As is the case with most Apple keynotes, the crowd was definitely “feeling it” as Apple CEO Tim Cook and his executive team rolled out the company’s latest hardware products. And as expected, it wasn’t the newest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that garnered the most praise from the audience — it was the Apple Watch which prompted audience members to jump out of their seats and cheer (insert flashback to Oprah’s Favorite Things).
But during the whole presentation on the Apple Watch, there was no mention about battery life; and probably for good reason. Android Wear devices have largely been criticized for relatively poor battery life, with most lasting just a day or a little over a day per charge with regular use.
The Motorola Moto 360 is the latest entry in the Android Wear smartwatch category. It has been praised for its dashing good lucks and functionality, but it has been panned for its battery life:
The battery life of the Moto 360 is just awful, and that’s reflected in our test… In practice, “half the battery life of other smartwatches” feels about right. — Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica
Motorola says the 360’s battery lasts a day, but I haven’t seen it last that long yet. I don’t expect a smartwatch to last weeks or years, but it ought to be able to last a day and a night no matter how much I use it. My watch now dies before my phone does, and that’s unacceptable. — David Pierce, The Verge
A smartwatch that lasts roughly 24 hours per charge with regular use should be the bare minimum. Two days would definitely be more preferable because those of us who are forgetful could miss a night’s charge and still have a functioning device the next day. A smartwatch that could last 5 to 7 days per charge like the Pebble would be the Holy Grail, but with power hungry LCD screens, vibration motors, fitness trackers, GPS routing capabilities, wireless connectivity and tiny batteries, we won’t be seeing that kind of runtime out of these newfangled smartwatches anytime soon.
The fact that Apple left battery life out of the keynote — well with the exception of Tim Cook stating you can ”charge it at night” — and has left battery specs off the product page show that the company isn’t ready to be scrutinized by the press just yet for any perceived shortcomings of its “new category” device.
When pressed on the matter, Apple VP Kevin Lynch told Re/code’s Ina Fried, “We’ve said all we are going to say at this point.”
The Apple Watch will launch in early 2015, so that gives the company a few more months to optimize the device’s software and improve battery life. But unless Apple truly comes up with something “magical” with regards to battery chemistry or manages to fit a whopper of a battery inside the Apple Watch (current Android Wear smartwatches have batteries ranging in size from 320 mAh to 410 mAh), the Holy Grail will not be found.
Updated 9/10/2014 @ 12:48pm
Re/code has gotten a a little more information from Apple with regards to the Apple Watch’s battery life. Apple spokeswoman Nat Kerris explained, “We anticipate that people will charge nightly which is why we designed an innovative charging solution that combines our MagSafe technology and inductive charging.” Re/code’s John Paczkowski went on to say that his own sources within Apple list battery life at “about a day right now.”
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