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If your Apple Watch has this problem, Apple might fix it for free

Published Feb 16th, 2021 10:02AM EST
Apple Watch SE
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • Apple announced a new free repair program for the Apple Watch, as some devices would not recharge after reaching Power Reserve mode.
  • A very small number of Apple Watch 5 and Apple Watch SE customers have been affected, Apple said in a support document.
  • Apple released a software update to prevent the issue from happening on devices moving forward.

When the remaining battery life on an Apple Watch gets really low, it will enter a state called Power Reserve. That’s a feature Apple has offered since the first-gen wearable to ensure the Watch can still perform its most basic functions even when the battery gets too low for smarter features. Once the device enters Power Reserve, it will only display the time and indicate that the battery needs to be recharged.

Many Watch users must have run into the feature at least once after forgetting to recharge. And once you do charge your Apple Watch again, it automatically exits Power Reserve mode when the battery reaches a certain level. This ensures that the Watch can resume all of its regular functions without the user having to manually exit Power Reserve mode. However, some Apple Watch owners have noticed that their devices no longer recharge once Power Reserve mode is reached. Apple acknowledged the charging issue and said in a support document, where the company also stated that that people affected by the odd bug are eligible for free repairs.

It’s unclear what causes the problem, but Apple says it has released a software update that can prevent it:

Apple has released watchOS 7.3.1, which prevents this issue from happening to other Apple Watch Series 5 or Apple Watch SE devices. Update your Apple Watch to get all the latest bug fixes and security enhancements.

It’s not all Apple Watch models that are impacted by the issue. As seen above, only Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch SE users have experienced the problem. That’s the 2019 flagship Apple Watch and the new affordable Watch model that Apple recently added to its lineup.

Apple says that only “a very small number of customers with Apple Watch Series 5 or Apple Watch SE models running watchOS 7.2 or 7.3” have experienced the issue. The company advises users experiencing the issue to place the device on the charger that they normally use. They should wait at least 30 minutes to see if it starts working again. If the Apple Watch still won’t charge, users should contact Apple Support to set up a mail-in repair free of charge. Apple says the device will be inspected to verify that it’s eligible for free repair.

Apple Watch 5 and Watch SE users should ensure that they update watchOS to version 7.3.1 as fast as possible to prevent this potential issue.

Users who do not know what Apple Watch they own should head into the Watch app on the iPhone or the Settings app on the Apple Watch. Look for the About in the General section. That’s where the Apple Watch model number is located, which corresponds to a specific Apple Watch version, as listed at this link.

A few days ago, Apple announced a similar free repair program for the MacBooks because certain laptop versions encountered a similar battery charging anomaly. Some devices will not recharge beyond 1% when the battery is fully drained. Apple released macOS updates to prevent the issue and advised people with affected 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models to seek repairs.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.