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Hands-On With Apple's New Smart Battery Cases

Apple on Tuesday released new Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, offering a convenient but expensive way for iPhone users to get additional battery life.

The Smart Battery Cases will be in stores starting tomorrow, but we got our hands on the iPhone XS Max and XR versions early to check out the features and to see if they're worth the $129 price tag.

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Apple is offering the Smart Battery Cases in black or white, and while there are separate versions for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, each case costs $129 and appears to have the same capacity.

The cases look similar to the prior Smart Battery Cases Apple offered for the iPhone 7, consisting of a silicone shell with a bump at the back that contains the battery. The cases are easy to grip, but bulky, and the iPhone XS Max version adds a decent bit of weight.

There's a 10.1 Whr battery inside of the cases, which is higher capacity than previous Smart Battery Cases. You can expect to get about 50 to 75 percent additional battery from each case, depending on what you're doing.

Specifically, on the iPhone XS Max with the Smart Battery Case, you'll get up to 37 hours of talk time, up to 20 hours of internet use, and up to 25 hours of video playback.

The iPhone XS with XS Smart Battery Case offers up to 33 hours of talk time, up to 21 hours of internet use, and up to 25 hours of video playback, while the iPhone XR with iPhone XR Smart Battery Case offers up to 39 hours of talk time, up to 22 hours of internet use, and up to 27 hours of video playback.

The cases support Qi wireless charging, so you can charge them using a Qi-based charger (though it won't fit on some upright models) or a Lightning cable. You can even fast charge if you have a USB-C to Lightning cable and a compatible USB-C power adapter, such as the 30W MacBook charger. You don't have to use Apple's solutions -- any 18W+ USB-C PD power adapter will work.

You need to attach the Lightning connector in the case to the Lightning port in the iPhone, but because the case has its own Lightning port, you can use it as a passthrough for Lightning accessories like headphones.

With the Smart Battery Case attached, you can check how much battery life is left in the case using a widget in the Today section of the Notification Center or via the Lock screen. Your iPhone will always use the battery provided by the case before expending its own battery, but when charging, your iPhone will charge first.

All in all, the Smart Battery Case is one of the simplest ways to get extra battery life for the iPhone because it doesn't require an extra external accessory or a cable and there are multiple ways to charge it, but that convenience definitely comes at a cost.

Do you think Apple's Smart Battery Cases are worth shelling out $129? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR