Sat. May 18th, 2024

Smartwatches are some of the smallest gadgets we use every day, which means they also have some of the smallest batteries. Every drop in the battery percentage is felt even more. We’ll show you how to squeeze as much battery life as possible from your Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, and Wear OS watch.

You Probably Don’t Need the Screen Always On

Let’s start with something that may be controversial: you don’t need your watch screen always on. The face on a regular watch is always visible, and some people want that same functionality on their smartwatch. Why should we expect less from a smarter device? I understand the argument, but is it worth the hit in battery life?

In reality, you’re probably not actively looking at your smartwatch screen very often. A quick glance to check the time only takes a few seconds. Modern smartwatches are pretty good at detecting when you lift your arm to look at your watch. You may have to wait an extra split second for the screen to light up, but the battery savings are worth it.

We’ll use the Apple Watch as an example. With some background activities disabled, an Apple Watch Series 7 can last around 49 hours with the Always-on Display enabled. However, with AOD disabled and “Wake on Wrist Raise” enabled, it lasts around 67 hours. You probably won’t have those same background activities disabled, but it shows the difference the AOD makes.

Android smartwatches with Wear OS can disable the Always-on Display by going to Settings > Display > toggle off “Always On Display.”

Always on display setting on Wear OS.

Over on the Apple Watch, go to Settings > Display & Brightness and make sure “Always On” is turned off.

Apple Watch Always on display setting.

Make Sure You’re Using Auto Screen Brightness

Another way to take advantage of your smartwatch’s, well, smarts, is with auto-brightness. There’s no need to adjust the brightness for every situation manually. There’s a good chance you already know this, but it’s easy to accidentally leave auto-brightness disabled. Then your watch won’t dim the display when needed to save battery.

On an Apple Watch, you don’t have to do anything. Auto-brightness is the default setting, and you can manually tweak the brightness on command. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness and tap the sun icons to adjust the brightness.

Adjust brightness on Apple Watch.

For an Android smartwatch with Wear OS, the auto-brightness setting can be found in Settings > Display. It may be called “Adaptive Brightness” or “Auto Brightness.”

Adaptive Brightness on Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Enable “Do Not Disturb” Mode to Reduce Screen Waking

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the display is the biggest battery killer on a smartwatch. So, limiting the amount of time the display is on will increase battery life. Another way you can do that is by preventing every little notification from waking up the screen.

It’s generally a good idea to disable unimportant apps from sending notifications to your watch to begin with—no need to distract yourself constantly. However, a quick way to do this when you need some extra battery life is with “Do Not Disturb” mode. Just toggle it on and only important stuff will get through.

On an Android smartwatch with Wear OS, you can simply swipe down from the top of the screen on the watch face and tap the Do Not Disturb toggle (circle with a minus sign in the center).

Do Not Disturb toggle on Samsung Galaxy Watch.

For an Apple Watch, go to Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb and toggle the switch on. You can also use one of several Focus Modes or create your own.

Do Not Disturb on Apple Watch.

Enter Into “Low Power Mode” During Down Times

For those times when you really need to stretch the life of your smartwatch’s battery, turn to “Low Power Mode” or some variation of a feature called “Battery Saver.” These modes will be slightly different depending on your specific watch, but they will generally disable things like the Always-on Display, tilt-to-wake, background apps, and GPS.

On an Apple Watch, you can open the Control Center, tap the battery percentage, and toggle on the “Low Power Mode” switch. You’ll also have the option to turn it on for one, two, or three days.

Apple Watch Low Power Mode Toggle

With an Android smartwatch running Wear OS, you can swipe down from the top of the screen while looking at the watch face and tap the Battery Saving toggle (usually a battery icon with a recycling icon in the center).

Wear OS battery saving toggle.

Turn it into a “Dumb” Watch to Add Days to the Lifespan

Some smartwatches have a battery-saving feature that goes beyond “Low Power Mode.” On a Samsung Galaxy Watch, it’s called “Watch Only” mode. Apple Watches used to have a similar feature called “Power Reserve,” but now it’s a little less intuitive.

As the name implies, a “Watch Only” mode essentially turns your smartwatch into a dumbwatch. Everything is disabled, and you can only see the clock. This can extend the life of your watch by several weeks. It’s nice to have when you want to be at least able to use your watch as a watch for a while longer.

On a Samsung Galaxy Watch, go to Settings > Battery and Device Care > Battery > Watch Only. Tap the “Turn On” button to enable it.

Samsung Galaxy Watch only mode.

Apple Watches used to have a feature called “Power Reserve” that could be enabled from the Settings. However, after WatchOS 9, it’s simply enabled when the Apple Watch is powered off with battery remaining—you can check the time by clicking the dial button.

Thankfully, battery life in smartwatches has somewhat improved over the years. It’s not terribly difficult to get from morning to bedtime with juice to spare. Whether you’ll be able to stretch it to the next night, however, is still not often possible without some help.

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By John P.

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