Apple Watch Always On (Worth It, Battery Life and Drain)

The Always-On Display arrived with the Apple Watch Series 5, but users often debate whether it should stay on or off. While it is convenient for some, others are concerned about its effect on the battery. If you are on the fence about enabling this feature, this article gives you all the necessary answers.

So, is the always-on display on the Apple Watch worth it? The always-on display is worth considering if you want a convenient way to use your iWatch without tapping the screen and lifting your wrist. It also helps if both your hands are busy and you cannot interact with the watch, and it is the fastest way to get vital information off the device by only glancing at the screen. The only downside is that it can deplete about 1-3 hours of charge, depending on the settings.

Many users asked Apple to update the always-on display, which finally happened in Series 5. This feature has its ups and downsides, leaving owners uncertain whether to enable it or turn it off. Here is what to know after considering both views.

The AOD update is an excellent feature to have on your wearable device. It is the best option if you want the screen to always display the time and other essential applications without you conventionally lifting your wrist to your face or tapping the screen.

It helps you stay informed, even without touching your watch. These aspects make it worth considering, but there are some drawbacks. For instance, the battery drains faster, unlike when off, and some owners claim it causes screen burns.

Before discussing if it is a great idea to enable always-on display, it is critical to understand what it is and how it works. AOD is a relatively new feature on the Apple Watch available for the Series 5 and newer models but not in the SE version.

It is an exceptional setting that lets your wearable screen stay on even when you are not using the watch. The default setting is the device dims within a few seconds after use whenever it senses inactivity.

Therefore, the screen turns black when you lower your wrist and when you are not clicking the screen or buttons. On the contrary, with the always-on display enabled, the face will always stay on, allowing you to glance at the screen and see the time, notifications, and any other applications you customize.

Luckily, you can enable or disable it based on your preference, and you are free to choose what will display if you turn it on, as Apple has made it straightforward to make the settings.

To facilitate it, you head to the Settings on the watch, click Display and toggle it constantly to stay on. Afterward, you can customize the display such that only specific information appears on the screen. You can go for the date, time, or third-party app.

Still, from the Settings, click Display and choose which notifications you need under the “Always On” icon. You can now include or delete apps to show on display.

Many users appreciate that the aspect lets them discreetly check the time and any other information they have set. While at it, you don’t have to keep tapping the screen or lift your wrist to activate the gadget.

If you are using the wearable for exercise, AOD makes it effortless to get updates on your progress without the hassle involved. Also, it is handy to use the watch if your hands are busy and you cannot use them to turn on the iWatch.

The convenience and user-friendliness of the AOD make it worth considering if you want to use the iWatch at a glance, without clicking the screen every time. Selecting what you frequently access on the watch to display info saves you a lot of time and makes the gadget easier to use. The only concern to watch out for is how enabling it affects the battery life and the reports about burns.

The Apple Watch is a tiny gadget with an equal-sized battery, explaining the need to power it if it is often in use. Therefore, it is expected that leaving the always-on display can affect the battery life since the watch is constantly active, telling the time and providing the information you need based on your customizations. Compared to a device that stays off unless the user clicks it on, the one running the feature loses power faster, although the difference is insignificant.

Additionally, another section of users has raised concerns that the feature causes screen burns when left running for a long time. However, there is no proof that it is risky to use since screen burn can happen on any device.

The effect on the battery is the sole logical downside to enabling AOD. Ultimately, the decision relies entirely on the user. If you can overlook the battery drain, you will understand that the always-on display is an invaluable setting on your Apple watch.

Battery Drain with Always On Display

It was exciting for Apple to finally update the Series 5 and above models with the always-on feature. Still, many skeptical users fear turning it on harms the battery life. If you want to enable it, you may want to know what it means for your watch’s battery.

Unlike when the screen is off, the always-on display drains the battery of an Apple watch, although not as drastically as when the device is active. The battery usage depends on factors like how bright the screen is, how much information the screen is displaying, and the watch’s face.

Generally, leaving AOD on may use up about 1-3% of the total battery life every hour. Therefore, if your iWatch battery life is 18 hours, the feature can deplete around 3-6 hours based on several factors.

Regardless of not using the watch, AOD still requires the device to work to display the information you need. However, it does run as much as when you actively use it. The wearable is known to have a tiny cell that doesn’t hold a lot of power.

Thankfully, the system specializes in using less energy to keep it running for a whopping 18 hours or more for some models. If you want to enable the always-on feature, you can expect it to use up battery percentage.

The conventional way to save the iWatch capacity is by turning it off, but if OAD is on, the device will be operating, losing charge. It is usually by a small margin, although the magnitude depends on several factors like the brightness and how many notifications are showing on the screen. For instance, the brighter the screen, the more power the watch will use and the higher the battery drain.

Secondly, if you have customized AOD to show a lot of information on the screen, the system will strain more to provide the information. Therefore, it will use up more battery, unlike when you only need the time and date to display.

The feature requires the processors and color sensors to run, and they need energy, leading to battery drainage. Roughly, you can expect AOD to reduce the capacity by 1-3% for every hour of life.

If your iWatch can last about 18 hours with charge, enabling always-on display takes away 3-6 hours, considering the previously mentioned factors. Luckily, this amount is insignificant, unlike when the watch is active, and you don’t have to worry about frequent charging.

Therefore, it is a handy way to use your wearable without draining as much battery because you can get all the information you need without activating the screen.

On the contrary, if there is no available power source around you and you want the watch to last as long as possible, it may be critical to learn how to minimize the battery drain when AOD is on.

Some users find it effective to adjust the display brightness instead of turning off the feature. When you put your wrist down, the screen dims immediately, and the same happens when you make a quick motion to cover it with your hands.

If you are still skeptical and don’t want to lose any more battery, your last resort may be to turn off the always-on display. Note that the SE, Series 4, and older makes do not have the feature, only the Series 5 and newer.

There are two main ways to disable always-on for the legible models: using the paired iPhone or directly from the watch. For the iWatch method, start from the Settings and go to the Display, navigating to find “Always On”.

Clicking on the icon will toggle the feature off and remove the setting. On the other hand, if you want to use your iPhone, you will first go to the Watch application, click Display then navigate to the “Always On” option to enable it.

It may be helpful if you desperately need the watch to stay on by saving enough power or when you don’t have access to electricity and cannot charge the device if it goes off.

Doing this may earn you a weekend of battery life, and you can turn on Power Reserve to be sure. Besides, if you want to re-activate the feature, you can go through the same process but toggle “Always Off” instead. Apple ensured that it was easy to make the setting for when you need it and turn it off when you change your mind and made customization effortless to suit various users.

Battery Life with Always On Display

Now that it is clear that the always-on feature impacts your device’s battery, the follow-up question is the expected service time of your watch after enabling the setting. Below is a rough estimate of how long your device will run with AOD.

Based on a series of tests, the battery of the Apple Watch with the always-on display can last about 16 or more hours based on several factors. It depends on the watch model, the brightness of the screen, and how many apps you have customized to display. Therefore, if you have set power-hungry applications to show and turn on full brightness, your Apple Watch’s battery will drain faster, and the device will not last as long.

The AOD usually depletes the battery slower than when the iWatch is fully operational. Apple ensured this thanks to the reduced OLED display refresh rate, where the brightness is significantly low.

The purpose is to use only a little power enough to show the display for the time, date, and information from other apps. Others view it as a traditional watch when it works like this, showing digital time, and allowing you to glance without touching the screen.

How long your watch stays on with AOD running depends on the model and battery life. Since the feature can use up 1-3 hours of the total capacity, you can subtract this from your Apple Watch’s battery life.

The hours lost will also be based on the display settings and customizations. If you have set a high brightness level, the AOD will use up more battery, the same case when you have customized more applications to display.

If you only need the time and date, the system will use up little power; however, the battery will drain faster if you have customized the watch to show data from power-hungry applications.

Similarly, if the brightness is maximum, it will overexert the system and lead to higher battery usage. The best way to check that the always-on display doesn’t use excessive battery is by reducing the brightness and limiting the customized apps on the screen.


Enabling the always-on display is a personal decision since it has its ups and downsides. You will appreciate that it is easy to set, allowing you to look at the screen and note the time, date, and other data from applications based on your customizations.

You no longer have to click or lift your wrist to check the screen. In contrast, the disadvantage of leaving AOD on is that it slowly drains your battery since the watch runs to facilitate the display. It may not be as drastic as when actively using the gadget, but the device can lose 1-3 hours of its battery life. If you overlook this aspect, you will realize that the always-on display is still worth it.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a professional content writer based in the UK, writing articles for a number of different websites for the past ten years.

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