A little over a week ago I wrote an article that, admittedly, flew off the handle a bit over Apple’s Smart Battery case. After mulling it over for a bit, I decided I wanted to see for myself whether this battery case was as disappointing as I thought it would be or not. In the end I decided that it couldn’t hurt to try, so I pulled the trigger and ordered Apple’s Smart Battery case for my iPhone 6.
To start this off, I’ll say that I still think Apple could lighten up on the whole “thinner is best” campaign on the iPhone. I still don’t think a battery case is the answer to this problem, and I would much rather choose my own case than feel like I have to purchase a battery case or an external battery to help my phone make it through the day.
However, we must live with the choices we make, and although I love the iPhone for many reasons its battery life is not one of them. An external battery source of some sort is currently the only solution I have if I want to ensure daily use of my iPhone uninterrupted.
I already have a battery case by a different company (the 3000 mAh matte black Source Force battery case) and thus far it has done a good job. It does make the phone thicker, as all battery cases do, but not so thick that it’s unwieldy. I liked the idea of it having a kickstand, although it’s flimsy. This case has a button on the back that powers the case itself on and off. The only thing I really don’t like about the case is the way that the top and bottom of the case connect because it doesn’t seem that strong. With that being said, it has yet to actually come off of my phone.
So let’s switch gears and talk about Apple’s Smart Battery case.
I’ll start with the most obvious thing and say that I still think the design is very unappealing to look at. However, I didn’t consider how good it will feel in the hand. The matte material and the slimmer sides (compared to my Source Force battery, which is the same thickness all the way around) help keep the iPhone at a comfortable size. This particular design also makes it easy to pick the phone up from a flat surface, since the "bulge" on the back side leaves space underneath the sides to grasp the phone.
Apple's Smart Battery covers a couple of things I didn’t like about my Source Force case. The Smart Battery is one solid case, and you slide the iPhone in kind of oddly starting at the top. By the time the case is on, there is virtually no way for it to come out by accident. The Smart Battery also gives enough of a lip to protect my iPhone’s screen, even with a thicker tempered glass screen protector on, which is something the Source Force case also doesn't do (the tempered glass rises above the Source Force case lip).
But aside from how it looks and feels, how does Apple’s Smart Battery actually hold up? Honestly, it is a little disappointing that you’re only getting 1877 mAh battery given how expensive it is in comparison to the countless battery cases for the iPhone 6 and 6s that already flood the market. There are more affordable options out there that give you more power, so if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck the Smart Battery probably isn’t what you’re looking for.
Another thing that’s missing from the Smart Battery is the feature to turn the case’s power source off. It’s not really a must-have feature for me, but for some people it might be important to know that when you have the Smart Battery on your iPhone there’s no way to switch that power off. The case’s juice is used first, and the iPhone’s own battery is used second.
There’s a small LED indicator on the inside of the case, which isn’t very useful when you’re taking advantage of the fact that Apple designed this case so you wouldn’t need to take the iPhone out of the case whether you’re charging it or transferring data. There is a widget in the Notification Center that tells you how much percentage of the battery on the case and the percentage of battery on the phone, but the LED would have been handy on the outside of the case for quick indication on whether the case was charged or not.
I’ve only been using it for three days at this point, but it does “get the job done” in the sense that I can unplug it at 7 AM and plug it back in around midnight and it still has juice to spare. I’m still running various tests on the usage, but at least I don’t have to top up my phone with a charge through the day anymore – sometimes that’s a problem for me without the battery case.
In the end, I’m not sure I can agree that this case is worth $99. It's a comfortable battery case to hold, but it’s not the prettiest thing. Since it's a rubbery matte finish it's also a natural lint collector (see above). So if you like to put your phone in your pocket or you have a white-haired corgi that sheds everywhere you might want to consider that. It gets you safely through the day, but I wouldn’t rely on it to get me through more than a day and a half without recharging it.
All things considered, you're probably paying $25 for the battery, $25 for comfort, and $49.00 for an Apple logo.