Latest iOS 13 Betas May Be Draining Your Apple Watch Battery

Apple Watch Charging Beside Power Adapter Credit: Sarut Chaprasert / Shutterstock
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As odd as it sounds, running the latest beta of iOS 13 on your iPhone could actually be draining the battery faster on your Apple Watch, according to what some users on Reddit have discovered.

According to Reddit user cega9110, the betas of iOS 13 released earlier this week — that’s developer beta 5 and public beta 4 — have resulted in a huge battery drain for at least some Apple Watch users, with many reporting that they can’t even get through a day of normal use, with Apple Watches dying in under 5 hours in some cases.

This is despite the fact that the users in question are still running a release version of watchOS 5, since there are no public betas available for the Apple Watch. However, the reported experiences are significant enough to make a solid case that it’s the iPhone, and the latest iOS 13 beta, that is the source of the problem.

Confirm the same. Mine last 2 days with my usage and it’s died before 6pm the last 2 days without doing anything on it. Was about to call support to figure out why it was dying but this explains it as I just updated to the beta on my phone 3 days ago.

Reddit user bdaddy31

There are enough reports to suggest that this problem is somewhat widespread, although it doesn’t affect everybody, and it’s unclear what factors may be at play here, such as specific watchOS versions or models of Apple Watch, since most of the commenters aren’t sharing these details.

While some Reddit users are arguing that the reports can’t be true since an iPhone shouldn’t be able to affect the battery life on an Apple Watch, it’s hard to argue with the experiences being shared by those who are running into problems.

How Is This Possible?

Although it does sound strange at first glance that an iOS beta could affect battery life on an entirely different device, it’s important to keep in mind that the Apple Watch still isn’t entirely independent of the iPhone.

Sure, you can leave your iPhone at home and take a run with your Apple Watch, and if you have a cellular model, you can even get online, make phone calls, and stream Apple Music. But when your iPhone is nearby, your Apple Watch will stay latched onto its iPhone connection like a lonely puppy.

In this mode, the iPhone and Apple Watch actually chat quite a bit with each other over Bluetooth. All of the internet traffic from the Apple Watch goes through the iPhone, and the iPhone pushes notifications and other updates to the Apple Watch, both as part of the native iOS and watchOS relationship, but also related to third-party companion apps that may be running on the Apple Watch.

At the most basic level, the iOS 13 beta could simply be exchanging a lot more data with the Apple Watch, causing higher power usage due to the Bluetooth radio being in constant use, although there could also be other, more complicated issues involved here as well.

For users of the cellular model, for example, if the iPhone running the iOS 13 beta is doing the opposite — not maintaining a proper connection — this will force the Apple Watch to fall back to using an LTE connection, which will drain the battery much faster. Even non-cellular models that are forced to rely on Wi-Fi will see reduced battery life, in fact, although the results won’t be as dramatic.

Is There a Fix?

The good news is that the problem doesn’t appear to be affecting everybody. The bulk of the reports are from users with the Series 4, so it’s possible that older models aren’t impacted as seriously. There doesn’t appear to be a big difference between recent watchOS versions however, as some users who avoided the recent watchOS 5.3 update are still experiencing the problem — and many who installed it aren’t having any problems at all.

Developers, who are the only ones with access to the watchOS 6 beta builds, have also reported that the problem doesn’t seem occur with the most recent watchOS beta, which makes sense considering that iOS 13 is likely being primarily optimized to work with watchOS 6.

The bad news, however, is that if this is affecting you, then you may have to live with it, at least until the next iOS beta arrives, although there are a few things you can try:

  1. Some have reported that simply restarting their Apple Watch fixes the problem, so it’s definitely worth a shot.
  2. Some have suggested that unpairing and repairing your Apple Watch could also fix the problem, although it’s unclear if it actually does.
  3. Reverting back to the most recent version of iOS 12 should also fix the problem, although that will require wiping your iPhone and starting fresh.
  4. Turning off the Wi-Fi and Cellular radios on your Apple Watch will also help to at least save some power, even if they don’t fix the problem outright.

However, if none of these fix the problem, or aren’t options for you, then you’re likely stuck recharging your Apple Watch a couple of times a day until the next beta comes along and hopefully fixes the issue. Sadly, it’s the price one pays for choosing to run beta software.

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