by Jim Lynch

Apple Watch 2: Does it need a bigger battery?

Sep 01, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsSmartwatchesWearables

Rumors suggest that the 42mm Apple Watch 2 might come with a larger battery, but it’s the 38mm watch that could really use a better battery.

The Apple Watch 2 has been the subject of numerous rumors as a possible September announcement looms. The latest rumor suggests that the 42mm Apple Watch 2 might have a significantly larger battery.

Joe Rossignol reports for Mac Rumors:

A purported photo of a larger 334 mAh lithium-ion battery destined for the Apple Watch 2 has surfaced on Chinese microblogging service Weibo, foreshadowing expected battery life improvements coming to the wrist-worn device.

The battery is allegedly for the 42mm model, which currently has a 246 mAh battery, suggesting the next-generation 42mm model could have a 35.7% larger battery. The photo does not provide any clues about potential battery life improvements coming to the smaller 38mm model, which is currently equipped with a 205 mAh battery.

The veracity of the photo cannot be confirmed, as is often the case, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said an Apple Watch 2 with a higher capacity battery will launch later this year. The larger battery should unsurprisingly lead to longer battery life for the Apple Watch, which is currently rated for up to 18 hours of mixed usage and up to 72 hours in Power Reserve mode on a single charge.

More at Mac Rumors

While it remains to be seen if this rumor is true or not, I found myself simultaneously pleased and puzzled by it.

Apple Watch 2: Thinner versus a bigger battery

One of the issues that always comes up in these kinds of product updates is the eternal war between a device becoming thinner versus getting a bigger battery. This is a war that has been raging among iPhone users for years and years. Some folks want a thinner iPhone while others prefer a thicker phone that has a much bigger battery.

As far as the Apple Watch 2 goes, everything I’ve seen about it seems to indicate that Apple will not make the watch itself thinner. Rumors suggest that the company will use a thinner screen display technology, but the actual form factor of the watch won’t change. So the space savings created by the thinner screen technology will be consumed by the larger battery.

I’m fine with that as I have never seen the Apple Watch as being too thick. Oh sure I wouldn’t mind if Apple could shave off a little thickness, but definitely not at the price of a smaller battery. The form factor of the original Apple Watch is still quite good, and I don’t see a big change happening until the Apple Watch 3.

Apple Watch 2: The 38mm model needs a bigger battery more than the 42mm version

I have a 42mm version of the original Apple Watch (as well as a 38mm), and battery life has never really been a problem with it. It already has a larger battery than the 38mm watch, and I usually finish the day up with the 42mm watch with 40% or so of the battery life left.

So it struck me as odd that this rumor focused solely on the 42mm version of the Apple Watch 2. What about the 38mm version? I did some searching but could not find any significant hints about it getting a larger battery.

It seems strange to me that Apple would improve the battery on the larger watch but not on the smaller one. Don’t get me wrong here, my 38mm Space Gray sport watch generally lasts the entire day without a problem, with 20% to 30% or so of its battery power left over.

So it’s not like the 38mm Apple Watch is desperately in need of a larger battery. But it would be nice if Apple found a way to put it on par or almost on par with its larger sibling. Some folks prefer smaller watches, but right now you have to give up the luxury of the larger battery in the 42mm model for the lighter weight and smaller size of the 38mm Apple Watch.

Despite the lack of rumors about the 38mm Apple Watch 2, I’m not ready to write it off in terms of a larger battery just yet. Apple may yet surprise us with a bigger battery in the smaller watch and, if that’s the case, I’ll be quite happy.

What folks are saying about a bigger battery in the Apple Watch 2

As you might imagine, the story on Mac Rumors about the 42mm Apple Watch getting a bigger battery spawned a long discussion thread. So I’ll leave you with a selection of comments from that thread so you can see what folks are saying about it:

Lordofthereef: “…my wife has a 38mm and it’s not terribly uncommon for her battery to die before the day is through. She does work gen hour days with nearly an hour commute, so that translates to a good twelve hours on her wrist. If she happens to forget to charge the thing overnight, forget about it. It charges far too slowly to make taking a charger in the car worth the hassle.

Overall she likes the product but there are definitely some first gen setbacks. I’m definitely excited for what gen 2 brings and am almost certain to get one based on the few rumors we have already heard.”

Cambookpro: “I presume this will just be to offset the introduction of GPS – the watch battery has been very, very good for me. Would prefer to see performance improvements over longer advertised battery life. Always gets me through a day and no hassle to charge – it would be on my bedside table anyway, so it’s not a ‘chore’ to charge as one member said. ”

Defender2010: “Maybe the battery is thicker to replace the space they will save with a new thinner display. Thus, no change to the outside of the watch.”

Macduke: “I’ve never had a problem with Apple Watch battery life. I’ve only ran out of battery a couple times—and those were times when I forgot to charge the night before and it ran out of battery the next evening. I won’t really care about battery life improvements until I can charge it once per week. What the Watch needs most is performance improvements. ”

Smidg3t: “A GPS wouldn’t require another 35% battery. The only thing that might is a display that’s always on. GPS + always-on display = 1st day buy. ”

iTom17: “I actually don’t get why there’s still people complaining about the battery life of the Apple Watch. It may not last two full days, but generally mine lasts for a full day with still between 50–75% left (and no, I’m not exaggerating here). Especially since watchOS 2.x I’ve been very impressed with how long it lasts. And watchOS 3 beta did not make it less.

That’s why I do agree as well with your other comment: I’d like to see the Apple Watch become thinner without sacrificing battery life. Clearly Apple knows how to make that happen considering they’re talking a 35% difference in a new one. They could be able to have the same battery life as with the current model, but in a thinner form factor.”

S1m: “I am just wondering about the value of the GPS though. Although tracking with the GPS will be useful – it wont integrate with any maps if you aren’t connected to your phone. So yes useful to tell you where you were but not useful to tell you where you are. I am really not seeing the value of the GPS.”

Oldschoolmacguy: “…it makes no sense to buy into the rumors that surround Apple releases as they have a HORRID track record and the vast majority turn out to be nothing more than fabricated claims created in order to drive traffic to these sites for ad dollars.”

Abazigal: “So, make a product thinner, people complain. Include more battery, people also complain. There is just no pleasing some people…”

Scotttnz: “I’m happy with the current thinness, it’s actually the smallest watch I own. I have no problem with the battery life, I think I have only ever run out of battery once, and I wear it every day. I’m not bothered by it being dependant on my iPhone, as I always have it with me, but I like that it stays in my pocket more now than before I got the watch. My only real complaint is the laglack of responsiveness from time to time, which from what I have heard is much better under watchOS 3.”

More at the Mac Rumors Forum

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