Don’t stress about Apple Watch’s battery life – it’s a 500 year old issue

“The ‘leak’ via 9to5Mac of what’s alleged to be Apple’s battery life performance targets last week has added a whole new spin to the rumour mills, and delighted both Apple fans and critics alike,” Kit Eaton writes for Medium.

“Fans are happy because 19 hours of ‘mixed’ use, with the watch mainly on standby and in typical-to-heavy use for only about 2.5 to 3.5 hours a day is actually quite generous — it means a nightly charge during a typical 8-hours of bed time is going to be more than enough. The news has also delighted Apple detractors because the 3-hour-ish figure sounds a little small compared to other devices like the Pebble smartwatch which can last around a week between charges,” Eaton writes. “It sounds even more odd when compared to more sports-orientated wearables which can go for very long periods between charges even though they’re more frequently in use.”

Eaton writes, “Here’s the thing: This whole debate is silly.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in September:

There is no panacea when it comes to batteries. Until the aliens bring us their technology, or fuel cells or something become viable, it’s likely we’ll be dealing with battery constraints for as long as we use batteries. So, expect at least a day’s worth of use. When you go to bed, you do what Rolex owners do with their auto watch winder cases or what most any other watch owner does: You take off your Apple Watch and put it in the same place every night and it’s ready for the next day when you awaken.

If fact, Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue reports, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition “comes in a gorgeous jewelry box — which doubles as a charger. The back of the box has a Lightning connector, and the inside of the box has the watch’s magnetic round charger pad, standing vertically. So as you retire each night, you can just lay your gold watch into its case and let it charge.”

And, as we wrote just last week:

Expect battery life to be used against Apple, as if they should have access to their own special laws of physics, in FUD campaigns from outclassed rivals and the anti-Apple propaganda peddlers.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple Watch’s A5-caliber CPU, iOS ‘SkiHill,’ Retina-class display, and Cupertino’s internal battery life targets – January 22, 2015
Tim Cook of Apple Watch battery life: ‘You’ll want to charge them every night’ – September 12, 2014

37 Comments

  1. “…as if they should have access to their own special laws of physics…”

    Yet somehow Apple has access to their own special laws of *taste*. In that, they seem unbounded by the laws of mere mortal multinationals.

  2. Some think future iterations of the Watch will be thinner. I don’t think so. I think this is the form, and it will remain the same for quite some time.

    What will be improved will be internals and battery power. Expect an upgrade to the Genius Bar where you can get your internals switched up once annually, like a trade-in. As the electronics shrink, the battery will expand, and newer versions of the battery will put more power into the same space. But nothing will shrink.

    In 3-5 years I expect they’ll introduce a second form factor that is thinner, but which works with other wearables (like a ring, pendant, or semi-permanent earfob) to accomplish the same goals with new options (like speaking the notification in your ear instead of lighting up the watch face).

    1. What you say makes perfect sense but our bodies probably don’t create excess electricity that can be tapped at will. Our bodies aren’t designed to be electrical generators for external devices. However, I’m sure clothing could be designed to create energy from our body movement enough to extend the life of a watch battery. I think it would make more sense to build a flexible watchband that could store an extra battery source and I’d buy something like that.

      1. Read today that taking a charge from the air and in particulate wifi or even tv generated energy is not far off so that potentially there could be hotspots in all sorts of locations that ours replenish your device. Heard similar claims before mind that never quite do as promised.

  3. Apple is not some rookie startup, freshly exposed to the rigors of power management. I expect to see sophisticated OS-level control over power consumption, along with restrictions to prevent poorly written apps from draining the battery.

    You may only be able to play the Wii-ish tennis game with your watch for 3.5 hours, but after that, wouldn’t you expect a battery “reserve tank” to maintain correct time in very low power mode for a couple of days? You can guarantee that Apple has thought of this,

    Why do people worry so much? Just because the smart watches out there are so piss poor?

    1. It’s not people worrying. It’s merely anti-Apple critics who wish to find fault with Apple long before the AppleWatch goes on sale. Consumers will either be satisfied with AppleWatch battery life or they won’t. They’ll be able to return them if they’re not satisfied. Like any portable battery-powered device, it all depends on how much you use it so battery life could be all over the place. Use it conservatively and the battery life will be extended. However, we need to wait and see before making any criticisms about the product. Too many a–holes are simply jumping the gun with their tales of woe.

      I know how batteries are and I don’t expect too much longevity. As batteries age they get even worse. AppleWatch is not going to be powered by a singularity so I pretty much know what I’m getting myself into. I’m not going to blame Apple for building a watch with limited battery life. I already know the piss-poor state of battery tech and it’s not all that great.

      LED flashlights were a surprise to me, though. They last a hell of a long time with just a watch battery for a source. Exponentially better than those tungsten bulbs used to be.

  4. FACT CHECK

    MDN, you’re wrong about “what Rolex owners do with their auto watch winder cases.” Many Rolex owners NEVER take their watches off, even in the shower or bed. They don’t need to, because they charge during the day with normal body movements. The watch winder machines are for owners of MULTIPLE automatic watches or those who only wear them infrequently. I own one but only use it when I vacation in Mexico or wherever a shiny watch is an invitation to get mugged.

    1. Agreed: a deskside winder is necessary for when a person _isn’t_ regularly wearing the watch to keep it wound.

      The key difference here is that a conventional watch requires a miniscule amount of power relative to a ‘SmartWatch’, so it is technologically feasible today to keep it powered … such as through kinetic winding systems based on the wearer’s normal motions, or by a solar panel to keep it charged from nominal exposure to natural light.

      -hh

    2. Any autowind watch in good repair will run for well over a day without being worn. Take it off at night if you want, and it will still be running when you awake. Put of on your wrist in the morning, and it will soon be fully wound again.

  5. If anyone can figure out the battery issue it would be Apple, no? Who else has the R&D deep pockets and the experience of having manufactured a billion mobile devices?

    1. Apple could certainly buy a battery company just to get patents. I was somehow hoping Apple would have worked with Tesla on improving battery life since both companies absolutely have to increase battery efficiency to get an advantage over rivals. I’m sure there is better battery tech available but the cost goes up considerably due to the precious metals needed to increase battery life. Apple has to carefully weigh cost vs percentage of increased battery life.

      Apple isn’t building NASA prototypes for space travel. Apple has to use readily available components to be used in tens of millions of devices.

  6. I’m not sure referencing Rolex and the 18K Gold Edition really speaks to the bulk of Apple’s target audience.

    If it is, then they’re good.

    The fact that battery tech doesn’t exist to do what you want to *USED* to be a reason Apple would not bother bringing a product to market. It’s either great or it’s pointless.

    The new Apple looks and behaves like everyone else — bring a *good* idea to market with serious technical hurdles still in place and pray the tech catches up. Boo.

  7. Why does everyone assume we’re going to charge it at night. That battery is going to be tiny. It should charge fast enough to charge it while you’re making dinner or showering/shaving and getting dressed, and allow you to wear it overnight to use as an alarm if you want.

  8. The trolls are out on positive sentiment feedback for Apple’s killer
     Watch.

    Hahaha! Apple’s got everyone in shit fit tizzies and efforts to dampen ALL enthusiasm and positive commentary.

    Notice that people?

  9. Interesting article for the history of watches and power consumption, but I don’t give much thought to justifying present technical limitations on the past.

    I felt that when Apple built their own watch one of the quantum leaps we would see was in the area of power. A revolutionary method of batteries and recharging that would eventually lead to laughing at historic references to “hours of use.” Trickling down to iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.

    It’s a revolutionary product but Apple missed an opportunity to lead on power that could have defined the next decade of technology.

  10. Sure, I could buy a fitness band that doesn’t do 1/5 of what an Watch does, nor will it look as good on my wrist (not to mention the reports of discomfort). I could pay $200-$300 for such a device, which may last several days on one charge. But it doesn’t do very much, so what am I getting for my money?

    Let’s see the comparison reviews once Watch is actually available. I charge my iPhone every night, so what’s the big deal about charging my watch?

  11. I’ve mentioned this before. The linear actuator in the Taptic Engine could be reengineered to capture acceleration resulting from the natural motion of the wearer’s arm to produce a small electric charge that could extend battery life throughout the day. Or you could use magnets in the crown to generate an electric charge when turned.

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