One week ago, Apple released watchOS 3.1 to the public, bringing various bug fixes and performances improvements to the first version update of watchOS 3. Over the past few days a hidden advantage of 3.1 has been discovered, with users on the MacRumors forums and Reddit mentioning that they have vastly improved battery life on their Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 following the new update.
In a thread that started last Wednesday, forum member tromboneaholic posted a topic about the "great battery life" found on their Series 1 Apple Watch after updating to 3.1. Sixteen hours after charging the device, it still had 75 percent battery, even "with everything turned on like location services and background app refresh." Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watch owners note the same beefed up battery life in 3.1, with one forum member saying that they "can now comfortably skip charging every other night" if they wanted.
I read reports that beta users were getting great battery life under 3.1. I wasn't prepared for how big the improvement would be. I have a Series 1, and I had 75% battery left after 16 hours yesterday. After charging it over night, I have 97% battery after 6 hours. This is with everything turned on like location services and background app refresh. So far I haven't had any strange reboots like I had under 3.0. I would say this is an amazing update for the watch.
My field test with watchOS 3.1 on my AW S2: took it off the charger Friday at 5:00 am and it lasted until Sunday 7:00 pm. Great! I think I'll go for a charge every other night and see how that works. For once a great software update, Apple!
Some users have even managed to get a Series 2 Apple Watch on 3.1 to last all weekend. Most Apple Watch owners have known in the past that Apple's recommended 18 hour battery life could get them through at least one day without a charge, but now it appears watchOS 3.1 has improved that to a point where users can easily get to the two day mark, as long as there aren't many intensive tasks running on the wearable. Understandably, some apps -- like Apple's stock Workout app -- increase battery loss when running in the background, which offsets the statistic for users working out heavily throughout the day.
Some owners of the original Apple Watch, known online as "Series 0," appear to not have gotten the same battery boost, however. One forum member said their Series 0 "has actually gotten a little worse" on 3.1, with the end-of-day battery percentage down by 10 percent on average. Another user worried about their iPhone 7 potentially being the culprit behind major battery drainage issues, but 3.1 doesn't seem to have helped their case. That forum member mentioned their battery "drops like a stone" after each workout, so it's most likely a specific hardware issue and not a widespread bug.
My series 0 has actually gotten a little worse. I even unpaired/repaired. In WatchOS 2 I generally finished my day with roughly 25-35% left, with a 1-hour workout. Now i'm down to 10-15% with a 25-45 minute workout.
Sadly my 3.0 and 3.1 experience with original watch is very different. Have unpaired, repaired, reset, restarted but still battery drops life a stone after a workout has run. Have removed all but the one face, background refresh off, handoff off. Genius Bar went through diagnostics and reported all ok. Have a worry that it could be my iPhone 7 causing the problem as the few days with 3.0 on old iPhone 6 I didn't notice the drain.
Still, the battery improvements for the newer Apple Watches appear to be one of the more notable changes to watchOS for most users. As one Redditor shared yesterday, on a 42mm Series 2 Apple Watch they managed to keep a battery of around 82 percent after 11 hours of standby and 1 hour of usage. That percentage was with prominent haptics, max brightness, and background app refresh all turned on, as well. Since posting, many have shared similar experiences.
Check out the full watchOS 3.1 battery improvement thread over in the MacRumors forums to see more stories related to the update.