January 13

I ran three half marathons in November and December with the Apple Watch Series 5. Each 13.1-mile race was an opportunity to test how different modes affected both battery life and the running experience. Battery life results after running for about 2.5 hours varied with each configuration: 40%, 8%, and 51%.

The first test took place at the Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon using this set of modes:

  • Untethered from iPhone
  • Connected to cellular network
  • Logging run with Workouts app
  • Using Bluetooth heart rate monitor
  • Streaming Apple Music to AirPods Pro over LTE
  • Theater Mode and Do Not Disturb enabled

No iPhone, music streaming over the watch’s cellular connection, and the display only turned on when manually engaged. This was the most battery intensive configuration using a whopping 92% of battery life.

Then I ran in the Stennis Space Center Half Marathon the following month using these modes:

  • Untethered from iPhone
  • Connected to cellular network
  • Logging run with Workouts app
  • Using Bluetooth heart rate monitor
  • Streaming synced Apple Music to Powerbeats Pro
  • Always-on display without Do Not Disturb enabled

Still no iPhone and the Apple Watch remained connected to the cellular network, but the key difference was that my music was already on the watch and not streaming. Pair that with the always-on display lit the entire race and the Apple Watch used 60% battery.

Finally, I finished the season with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon two weeks later. This time I wanted to test Apple Watch Series 5 battery life with cellular disabled while the always-on display stayed active.

The results were impressive. Apple Watch Series 5 used just 45% of its battery during the duration of the half marathon race.

  • Untethered from iPhone
  • Disconnected from the cellular network
  • Logging run with Workouts app
  • Using Bluetooth heart rate monitor
  • Streaming synced Apple Music to Powerbeats Pro
  • Always-on display without Do Not Disturb enabled

This race requires a bus ride from the finish line to the starting line. During that period, I was briefly connected to the cellular network without my iPhone to send an iMessage from the watch. That accounts for the 4% used before the race kicked off.

Apple Watch Series 5 probably actually used less than 45% during the half marathon too. I turned cellular back on shortly after crossing the finish line, but I didn’t check battery life for another 30 minutes until I was back with my iPhone.

All in all, I was extremely satisfied with battery life performance from the Apple Watch Series 5, especially with the always-on display activated. As always, your mileage may vary — and for the better if you finish the race faster!

The next race on my calendar is the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon at Disney World in April. This will be my seventh 13.1-mile race and, if all goes to plan, the first I’ve adequately trained for ahead of time. After that, I’m 85% certain I’ll graduate to the full marathon distance in December 2020 — a new challenge possibly for a new Apple Watch? Stay tuned!

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