Living With the Apple Watch Series 5: More On the Battery

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I spent most of last week keeping track of my Apple Watch Series 5’s battery life. While the results in my case were remarkably consistent, they weren’t what many Watch users are looking for.

Every day was basically the same. I got just over the specified 18 hours of battery life. I would be down to 10% or so every night when I put it on the charger, so I was cutting it close, but I still made it each night.

One day last week I did wear both my Series 4 and Series 5 Watches to see how they would stack up. This test ended up being more difficult to carry out than I expected, as dual pairing doesn’t really work with a Series 5. Because the screen is always on, the Series 4 would never alternate pairing unless I swapped them manually. I tried my best to balance out the time each was paired. but that’s difficult to do during a workday. As such, my results were far from scientific

What I found were the same results that most other have gotten. While the Series 5 meets the spec, the Series 4 gets significantly better battery life. They started off close, but started to diverge after a couple of hours. By midday there was a widening gap. At the end of the day, the Series 4 still had 40%, while the 5 had around 10%. That’s a significant difference. Just to clarify, both my Series 4 and Series 5 Watches are cellular models and both were running watchOS 6 during the test.

Yesterday, I remembered that I hadn’t loaded the beta profile on my new Watch, so I got that done and then upgraded to the watchOS 6.1 beta. I had heard that battery life was improved in the new beta, so I knew I needed to give it a shot. Today was the first opportunity that I’ve had to test the new build during a full workday and performance was definitely better.

I’m close to 17 hours of usage now with an active workday with more than 10,000 steps behind me and I still have 31% battery left. I would have been below 20% at this point in my use last week, so this is progress. Again, this still isn’t up to the level of of the Series 4 and it may never get there. However, watchOS 6.1 does give me hope that Apple can continue to optimize the Series 5 to the point where its close enough to the 4 with the always-on screen enabled that no one will complain.


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