Thursday, December 10, 2015

iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

Apple’s new battery case has been getting a lot of criticism. The shape doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me, but I was disappointed to see Cabel Sasser’s report about the materials:

Apple Case. So heavy. Bump more uncomfortable than ugly. But iPhone is 96% at 6:53 PM. Conclusion: vacation use only

Oh also, if you get one, don’t get the dark one, this rubber material is like an Apple Swiffer for all the dust in your life and pockets

Why can’t they find a material that doesn’t collect lint or pull your pocket inside out?

Unless you really need a battery integrated into your case, I think most people would be better served with a simple external battery. I use the Jackery Bar, which has more than three times the capacity of Apple’s case. Even the smaller Jackery Mini and Anker PowerCore+ mini have higher capacities. They’re all much cheaper than Apple’s and will continue working after next year’s phone no longer fits in the case. Plus, you don’t have to hold the extra bulk the whole day. You can just connect the battery now and then to recharge.

Update (2015-12-10): Rene Ritchie:

Apple is routinely criticized for putting form ahead of function. In this case, though, putting function ahead of form has resulted in some of the loudest bouts of criticism in recent history.

The “hump” is the result of hard choices made during the design process. By not running the battery all the way along the back, and by not using rigid material to cover it, Apple can hide a hinge beneath the silicone. That hinge lets the top part of the case bend backwards so you can slide your iPhone in and then slip the case back over it.


Because of the Smart Battery Case’s design, the antenna bands are essentially covered only by thin silicone portion of the case.

Update (2015-12-11): John Gruber:

Me, I don’t like the way any of them look. But after using the Smart Battery Case for three days, and having previously spent time using the thinnest available cases from Mophie, I feel confident saying Apple’s Smart Battery Case feels better when you’re holding it than any other battery case, both because of the material and its shape.


The Smart Battery Case would certainly help with an overnight hiking trip, but I think Cook was off-message here, because that scenario is really not what it was designed for. Big 5,000 mAh (or more) external battery chargers (or the highest capacity, extremely thick battery cases from third parties) are far better suited to that scenario than the Smart Battery Pack.


After a few days using this case, my thoughts turn not to the Smart Battery Case itself but instead to my personal desire that Apple had made the 6/6S form factor slightly thicker.

That probably would have also made it more comfortable to hold.

However bulky the Plus feels in your pocket and hands, it feels less bulky to me than the iPhone 6S with any battery pack. An iPhone 6S Plus, even with a normal case on it, weighs noticeably less than an iPhone 6S with the Smart Battery Case.

Update (2015-12-14): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

"Oh also, if you get one, don’t get the dark one, this rubber material is like an Apple Swiffer for all the dust in your life and pockets"

Ha. Exactly the opposite of Joanna Stern's advice:

"Some advice: Pick the charcoal-gray over the white, which five days in is already browning like an old gym sock."

Honestly, her review of it seems the closest to the reaction Apple was looking for. If you're a serious user and you don't get a full day out of your iPhone 6[s], this case seems the most simplistic solution available. Easy on, easy off. One shared lightning port. Integrated with the OS. Arguably not the best looking, but certainly the least imposition offered by any of your battery case options.

Also surprised to hear Sasser thinks it's uncomfortable. Stern again:

"Still, I’ll take it over all the ugly messes sold by Mophie, Anker and others, especially since it provides better protection for the phone. A lip curves just above the screen to prevent the glass from hitting a hard surface and an interior lining provides better shock absorption than hard plastic. Plus, the grippy material is much easier to hold and doesn’t feel like it will slip from my hands. "

Almost seems like they have different devices.

mjtsai: "Plus, you don’t have to hold the extra bulk the whole day."

I don't think Apple sees a use case for three times the battery life. This is to get a heavy iPhone 6[s] user, like Stern, through her day. There's a reason why it provides 13 hours (give or take) of constant use. Apple's again shooting for a time, not a capacity.

So this is completely contra Viticci's claims on the latest Connected (iirc); this case is wholly an admission that the 6 battery isn't up to a day of hard-core use. (That's why there's no plus version, which has more juice.) Stern *is* the use case this product targets, and I bet, with the first-party and Lightning advantages, they sell a ton.

But either way, carrying around another widget in your phone pocket isn't simplistic. This really is. /shrug

@Ruffin I don’t know whether to believe Sasser or Stern. On the other points, I basically agree with you. My use case for extra battery life is hiking. Between running a GPS tracker and having a weak cellular signal, the iPhone 6s plus the Apple case would not last me through a longer day’s outing, much less provide a margin of safety in case I got lost or trapped.

@michael: Usually, the person who buys the product instead of getting a review copy from Apple (or any other company) is more objective in his/her review when it comes to the quality/price ratio.

Christian Beck

Also interesting: misleading advertising

"Charge your iPhone and battery case simultaneously for increased talk time up to 25 hours, Internet use up to 18 hours on LTE [..]"

You could read that as "additional 18 hours Internet usage" (and Grey and Myke did,, starting around the 10 minute mark), but what it really says is "if you charge both and use them in combination you get a total of up to 18 hours" - so 8 additional hours. Which ain't bad for a small battery like that, so why not be honest?

What I think? 99 reasons... (or 119 Euro-pean reasons)

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