I received a review unit of the Apple Watch Series 5 a couple days back, and I still think Apple makes the best consumer-friendly smartwatch — when it is actually working. The problem, right now, is that there is something that is causing the battery (on this non-LTE version) to last, at most, 7 hours instead of the 18 hours which has been quoted by Apple. And this is even after disabling the Always On feature.
I thought I might have received a defective watch, but Zac Hall of 9to5Mac recently covered the issue.
“I’ve been eager to review the new Apple Watch for the fifth consecutive year, but there’s just one problem: I can’t get through a full day without it dying. Apple Watch Series 5 introduces an always-on display so you can read the time at a glance, and Apple says battery life is unchanged from Series 4 models.”
The article adds that he is only able to get 12 hours of battery life a day. Judging from my experience, he’s one of the lucky ones. I’m going to do a hard reset soon to see if that changes things. In the mean time, my Watch isn’t a brick, but still remains in the realm of a rock.
There are plenty of good things to say about the Apple Watch 5: the screen has slightly more contrast than the Apple Watch 4; the Watch has an Always-On feature; voice recognition has slightly improved; and health tracking seems more accurate even without claims that it has been improved. It’s a solid smartwatch when it works.
I’m assuming that a software update should fix the battery issue, but how much more juice will the average user get? For now, the Apple Watch Series 4 offers the best battery life. If you have a fourth-generation Apple Watch, there is absolutely no way you need to upgrade to the latest.
In fact, the Apple Watch Series 3, which starts at $199 (38mm version), may be a better buy right now. Even though the third-generation smartwatch has a smaller screen and the pixel density isn’t as crisp, the device still works perfectly and will last at least two days for the average user. The LTE version takes up a lot of power, but most users should be able to last at least a day with that version — if they actually use the LTE part.
Perhaps the sixth-generation Apple Watch will be a true upgrade. For now, the Apple Watch 5 feels more like a downgrade.