Apple Watch Low Power Mode Explained: What Still Works?

(Pocket-lint) — With the latest version of the Apple Watch software, watchOS 9, the company has enabled a new Low Power mode that helps keep the basic functions of the Apple Watch running, but without draining too much battery.

Like a similar feature on your iPhone, the goal is that you still have your Apple Watch working even when your battery level drops below 10 percent.

How to turn on Low Power Mode on Apple Watch

There are two ways to enable Low Power Mode on your Apple Watch, you can either use the Control Center, or dive into the Settings menu and enable it from there.

Control center method:

  1. Bring up Control Center from the bottom of your watch screen by tap and hold, then swipe up
  2. Tap on Battery Percentage Control
  3. Enable Low Power Mode by clicking the toggle button

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Settings menu method:

  1. Open Settings on your Apple Watch
  2. Click on “Battery”
  3. Enable Low Power Mode by clicking the toggle button

Once you toggle it on, you will see an information screen appear. If you scroll to the bottom, tap Play or Play for. With the latter, you can choose to run it for one, two, or three days.


If your Apple Watch’s battery drops below 10 percent at any point, you’ll get a notification asking if you want to turn the feature on. Then, once your battery reaches 80 percent, Low Power Mode will turn off. That’s unless you run it for a set number of days.

How do I know when Low Power Mode is enabled?

When the feature is activated, you should see a small yellow circle at the top of the Apple Watch screen. In addition, many battery interfaces and other icons will turn yellow. This includes the battery percentage indicator in the Control Center, the charging animation when connected to the charger, and if you’re using Nightstand, the time will appear in yellow as well.

What features are turned off in Low Power Mode?

For the most part, features disabled in low power mode are parts of the clock that – by default – will run constantly in the background. They include:

  1. Perpetual view/ambient
  2. Heart rate notifications for low/high/irregular rhythms
  3. Background heart rate measurement
  4. Background blood oxygen saturation measurement
  5. Start Workout Reminders

It will also turn off the watch’s Wi-Fi and cellular data connections and disable incoming calls and notifications if your iPhone isn’t nearby. However, if your iPhone is nearby, it will still be enabled.

What other features are affected by Low Power Mode?

In addition to disabling some features, others are affected as well, but they are not completely turned off. Apple lists the following as features you can expect performance degradation from:

  1. Making a phone call may take longer
  2. Background app refresh less frequently
  3. Complications are not updated frequently
  4. Siri takes longer to process the request
  5. Animations and scrolling may look less smooth

The general feeling is that with low power mode your watch will run everything slower.

Can you still use the workouts in low power mode?

Certainly, although – again – some functions will not work well. You can still get your heart rate and speed measurements on your workouts in low power mode. You get GPS as well, but that doesn’t update as frequently, so you won’t get as accurate a path as in full power mode, since that’s a huge battery drain.

Read more about watchOS 9 Low Power Mode at Apple support document here.

Written by Cam Bunton. Editing by Britta Opwell.

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