Apple Watch 3 review

The Apple Watch 3 is still a powerful wearable

Apple Watch 3
(Image: © Future)

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  • Easily lasts a whole day off charge
  • Connected to a phone, will cruise past two days off charge
  • Decent run time for a smartwatch

We wanted to approach this battery test in a couple of ways: firstly, using the Watch 3 as it would be without LTE, and then throwing the cellular connection in there to see the difference.

If you're going for the non-LTE version of the Apple Watch 3, you're going to get stellar battery life. We tried this just connected to a phone, but not using the device for any dedicated exercise.

Music playback does drop battery life

Music playback does drop battery life

We easily cruised past two days off-charge, with the end only coming around 50-plus hours in. It shows that, once again, Apple has underplayed the battery life of its device in order to let you perform a variety of functions with it without it experiencing cripplingly bad performance.

In LTE mode, where it'll flick in and out of using the phone's connection and its own, the battery life is still going to last over 24 hours, even with runs, workouts and motion tracking running all day. 

Battery life during exercise

If you're going for a run with your phone strapped to your arm, battery life is equally as good, with only 4% dropped in an hour's running. Using the GPS from the iPhone 8 Plus showed that the Watch 3 can just become a dumb screen and still show you your workout stats, without much of a loss in accuracy.

It was impressive running on its own steam, too. For our next test we connected the Watch 3 to an LTE network and went for a 75-minute run. During that time we received tweets and conducted a short phone call of a couple of minutes, and Watch 3 dropped from 100% to 77%, which again is a great result for a multi-faceted device.

Extrapolating from that, if you were able to complete a marathon in four hours the Apple Watch 3 would easily be able to continue tracking you (and offer heart rate data too).

Apple's goal is to keep the exercise tracking going for anyone who's going to complete a marathon in around five hours, and that's still present and correct here.

The rear-mounted heart rate monitor is a touch better on the Watch 3

The rear-mounted heart rate monitor is a touch better on the Watch 3

Intriguingly, conducting the same test without LTE showed a similar result: a 70-minute run with GPS dropping the watch to 79% battery life, and this was in slightly more tree-covered surroundings.

It seems the Apple Watch 3 is decent at slowing down certain connections when needed, no matter whether you’re using mobile data or not.

In short, we’re very impressed with the battery life of the Apple Watch 3 given that it’s a smartwatch performing myriad functions. Having a device that can last over two days removes the stress of having to charge every day to the point where it’s almost annoying.

Not having to remember to charge every day, however, meant we sometimes forgot to plug in at all, and ended up a little too close to empty for comfort, sometimes straying into battery-saver territory, where the screen will only show the time when a button is pressed.

It seems a bit churlish to moan about a watch lasting more than one day, but until Apple can get the Watch to last a week between charges it’ll be hard to do anything other than stick it on the charger every night just to be safe.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.