When WatchOS 10.1 was released last week, I started having massive issues with the battery and charging of my Apple Watch Series 8. Bad enough that it made the watch next to unusable.
However, the fix turned out to be something simple, despite even Apple Support missing it.
First, let me tell you the story of what happened and what then occurred.
On Wednesday night, I got a prompt to update, so I left my Watch doing this, as it charged, overnight. Thursday morning, I popped my Watch back on as usual and thought nothing of it. Well, not until mid-morning when I got a message to say that the battery was low. Odd. Maybe I hadn’t charged it properly the night before, so I put it back on my charger.
Now the fun began, because it wouldn’t charge. Okay, that’s not strictly true – I got it from about 4% to around 16%. Then it stayed there for a while before slowly dropping again. All whilst on charge.
I restarted the Watch and my phone, but the problem persisted.
I looked up possible fixes for this kind of issue and made the decision to reset the Watch – instead of using a backup, I’d set it up as a new Watch. Except, the charging problem was still the same. To make the set-up process quicker, I’d even uninstalled a load of rarely-used watch apps too.
I got hold of my USB-C charging cable for the Watch (I’d been using the older, slower, USB-A) and tried that. It worked – the Watch charged to 100%. I wore it and…
Yes, it went to 30% within 2 hours. It was charging now but still wasn’t holding the charge.
Next, I turned to Apple’s online chat support, who were helpful but struggled to find a solution, other than everything I’d already done. So, they arranged for someone to call me at a specific time. The person who called was helpful and they got me to run something on the phone that did a diagnostic on the Watch that sent the details back to them. It showed no problems.
They asked me to take it to a store but my nearest is a 2 hour round trip. As a result, they agreed to arrange for it to be posted in. They arranged for a delivery box to be sent to me.
The box turned up the next day and, within 2 hours, had it reset, boxed and back in the post. It was Friday.
On Monday I received an email to say that they’d received it. A few hours later, a follow-up email told me this…
Your product arrived at our repair center, but our technicians weren’t able to process your repair request. We’re sending the product to you along with a letter that provides more information
Oh. What does this actually mean?
When I got it back on the Tuesday, the letter they sent confused things more…
Our technicians performed complete diagnostic tests on your product. They confirmed that is it now working correctly.
So, have they done anything to it?
There may be a fix!
At this point, I should be feeling frustrated, that a watch I knew wasn’t working was being returned with no fix. Possibly. Yet, it was definitely a result of the software update, so maybe something they can’t do until 10.2 is released but, even then, having to wait for that to have a working phone isn’t great.
No, I was feeling pretty relaxed because the good folk on Reddit had worked it out. A number of other users, with different models of Apple Watch, had reported the same problem occur and someone did something that Apple Support didn’t try… they uninstalled all the 3-party apps from the Watch. And it worked. More specifically, one app specifically seemed to be a cause – Mobyface. And, guess, what? I had that installed too.
And, of course, even a reset of the watch had connected it to my watch and the same apps downloaded – when I sent it to Apple, they wouldn’t have done this, so wouldn’t have seen the same issue occur at all.
Indeed, the rest of the letter from Apple Support tells me to reset the watch but, tellingly, to also do so without any third party apps installed. Did they know the cause and just weren’t willing to be explicit about it?
Yes, it’s fixed!
The watch was returned on Tuesday, but I didn’t follow their instructions and set it up as a new watch (too much faffing about setting everything back up again). I restored from backup but uninstalled any apps that I didn’t use, particularly Mobyface. For the rest of the day it was much better, albeit a heavier drain than normal due to setting it all back up again.
Overnight I charged it and, as I write this, 7 hours after taking it off the charger, it’s at 73%. Sanity has returned.
So, here’s the thing, and why blame CAN be put at the feet of Apple – they provide NO way of telling what causes a power drain. On your phone, you can see exactly what is impacting battery life, but not for the watch. They could have easily added this but have failed to do so, leaving a hole in self-diagnostics.
Meantime, I’ve reported the issue to MobyFox (makers of Mobyface) and I note that 9to5Mac have picked up the story too.