Apple recently released watchOS 9.1 to the public which includes a new secondary Low Power mode that can extend battery life on all 2022 Apple Watch models: Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra.
In watchOS 9, Apple introduced an all-new Low Power Mode across compatible Apple Watch models which extends battery life by maintaining core features of the smartwatch while temporarily disabling select background features like always on display and heart health notifications.
The latest Low Power mode on watchOS 9.1 delivers more battery life by disabling another background feature, GPS readings. Apple Watch Ultra owners get the most out of the new Low Power Mode which provides 4x more battery life on a single charge.
watchOS 9.1 new Low Power mode for workouts delivers longer battery life but sacrifices data
Apple Watch Ultra can last up to 36 hours with normal usage and 12 hours with a workout like an outdoor run. The Low Power mode added in watchOS 9 extended those 12 hours of battery life to 14 -15 hours during a workout while preserving workout fidelity.
The watchOS 9.1 secondary Low Power mode pushes those 15 hours of battery life during workouts to 60 hours by taking “fewer GPS and heart rate readings”. The release notes read:
Battery life extended during Outdoor Walking, Running, and Hiking Workouts with the ability to reduce the frequency of heart rate and GPS readings on Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) and Apple Watch Ultra
DC Rainmaker said that on the watchOS 9.1 Low Power mode, Apple Watch takes heart rate and GPS readings after every 2 minutes, instead of taking the readings every 1 minute on watchOS 9 Low Power mode.
With that feature, the Apple Watch Ultra archives up to 60 hours of battery life. The publisher writes:
“However, that isn’t 60 hours of GPS battery life, but rather 60 hours of smartwatch life, including other tasks, specifically:
Hiking, walking, or running workout, over 600 time checks, 35 minutes of app use, 3 minutes of talk, and 15 hours of sleep tracking. Usage includes on-demand LTE connection and 5 hours connected to iPhone via Bluetooth over the course of 60 hours.”
After testing the new Low Power mode, DC Rainmaker concluded that it is not “super helpful” because it sacrifices workouts’ in-depth data like real-time pace, distance, running metrics and more.
Having said that, he is optimistic that Apple will nail future sports-focused features on the head.
Judge the future of this segment not by Apple’s initial trials and tribulations, but instead, where they are in about 12-18 months. It’s been just over a month since the Apple Watch Ultra started shipping, and this is the first of a number of planned sports-focused feature updates this year alone (still including a race pacer mode, track mode, and more).