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Why a one-day battery isn't a deal-breaker for Apple Watch

Michael Simon | Feb. 5, 2015
When it comes to battery life, we have certain expectations. With our iPhones, we want to make it through the day. On our MacBooks we need enough to finish whatever project we're working on. And when it comes to our iPads, we just want to advance through one more day of Papers, Please or squeeze in another chapter of The Girl on the Train before turning out the lights.

Swap meet

Of all the things we don't quite know about Apple Watch, one of the most intriguing doesn't even pertain to the three models releasing in April. It's about the next three. People don't generally purchase jewelry on an annual cycle, so it's doubtful Apple Watch will follow a strict upgrade path like the iPhone and iPad. Rolex Explorer and Submariner watches have received consistent improvements and enhancements over the years to keep the models fresh and exciting, but they have mostly retained their trademark bezels, crowns, and design. In the fashion world, new models of watches are periodically added to the existing lineup, and Apple seems more likely to go that route — with sporadic new colors, bands, and materials, rather than set expectations for a major refresh every April.

Each model of Apple Watch is geared toward a specific audience, who will use their Apple Watch in different ways. Sports users are most likely to desire a better battery, and I wouldn't be surprised to see an Apple Watch Sport Plus at some point that adds a higher capacity battery, while simultaneously offering an iPhone-like trade-in program for existing users. By making the body and bands interchangeable, Apple is essentially building a continual upgrade path for buyers, so any early adopters who don't want to charge their Apple Watches each day may be able to swap it out for a future model with better battery life.

A charge too far

There's a reason Rolex owners never have to worry about their batteries: There isn't one. In 1931 the company invented a proprietary rotating weight mechanism that uses the motion of the user's wrist to provides the watch with a constant source of energy. It's one of the watch's defining features, but since the power it stores only lasts for about two days, a popular Rolex accessory is a fancy display case that slowly winds the watch when you're not wearing it.

There's already a rumor that the high-end Apple Watch Edition will come with its own charging case, and I imagine Apple will offer one for the other models, too. Even with magnetic latching, the inductive charging cable looks to be a bit cumbersome without some sort of a dock, and besides, you probably won't just haphazardly toss your Apple Watch onto your nightstand after a long day. Having a cool charging case to stash your Apple Watch each night would take some of the burden out of needing to charge it every night. Eventually we wouldn't even notice, much like Rolex owners don't give a second thought to the constant winding.

Lasting impression

Battery life may seem important now, but Apple Watch is unlike any piece of technology Apple has ever made. We won't know exactly how personal or unique it is until we strap it on for the first time, but based on what we've seen so far, Apple Watch is going to be a device that's judged by a completely different set of rules. It's a marriage of form and function like we've never seen come out of Cupertino, and it has the potential to change not just the way we interact with our iPhones, but the way we communicate with each other.


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