This week, Microsoft offered up a quick guide to extending the battery life on its Band 2 fitness wearable. It’s a decent guide, but I have some better advice, based on real world usage, that will make a real difference in Band 2 battery life.
Don’t use the GPS. As a general rule, Band 2 will last for two days on a charge if you do not use the GPS functionality, and for one day if you do. This has been consistent across both generations of the Band wearable, and my wife has experienced the same with her own Band 2. So the biggest change you can make to improve battery life is to not use the GPS at all.
Don’t monitor your sleep. My wife and I were both impressed with Band 2’s ability to track our sleep habits … at first. But let’s face it, since there is nothing Band 2 (or Microsoft Health) can do to actually improve the quality of your sleep, monitoring this activity is ultimately pointless. And it kills the battery. So once you’ve played around with sleep tracking for a few days or weeks, just stop. And then use that time to charge Band 2, as outlined in Microsoft Band 2 Tip: Develop a Charging Strategy.
Use GPS power saver. If you must use the GPS—and I do like to, on walks—then consider enabling the GPS power saver feature that debuted in a recent Band 2 firmware update. Put simply, GPS power saver can extend the battery life of Band 2 by up to four hours by sampling your location in intervals rather than continuously. And if you’re following the same basic path each day on a walk, run, bicycle ride, or whatever, you really don’t need that detailed information anyway.
So what did Microsoft advise?
The software giant recommends turning down the screen brightness and haptic alert levels, which is a good idea. It recommends leaving Watch Mode off, but since that’s one of the Band’s best features, I enable it. Microsoft says you should turn off the screen during exercises, and that is likewise a good idea. And it reiterates my advice about developing good charging habits and using GPS power saver (above).
In some ways, the most interesting part of the Microsoft post is the bit on notifications: It says you can reduce battery draw by customizing notifications so that you only receive a limited set of notifications. This is good advice, and not just for battery life: I find that the Band 2’s biggest strength is the way that it straddles the fitness wearable and smart watch worlds and having some notifications—for phone calls, text messages, and calendar events, for example–is just about the right balance. If all you want to do is track steps, a smaller and cheaper wearable is probably the better choice. But Band 2 is all about balance, so you should spend some time configuring it to do more than just the basics.