it was still over 50 percent charged. Once, it was down to 27. And one day — last Thursday — it was all the way down to 5 percent. But that day was an exception — I used the watch for an extraordinary amount of testing, nothing at all resembling typical usage. I’m surprised the watch had any remaining charge at all that day. I never once charged the watch other than while I slept.
That said, compared to a traditional watch, daily charging is terrible. Most quartz watches run for several years on a $10 battery. Mechanical automatic watches are self-winding — their mainsprings stay wound from the natural motion of your arm while you wear them. I have a Citizen Eco-Drive watch powered by solar energy that I bought six years ago and without ever having done a thing to power it other than expose it to light, it still keeps nearly perfect time.
Indeed, for many people, the appeal of the Apple Watch will likely boil down to whether or not certain frustrations — such as daily charging — are handily outweighed by some of the device’s positive features. In some respects, one might liken the Apple Watch to the first iPhone which required more frequent charging than ordinary flip phones.
Lauren Goode of Re/Code explains that battery life is much better than she anticipated:
The Apple Watch’s battery life is not nearly as long-lasting as some other wearable devices, but it’s better than I expected.
Apple has promised that the battery will last 18 hours per charge with normal use. It hasn’t yet died on me during the day, or even late at night. My iPhone actually conked out before the Watch did; this happened to Bonnie, too.
One day this past week, I woke up at 5:15 am, exercised for an hour using the Watch, ran Maps during my commute, made phones calls and received notifications throughout the whole day, and by 11:00 pm the Watch was just hitting its Power Reserve point.
That’s just about in line with Apple’s promised battery life of 18 hours, which is likely far more generous than most people will need on a day to day basis.
One of the more positive takes on the Apple Watch comes from Ben Bajarin over at Techpinions:
From my experience with battery life, Apple appears to have undersold it. The Apple Watch easily lasted a day, even a long day of heavy use. My Apple Watch battery never got below 20% and only once even got close to that. The day it did was a long day when I took it off the charger at 5:45am and used it frequently, including tracking my activity during a two hour tennis match, and I didn’t plug it back in until 10:30pm.
With my average usage, I tried to see how long I could go and several times over the week got nearly two days of battery life. This will obviously vary by person, but the fact Apple Watch users will not have to worry about battery life over the course of the day no matter how heavy it is used is important for the experience.
Geoffrey A. Fowler of The Wall Street Journal writes:
The battery lives up to its all-day billing, but sometimes just barely. It’s often nearly drained at bedtime, especially if I’ve used the watch for exercise. There’s a power-reserve mode that can make it last a few hours longer, but then it only shows the time.
David Pogue of Yahoo Tech writes:
According to Apple, the watch’s battery runs about 18 hours on a charge. In typical Apple fashion, that’s being modest; in two different tests, I tried to see how long it could go without a nightly charging. Both times, it lasted well into the afternoon of the second day — more than 24 hours.
And when your Apple Watch does approach the end of its battery power, it enters a Power Reserve mode with no functions except timekeeping — it’ll go another week like that.
But Apple is right about one thing: You’ll have to charge this thing every night.
And lastly, Nilay Patel of The Verge had a tempered view of the device. While he was pleased with its battery life, he believes Apple may have cut some corners in an effort to get it to last as long as possible.
By the end of each day, I was hyper-aware of how low the Apple Watch battery had gotten. After one particularly heavy day of use, I hit 10 percent battery at 7pm, triggering a wave of anxiety. But most days were actually fine. Apple had a big challenge getting a tiny computer like this to last a day, and it succeeded — even if that success seemingly comes at the expense of performance.
All in all, it doesn’t at all seem that the success or failure of the Apple Watch will rest on the device’s battery performance. Indeed, if history is any indication, future iterations of the Apple Watch will feature drastic improvements in that regard.