How to Charge and Monitor Your Battery on Apple Watch

By Marc Saltzman

As with any technological device, you will need to make sure you have a charge if you want to access Apple Watch’s great features. Once you have charged your smartwatch, you will want to monitor the battery life to stay connected.

Monitoring the Apple Watch battery

One of the biggest challenges of such small technology that’s always on? Battery life.

Thus, Apple gave its engineers a challenge to squeeze all-day performance out of Apple Watch. And they succeeded.

Okay, so all-day performance is a little vague, but Apple says it amounts to about 18 hours — based on Apple’s testing on a 38 mm “preproduction Apple Watch and software paired with an iPhone using preproduction software,” conducted in March 2015.

And at least the magnetic charger makes it easy to juice up the Apple Watch, as you don’t have to open any ports on the watch to plug in a cable. Just attach it to the back of the Apple Watch, it snaps into place, and you’re good to go.

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Broken down, the 18-hour battery life includes the following:

  • Ninety (90) time checks (four seconds long apiece)

  • Receiving 90 notifications

  • Forty-five (45) minutes of app use

  • A 30-minute workout with music playback via the iPhone and with heart rate monitoring enabled

A 42 mm Apple Watch typically experiences longer battery life, says Apple. The company also cautions that “battery life varies by use, configuration, and many other factors; actual results will vary.”

If you’re curious about specific tasks, Apple breaks down battery performance even further (based on a preproduction 38 mm watch):

  • Talk time test: Up to three hours. Apple Watch was paired with an iPhone during the call.

  • Audio playback test: Up to 6.5 hours (when paired via Bluetooth with an iPhone).

  • Workout test: Up to 6.5 hours. Apple Watch was paired with an iPhone and had a workout session active and the heart rate sensor turned on.

  • Watch test: Up to 48 hours. This test was composed of five time checks per hour (each for four seconds).

  • Power Reserve: Up to 72 hours. Apple says its watch automatically switches to Power Reserve mode — when Apple Watch has only 10 percent battery remaining — so you can see the time up to 72 hours.

As Apple suggests, you likely want to charge up the watch at the end of each day to get it ready for the following one. If you only use the watch to tell time, you can get two or three days out of the watch without having to charge it up (but you can’t do anything other than see the time in Power Reserve mode). Check here for more information about Apple Watch battery life.

Charging up Apple Watch

Apple Watch includes a magnetic charging cable: One end snaps onto the back of the smartwatch and is secured by a magnetic connection — not unlike Apple’s MagSafe charger for MacBook laptops — and the other end of the cable can plug into a computer’s powered USB port (Mac or PC) or into a traditional electrical socket (with supplied adaptor on the end).

As you might’ve noticed, the USB cable doesn’t plug into Apple Watch anywhere. Unlike some other smartwatches, you have no port to uncover. Instead, the circular puck magnetically affixes to the underside of the watch, where the heart rate sensors are, and powers up the watch through induction technology.

Battery-related accessories for Apple Watch

If you’re on the go and don’t want to worry about plugging the watch in somewhere to juice up, a number of power-centric products can help.

One called the Nomad Pod (about $60) is a portable battery charger for the Apple Watch, featuring an 1,800-milliamp (mAh) battery. Nomad says this solution can provide up to four full charges for Apple Watch — before the Pod needs charging up.

Available in silver or space gray aluminum or black polycarbonate plastic, the Pod powers up the watch through magnetic induction and a USB port is used to power up the Pod for when you need it.

Nomad is also making a desktop charger for Apple Watch, aptly called Stand ($60). The aluminum-based Stand holds the magnetic watch charger in a cradle, which could be fed through to the back of the stand to reduce clutter.