Low-power mode is coming to your rusty old Apple Watch on September 12

Low-power mode isn’t just for Apple Watch Ultra, it’s also coming to older models when the watchOS 9 software gets publicly released on September 12.

An image showing a red power icon in the middle, set against a dark-patterned, slightly distorted background

Low-power mode on older Apple Watch models

iPhone users are familiar with low-power mode which temporarily reduces background activity like mail fetch and automatic downloads to save battery power. This feature is also available on iPad and Mac, and now you can use it on your Apple Watch Pro. Read: What is Power Reserve? How to use it on Apple devices?

The watchOS 9 software brings a low-power mode to the Control Center of your Apple Watch. Toggling on low-power mode on your Apple Watch will temporarily turn off auto-starting workouts, heart health notifications, the always-on display and a few other non-essential features. If you keep it on all the time, low-power mode may double the battery life of your Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple has confirmed during its “Far Out” presentation on September 7 that low-power mode isn’t just for the new watches, it’s also coming to any Apple Watch model from Series 4 onward. So even if you don’t have the latest and greatest Apple Watch you can still enjoy the benefits of low-power mode. However, you will need to install watchOS 9, which Apple said is coming on September 12.

It’s unclear if low-power mode is supported on Apple Watch SE.  The Verge couldn’t get any sort of comment out of Apple in that regard. Low-power mode isn’t mentioned on the iPhone SE’s page either.

5 benefits to low-power mode

Here are five ways how low-power mode may be beneficial to your Apple Watch.

  • Extends battery life
  • Improves battery health
  • Slows down battery aging
  • Extends the device’s lifespan
  • Makes old watches usable again

Obviously, low-power mode is especially cool for those times when you don’t have a charger handy but would like to eke out a little more runtime out of your old watch.

With it, you may even be able to use your watch for days before it runs out of juice, depending on which model you own. But low-power won’t do miracles so don’t expect it to magically squeeze more juice out of a worn-out battery.

If your watch needs a battery replacement, Apple will do it for $79.

How to enter low-power mode on Apple Watch

You can invoke low-power mode on Apple Watch by touching the battery percentage icon in the Control Center, then toggle a switch to turn the feature on or off.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom to get to the Control Center
  2. Touch the battery percentage icon.
  3. On the charging screen, flip on a switch labeled “Low Power Mode.”

Alternatively, you can also find this toggle in Settings → Battery on the watch itself and the companion Watch app on your paired iPhone.

Apple Watch Ultra takes low-power mode even further

The Apple Watch Ultra battery is rated at 36 hours of regular use when iPhone is present. Apple’s definition of “regular use” entails 180 time checks, 180 notifications and 90 minutes of app use. It also includes a 60-minute workout with music playback from the device via Bluetooth, eight hours of LTE connection and 28 hours of iPhone connection via Bluetooth over the course of 36 hours.

The company says this should be enough to complete a long-course triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim (3.9 km), 112-mile bike ride (180 km) and full marathon at 26.2 miles (42.2 km). Read: How to get cycling directions on Apple Watch

For extended 60-hour battery life, your Apple Watch Ultra must use a special battery-optimization setting available in watchOS 9. According to Apple, this will reduce the frequency of GPS and heart rate readings.

The company claims that turning on this additional low-power setting will give you 15 hours of workout, more than 600 time checks, 35 minutes of app use, 3 minutes of talk time, 15 hours of sleep tracking and 5 hours of iPhone connection via Bluetooth over the course of 60 hours. Read: 22 Apple Watch tips to improve battery life

When will watchOS 9 become available to install?

Apple will launch watchOS 9 with low-power mode and other new features on Monday, September 12. As mentioned, watchOS 9 will be available for all Apple Watch models from Series 4 and later. The update requires iPhone 8 or later and second-generation iPhone SE or later running the iOS 16 software.