The Apple Watch Series 5 and Battery Life

WatchThe Apple Watch Series 5 has only been available for a few days, but there have been a lot of reports of poor battery life. Apple claims that the Apple Watch has “all-day battery life,” and gives more detailed information here, saying:

Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps and doing a 60-minute workout. And because everyone will use Apple Watch differently, we tested several other metrics as well.

Further down on the page, they go into even more detail on how they tested the battery life:

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) usage includes connection to iPhone via Bluetooth during the entire 18-hour test. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 4 hours of 4G LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone via Bluetooth over the course of 18 hours. Testing conducted by Apple in August 2019 using pre-production Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with pre-release software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, mobile network, signal strength and many other factors; actual results will vary.

With my Series 4 GPS/Cellular Apple Watch, starting the day with a full charge, I would regularly have about 70-80% left at the end of the day, late afternoon or early evening. Overall, even wearing the watch at night to track my sleep, I would probably charge it for 30-45 minutes each day: a bit in the morning, then later when I took a shower, then about 15 minutes in the evening. And it rarely went below that 70-80% level.

With the Series 5, my battery life was quite poor out of the gate. I waited a few days, however, to let it settle in, restarted my watch on the evening of the 25th (two days ago), then did some testing all day yesterday, recording the battery level by taking screenshots. Here are my results:

  • 08:50 am: 99%
  • 13:00 pm: 84%
  • 17:00 pm: 68%
  • 20:11 pm: 53%
  • 21:13 pm: 49%
  • 22:55 pm: 43%
  • 07:31 am: 26%

All I did on the watch was check the time, check a bunch of notifications, and do a very small amount of app usage (perhaps 15 minutes or so). There was no workout, no music playing, and no cellular-only connection. I was home, and was on wi-fi the entire time.

To be fair, even with a workout and music playing, I’d probably get to 18 hours, but this is a very big drop from what I got with the Series 4. I think Apple was definitely underestimating battery life on the Series 4, and I seem to recall that even the Series 3 lasted much longer than they said. I used to be able to take an overnight trip and get home the following afternoon and still have some battery left.

And many people commented on how long the battery life was for the Series 4, just as I’m reading a lot of people saying that battery life on the Series 5 is shorter.

If you have a Series 5 Apple Watch, how’s your battery life? Is it better or worse than with a previous model? Are you getting through the day?

19 thoughts on “The Apple Watch Series 5 and Battery Life

  1. I think people are comparing battery life on the S5 with the S4. If we look at the S5 in isolation – we could just about get the 18 hours. The S4 has set the bar for comparison.

    If the S5 is now truer to the 18 hours claim (and not an hour more!)- charging habits will have to change. And just count the S4 2 days battery life as a free treat which we shouldn’t have really had.

    That makes me want the S5 less knowing what it could have been. I hear some users with an S4 are now seeing reduced battery life since the Watch OS update – which makes me think it’s a software issue.

    Or….have evil Apple just reset the battery life for the S4 to 18 hours as well – in line with official claims – so that the S5 doesn’t look as bad?

    Man! I was really looking forward to buying a new S5. Now i’m not so sure.

  2. I got very poor battery life today. Not sure what was different from the previous week where I got just slightly worse than the Series 4. After about 20 hours I was down to only 24%. Normally I would be over 40%. I’ll have to monitor it to see what is different. Right now I suspect the noise monitoring. I was in a bar with a band tonight and I was checking the dB level a lot.

  3. First full day in on series 5 with cellular and I was at 65% before noon. (Off charger at 7 am). But no real activity — just wearing it, no music, no cellular activity. Mostly black face.

  4. Bought my series 5 on Sept 25 with a trade-in of my series 3. My series 3 rarely went below 70 percent and now my series 5 goes below that level mid-morning. I have heard the claim this should improve when the watch completes all the set-up in a few days. Well, it is almost day 6, and I am at 19 percent at 9:30 pm. Sooooo, the battery claims are not valid and not sure it will made 18 hours.
    But I sure do like the increase in features of this watch. Maybe if I eliminate some of the complications from my watch, i.e. noise meter, stocks, etc., the battery usage will decrease some.

        • I don’t think it is the noise complication itself that causes battery drain, but the fact that the watch is always listening. You can have the noise complication displayed but not have it listening all the time.

  5. After 7 hours, I am on 61% which is a tad scary. I have noise detection on, not sure if this is eating battery?

  6. Just saw some videos on background app refresh that is a battery drain and should be turned off to preserve battery life/cycle. You will still receive PUSH notifications as this is a different matter.

    • I have not changed which apps get a background refresh from my series 4. So I’m not sure if that’s a variable. If you’re on cellular, it might be, but not if your iPhone is nearby.

  7. I have been monitoring my series 5 cellular since the launch date – now 11 days later the time I am getting from a charge is appalling. I have all notifications turned off, all background refresh turned off, haptics turned off (this made a massive difference for 1 day) I have raise to wake turned off. at night I turn off the AOD (its too bright in bed).
    Ov er night I get good performance but dreadful when I wake up and put AOD back on.
    Charged to 100% this evening and put watch on my wrist at 20:15 it is now 22:00 and my watch is now down to 85% this gives me a predicted life to 0% of 11:53 minutes.
    If I charge my watch in the morning then I have seen up to 12 hours maximum.
    This is with everything off as above and only using the AOD – I have only tapped the display about 6 times a day to go to full screen and check the battery percentage which is one of my complications.
    This watch is going back to Apple tomorrow.

  8. My S5 drains at 12% an hour. Apps turned off, Apple keep telling me to get latest updates for watch and phone but no improvement at all!

    • I have changed my first series 5 with eSim for a GPS model – initially there was no difference the battery drained in 12 hours. I can now get nearly a full 24 hours out of it but I had to do the following to get there.
      I keep a spreadsheet that takes the performance and from time to time I get a really bad day.
      I don’t use it for much more than telling the time now – but I do perform 1 ECG per day.
      To start
      I unpaired the watch from my phone
      I power cycled the phone
      I powered the watch on and started the re-pairing process.
      I said no to download apps and I left all apps off the phone for several days to establish a working performance without third party apps.
      I turn ed off Background Refresh
      I turned off Always on
      I turned of every notification and set custom notification for every app to none
      I turned noise detection off
      I turned raise to wake off
      I turned chime off
      I turned sound off
      I charged the watch to 100%
      I set my phone to do not disturb from 22:00 to 7:30 – this sets the watch to the same
      After a full charge – I put the watch on and went to bed.

      With do not disturb on I get a battery drop overnight of between 7% and 18% with an average of about 15% for 9 hours – remember this is with raise to wake off and always on off – I tap to view time about 3 or 4 times during the night.
      On two nights I didn’t set Do not disturb and the overnight usage was between 28% and 43% for 9 hours.

      Clearly do not disturb has a major effect on the overnight performance – The watch is still capable of monitoring heart rate during the night.

      First thing in the morning – I set either always on or raise to wake on – both on has an impact with perhaps 20 or 30 raise to wakes a day. I tend to use always on – on these days. I turn them back off at 21:00 when I put the watch on charge before retiring to bed. Most days I have at least 30% left in the battery at 21:00.

      After several days I found the usage improved to the point where I get unto 5% per hour, but occasionally I get a total nose dive and it consumes 6% and more per hour.

      I have added only 3 essential apps to the watch and have them on my watch face as complications.
      These have had an effect on performance measured over a 15 day period, but it hasn’t stopped me getting a full day from each charge.

      I am now reasonably happy with my battery but I am not happy about the facilities I am doing without to achieve this. Hopefully 6.1 will rectify the battery life and I will be able to work normally with my watch as I did with my Series 3.

      BTW my series 3 nose dived from 30 hours battery to about 15 hours when I installed watchOS 6 so I should not have e been surprised when I got 12 hours out of my two series 5 watches.

      For some unknown reason I still occasionally get a really bad day eg when it used 43% overnight – it continued that day to use more than 6% per hour until it died half way through the day. I cant understand why these days happen perhaps once a week, there has been no increase or major change in usage on those days but it is the overnight drop that seems to trigger it.

      If you want the spreadsheet I use to record the performance and predict the time the watch will need to be recharged the please let me know and I will send a copy.

      Hope this helps people who have been having really bad battery usage as I did for the first couple of weeks.

  9. I was away recently and left my charger behind. I put the watch in to do not disturb mode and got 45 hours out of it. Unfortunately since returning – my usage has remained very low but my battery life has dropped through the floor – it now uses 40% overnight in do not disturb mode. I can’t seem to work out why.
    I have kept copious records of my battery usage and watch usage since getting the watch on the launch date.

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