Is your Apple Watch stuck on only showing the time in Power Reserve mode? Let’s fix it!

power reserve mode Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch only shows the current time and you see a red lightning bolt next to that time, your watch is in a mode Apple calls Power Reserve. 

Your Apple Watch automatically enters this Power Reserve mode if your watch’s battery gets too low. It displays the time, and that’s about it!

You can’t use your watch apps, check messages, see your watch face, track your workouts, heart rate, and other activity, or use it any other way than checking the time.

Even though this is an effort to conserve power until you reach a charger, it can also come with some frustrations.

In this article, we’ll discuss what the Power Reserve mode is, how to turn it off, and what to do if it gets stuck this way.

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What exactly is the Power Reserve mode?

power reserve mode on Apple Watch

Power Reserve mode is initiated once your Apple Watch’s battery dips to critically low levels (usually 10% or below). It’s an effort to save what is left of the battery by shutting down all extra features except the time.

You’ll know you’ve reached Power Reserve if your watch’s face shuts down, and you’re required to press the side button to display the time. You’ll usually see a red low battery icon, too.

Power Reserve Mode is different than Low Power Mode!

While Power Reserve turns off all functionality outside of showing the current time on the watch’s screen, Low Power mode extends your watch’s battery life by limiting the watch’s sensors and network connectivity (WiFi and Cellular) and turning off features like the always-on display and some heart health notifications.

  • watchOS 9 and above automatically turns on Power Reserve only when the watch’s battery is less than 10%.
  • watchOS 8 and below allows you to turn on Power Reserve manually. Additionally, Power Reserve automatically turns on when the battery has less than 10% remaining.

For watches using watchOS 9 and above, you cannot manually turn on Power Reserve mode. Instead, there is a Low Power Mode option that helps you extend the life of your battery while still allowing you to interact with the watch’s apps and features. Control Center toggle for Low Power Mode on Apple Watch

In watchOS 8 and below, you can manually turn on power reserve mode by tapping Control Center’s battery icon and selecting Power Reserve or via the Settings app’s battery settings.

You might manually turn power reserve on if you don’t have access to your charger and want to keep your watch active for as long as possible. manually turn on power reserve mode on Apple Watch

Most of the time, plugging the watch into a power source recovers the full functionality of your Apple Watch. However, some users have found that sometimes the watch won’t charge, getting stuck in this Power Reserve mode.

At that point, you may feel pretty helpless if the watch will neither charge nor function because of it being “stuck.”

We’ll answer some questions below about how to solve this situation if you ever find yourself stuck in this Power Reserve mode.

Why is my Apple Watch stuck in Power Reserve? Apple Watch power reserve mode turns on automatically when the battery is very low

Simply put, you either manually turned on power reserve, or your battery life has likely dipped below 10%. Your watch shuts down to conserve energy, and it needs to be charged immediately to recover its other functions.

  • If you don’t see the red lightning bolt icon next to the time, to get it out of Power Reserve, try pressing and holding the watch’s side button. To work, your watch’s battery must have at least a 10 percent charge. Press and hold side button to exit Apple Watch power reserve mode
    • Keep holding down that side button and only release the button when you see the Apple logo appear in the middle of the watch face.
    • Give your watch a few minutes to process this and boot up again. Sometimes it can take a little while.
    • If you tried pressing the side button and your Apple Watch is still in Power Reserve mode, it probably needs a charge.
  • If you see that small red lightning icon next to the time, your Apple Watch doesn’t have enough battery remaining to leave Power Reserve mode. You need to charge your watch. 
    • Put your watch on its charger. To fully charge your watch, wait about two to three hours to charge your Apple Watch fully. 
    • If you don’t have the time to fully charge it, allow your watch to charge for at least 15 minutes, then fully charge later. charge your Apple Watch on its original Apple branded charger

If your Apple Watch is still stuck in Power Reserve mode, try the following steps:

  • Ensure you are using the Apple Magnetic Charging Cable or the USB-C cable that came with your watch. Sometimes third-party charging cables don’t work and are not supported.
  • Check that your watch’s charger is plugged in all the way to an outlet or USB port. Or try a different charger, outlet, or port–don’t use the low-power ports on a keyboard. 
  • Ensure that the magnetic charger and the back of your watch are clean and free of dust or debris.
  • Make sure the charger’s magnets directly align with the watch.
  • Try a force-restart while charging (hold down the side button and the Digital Crown until the Apple logo appears on its screen.)
  • If none of these troubleshooting tips work, it’s time to contact Apple Support.

According to a handful of online forums, it appears that the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5 tend to be the models that encounter these issues the most with the Power Reserve mode.

If that is the case, make sure you update your watch to the latest watchOS version, then try the above steps again.

If all else fails, contact Apple directly.

How to turn off Power Reserve on Apple Watch?

Turning off this mode is extremely simple. To exit the Power Reserve mode, you need to reboot the watch (if your watch has enough power to do so–at least 10%).

Hold down the side button until you see the Apple logo on your watch’s screen, then go from there with the instructions mentioned earlier. exiting power reserve mode on Apple Watch

Remember, if the watch isn’t responding to your commands, you may need to charge it a bit (at least 15 minutes and preferably 2-3 hours) before it will function again.

If my Apple Watch is in Power Reserve mode, can I still get text messages and notifications?

The quick answer is no. The purpose of the Power Reserve mode is to shut down any advanced apps running in the background.

This will allow you to still use the watch as, well, a watch to view the time, but nothing else.

Until you find a power source to charge up the Apple Watch and turn off the Power Reserve mode, you will not be receiving texts or other notifications.

Final thoughts

The Power Reserve mode definitely serves a purpose, but it also has its drawbacks.

It essentially turns your smartwatch into a regular watch – and I’m betting that the reason you even bought an Apple Watch was for all of its advanced, smart features.

Hopefully, this article provided you with some information about what the Power Reserve mode is and how to manage it if you ever find yourself (and your watch) stuck in this position.


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