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How to use Low Power Mode on Apple Watch

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One of the biggest critiques about the Apple Watch since the beginning has been its battery life. Here's how to use Low Power Mode which can up to double your battery life.

"Low Power Mode maintains many of the core features of Apple Watch" said Deidre Caldbeck, the director of Apple Watch Product Marketing, at Apple's September 2022 event. "Providing maximum battery savings with the least impact to the user experience."

Though not in the original watchOS 9 betas, Apple surprised users by announcing the feature at their "Far Out" Apple Event in September 2022.

Here is the background of Low Power Mode, the devices that support it with watchOS 9, and how to enable it — plus what it disables — to maximize your watch's battery life.

What Low Power Mode does on watchOS

Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch works the same as Low Power Mode on the iPhone. The feature turns off features in the background that are not important to you at the very moment.

While it disables features that may be running in the background and utilizing power, Apple made sure that features that still engage with the core use of the Apple Watch are still enabled and functional.

Prominent features that will be turned off when enabling Low Power Mode would be: the Always-On Display, auto workout detection, background heart rate and blood oxygen measurements, heart rate and irregular rhythm notifications, limiting WiFi connections, and incoming notifications will be delayed as well.

Complications will update less frequently, making a phone call may take longer, some animations and scrolling may appear less smooth, and Siri may take longer to press requests as well.

While the Apple Watch can utilize your iPhone for WiFi and cellular connectivity, when you are away from your phone, the Apple Watch may turn on connectivity even when in Low Power Mode to be able to perform the tasks you want to complete. This may cause significant battery consumption.

Disabling these features while enabling Low Power Mode will extend the Apple Watch's battery to up to 36 hours of use from a full charge.

Low Power Mode is available on Series 4 models and later, they just need to be running watchOS 9.

How to enable Low Power Mode

Turning on Low Power Mode is located in a very convent area and is very easy to turn on and off. Here is how you activate Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch.

  1. Swipe up on your Apple Watch to access Control Center
  2. Tap on Battery Percentage
  3. Scroll down under the battery percentage information until you see the "Low Power Mode" toggle
  4. Tap on the switch to turn on Low Power Mode
  5. A message will appear stating what features will be temporarily disabled to get a longer battery. Scroll down and tap "Turn On".
  6. You can also select how long you want to turn on Low Power Mode for. You can select between 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days.

Low Power Mode can also be done while doing a workout. Here is how to turn it on automatically.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch
  2. Scroll down to the bottom until you see Workout
  3. Turn on Low Power Mode (it should be the first option)

While it is on, your metrics - such as heart rate and pace - will still be measured.

Turning off Low Power Mode can be done at any time. To do so, you just tap the switch like you did to turn it on.

The history of Low Power Mode

Low Power Mode has been included in every device's software so far. The feature promises longer battery life by disabling background functions that may not be as important to you in the moments you need to preserve as much battery as possible.

macOS (left), iOS (middle), and iPadOS (right) settings for Low Power Mode

First being introduced on the iPhone, Craig Federighi, the senior vice president of Software Engineering at Apple, promised that enabling the feature would extend battery life "by an additional 3 hours". Low Power Mode was first introduced in iOS 9 back in 2015.

Though it took a couple of years afterward, the iPad and Mac got the feature to their operating systems as well.

The iPad received Low Power Mode in iPadOS 14 - which was released in the Fall of 2020 - and can be enabled similarly to how you would enable the feature in iOS - through the Settings app.

The Mac got Low Power Mode in macOS Monterey - which was released in fall 2021 - and can be enabled in the Battery section in the System Preferences.

Low Power Mode can be enabled manually, through pre-set automations, or by asking Siri to enable the feature for you.

Keep on saving

The biggest critique the Apple Watch has received since the beginning has been its battery life. While Apple advertises all-day battery life on the Apple Watch, it depends on what you do with it to see if it holds up to that.

Low Power Mode pushes the battery inside the Apple Watch to last longer by disabling features that may not have to be utilized at the current moment. While that is happening, Apple still keeps features for safety - like Fall Detection - in place even when Low Power Mode is enabled. It is nice to see that the same core experience is still enabled whether the feature is turned on or off.

Everyone with a compatible device can download watchOS 9 now for free to access Low Power Mode.