How to use Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch

How to use Low Power Mode on watchOS 9
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

The 18-hour battery life on the Apple Watch for years can be a tad frustrating. Forcing you to charge up the watch every day is not ideal when you know you're going to be away from an outlet for an extended period; however, that's now changed.

If you have watchOS 9 on your Apple Watch, you have access to Low Power Mode, which can extend the battery performance to up to 36 hours — double the 18-hour expectancy of the watch's battery functioning as usual. Of course, this will vary on exactly how you use it in Low Power Mode, but in general, you should see quite a large difference.

Now, before you go ahead and just turn on Low Power Mode on your best Apple Watch all the time, there is a catch. Here's what you need to know about using Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch and how to turn on the feature.

How Low Power Mode on Apple Watch works

Low Power Mode is a software feature, meaning the only way it's going to be able to make your battery life better is by making some sacrifices.

When you turn on Low Power Mode, it will limit or even, in some instances, completely turn off some features on your Apple Watch, all in an effort to save as much battery life as possible. Here's a list of what it does.

Features that will be shut off during Low Power Mode:

Always On display
• Heart rate notifications for irregular rhythm, high heart rate, and low heart rate
• Background heart rate measurements
• Background blood oxygen measurements
• Start workout reminders

Additionally, if your Apple Watch is not near your iPhone, these features will also be shut off:

• Wi-Fi and cellular connections
• Incoming phone calls and notifications

Features that are limited during Low Power Mode

Making a phone call can take longer
• Background app refresh happens less frequently
• Complications will update less frequently
• Siri can take longer to process a request
• Some animations and scrolling might appear less smooth

As you can see, Low Power Mode isn't something you should have on all the time, as it does limit some of the best features of your Apple Watch. That being said, it's great to turn on when you know you're going to need some extra time between charges. 

How to turn on Low Power Mode on Apple Watch

There are actually two different ways to turn on Low Power Mode — through Control Center or in the Settings app. Regardless of which way you activate Low Power Mode, you'll know it's activated because a little yellow circle will be visible on your watch face in the status bar at the tap. 

How to turn on Low Power Mode in Settings

  1. Launch the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap Battery. 
  3. Tap the Low Power Mode On/Off Switch.
  4. Tap Turn On.

(Image credit: iMore)

How to turn on Low Power Mode in Control Center

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your Apple Watch to reveal Control Center.
  2. Tap your battery percentage.
  3. Tap the Low Power Mode On/Off Switch.
  4. Tap Turn On.

(Image credit: iMore)

With both methods, you can also choose to tap the 'turn on for...' button, and select whether you want to turn on the feature for one, two, of three days at a time, if you prefer to set a limit. 

The Apple Watch Ultra offers even more battery life

While Low Power Mode can extend any Apple Watches battery life that runs watchOS 9, it helps the Apple Watch Ultra the most. The Ultra can be pushed to 60 hours of power if you have Low Power Mode on, in addition, to some unique low-power settings that Appel will bring to the Apple Watch Ultra later this fall. 

Still, Low Power Mode helps squeeze out a little extra juice out of your existing Apple Watch. But keep in mind all of the limitations — it's not something that you should keep on all the time, just when you need it. 

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.