This Year’s Apple Watch Might Get a Boost in Battery Life

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One of the biggest complaints we’ve heard from Apple Watch detractors over the years is the single-day battery life. After all, charging a battery every night is unheard of among standard watches, and while Apple tries to make the process as easy as possible, some would rather not have to think about it at all.

It’s a valid concern, and while we’re years away from a point where any smartwatch will be able to boast the months-long battery life of traditional watches, some smartwatch makers have come up with clever ways to eke as much runtime as possible. For example, the new OnePlus Watch can easily run for three days between charges, with a Power Saver mode that can push that to 12 days.

That’s an outlier, to be clear, but many popular Android Wear OS watches can get through at least two full days, even when their sleep-tracking features are used overnight. This makes it all the more surprising — and disappointing — that Apple’s wearable hasn’t moved the needle on battery life since its introduction in 2015.

The Apple Watch Series 9 promises the same 18 hours of battery life on a single charge as the original Apple Watch did nine years ago. The only significant change was the introduction of a Low Power mode in watchOS 9 that can double the run-time to 36 hours at the expense of things like the always-on display and background heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring.

The bulkier Apple Watch Ultra doubles those numbers to 36 hours of regular operation and 72 hours in Low Power mode. However, that’s not surprising, considering its battery is nearly twice as large at 564 mAh compared to 308 mAh on the Series 9.

New OLED Panels Could Improve Battery Life

Wonderlust Apple Watch Series 9 2

We’ve already heard that this year’s Apple Watch could get a big redesign to mark its 10th anniversary, and now a new report from The Elec (Google Translate) suggests that it could include a lower-power LTPO OLED display.

According to supply chain sources, the Apple Watch Series 10 (or “Apple Watch X”) will use thin-film transistor (TFT) technology across more of the display rather than low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS). The oxide used in the TFT model wastes less power than LTPS switching transistors, which translates to better battery life.

This will be especially significant for the always-on display. While it’s too early to say how much of a difference it will make, it could potentially allow the Apple Watch Series 10 to get closer to the 36 hours of runtime that’s available in Low Power mode, especially if Apple bakes in a few efficiency improvements in other areas such as the S10 chip that will undoubtedly power this year’s wearable.

Unfortunately, there’s also a catch here, which is why Apple hasn’t already adopted this approach. The TFT substrates are more complicated to manufacture, which increases costs and production times. The Elec notes that LG Display is on board to produce them for this year’s Apple Watch, while Samsung Display is piloting the technology and will possibly join the program next year.

It’s unclear how long Apple has been pursuing this new OLED technique, but with its recent decision to scrap its rumored plans for a microLED Apple Watch, it could be the most significant advancement we see on the wearable in the next few years.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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