Apple Watch Series 3 LTE use not ideal for marathon runners, offers 3 hours of streaming m...

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited November 2017
If you want to stream music while tracking an extended outdoor workout, you'll probably want to bring your iPhone in tow with your new Apple Watch Series 3, as the latest watchOS 4.1 update offers just three hours of uptime while streaming music and using GPS.




New Apple Watch battery test data published to Apple's website after the release of watchOS 4.1 on Tuesday gives more insight into how streaming music over LTE, a capability enabled by the latest software, affects battery life.

Specifically, Apple advertises that athletes engaging in an outdoor workout while streaming audio over LTE and using GPS can expect up to 3 hours of usage before the battery will run out.

An extra hour can be eked out of the Series 3 if users load music directly onto the watch and don't stream it over LTE. And disabling LTE entirely -- which would disable notifications, alerts and Siri support -- helps push the battery life with just GPS, heart rate and onboard audio to 5 hours.

3 hours may not be enough for common extended workouts

Considering that the average marathon finishing time for men in the U.S. is 4 hours and 20 minutes, while the median time for women is 4 hours and 45 minutes, marathon runners may find other, more fitness-specific wearables are better suited for such extended workouts. Or they could just bring their iPhone in tow.

Even half-marathon runners will probably want to at least bring their iPhone along with their Apple Watch. Consider that the average running time for both men and women is over 2 hours, cutting it close to the advertised 3-hour limit.




The time limit will also be a problem for triathletes, as triathlon finish times are also usually longer than 4 hours.

Of course, runners have already brought phones with them on extended workouts for years. And those who want to have a watch-only tracked workout could do so without music, or alerts, if battery life is a concern.

And if you're a really, really serious marathon runner, streaming music isn't even a consideration: U.S. Track & Field rules specifically ban the use of headphones by runners competing in championships for awards, medals or prize money.


LTE and GPS are the big battery drains

Still, as Apple positions the Apple Watch Series 3 as a connected, fitness-focused wearable, knowing its limitations for serious athletes will affect potential use cases.

The one-two punch of LTE and GPS prove to be a serious drain on the Apple Watch's battery. Eliminating GPS for an indoor workout, with just onboard music and pulse tracking, boosts the uptime to 10 hours.





Similarly, streaming a playlist over LTE without GPS or fitness tracking offers 7 hours of uptime. That time is reduced to just 5 hours if the user listens to live radio.

Apple did not indicate whether using live radio instead of a playlist with GPS and LTE resulted in even less than 3 hours of use.

If a user plays music from Apple Watch storage without streaming or using GPS, the rated battery life is 10 hours.

Apple's streaming tests used the Apple Music service over LTE, and also accessed live Beats 1 broadcasts. The tests were conducted in October ahead of the release of watchOS 4.1.

Overall, the Apple Watch is rated with up to 18 hours of uptime for the average user by Apple, though actual user accounts vary wildly. Some who do not exercise with the Apple Watch and restrict it to limited use can get multiple days out of the device before needing to charge.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,783member
    The runners I know have a set playlist, so wouldn’t need to stream during a run.  I’d be more interested in how long the battery lasts with the GPS tracking the course. 
    chiaStrangeDaysracerhomietenthousandthingsbrucemc
  • Reply 2 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,503member
    Prediction: next Big Thing for Apple Watch is a band that has a battery in it.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    Rayz2016 said:
    The runners I know have a set playlist, so wouldn’t need to stream during a run.  I’d be more interested in how long the battery lasts with the GPS tracking the course. 
    If you're really interested, you should read the story. The answer you seek is in the fourth paragraph.
    king editor the grateslprescottchiadws-2eightzero
  • Reply 4 of 27
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor

    eightzero said:
    Prediction: next Big Thing for Apple Watch is a band that has a battery in it.
    Probably a safe bet at some point, but I don't see Apple itself selling one (too bulky/ugly). I suspect we may get an official (Made for Watch?) "smart band" accessory platform that would enable third parties to go wild — battery bands, basic but targeted health functions, and advanced health functions (the kind of stuff that requires FDA approval — but separately from the watch itself).
    dewme
  • Reply 5 of 27
    Good to know, Neil. Thx.

    I originally bought my Series one for the Heart Rate Monitor. I.e. to keep my HR at 125 for max fat burning (180-age=HR) But, b/c of the battery draw I stopped using it on my longer runs....plus I could tell, after awhile, my level of exertion w/o needing to look at the watch.

    I also, keep a watch charger at work and am thinking of getting one for my car. It sure charges fast. 


    Best Regards
  • Reply 6 of 27
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    Good to know, Neil. Thx.

    I originally bought my Series one for the Heart Rate Monitor. I.e. to keep my HR at 125 for max fat burning (180-age=HR) But, b/c of the battery draw I stopped using it on my longer runs....plus I could tell, after awhile, my level of exertion w/o needing to look at the watch.

    I also, keep a watch charger at work and am thinking of getting one for my car. It sure charges fast. 


    Best Regards
    Worth noting that the Apple Watch (all models) connects with Bluetooth heart rate monitors for external tracking. While this is presumably to allow for more accurate chest-mounted monitors, I would imagine that a side effect is a boost to battery life by not using the device's onboard heart rate sensors.
    dws-2
  • Reply 7 of 27
    That’s strange. Apple just said people should get 7 hours of music streaming via LTE. Does using GPS at the same time really kill 4 hours worth of battery?


    “Following yesterday's release of watchOS 4.1, which enables Apple Music and Beats 1 streaming over LTE on cellular-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 models, Apple has outlined how much impact the functionality has on battery life.”


    “While all Apple Watch Series 3 models are rated for up to 10 hours of battery life when playing music from the watch's built-in storage, Apple says the device gets up to seven hours of battery life when streaming Apple Music with LTE”
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 8 of 27
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    supadav03 said:
    That’s strange. Apple just said people should get 7 hours of music streaming via LTE. Does using GPS at the same time really kill 4 hours worth of battery?


    “Following yesterday's release of watchOS 4.1, which enables Apple Music and Beats 1 streaming over LTE on cellular-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 models, Apple has outlined how much impact the functionality has on battery life.”


    “While all Apple Watch Series 3 models are rated for up to 10 hours of battery life when playing music from the watch's built-in storage, Apple says the device gets up to seven hours of battery life when streaming Apple Music with LTE”
    It sure does, gps is a major battery killer and the watch battery is very small. 
    As for LTE, running in a place with bad reception would also severely diminish thee allotted time (could be 5 instead of 7)
    putting bothbtogether, LTE streaming ou a trail outside tehe city could easily get no more than 3h
  • Reply 9 of 27
    nhughes said:

    eightzero said:
    Prediction: next Big Thing for Apple Watch is a band that has a battery in it.
    Probably a safe bet at some point, but I don't see Apple itself selling one (too bulky/ugly). I suspect we may get an official (Made for Watch?) "smart band" accessory platform that would enable third parties to go wild — battery bands, basic but targeted health functions, and advanced health functions (the kind of stuff that requires FDA approval — but separately from the watch itself).
    Apple also has a case with a battery pack, that won't get a red dot award.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    nhughes said:
    Good to know, Neil. Thx.

    I originally bought my Series one for the Heart Rate Monitor. I.e. to keep my HR at 125 for max fat burning (180-age=HR) But, b/c of the battery draw I stopped using it on my longer runs....plus I could tell, after awhile, my level of exertion w/o needing to look at the watch.

    I also, keep a watch charger at work and am thinking of getting one for my car. It sure charges fast. 


    Best Regards
    Worth noting that the Apple Watch (all models) connects with Bluetooth heart rate monitors for external tracking. While this is presumably to allow for more accurate chest-mounted monitors, I would imagine that a side effect is a boost to battery life by not using the device's onboard heart rate sensors.
    Cool. Thanks
  • Reply 11 of 27
    macapfel said:
    nhughes said:

    eightzero said:
    Prediction: next Big Thing for Apple Watch is a band that has a battery in it.
    Probably a safe bet at some point, but I don't see Apple itself selling one (too bulky/ugly). I suspect we may get an official (Made for Watch?) "smart band" accessory platform that would enable third parties to go wild — battery bands, basic but targeted health functions, and advanced health functions (the kind of stuff that requires FDA approval — but separately from the watch itself).
    Apple also has a case with a battery pack, that won't get a red dot award.
    Sadly, since it's an invaluable accessory that allowed me to use my 2-year-old iPhone 6s all day every day, it doesn't appear that Apple has a battery case for the new glass-backed iPhones.  I understand why (since it would prevent inductive charging), but it's still a shame.  I don't look forward to the significant loss of battery time when I next upgrade my phone.  But this is off topic, let's talk about the Apple Watch battery life and running.  
  • Reply 12 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,783member
    nhughes said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    The runners I know have a set playlist, so wouldn’t need to stream during a run.  I’d be more interested in how long the battery lasts with the GPS tracking the course. 
    If you're really interested, you should read the story. The answer you seek is in the fourth paragraph.

    Yeah, I was trying to skip most of it and missed the bit I was interested in. Typical

    Five hours doesn’t sound too bad though. 


    nhughes
  • Reply 13 of 27
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 222member
    How is a surprise to anyone? 

    The more you use, they quicker the battery drains. Uh, yeah!
  • Reply 14 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,503member
    nhughes said:

    eightzero said:
    Prediction: next Big Thing for Apple Watch is a band that has a battery in it.
    Probably a safe bet at some point, but I don't see Apple itself selling one (too bulky/ugly). I suspect we may get an official (Made for Watch?) "smart band" accessory platform that would enable third parties to go wild — battery bands, basic but targeted health functions, and advanced health functions (the kind of stuff that requires FDA approval — but separately from the watch itself).
    Possible. Apple need only make some sort of port available. I do wonder if it is technically possible to get access to the inductive charging device while not blocking the HR sensor. 

    As to the size/ bulk, I have no doubt there would be customers for the expanded capability. I see runners wearing all sorts of bulky devices, including their iPhones. Seems like maybe the iPhone SE might be the simplest solution.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    This seems like a half-assed implementation of streaming.

    Apple should re-enable the ability to play the music on the Watch directly from the iPhone, something that uses very little battery power by comparison.
    edited November 2017
  • Reply 16 of 27
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,022member
    I think anyone more than semi serious about running a marathon is not going to use an Apple watch to track progress toward it. 

    Im part of a running community of some 200 people and Garmin is by far the weapon of choice. I don’t know a single runner who uses Apple Watch to do so. 

    Its an an interesting idea to use Apple Watch but it’s really a smart watch with tracking features more than it is a running watch. 

    Its standalone gps accuracy is not as good either, if you believe dcrainmaker. 
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 17 of 27
    Personally, as a marathon and 1/2 marathon runner it always sort of pisses me off the people who think they can't possibly run the distance without headphones shoved in their ears - and ignoring the rules that state they should not be using them.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    Just stick to half marathons and you'll be fine. Or just stop running when the music stops.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 27
    This could become a critical issue: with the iPhone it was comparatively simple to carry an external battery and charge it on the go. But if you make an extended workout, such as a marathon, a long hike, bike ride, etc. charging the Watch on the go is not that straight forward. I had this problem a number of times during day long outside sports, e.g., bike rides: iPhone plugged to the charger, while the Watch is dead.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    flydogflydog Posts: 353member
    This article was obviously written by someone who has never participated in a marathon, and basically saw the battery life as a gateway into creating some clickbait.

    Serious marathon runners do not wear headphones, and headphones are prohibited for professional runners. Some marathons also prohibit them for all participants. Moreover, it is unlikely that runners who are training for competition will be relying on an Apple Watch as their fitness device.

    It's a non-issue for 99.99% of Apple Watch owners.
    edited November 2017 beowulfschmidtbrucemc
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