Apple Watch owners plagued by bad battery life under watchOS 6

By

Apple Watch Series 5 California Face
Quanta doesn't want to make Apple Watch anymore.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple’s recent watchOS 6 upgrade brought a host of new features and faces to Apple Watch. But it has also had a nasty impact on battery life for lots of upgraders.

Apple Watch Series 5 owners are reporting that their new wearable isn’t lasting as long as Apple promised it would in between charges. However, they’re not the only ones who are suffering.

Apple made watchOS 6 available to everyone on September 19. It brought an App Store, brand-new faces, a Calculator app, and lots more. It was followed by watchOS 6.0.1 on September 30.

That second update promised performance optimizations and bug fixes. But it hasn’t solved the battery life issues many Apple Watch users have been experiencing since upgrading.

Apple Watch hit by battery life issues

Some Series 5 owners assumed the battery life issues were exclusive to Apple’s newest model, which packs an always-on display for the first time.

“I have been getting horrible battery life compared to my Series 4, so much that I got a new series 4 and am returning my series 5 tomorrow,” wrote on Reddit user.

“Mine drains about 10-12% per hour,” wrote another in the same thread. “I dont know what’s wrong with mine but my Series 3 lasted longer than my new Series 5.”

It seems this isn’t a Series 5 problem, though. Apple Watch owners will older models are also experiencing battery drain since updating their devices.

watchOS 6 plagues some Apple Watch owners

In the same Reddit thread, users reported seeing similar problems under watchOS 6. A growing thread on the MacRumors forum, now at 38 pages, is also filled with complaints from all Watch users.

“The battery life on my Series 4 has definitely nosedived since updating to OS 6,” one wrote. “I hope Apple comes out with a fix for this soon or else my watch won’t make it through a typical day.”

It can be common to experience quicker battery drain after a big software upgrade or a first-time setup. Lots of things are going on in the background that sap power faster than usual.

And indeed, some Watch owners who initially saw battery life issues say that usage returned to normal after a couple of days. But others are still suffering several weeks after watchOS 6’s arrival.

My Series 4 took a hit

I’ve had battery life issues of my own. My Apple Watch Series 4 saw significant drain after I installed the public watchOS 6 update, and I could do nothing to fix it.

I tried disabling background app refresh. I stopped using complicatiosn that I thought might drain battery life faster than others — like the noise measurement complication.

None of it made a different. My Apple Watch was dying early into the evening — long before I went to bed — despite frequently lasting almost two days under watchOS 5.

I eventually fixed my problems by restoring my Watch and setting it up again from scratch.

Will watchOS 6.1 bring a fix?

A fix could be right around the corner. Apple rolled out a new watchOS 6.1 beta on September 23, and many testers report seeing better battery life after updating from watchOS 6.0.1.

We’ve contacted Apple to find out if it’s aware of the complaints, and we’ll update this post if we get a response. In the meantime, you can tell us about your experience with watchOS 6 down below.