What you need to know
- Apple Watch Series 5 went on sale on September 20th.
- Some owners are experiencing poor battery life.
- The issue seems limited to GPS+Cellular watches.
But only with the GPS+Cellular models.
Apple Watch Series 5 has been around for a little over a week and generally the response has been positive. But while the always-on display has been a big hit, battery life hasn’t. At least for some people. Specifically, those who are wearing a GPS+Cellular model.
Backing up for a moment, here’s the issue. Over the last week we’ve seen various people taking to Twitter to complain that they are experiencing poor battery life from their brand new Apple Watch. Some, like Marques “MKBHD” blamed the always-on display. And that’s a reasonable assumption to make when you’re comparing to an older Apple Watch.
Gave it a 2-week shot, but I’m finally gonna have to turn off the always-on display on Apple Watch Series 5.
It nukes through battery about 30% faster with it on and I don’t care about it enough to keep it. Back to gestures ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/w9b8a8Tos0
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) September 27, 2019
But we’ve seen people with a standard GPS Apple Watch Series 5 report no such issues – even with the always-on display active.
I’ve done 90 minutes of workouts today and worn both my Series 4 and 5 since 8am today. After 9 hours the batteries are at:
Series 5: 65%
Series 4: 62%
Adjusting for the year-old battery in the S4, the always-on screen might have a slight hit on battery, but effectively zero.
— Matt Birchler (@mattbirchler) September 21, 2019
In fact, the only people we’ve seen with battery life issues are using a GPS+Cellular model. And we’ve even heard of Apple Watch Series 4 models – again, GPS+Cellular – having the same problem. That would suggest that the problem isn’t so much hardware, but software instead. Especially considering users report the problems persist even when they disable cellular altogether.
There is an issue with battery life for cellular watches on #watchos6 for both #AppleWatchSeries5 and #AppleWatchSeries4 compared to non.cellular.ones. Even with cellular turned OFF all https://t.co/gvO4XKUzje getting significantly less battery life for the exact same activity pic.twitter.com/EHcTTGtfa0
— Ian Blackburn (@IanBlackburn) September 26, 2019
Apple tested watchOS 6 alongside iOS 13 and all the other betas through the summer, but with far fewer people testing Apple Watch beta software it’s possible bugs crept through. And if the problem is watchOS 6 then there’s hope that a new update will rectify all of these battery issues. We’ve heard some reports that watchOS 6.1 beta 1 does indeed address battery life problems, so there is hope.
It’s important to remember that it’s expected that a cellular Apple Watch would drain its battery more quickly than a non-cellular one. That stands to reason, but some of the comparisons we’ve seen on Twitter go way beyond what we would expect. And like all good bugs, this one doesn’t seem to be impacting everyone.
A day with the Apple Watch Series 5, 40mm, cellular.
• Off the charger at ~7a
• Topped off ~1p → 2p
• iOS 13.1.1 installed on my phone during that same window
• Workout on cellular with AirPods and Overcast at 2p
• Cellular disabled when not in use
• Ambient audio off pic.twitter.com/UMNpbk3T6t
— Casey Liss (@caseyliss) September 28, 2019
Liss noted in a follow-up tweet that their Apple Watch Series 5 reaches the end of the day with “20-30% less” than a previous Apple Watch Series 3. To add insult to injury, the Series 5 also needed a charge at midday, too.
It’s still early days for Apple Watch Series 5 and watchOS 6. All fingers point to the issue being the latter right now, and we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled once the betas end and more people can test the update for themselves.