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How to enable Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch (and why you should)

Never get caught with a dead Apple Watch battery again thanks to this handy feature.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

With the release of iOS 16 and WatchOS 9, Apple added a bunch of new features to the iPhone and Apple Watch alike. The iPhone got features like the ability to edit or delete iMessages, while the Apple Watch received better fitness tools, and a new Low Power Mode. 

The iPhone has had a similar mode for years that, when enabled, will limit some aspects of your phone's performance in order to save every last bit of battery to extend its life before you need to charge it again. 

Low Power Mode is a nice feature to have on the iPhone, but it's even better to have on something like the Apple Watch, which has a small battery and typically lasts for a day. 

Also: Why the Apple Watch Ultra is my favorite Apple product in years

Below, I'll dive into what happens to your Apple Watch when you turn Low Power Mode on, and outline the steps you need to go through to turn it on.  

Apple Watch Ultra with time and date.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

What happens when you enable Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch

In order to conserve battery life and ensure that your Apple Watch lasts until you get to a charger, Low Power Mode disables some features. 

According to Apple, here are the features that get turned off when you turn on 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 reminder

But that's not all. Low Power Mode also turns off Wi-Fi and cellular connections, along with disabling calls and notifications when your iPhone isn't nearby. To be clear, though, that doesn't mean you don't have access to data, notifications, or phone calls. 

If your iPhone isn't nearby and you open an app that needs data, your Apple Watch will temporarily turn connectivity back on to retrieve data, and then disable it once you're done. As for alerts and notifications, the Apple Watch will periodically retrieve any new alerts and show them on the watch.

Also: This is the ultimate use of your Apple Watch Ultra's Action button

You're not entirely cut off from the outside world, but just don't expect any communications to be in real time. 

What about tracking a workout in Low Power Mode? 

Well, it's possible, and in fact, you shouldn't really notice a difference in the data that's captured. In fact, you can have Low Power Mode automatically enabled when you start a workout to help you save on battery life. 

Screenshots of the Apple Watch Low Power Mode
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

When your Apple Watch's battery hits 10%, you'll receive an alert on the watch asking if you want to turn Low Power Mode on, but you can turn the feature on whenever you want. 

How to enable Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch

1. Go to Control Center

Swipe up from the bottom of the Apple Watch's screen to view Control Center. Locate the battery percentage tile and tap on it. 

2. Tap the switch to On

At the bottom of the screen is a switch to turn Low Power Mode on -- tap on the switch to slide it to the On position. Another screen will pop up, explaining what Low Power Mode is, and giving you the following options: Turn On, Turn On For… and Dismiss.

3. Select Turn On or Turn On For...

Select Turn On if you want to turn it on immediately and either let it automatically turn off when your watch is next charged to 80%. Select Turn On For… if you want to turn on Low Power Mode for one, two, or three days.

You can easily check if Low Power Mode is turned on: There should be a yellow circle at the top of your watch face, the battery percentage turns yellow in Control Center, and the charging circle when your watch is charging will be yellow instead of green.

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