Your Apple Watch Ultra just got a major battery life upgrade

New watchOS 9.1 software update includes a new feature for up to 60 hours of battery life

Apple Watch Ultra on man's wrist with orange strap and silver casing
(Image credit: Apple)

The Watch Ultra was already known to have the longest battery life of any Apple wearable, but now it’s been given a significant upgrade.

Thanks to the latest watchOS software update, rolled out by Apple earlier this week, the Watch Ultra is now capable of up to 60 hours of life – and that’s even while using its exercise-tracking features for a walk, run or hike.

This is a considerable upgrade on the 36 hours of battery life Apple says the Watch Ultra is capable of during normal use, with all of its functions switched on.

So what’s actually happening here? It’s all to do with the watch’s most battery-intensive features, the heart rate monitor and GPS antenna. These are both used constantly during exercise, so wear down the battery far more quickly than during normal use. To counter this, Apple has introduced a mode that restricts how often the heart rate monitor and GPS antenna are used.

This setting is called ‘Fewer GPS and heart rate readings’ and arrived as part of the watchOS 9.1 software update. It also appears in the latest Watch Series 8 and Watch SE too, but will have a lesser effect on these watches’ smaller battery life.

With the function enabled, the watch will take a heart rate reading every minute, and use the GPS antenna every two minutes, instead of constantly. This will mean less accurate readings and mapping data, but Apple has created a new algorithm to help compensate for less data being collected.

To achieve the full 60 hours of battery life, Watch Ultra users need to enable Low Power Mode, as well as the new fewer GPS and heart rate readings function. With only Low Power Mode enabled, Apple says the Watch Ultra will last long enough (with constant heart rate readings and GPS) to complete an Ironman race in about 14 to 15 hours.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.