Apple Watch Ultra gains a 60-hour battery with just a software update

Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Apple Watch Ultra owners can now get longer than ever out of a single charge thanks to a software update. The watchOS 9.1 update adds a new setting that means Apple Watch Ultra wearers can expect a full 60 hours of battery life, even when hiking.

While this feature makes the biggest difference on Apple's fanciest watch, it isn't the only one that benefits. Both the new Apple Watch Series 8 and refreshed Apple Watch SE also gain additional battery life, too.

Power up

The new feature is actually a single toggle called "Fewer GPS and heart rate readings." When toggled on, newer Apple Watches will take fewer heart rate and GPS readings during Outdoor Walking, Running, and Hiking workouts, Apple says. When it does that, it'll save battery life — to the tune of 60 hours if you're using that Apple Watch Ultra.

How far does Apple cut back on the readings? With this setting enabled heart rate readings are slashed to one per minute, while GPS readings are cut to one every two minutes.

The result is that your heart rate and GPS mapping data might not be as accurate as before, but Apple does at least have some new algorithms to deal with the latter one. It says it'll use map data and information from Apple Watch's sensors to try and deal with the fewer data points when plotting your route and how far you've traveled, for example. Don't worry, it says you'll still get the full credit you deserve for any workout done while in this new ultra-low-power mode.

There's little doubt that this is now a top notch upgrade for the best Apple Watch for the ultra-outdoorsy, especially anyone who feared that even the beefy Apple Watch Ultra's battery wouldn't be sufficient for days out and about.

You can download watchOS 9.1 now.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.