This is the one Apple Watch setting you should change before your next flight

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While it’s common to use your smartphone, tablet and computer during flights, your smartwatch is one device that doesn’t serve much purpose on a plane. So, unless you’re closing your Apple Watch rings by lapping the aircraft aisles, there’s a certain watch setting you should change before takeoff. 

The Apple Watch low power mode, which debuted alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, is a battery setting you can enable to make your smartwatch last longer. It disables or limits select battery-draining features, such as the always on display and background heart rate monitoring. Low power mode on your Apple Watch will restrict the device’s Wi-Fi and cellular activity, too.

When you’re on a plane, I think it’s unlikely you need any of these features. I only check my Apple Watch on flights to dismiss stand alerts, because there’s no way I’m bugging the people next to me (I’m a window seat person) to move just because my smartwatch told me so.

I was already in the habit of disabling my Apple Watch Ultra’s cellular settings, since I’m obviously not taking any calls from the sky. But low power mode has further benefits. For one, if you have a long travel day, low power mode can keep your Apple Watch running for longer than usual.

With low power mode enabled, all the best Apple Watch devices (including the Apple Watch SE) will stay powered on for up to 36 hours per Apple’s estimates. The Apple Watch Ultra, meanwhile, can last up to 60 hours, which is one of the key differences between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra.

How to turn on low power mode on Apple Watch

To turn on low power mode, open the Control Center on your Apple Watch. Tap the bubble that shows your battery percentage and toggle on low power mode. 

You'll be prompted to review the implications of low power mode, with the option to turn the feature on or turn it on for a certain duration. For example, you can set low power mode to last for one day, so by the time you’re finished traveling, your Apple Watch will automatically return to normal function. 

This has been incredibly convenient for travel, helping my Apple Watch keep up even when I’m going up to 24 hours without easy access to a charger. I will say I like to keep this awesome Apple Watch accessory for charging with me just in case, but I’ve hardly needed it thanks to low power mode.

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.