The Apple Watch Series 5 Battery: The Situation and My Experience

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

The last week has been weird for the Apple Watch. The new hardware is out and outside of people loving the always on screen, the only thing I see in my timeline are people complaining about battery life in the Series 5 Apple Watch.

My question is what the hell is going on? If I wasn’t on Twitter, I’d assume this watch was right in line with the best battery on any Apple Watch to date. Last Saturday I wore both watches for most of a day and got similar results to the Series 4. A week went by and I didn’t have any issues, and this Saturday I tracked my battery life over the 24 hours I wore it (11PM Friday through 11PM Saturday). Based on my testing, I could probably get 36 hours out of my watch.

And this has been with the always on screen…on (including overnight when it’s technically serving no value at all), bluetooth is on, ambient noise detection is on, and I did over 2 hours of GPS workouts. I’m doing literally nothing to try and get more juice out of this thing.

Oh, and I’m running watchOS 6.0, the same firmware the watch shipped with; there’s no beta magic happening here.

But there are plenty of people who are having issues, not only popular tech folks like Marques Brownlee and Casey Liss, but also a number of regular folks as well. They’re reporting truly miserable battery, and I don’t blame them for expressing severe disappointment; this battery life is atrocious.

Here’s the deal: The vast majority of reports of shitty battery life has been from people with the cellular Apple Watch. I’ve heard one person mention issues with the GPS-only model, but most people (like me) seem to be saying that one is fine. I’ve also seen people say that the watchOS 6.1 beta fixes their issues. Finally, it seems people who have turned off the always on display on the cellular model have kept having battery issues.

I hope this is indeed entirely a software issue on the cellular Series 5 lineup and it’s resolved in 6.1. If that’s the case we’ll all be happy in a few days/weeks, but this is a really bad look for the Apple Watch and I feel bad for all those who feel like they’re getting a serious downgrade from their last Apple Watch.