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Opinion: Why iPod nano’s three-week battery life is and isn’t a fair benchmark for Apple Watch longevity

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Over the past month, I spent several weeks testing the battery of an Apple watch. Not the Apple Watch, of course, but the first product Apple released with the option of being worn like one: the sixth-generation iPod nano. Back in 2010, Steve Jobs mentioned during the “instantly wearable” nano’s introduction (video at 26:30) that one of Apple’s directors planned to use it as a watch. That brief aside directly inspired the creation of nano watchband makers Lunatik and Hex, as well as simple, cheap bands from Apple accessory specialists including GriffinIncipio, and SwitchEasy. A year later, Apple updated the nano’s software to expand its watch functionality, adding “16 new digital clock faces and improved built-in fitness features.” The nano-as-watch test was at least somewhat successful; Hex even shared pictures showing Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber wearing its nano watch bands.

Today, Apple is three weeks away from releasing the “real” Apple Watch — a product that clearly shares the old iPod nano’s DNA, but was thoroughly redesigned from top to bottom. Yet despite including a battery that’s around twice as powerful as the nano’s, the Watch is promising only 18 hours of typical battery life, maxing out at three days if used solely as a watch in a low-power mode. So when I ran a “watch-only” test of my used four-year-old nano and found that it ran for just over three weeks, keeping perfect time without ever touching a charger (or synchronizing with an atomic clock), I was genuinely surprised. It turns out that Apple really optimized the nano to work well as a timepiece without requiring constant recharging. So what happened with the Apple Watch?…



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