How to Use Power Saving Mode on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has never been known for its long battery life. Example: Apple never moved away from its estimated battery life of 18 hours until it launched the Apple Watch Ultra. But with watchOS 9, the company has introduced a new Low Power mode to extend the time between charges.

Previously, the Apple Watch had a Power Reserve mode, which disabled all functions apart from your ability to tell the time and turned your smartwatch into a “dumb” one until you could get it on a charger. This new mode is different – it’s more like the iPhone’s power-saving mode. When enabled, you can still use your Apple Watch, but some power-hungry features are disabled or limited to conserve battery life.

On the Apple Watch, Low Power mode disables the always-on display and limits sensor readings such as background heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. (Note that it also disables irregular heart rate notifications, as well as high and low heart rate notifications.)

Low Power mode also limits LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. While you can still send messages or make calls from your watch, it only picks up notifications about once an hour. As a result, you may miss timely text messages and emergency alerts.

If you’re in the middle of a workout, though, don’t worry—your heart rate and GPS won’t be affected. Another option that lowers heart rate and GPS sampling is also in the works, but is not currently available.

Power save screen on Apple Watch Ultra

With the new power-saving mode, you can still use the Apple Watch while turning off power-hungry features.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This mode is a great option if you have an outdated Apple Watch but don’t want to upgrade (since battery life is often the reason people buy new watches). However, your mileage may vary. Battery life is highly dependent on individual usage and the battery status of your watch is also a factor. You can only squeeze so much out of Low Power mode if your battery has deteriorated significantly over the years.

As with the iPhone version, you will be automatically prompted to turn on power saving mode once your battery power reaches 10 percent. But some people, especially those with Ultras, may want to be more mindful of how they use the feature, say if they’re participating in an Ironman and need at least 12 hours of GPS and activity tracking. On the Ultra, Apple says Low Power mode can extend battery life up to 60 hours. (Although you can get a lot further based on our testing.)

First things first, to use Low Power mode, you must have watchOS 9. That means this feature is only available for the Apple Watch Series 4 or later. If you have an older watch and you think this feature is worth it, consider upgrading.

In any case, assuming your watch is equipped with Watch OS 9, you can enable the feature in two ways.

The fastest way is through your watch Control Center.

You can also enable power saving mode by going to . to go Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode. The advantage of doing it this way is that you get extra context in your battery life. Not only can you see how your battery has drained since your last charge, but you can also see what times you’ve previously turned on power-saving mode.

And you can tap Battery status in this menu to check how much the battery has deteriorated and to enable optimized battery charging settings.