watchOS 9 lacks a low-power mode, but it may arrive via the Apple Watch Series 8

watchOS 9 was rumored to gain a low-power mode, but looks like this helpful battery-saving feature might be exclusive to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8.

A black Apple Watch Series 7 is pictured resting on its side next to the trackpad on Apple's MacBook Pro notebook in this featured image from Unsplash
Image credit: Raagesh C / Unsplash
  • watchOS 9 was rumored to pick up a low-power mode feature to help preserve battery life, but it’s nowhere to be found as Apple hasn’t announced it yet.
  • A new rumor alleges that Apple is indeed working on a low-power mode but for the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 instead of the current models.
  • It should work the same as on iOS, iPadOS and macOS, restricting background fetch and suspending other non-critical processes to save some battery life.

Low power mode may be exclusive to Apple Watch Series 8

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said back in April that Apple would bring a low-power mode to the Apple Watch with the watchOS 9 software. His prediction didn’t come true: Apple formally previewed the upcoming watchOS 9 update at WWDC22 but low power mode is not among the new features. The Bloomberg reporter is now back with another prediction, claiming that low power mode in watchOS will require new hardware: The upcoming Apple Watch Series 8. “I’d also expect the low-power mode I’ve long discussed as part of watchOS 9 to show up as a new hardware-exclusive feature” on the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8, the newsletter reads.

Low power mode ≠ power reserve mode

Just be careful not to confuse low power mode with power reserve mode, which is the feature of all Apple Watch models. Power reserve mode automatically activates when the watch battery has fallen to ten percent. With power reserve mode turned on, the watch shuts down all its function and becomes a simple timepiece. You’ll see a low-battery icon next to the time when your watch is in a power reserve state. Read: What is power reserve on Apple devices and how does it work?

What’s new with watchOS 9?

We’ll find out whether Gurman is right in September, when Apple should unveil fresh new watches alongside new phones. In the meantime, watchOS 9 packs enough advancements to keep users busy. There are three brand new watch faces, as well as enhancements to some of the existing ones, such as Astronomy, Modular and Portrait. Sleep, health and fitness tracking saw several important improvements in watchOS 9. With support for multi-sport workouts, for example, watchOS 9 lets you automatically switch between tracking swimming, biking and running.

When will watchOS 9 be released to all users?

Apple release the first developer beta of watchOS 9 following its June 6 WWDC22 keynote, with a public beta set to follow sometime in July. The operating system will launch commercially for all users to download and install in the fall. watchOS 9 removes support for the Apple Watch Series 3. Apple’s official watchOS 9 system requirements clearly spell out in black and white that you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later to install watchOS 9 (certain advanced features still require newer models). Read: How to save battery on the Apple Watch