Apple Watches are impressive little computers, but they don’t last forever. After enough time, the battery starts to go, which can ruin your chances of closing your daily rings. On top of that, the watch starts to slow down, to the point where you think you’d be better off upgrading to the next Apple Watch generation. But instead of buying a whole new watch, you should consider simply replacing the battery.
It might not be obvious from its inaccessible design, but the Apple Watch is perfectly eligible for a battery replacement when it comes time. It’s the same story as your other rechargeable devices: All lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, resulting in both shortened capacities and reduced performance. As your Apple Watch ages, you’ll get less time with it after charging to 100%, and it won’t run as well as it used to.
For most people, this combination signals upgrade time: Apple conveniently refreshes the watch once a year, always providing an improved version of your device to buy when need be. When yours no longer can keep up with the times, and dies before the end of the day, why not upgrade to something better?
Because you likely don’t have to. Replacing that ageing battery is sometimes all you need to keep an old Apple Watch going. A fresh battery pack will, obviously, give you longer battery life, but it can also support your Apple Watch’s hardware better, potentially increasing performance throughout the day.
This doesn’t just apply to newer watches, either: Reddit user Frozenreddit posted about their positive experience replacing the battery in their Series 1, a watch Apple released in 2016. Sure, a Series 1 is going to be slower than modern Apple Watches, and won’t have some exclusive features Apple introduced down the line, but if you’re using yours for basic smartwatch needs, it’ll still likely get the job done after a battery replacement.
Better yet, a new battery for your Apple Watch (plus the tools needed to replace the old one) is a fraction the cost of a new watch. The 38 mm Series 1 replacement kit from iFixit is $42.99, 1/10 the price of the base Apple Watch SE. Unless you need the features a new Apple Watch provides, replacing the battery could be the best move.
That said, it’s not an easy feat. Replacing the battery on most Apple hardware — and a lot of other companies’ hardware — isn’t particularly simple, but Apple makes getting into its smartwatches even more challenging. Looking at the iFixit guide for a Series 1, you need to heat the watch’s display, use a sharp blade to separate the display from the case, use picks to continue the separation, cut the pick to fit the shape of the battery, and carefully disconnect the battery from the watch without breaking anything.
This procedure looks challenging for someone with experience, let alone a person who has never opened up a piece of tech in their lives. If you’re not comfortable doing so, I’d recommend taking your watch to a repair shop for an estimate. If the additional cost of labour doesn’t bring the total price close to a new watch, that could also be a viable option.
If you do decide to replace the battery on your own, make sure to review the instructions carefully. Read the text or watch the video multiple times to understand every step, and make the trek to the comments to see how other people’s experiences fared. For example, iFixit’s Apple Watch Series 2 instructions did not mention if you don’t damage the watch’s gasket, you don’t have to tear it down as deep as they do in the video. Looking at the comments can save you some grief a walkthrough might have overlooked.