How GPS Power Saver Works in Microsoft Band 2 Update

How GPS Power Saver Works in Microsoft Band 2 Update

One of the better new features in the February 2016 update for Microsoft Band 2 is the ability to get more battery life out of the wearable during GPS-monitored runs and bike rides. (Read about all the other new features HERE and how to use the GPS Power Saver HERE)

Who can’t use extra battery, right? I mean, why wouldn’t you just turn this feature on and leave it on for every GPS-related activity? Well there’s a trade-off.

Turning on GPS Power Saver mode simply reduces the GPS sample rate, meaning that it only grabs GPS data periodically instead of capturing the entire route. It doesn’t automatically turn off unnecessary battery-hogging features like notifications and screen display/brightness, it just alters how often it checks the GPS signal to record map data.

Per Microsoft, you get better GPS battery life (up to 4 hours more – which is perfect for a marathon for most) but the tradeoff means it works better with certain types of runs and biking adventures. Since the Band doesn’t sample as often, longer, straighter routes will report as expected and show a more complete map, but something like a trail run that takes hundreds of turns, could report with gaps. An additional tradeoff is that when GPS Power Saver mode is detected and reported to the Microsoft Health dashboard, the route is reported as an approximation...

...this includes both the route and the distance (unfortunately).

If you’re planning a multi-day run trip or bike race, turning on GPS Power Saver should allow you to travel an entire day with GPS enabled. To test, the Band team at Microsoft sent someone on the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, a two-day bike ride that covers 202 miles, and the new setting gave the Band enough juice to last an entire day’s ride. So, bottom line: If your activity (bike or run) is a longer activity that's more or less a straight route, use GPS Power Saver. If you are running a shorter route and/or the route is pretty erratic, make sure to keep GPS Power Saver off to ensure accuracy.

This is actually not a new tactic. Fitbit does something similar with its devices to conserve power.

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