Apple entered the battery case market on Wednesday when they release their own Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. If you’re a power user like I am, your phone will need topping off before the day is over. It may look a little weird and “un-Apple like” 6 but we decided to give it a try and see how it would turn out.
The Smart Battery Case has an 1,877 mAh battery, while the iPhone 6S battery packs has 1,810 mAh. However, don’t expect it to charge your dead iPhone back to 100%. We’re not sure why but after plugging in a completely dead iPhone, it charged it back up to about 80%. According to Apple, the case will add 25 hours of talk time, 18 hours of LTE browsing, and 20 hours of HD video playback.
Compared to similar cases, the Mophie Juice Pack Air has a much larger battery capacity at 2,750 mAh (the same as an iPhone 6S Plus), costs the same, and weighs the same (8.3 oz) as well. Mophie recently released the Juice Pack Reserve for $59 and is slimmer and a bit lighter than their other iterations. It also has pretty much the same battery capacity at 1,840 mAh.
The ugly bump on the back doesn’t take long to get used to and it doesn’t feel as intrusive as you would think when holding it in your hand. My index finger rests just above the top of the bump and the soft silicone material makes it easier to hold and grip. However, it will stick to your pocket when you you pull it out and it will attract lint so keep that in mind if you decide to get the white version. Apple did a good job making the width as small as possible to keep the slim form factor.
The whole case is just one piece so all you have to do is pull the top part back and slide your phone in. Once you do that, it will start charging immediately. If you use a wall plug that has an output of more than 10W, you can charge both the iPhone and case simultaneously. If you use a regular iPhone plug, then it will charge the phone first and then the case afterwards.
There isn’t an on/off switch so the case will keep charging your phone until the case runs out of juice or if you take it off. There also isn’t a battery indicator on the case itself so you won’t know how much battery life it has left until you plug your phone in and see the stats in the Notification Center.
There is a passive coupled antenna (hence the FCC logo on the inside) that Apple included to deal with interference the battery may cause but I’ve never noticed any problems even when I was using a Mophie case.
What I liked most about the Smart Battery Case when compared to its competitors is that it uses a regular lightening cable for charging. Other battery cases require a micro USB cable, which isn’t a big deal but saves you some time if you have to dig around looking for it. Also, the ease-of-use in putting the case on and taking it off is night and day compared to the Mophie cases. The Smart Battery Case is a little flexible so if you have a back skin on your iPhone, it’ll fit just fine where as I had a lot of trouble sliding my phone into my old Mophie case and had even more trouble trying to take it out.
And just like other battery cases, if you’re not using Apple’s EarPods, your headphone jack will mostly likely not fit into the small cut out on the bottom of the case and you will need a headphone jack adaptor which isn’t included. For $99, you would think they included one in the box along with an extra lightening cable but no dice.
In the end, is it worth $99? The case definitely has its ups and downs but I don’t think people should fork over $99 for a mediocre case. If you’d like to have things streamlined especially being able to use a lightening cable for charging, then go for it. If not, the Mophie Juice Pack Reserve ($59) and Juice Pack Air ($99) will do the same job and will have a bigger bang for your buck.