If you bought into a wonderfully new and exquisite looking Android or Apple smartwatch, one of the first things you are going to run into within the first week or so is battery life. These watches have come a long way since the first working models, however, the one thing they all share is the inability to last as long as a normal watch. This, of course, is expected as it hosting a full operating system, unlike a normal quartz watch. Instead, it lasts about as long as your smartphone would, or maybe less (some models won’t even get you through a busy day).
So, let’s take a look at a few ways you can quickly improve on this battery life with. Note, that this does not include the simple fitness watches that don’t host a full smartwatch-size list of features (this is how they last much longer typically). This surrounds Android and iOS models (Apple Watch) that host a full mobile operating system filled with features to eat up that battery life with.
You can take action on all of these points or mix and match to create the best balance for your own needs, as you may prefer not to change some of these. Either way, here is a list of ways to get some extra juice out of that watch.
1) Watch Faces
The watch face you pick for your watch plays a huge part in the life of its battery. Using the stock watches that are made for that model will always gain you the best performance. Choosing to go with a third-party option won’t always be as forgiving. Especially, if you go with Facer as your source (available for both Android and Apple). Facer is a wonderful app that is stocked plentiful with all sorts of creative designs. However, some of these designs feature additional information on the screen which means more data being collecting behind the scenes to make it all happen. In most cases, since Facer watch faces are not native to the watch, Facer’s app also has to run in the background at all times in order to make it all happen. It is a hungry app, so this is going to take a toll on your battery.
Most of the third-party watch face apps that we have tested have a noticeable impact on battery life. Facer happens to have the biggest impact that we’ve seen, which is why we chose to highlight them here. That and their app really is the best–if you just have to have something different than what comes with the watch. You just have to be willing to sacrifice precious battery life for those faces.
2) Cellular and Wi-Fi
How you use your watch will go a long way into determining what kind of connectivity options you should let run in the background. For one, if you never plan on using the watch as a standalone communication device, you shouldn’t buy a 3G/4G cellular version of any watch. That’s just one extra wireless radio running in the background that isn’t being used, and each of these radios is going to have a noticeable impact on battery life. If you fell upon a 3G/4G version anyway, then make sure to turn the mode/radio off in the settings (unless you actually are using it).
The next is Wi-Fi. If you plan on always keeping your phone with you at all times, then let your phone do all of the work. It’s already connected to Wi-Fi, so why does the watch have to be too? Since the watch is going to be paired with your phone via Bluetooth, turn Wi-Fi off on the watch via the settings. Most of the time, Bluetooth is all you need if the phone is always around.
3) NFC (Near-Field Communication)
This is another wireless service that is almost always enabled by default (if the watch supports it). It has its perks for sure, so if you are going to use it, then keep it on. It can be used for Android Pay, or Apple Pay, or equivalent payment options that allow you to tap-to-pay at your favorite restaurants and stores, with an associated credit card being assigned to the account. Some models will even allow you to share contacts by tapping other watches (ie, getting close enough as you don’t always have to “tap” devices). However, if you have no interest in these functions, then you are best turning them off in the settings. They are typically located in the same connectivity menu of the settings.
Another very common culprit of battery drain is the sheer amount of notifications you might get throughout a day. If you are a popular person with a busy life on the web, tangled in social media and other forms of communication, or simply like to install a lot of apps on your phone, you will get hit with just as many notifications on your watch as you do your phone. However, you may not need these in both places. Sort through the list of common notifications that appear in your watch and determine if they are helpful or not. Text messages, sure. However, do you need email notifications on your watch? How about when someone replied to your Yelp review online, or that an app was scanned on your phone and shows as safe. Some of these notifications are useful on your phone, but not always two different places at once. Especially those notifications that you don’t benefit from having instant access to them the moment they occur.
For these, you can browse to the settings on your watch and seek out app notifications and disable the ones (notifications) you don’t want on your watch. This will mean fewer noises and/or vibrations coming from the watch, thus extra battery life.
5) Unneeded Applications
It helps to go through the watch and look for apps that came with the watch that you don’t use. You might have also downloaded something at some point and now realize that you never use it. Whatever the case may be, it will benefit you to find them in the application settings and uninstall them.
Not all apps that come with the phone can be uninstalled. However, sometimes they do appear as uninstallable and it is up to you to keep them or not. Some are installed in the system ROM. You can’t uninstall these, but you can disable them so at least they aren’t running in the background. With Android watches, a link to system apps is typically located at the bottom of the normal app list. However, we highly advise that you only disable system apps if you absolutely know what they are and that it should be safe to disable them. Else, you can really mess things up. A good example is if the Android watch came with its own fitness app built by the company behind the watch. The watch should also have Google Fit loaded on it as well (this comes with the operating system by default). If you plan on only using Google Fit (say, you have already been using the app on your phone and would like to keep consistent with this), then you might decide to disable the other app so you don’t have both running in the background.
6) Screen (Brightness)
Last, but not least, is the brightness of your watch’s screen. This part should be obvious to you since the same thing applies to any mobile device (smartphone, laptop, etc). If you crank up the brightness, then you are going to burn through that battery. Sure, it may look nicer with a brighter screen, but it’s also nice to have a watch that gets you through the day (or the next day or two after).
It’s best to make sure your brightness is set to automatic so that it can change depending on the lighting in the area. This way it only brightens when it absolutely needs to, in order to make it easier to read the screen. You can also opt to manually set it to a lower brightness setting and just keep it there. Either way, it will have a positive effect on your battery life.
You may not find that all of these points will be good for your own tastes in a watch. Maybe you prefer to have a super bright screen or have every app on your phone pass on notifications to your watch. You may prefer to have all of your wireless radios on for faster updates to the apps on the watch or cellular usage (so that it can act as its own device, independent of your phone). Either way, the changes you do decide to make will at least have some effect on your battery, allowing you to get that much further.
This way, you can still keep it on your wrist at night and actually track your sleep along with everything else. Instead of having to place it on the charger next to that dying phone at the end of every day.