It's been five years since the first Apple Watch was sold. As an early adopter, I can't remember a time when I didn't own one. Since my stainless steel Series 0 arrived in April 2015 until now with my Series 5 model, I've worn an Apple Watch every day. The only time I'm not wearing my device is when it's being charged daily before bedtime.
Two weeks ago, my daily routine abruptly changed, however.
After an early evening walk, my Apple Watch had a 40% charge. An hour later, it was dead. Dumbfounded, I put the watch on the charger. Once it rebooted, the device again showed a 40% charge. Eventually, the battery climbed to 100% during the charging process, and this is where it sat for two to three hours during regular use.
This annoying behavior has continued, rinse, and repeat every day. Sometimes it's 40%, other days, 56%. No matter the day, my Apple Watch always goes black somewhere between 40% and 60%. After receiving a full charge, the watch's battery indicator freezes at 100% for hours before slowly dropping.
Under normal conditions, when I have an issue with an Apple product, I head to a store. With COVIN-19 stay-at-home orders still in place, stores remain closed, so I contacted the company through the Apple Support app instead.
It took 60 minutes of an aggravating back and forth, which included the running of a diagnostics test for Apple to conclude there was nothing wrong with the watch's battery. Instead, it blamed the watchOS beta installed on my device for the weird actions.
At the time, this sounded like a reasonable conclusion. Unfortunately, the problem continued even after I installed new public updates on both my watch and iPhone, which was one of Apple's suggested solutions moving forward.
Rather than contacting Apple Support again, I have spent the last few days looking for a solution online. After doing more Google searches than I want to remember, it's clear I'm not the only one have this issue with the Apple Watch Series 5. Perhaps more distressing, it looks like the problem has affected other Apple Watch models going back to the Series 0 in 2015!
Unfortunately, this five-year-old problem doesn't have a concrete solution, although there are lots of DIY tips online.
Among those tips I found and performed, in no particular order:
- Reboot the Apple Watch and attached iPhone
- Un-pair the watch from your iPhone, then pair it again
- Update the software on both devices, removing betas
- Use a different charger
- Reboot ONLY the iPhone and see if that resets the battery indicator on the watch
- When the Apple Watch's battery indicator drops below 60%, place the wearable on the charger before the wearable device can crash; fully charge before using it again.
Would-be solutions I didn't try include:
- Uninstall third-party apps on the watch
- Place the watch in a freezer for a few minutes
- Send the watch back to Apple for a fix or replacement
- On Apple Watch Series 5 only, turn off the Always-On display
At this point, I'm at a loss and don't know which direction to take next. I could again contact Apple or wait until the pandemic passes to get further guidance in person with someone from Apple. The watch is still on warranty so that option is probably the most practical.
I'm less inclined to turn my watch into a popsicle and hate the idea of uninstalling third-party apps that Apple should have already tested for compatibility. However, these are strange times across the board, so perhaps I'll try these tips soon.
Finally, I could turn off the Always-On display and hope for a breakthrough. Performing this step was initially suggested by the Apple representative before she blamed the watchOS beta for the battery issue. At the time, I thought the suggestion was ridiculous since the often-advertised Always-On display is one of the few features that separate the Series 5 from the Apple Watch Series 4. If turning the feature off becomes the accepted solution for Series 5 users, count me among the millions who should file a class-action lawsuit against the iPhone maker.
For now, I've decided to ride this out and wait for a future watchOS update to resolve the issue. While doing so, I'll charge my watch whenever it drops below 60%, so it doesn't crash. Yes, this is a band-aid fix, at best, and an unacceptable one for an Apple device.
If you're experiencing similar battery issues on your Apple Watch, I strongly recommend visiting one or more of the many discussion groups where this is being discussed online, including:
- My Apple Watch's battery is stuck at 100% and suddenly turns off in 5-6 hours
- Battery Indicator Incorrect on Series 5 Apple Watch
- Apple Watch Battery Percentage Is Incorrect
- Battery Indicator stuck at 100% All day
As I and others wait for a real solution, I'd like to hear from you. If you have (or had) a battery issue with your Apple Watch Series like the one described above, let us know below. Did you find a solution?
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
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