Apple Watch Battery Life Rumoured to Last 4 Hours of App Usage

Apple watch

After originally targeting 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days in sleep mode, the Apple Watch is now said to be giving us another reason for dead-battery anxiety: in its current form, it will only allow a maximum of 3.5 hours of standard use, sources familiar with the matter tell 9to5Mac.

According to Mark Gurman, the Apple Watch’s S1 chip is surprisingly close in performance to the A5 processor found in the currently available iPod Touch, and its display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second. The device runs a stripped-down version of iOS, codenamed SkiHill.

The hardware Apple opted for apparently causes low battery life. While there wasn’t an official announcement, Tim Cook suggested that users will tend to charge it every night because of the high usage rate.

Now, sources tell Gurman, owners will only be able to actually see the display powered on — for example, displaying the clock face, since it is a timekeeping piece in the first place…or maybe it isn’t… (hm…) — for a maximum of four hours. While this number doesn’t sound encouraging at all, we must note that you won’t stare at your watch for four hours just to notice how the time goes by.

You will look at your watch’s screen, however, when you use apps, and due to the limited battery life, that will only be for short periods of time. This, however is in line with the natural interaction such a device triggers: notifications stripped down to their essence.

Apple has also been stress-testing the Apple Watch’s battery life with pre-bundled and third-party applications. Our sources say that Apple is targeting 2.5 hours of “heavy” application use, such as processor-intensive gameplay, or 3.5 hours of standard app use. Interestingly, Apple expects to see better battery life when using the Watch’s fitness tracking software, which is targeted for nearly 4 hours of straight exercise tracking on a single charge.

We’re told that the Watch should be able to display its clock face for approximately three hours, including watch ticking animations, if nothing else is done with the device. However, it’s unlikely that most people would actually keep the Apple Watch clock face turned on for even three hours straight in a single day. When the Watch screen is not in use, the display is powered off, and the clock demands much less energy.

As for the MagSafe-based inductive charging mechanism, sources tell Gurman that we may expect slower-than-expected recharging times, and the fix may only come with the second-generation device. The Apple Watch is apparently on track for a March release, so start saving some money, because the cheapest version will cost $349.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • Tim

    The battery times are pretty much in line with what I had anticipated and sound like they could get most people through the day.

    That said, I still contend that taking something off your wrist every night will get old, just like everyone’s Nike fuel band eventually found it’s way into a drawer somewhere, and that thing required charging once a week or so.

    Also, picture those times when you don’t end up at home in the evening or you forget your charger. It still sucks finding a lightning cable half the time in this case. Imagine realizing you forgot this thing and then having to try and track down a proprietary apple watch inductive charger. It’ll be impossible, so your only option will be to get one from an apple store (or reseller) that sells them for the stupid price of 68.99 or something equally ridiculous.

    With no killer app I won’t be saving any money for this thing and would actually be embarrassed to be seen with it on.

  • Albin

    My humble suggestion: add one of those tiny round watch batteries, just enough to run a digital time and date, so the face won’t be completely blank when it runs out.

  • Flash

    Or create a watch strap with some juice in it.

  • sukisszoze

    Someone will come up with a clip on external battery for the watch..lol

  • sukisszoze

    I remembered in the old days where mechanical watches could wind itself by the swinging motion of your arm.

  • winnertakesteve

    Maybe sometime down the line someone will come up with a must have application for a smart watch.

    i hit device fatigue after the iPad. Just another thing to keep charged and replace after 2-3 years if you don’t want it to perform like a slug.

    things like “slightly faster tool for checking notifications” or “slightly bigger screen for viewing mobile content” just don’t sell me on these tertiary devices anymore.

  • Tim

    My ipad is a very nice bedroom clock and not much more. I totally agree with you.

    Smartphones do everything that smartwatches do in one device while delivering a richer experience. Having to manage two devices that do mostly the same thing is silly. As you said, it makes checking notifications slightly faster, but then the tradeoff is that responding to them takes longer, unless you want to pull out your phone, which is now more effort than if you just bypassed the watch in the first place.