Hands-On With Apple's New Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11 Pro Max
The first Smart Battery Case orders are arriving to customers today and the cases are in stores, so we picked one up to give MacRumors readers a heads up on the features and the differences compared to last year's Smart Battery Cases.
Design wise, the Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro models look identical to the prior-generation battery cases, with the exception of the square-shaped camera cutout to accommodate the dual and triple-lens camera systems in the new iPhones.
This year's case has the same bump at the back, which houses the battery that charges the iPhone, and it's about the same thickness as last year's model.
There are volume up buttons at the side, a power button, and, on the right side, a brand new button that's designed to be a camera control. You can press the button to automatically launch the camera app, regardless of whether the iPhone is locked or unlocked.
Pressing the button the first time opens up the camera app, but when the app is opened, pressing again takes a photo. Pressing and holding captures a QuickTake video, and the single press also works with the selfie camera.
Apple is offering the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max Smart Battery Cases in black, white, and pink sand, while the iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case is limited to black and white. The black shade of the new cases has shifted. Last year, Apple used a black case with a charcoal logo, but this year, the entire case is the lighter charcoal color with a deeper black logo.
There are two 1,430mAh battery cells inside of the iPhone 11 Pro Max version of the Smart Battery Case, up from the 1,369mAh battery cells used last year in the iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case. The two battery cells are wired together into one battery, allowing the cases to offer 10.9Wh of energy (vs. 10.1Wh in the prior XS Max model).
Apple says that all of the new battery cases will add up to 50 percent more battery life to the iPhones, which translates to 9 hours of additional video playback for the 11 Pro, 10 hours of additional video playback for the 11 PRo Max, and 8.5 hours of additional video playback for the iPhone 11.
With the Smart Battery Case attached to an iPhone, the iPhone will drain the case first before using the built-in battery, and this is automatic and can't be shut off. Battery life of the case can be viewed on the Lock screen when placed on a charger or in the Today view of the Notification Center.
Charging the case can be done using a Lightning cable or a Qi-based wireless charger. The iPhone will always charge before the case when charging the two together. For those with Lightning-based headphones and accessories, the Lightning port on the Smart Battery Case does have passthrough capabilities.
The Smart Battery Cases can be purchased from the Apple online store or from Apple retail stores, and all three new cases cost $129.