Apple in November launched Smart Battery Cases designed for the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Max to add additional battery life to Apple's newest iPhones. The Smart Battery Cases for the 2019 iPhones join Smart Battery Cases designed for the 2018 iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. 2018 was the first year that Apple reintroduced battery cases for its devices.
Priced at $129, the Smart Battery Cases come in either black, white, or pink sand (limited to 11 Pro and Pro Max) and are made from the same material as Apple's silicone cases. From our hands on article:
How does it work?
The Smart Battery Cases are similar in design to a silicone case but with an extra bump on the back that houses the battery pack. While attached to the iPhone, the Smart Battery Case functions like an external battery pack, providing additional power to the iPhone.
A Lightning connector built into the case connects to the Lightning port in the iPhone, but Lightning access remains available due to an additional Lightning port in the case itself.
When you have the Smart Battery Case on your iPhone, your iPhone will use all of the charge in the case before expending its own battery.
What's the capacity?
Each of the Smart Battery Cases features two 1,430mAh battery cells inside. Because there are two battery cells wired together, the cases run at a higher voltage that offers 10.9Wh of energy, making them higher capacity than previous battery cases introduced for iPhone XR and XS.
How much extra battery life does it add?
Apple does not list the specific amount of additional battery that each case adds, instead suggesting that the cases all deliver up to 50 percent longer battery life.
If we add an additional 50 percent battery life to the normal battery life for each of these devices, we can see the estimated battery life times are as follows:
- iPhone 11 - Up to 17 hours video playback, up to 10 hours streamed video playback, up to 65 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro - Up to 18 hours video playback, up to 11 hours streamed video playback, up to 65 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro Max - Up to 20 hours video playback, up to 12 hours streamed video playback, up to 80 hours audio playback.
iPhone With Battery Case (Estimated):
- iPhone 11 - Up to 25.5 hours video playback, up to 15 hours streamed video playback, up to 97.5 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro - Up to 26 hours video playback, up to 16.5 hours streamed video playback, up to 97.5 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro Max - Up to 30 hours video playback, up to 18 hours streamed video playback, up to 120 hours audio playback.
Battery Case Alone (Estimated):
- iPhone 11 - Up to 8.5 hours video playback, up to 5 hours streamed video playback, up to 32.5 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro - Up to 9 hours video playback, up to 5.5 hours streamed video playback, up to 32.5 hours audio playback.
- iPhone 11 Pro Max - Up to 10 hours video playback, up to 6 hours streamed video playback, up to 40 hours audio playback.
These are, of course, estimates based on the iPhone battery life and Apple's 50 percent extra battery life listing. The actual battery life that you get from each Smart Battery Case is going to vary based on what you're doing on your smartphone.
The new camera button
The Smart Battery Case has a new feature this year that sets it apart from prior Smart Battery Cases -- a dedicated camera button.
With the camera button, which is located on the right of the device under the side button, you can press it to automatically open up the camera app, regardless of whether the iPhone is locked or unlocked.
It provides a handy physical alternative to using the camera button on the Lock screen or the main camera app when the iPhone is unlocked. A press and hold will open up the camera app, and then another press will capture a photo.
If you press and hold while the camera app is open, you can record a QuickTake video. The camera button works with both the rear and front-facing cameras, and is a useful little addition that's great for getting to the camera quickly.
How does the case charge?
Apple built Qi wireless charging into the Smart Battery Case, so both the case and the iPhone can be charged using any Qi wireless charging accessory.
You can also charge the case via Lightning, and if you use a USB-PD compatible charger (aka a USB-C charger paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable) the case will charge up even faster. For fast charging, you can use one of Apple's USB-C Power Adapters for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or MacBook, but third-party USB-C chargers over 18W also work.
Your iPhone will always charge before the case if the battery is low, and once the iPhone's battery is full, the case will charge. You can also charge the case all on its own without your iPhone inside using any of these charging methods.
Note: The Smart Battery Case does not come with a Lightning cable for charging purposes, so you will need to supply your own.
Can I use the Lightning port with the case on?
The Smart Battery Case’s Lightning port acts as a passthrough, so you can use Lightning-based accessories like headphones and adapters with your phone while it’s inside the case.
How can I check remaining battery life?
When the Smart Battery Case is attached to the iPhone, the battery life of the case is displayed on the Lock screen when you put it on a wireless charger, attach it to an iPhone for the first time, or attach a Lightning cable.
You can also check the battery life at any time by swiping to the right on the Home screen to open the Today view of the Notification Center. There's a battery widget that lists the battery life of the iPhone, the case, and other attached devices like AirPods or the Apple Watch.
Does the 2019 cases work with the 2018 iPhones?
Yes, with some caveats. The case is designed for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, and there are some differences with the camera cutout. You can get the iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max into the new case and it will charge, but the new side camera button is nonfunctional.
Where can I buy the Smart Battery Case?
Apple sells the Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max both online and in its retail stores. The cases are priced at $129.
iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smart Battery Case Replacement Program
For iPhone owners who have a Smart Battery Case designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR, Apple has launched a Smart Battery Case Replacement Program and is offering free replacement cases to customers who have had issues with charging the case or getting the case to properly charge an iPhone.