Change these settings to make your Apple Watch battery last all day

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Keep your Apple Watch going all day long.
Keep your Apple Watch going all day long.
Photo: Alvaro Reyes/Unsplash

My Apple Watch Series 5 gets seriously good battery life. I can easily get 24 hours out of it, but I don’t really stress it by doing multiple daily workouts or by streaming audio directly to Bluetooth headphones. But what if your watch has trouble lasting the whole day? Or if you’re traveling, and not able to just stop and charge the watch whenever it needs a quick boost?

Today, we’ll check three settings that can prolong your Apple Watch battery life.

Boost Apple Watch battery life

Tweaking these three settings will give your Apple Watch battery a boost. And no, you won’t have to switch off the Series 5’s always-on face. Well, not while you’re awake, anyway. Nor will we resort to Airplane Mode or Power Reserve Mode, both of which render the watch almost useless for anything other than telling the time.

In fact, using these settings, you can even wear your watch while you sleep, and still enjoy great battery life.

Workout Power Saving Mode

The Workout app offers its own power-saving mode.
The Workout app offers its own power-saving mode.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Workouts are one of the biggest battery killers on the Apple Watch. The screen stays fully lit, and the heart-rate monitor runs constantly. But you don’t have to forego workouts to save battery life. You can use the Workout Power Saving Mode.

This mode will “Turn off the Always On display and built-in heart-rate sensor during walking and running workouts.” I first thought that this would turn off the display completely, even on the Apple Watch Series 5, but that’s not the case. (Perhaps the wording of this description hasn’t been updated for the Series 5.) What really happens is that the setting disables the full-power screen mode. Instead, you see a simplified screen, with the stopwatch only counting seconds.

To enable this mode, find the Workout section in the Watch’s Settings app, and toggle Power Saving Mode to on. This will boost your Apple Watch battery life without much of a sacrifice.

Reduce Apple Watch screen brightness

Turn down Apple Watch screen brightness.
Turn down screen brightness.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The other all-day battery saver trick is to dim the display a little. If you’ve used the Series 5, you’ll know that even in its power-sipping Always On mode, the screen is perfectly readable. It’s easy to read the time, and check complications, all without moving your wrist to wake the display fully.

So, why not dim the screen so it always looks like this? The setting doesn’t seem to dim the already-dimmed Always On mode. I have only noticed it lowering the brightness of the regular awake-mode screen.

To reduce brightness, head to the watch’s Settings app, scroll to Display & Brightness, and adjust the brightness using the slider therein.

Use Theater Mode at night

Apple Watch Cinema Mode, aka  bed mode.
Theater Mode, aka bed mode.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This one is a battery tip combined with a couple-counseling tip. As soon as you get into bed, switch on Theater Mode. This will turn off the Series 5 Apple Watch’s face completely. It also stops the face from lighting up even if you move. The screen stays black until you tap it.

This is the perfect nighttime mode for Apple Watch. In fact, I’d like to see it integrated with the iPhone’s own Bedtime mode, so it could turn on automatically at bedtime. There’s no need to run the watch face all night long. It’s a total waste of energy. If you wake up and want to see the time, just tap it.

Even in this mode, your sleep-tracking apps will continue to work just fine.

All-day Apple Watch battery life

I charge my Apple Watch when I shower, and in the morning, while I drink coffee and catch up on the news. Between these two quick-charge blitzes, I get through the day easily. To test the tricks I’ve written about today, I forewent the longer morning charge one day, and I still got to midnight, and then all the way to the next morning, on the shower-only charge. And I’m a fast showerer. No need to hang around in there, wasting water.

If you use the watch more heavily, especially if you’re a serial exerciser, or use a cellular model standalone, then you may need to take more extreme measures to extend your Apple Watch battery life. But for most people, these tweaks should do the trick and get you through the day.